The Bible is Dangerous

I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoy listening to lectures. Not just any lectures, mind you, but things that interest me. I probably wouldn’t enjoy lectures over 19th century British poetry, or lectures over the social influences found in different world cultures. Those things sound pretty boring to me. But one thing that interests me greatly is theology, and anything related to the Bible. Lately I’ve been listening to lectures from Reformed Theological Seminary on iTunesU, specifically from a course called The History of Philosophy and Christian Thought. Doesn’t sound very interesting, does it?  Well, it’s actually not that bad.

One of the things that really baffles me as I listen to Dr. Frame talk about the philosophies projected by the early Church fathers is how so many of them totally misinterpret the Bible. Granted, not much time had passed since the New Testament had actually been adopted as God-inspired Scripture. But it’s not hard to see that some of these men clearly injected their own ideas, or perhaps worse, the ideas of Greek philosophy, into their theological arguments. For instance, the early Church father Origen speculated that salvation may be universal, and that even the devil may have a shot at redemption at some point in the future. Many of the early Church fathers proposed ideas that weakened Scripture or made Christ less significant. Most of these ideas are easily refuted under the light of ALL of Scripture.

Scriptural misinterpretation isn’t something that only affected the early Church. In fact, just this morning I read an article about a pastor in West Virginia who died after being bitten by a rattlesnake. And yes, he was handling the snake in a faith-proving church ritual.  The Scripture people use to justify this odd ritual is Mark 16:17-18:

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. (Emphasis added)

If you read the whole article (I highly recommend that you do…it’s short), you also find out that this pastor’s father was also killed from a snake bite in a similar ceremony. So what we have here is a gross misinterpretation of Scripture, and an incredible failure to learn from past mistakes.

The misinterpretation of Scripture is the part that bothers me the most. Most Bible scholars question whether Mark 16:9-20 is even supposed to be a part of the Bible to begin with. The earliest copies of the Gospel of Mark don’t have these verses, and many of the later ones that do have them set them apart from the rest of the book. So it isn’t wise to set up a doctrine solely on this one passage (nor is it wise to set up any doctrine based on only one passage of Scripture). On top of that, even if you do consider these verses to be a part of Scripture, there is no imperative from Jesus to go and pick up snakes to prove your faith. As one article I read put it, “It is describing something that will occur, not commanding that something should occur.” For instance, in Acts 28 it describes Paul as getting bitten by a snake, and just shaking it off. Paul didn’t seek out a snake and say, “Look everyone! Look how much faith I have! I picked up this snake and got bit! And I’m not dead!” No, God protected Paul from any bad effects from the snake bite. That is the meaning of Mark 16:17-18 – that God can provide for and protect those who are serving Him.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask? Why can’t we just leave these people alone and let them continue to misinterpret Scripture and get bit. Isn’t this just God’s way of weeding out the idiots? Well, first of all, that’s a very unloving thing to say. I’m ashamed of you for asking such a question. But secondly, I think we have to consider how this mishandling of the words of the Bible affects the world around us. For instance, can you imagine what the world thinks when they see people like this pastor saying things like, “I am looking for a great time this Sunday…It is going to be a homecoming like the old days. Good ‘ole raised in the holler or mountain ridge running, Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers.” This statement, within itself, would drive an English teacher crazy. But when it’s then followed by the death of the man who said it, it makes you question the God who supposedly fills these “sign believers.” And when that same pastor says, “I know it’s real; it is the power of God…If I didn’t do it, if I’d never gotten back involved, it’d be the same as denying the power and saying it was not real,” and then gets killed, it makes people question the power of God.

This mishandling of the Bible is a dangerous thing. Just ask the pastor who died from the snake bite. But it can be much, much worse. Consider those who follow the speculations of Origen and teach that, in the end, we’ll all be saved. How dangerous is that!?!? It promotes apathy by making people think they can do whatever they want. Heck…in the end, they’ll go to heaven anyway, right? We can’t allow things like this to happen. We may not be able to stop those who would pick up snakes to prove their faith, but we can outright deny that what they are doing is Biblical. And we can promote a healthy interpretation of Scripture that leads to sound doctrine. We can do this by:

