In an article titled “Cherry-picking the Bible and using verses out of context isn’t a practice confined to those opposed to vaccines – it has been done for centuries,” John Fea says the following; “From my perspective, the response of some evangelicals to the vaccine reveals the dark side of the Protestant Reformation. When the Bible is placed in the hands of the people, void of any kind of authoritative religious community to guide them in their proper understanding of the text, the people can make it say anything they want it to say.”
Fea is right in a sense, people throughout the existence of the Scriptures have misinterpreted and misapplied what they have read including “authoritative religious” communities. Misinterpretations run the full spectrum from honest mistakes to outright attempts to misinform and control others. It was this latter practice by the Roman Catholic Church that led to the Protestant Reformation. That is the dark side of Roman Catholicism.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic my advice to those who asked was that they should consult with medical professionals and pray, and base their decisions on what they thought was best for them. Because the Scriptures enjoin us to be “sensible,” Titus 2:2-6.
Regarding taking the Scriptures out of context, I recognize there will always be those people who will try and make the Scriptures say what they want them to say. But I take what the apostle Peter said seriously, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God,” 2 Peter 1:20-21.
This is why I have made it a priority to study and practice orthodox biblical hermeneutics. I would rather the Scriptures be made available to everyone so that each of us have an opportunity to read and study them for ourselves without a higher ecclesiastical authority telling us what we can or cannot believe or how we should live.
The proper way to interpret Scripture is in many ways the same as we would understand any other literary writing. It is important to understand semantics, what words mean, and syntax, how words are structured in a sentence to convey meaning.
God is the ultimate Author of the Bible, but He condescended to inspire men to use different forms of literature and different human literary devices, such as adumbrations, metaphors, symbolism and prolepsis just to name a few, to convey His truth to other men. All to transmit to each of us His Word so we could understand it and live it.
Like every other human being I struggle with a fallen nature and realize that there could be error in my understanding of the Scriptures. But I am conscience bound to live the Scriptures as I understand them, and give liberty to others to do the same.
I am in agreement with the statement, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.”