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  • Writer's pictureLES HENSON

Let’s Stop Proof-Texting

Les Henson

Let’s stop proof-texting for it distorts Scripture by removing text or texts from the context in which it is located and, in the process, loses the true meaning of the text or texts. Proof-texting also results in a shallow faith in that this approach fails to take the Scriptures seriously. Instead of proof-texting, we need to locate a text or texts in the story of the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We also need to locate the text in the context of the book in which the text or texts resides and the immediate surrounding chapters. In contemplating any text or texts, we must keep moving from the surrounding verses and chapters to the scope of the whole of the Bible and back. This in-out process will allow us to see the immediate context and meaning of a text or texts within the scope of the whole of Scripture.

I would also propose that this constant need for a text to fit any, and every situation is unhealthy. Instead, we need to have a sound grasp of the whole story from Genesis to Revelation. We need to know the Scriptures intimately so that when we face a difficult situation, or immediate crises, in our lives, or the life of our community we can respond biblically and theologically without having to think about it, or search around for a text. Bonhoeffer says that in such circumstances if you have to think about it, then it is already too late.

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