Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finish That Quote

It's well established that even the Devil can quote Scripture when it suits his purposes. However, in the Scriptural examples of his doing so, he takes the Scriptures out of context, twists their meaning, and tries to use them to manipulate a genuine follower of God into following him instead.

Nothing has changed in the centuries since Christ was tempted in the wilderness. Followers of the Devil still try to twist the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Not being as wise or as versed in the Scriptures as Jesus of Nazareth, I can't respond as cleverly as He did when Satan tried to misuse God's word. However, I've found one simple phrase to be very effective when dealing with those who would distort the meaning of the Bible to support an anti-Christian agenda:

"Finish that quote."

When someone tries to misuse the words of Scripture to subvert their actual meaning, ask them to put the words in their context. They usually won't be able to. They will only have memorized those few words which, when taken out of context, could seem to support their evil viewpoint.

Here's an easy example. Most believing Christians will, at some point, have had the words "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" (or some easily recognizable variant thereof - as always, exact wordings may vary depending on your preferred Bible version) sniffed at them by a relativist seeking to justify sin - or at least stop discussion of it. It's only human nature - which is inherently sinful, remember - to want to squirm our way out of it when a light is being shone upon our guilt.

You probably already know the story, from John 8. It's one of the most famous passages in the Bible, partly because of the misuse. We all love being able to justify our own sin, don't we?

So, when a moral issue is under discussion and those words get smugly tossed out, simply reply, "Finish that quote."

Most people probably won't be able to. Most modern, open-minded, politically correct, worldly folks think that well-known story ends there, with Jesus making the gathered crowd slink away sheepishly. It doesn't.

After the crowd disperses, Jesus turns to the accused sinner and in parting tells her, "Go, and sin no more."

In an entirely unscientific experiment, I just ran two phrases through Google to see how common they are online. Here are the results:

"without sin cast the first stone" - 143,000 hits.

"go and sin no more" - 87,700 hits.

Slightly over half as many uses of the second phrase as the first. Food for thought.

"Go, and sin no more." Beautiful words, and the words of One who truly loves. Yes, God loves us as we are, but He loves us far too much to leave us that way. He wants better for us.

This is true in human relationships as well. Far too often we think that love means being unconditionally supportive of every action taken by a loved one (see my recent discussion of the Fallacy of Family), no matter how misguided or destructive. That is not love, that is sycophancy. It is an odd - indeed, cruel - love that approves every action of the beloved without question and does not seek their betterment.

When I read the story of the woman caught in adultery, I can relate to both sides in the dispute. Yes, there are times when I have needed to be told to put the rocks away and go sit down. There have been far more times, however, when I have been convicted of sin and needed to be told to "go, and sin no more".

I've gotten off on a tangential sermon here. Back to a summary of the point: when someone tries to misuse Scripture to support a distinctly anti-Scriptural position, don't be afraid to challenge them by questioning their actual comprehension of what they just said. Chances are they have little to none. Pray for them, that they may gain some.

There are several other fun passages with which to play "Finish That Quote." I may come back to this topic and write about some more another time - in the meantime, feel free to come up with (and share!) your own examples.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of me leaning on a table.

1 comment:

HomeSchooler said...

Context is everything!

I find it simultaneously sad and funny when I hear a sermon being preached where it's obvious that the pastor either did not read, or has blatently ignored that which came before and after.

My favourite? "Wives, submit to your husbands." Unless you read before and after, plus throughout the Old and New Testament (to get the entire context), it makes Christianity sound like a misogynistic and oppressive faith.