  • Making true disciples – 1 Corinthians 2:14 says “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Unfortunately, we have non-Christian scholars influencing theological thought, and these people can’t understand the Bible to begin with, because they don’t have the Spirit of God within them. Instead, we should make true disciples who then lead us in our pursuit of truth.
  • Making well-trained disciples – In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul tells Timothy “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (emphasis added). The only way to know the Bible is to study the Bible. Proper Biblical interpretation doesn’t come overnight – it requires diligent study and training.
  • Teaching the WHOLE Word of God – Too many modern doctrines are based on small passages (to the exclusion of others). In other words, they fail to interpret Scripture with Scripture. If we consider all of Scripture when we read certain passages, our interpretations are less likely to have errors.
  • Relying somewhat on tradition, but not too much – There are those who have come before us who have diligently searched the Scriptures and have sought to know them well. We should consider their interpretations when we come across a passage that brings us trouble. This is where a good commentary comes in. On that same note, we should not over-rely on traditional interpretation, as this too leads to trouble. Consider the traditions of the Catholic church that sparked the Protestant Reformation.
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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Bible is Dangerous

  1. Most of what you’ve said here is good. However, your statement that many of the later manuscripts that have Mark 16:9-20 have them set apart from the rest of the book is not true. Bear in mind that there are, according to Dr. Michael Holmes, over 1,700 Greek copies of Mark. Five Greek manuscripts have the Shorter Ending between 16:8 and 16:9. One Greek MS has the Shorter Ending in the margin (and vv. 9-20 in the text, after v. 8). Fourteen MSS have short annotations of one kind or another about Mark 16:9-20.
    Also, while the two earliest copies of Mark — Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, from the 300′s — end the text of chapter 16 at verse 8, the contents of Mk. 16:9-20 were used in one way or another in the 100′s by Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus.

    (Send me a request and I will be glad to send you some detailed research about this.)

    Yours in Christ,
    James Snapp, Jr.

  2. Bryan

    Very good points, even if the comment about the end of Mark’s gospel needs clarification. I like the funny part about being ashamed of us asking the question… Hope you can write some more, as I just ran across this blog.

  3. Jasmin

    the bible is a mixture of word of God + word of men. many versions of the bible with many translations with even many editions where Scholars and Historians made corrections and changes. Jesus was a jew,he talk Hebrew and the Bible was in Greek.u can imagine how men can missed up with translations

  4. That is a true statement for those that have gone crazy reading the Bible. There are many documented cases about people that have literally flipped out reading the Bible, ending up in mental institutions, jumping off bridges, etc. Why does this happen?? The answer is in the title. (Reading) For many that have decided to themselves that they want to read the Bible for whatever reason, do just that . They read and that’s all they do, read.
    Lets you and I analyze the problem. Do we dare? Maybe we will go crazy? Well, not right away, as it takes years of mistakes for one to fall into that snare. Or maybe we are just hiding behind a lot of here say.(heretics.) Think for a moment about what our bible tells us when we just strait out read. If we just read these scriptures without story flow or comprehension of context and what comes after the story we get very confused .
    2 Cor 5:8>We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. For those that just read, what does that say? Well we have heard it many times haven’t we? “Absent from the body, present with the Lord” It’s a pet phrase we hear often times from what are termed “scripture poppers” having the understanding that when we die we will go to heaven. Why? Because of reading, just simply reading. Many so called wannabe Christians will read, constantly putting to memory, scriptures they can pop out there real quick to dispel ones knowledge of story flow.
    True Christians, knowing the facts, will understand the context to that scripture, showing correctly that it’s talking about one living in sin, (“absent from the body of sin, present with the Lord” now.) But without study of story flow and what comes out in the correct context, we just have, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord”
    This is one of the greatest dangers of reading the Bible. A Bible reader memorizing scriptures is in trouble right off the bat! Without proper study and story flow, putting all of the pieces together, the trouble begins.
    What’s worse is those that follow scripture poppers out of sheer vanity and playing one-upmanship. Many feel that’s the way. Cults are born from this attitude, as long as one can outdo another as to his memory scriptures, then that’s often the person people cling too. (a terrible error) Especially listening to someone of charisma or a mesmerizing personality.
    Right at this moment, someone could read what’s been written here so far and pop this one out there, >“There is none righteous”, from, Rom 3:10. Because anyone trying to be good or do something right is stopped by that scripture popped out there, using his or her method of intimidation by exercising their great minds. (One of the greatest deceptions Satan has.)
    By Proper study, you and I, taking our time in patience, know that scripture is speaking of those living in sin, Paul referring to what is written prior in the context. (psalms) There is none good no not one, (speaking of evil doers.) Rom 3:10>As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: These are the only(old test) references Paul has to use. Ps 14:3>They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, (righteous) no, not one. Ps 53:3>Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good,(righteousness) no, not one. But by someone exercising vanity of memory and showing off their ability to pop that scripture out there ,(>There is none righteous, no, not one: Rom 3:10.)
    Quoting that scripture in that way will often create trouble for a novice trying to come to the knowledge of the truth the correct way. A warning for those that are hindered in this way, BEWARE! And better then that, ask what is the context the scripture they are popping out there. Another scripture poppers love to quote, especially if they do not want to keep the commandments of God. (Not by works, lest any man should boast!) That one is usually very easy to counteract with, (Faith without works is dead) But then we would answer to someone’s folly. It would be much better to agree and just add to it, as we know, one with out the other is of no use.
    James 2:20>But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
    James 2:18>Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
    James. 2:26>For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
    Future event and attributes of His chosen.
    Rev. 14:12>Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
    Rev. 12:17>And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
    The greatest problems we can have by just reading, is keeping a lot of memory scriptures that seemingly have some clout and easily popped out there at the slightest resemblance of conversation, a terrible error. You and I, Christians need to be very careful to visually remove the numbers away from verses and stick to story flow.
    Many levels of study and errors are done by reading just the verses, after all they have numbers before them don’t they? Many fail to realize they are just there for reference, not to cram down some ones throat as a means of intimidation. They are numbered as a matter of reference, NOT DOGMATIC STATEMENTS!
    So! Getting back to what makes some go crazy? They short circuit from all of the contradictions against what they have already formed in their minds, pet formulas that seem right, but are full of holes, along the way as they keep trying to correct their many mistakes the foundation of mud and gravel give way and the rafters of the mind cave in, as the foundation of what they thought was correct, was not, Hence, CRAZY happens. This is not an opinion, these are biblical facts. It’s the knowledge of our Bibles correctly read with proper STUDY, explaining to us correctly, how we should conduct ourselves in proper knowledge of his word.
    Acts 17:11>These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
    2 Tim 2:15>Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    Isa 28:9>Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10- For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11- For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12- To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. 13- But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; (If not, this happens) that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. That’s the snare for scripture poppers. We need to be very careful readers of study.
    So! Does all of this prove out? Or are we just a bunch of lunatics? Maybe we are wrong and Christians are just a bunch of people that cannot stand the social pressures of this life and found an escape from it all in the Bible. Well we should be able to prove that also from the written word.
    Lets do this, after all, it’s a great exercise to actually know something versus guessing and never quite knowing anything for sure.
    2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, Going on Peter mentions many good things we can do and then picking it up in 2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
    Foundations of the mind.
    Are those that have terrible mental problems mentioned in the Bible? Yes they are.> Mt:4:24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. seleniazomai (sel-ay-nee-ad’-zom-ahee); middle voice or passive , to be moon-struck, crazy: Mt:17:15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
    So, we must realize that one of Satans tools is to confuse us and cause us harm. But true Christians are to shore up the mind in a way that cannot be confused. Here Jesus Christ makes mention of what we know to be truth. The context is one of what we believe and how we act upon correct knowledge. Christ states> Lk:6:48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock:(Correct knowledge) and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it:(Knowing what is and what is not) for it was founded upon a rock. Then Christ states what happens to someone that has false knowledge. Lk:6:49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation(No true understanding) built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell;(the rafters of the mind caving in) and the ruin of that house was great.
    Paul makes mention of the foundation of what we learn also, 1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, (building a right mind in truth) I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth there upon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
    Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
    1 Tim 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
    2 Tim 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
    Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
    So! To sum it up. His chosen are not just moon struck ,( off in some hazy place in the mind of spiritual unconsciousness, drifting along and just loving the Lord with a pretense of pious gestures and loving each other with a pat on the back. (patronizing) No! His chosen have work to do beyond the realm of our way of thinking and reasoning of scriptures. We must Know we Know, always.
    Your friend, Bud Crawford Vault # 1000/300/13

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