How perfect can the word of God be if it can be misused?
Wouldn’t a perfect God create scripture so perfect that it cannot be twisted or taken out of context the way the words of men can? — HP
I noticed this question while browsing around Yahoo! Answers — a minor pastime I recently picked up from my wife.
The question asked by HP is by no means new, but it does deserve an answer because he is absolutely correct in his assumptions: The Word of God is misused.
As an example, the vast majority of people who have ever quoted “Judge not, that you be not judged” ((Matthew 7:1.)) have quoted it in such a way as to misuse the Scriptures.
I more than agree that the Word of God can be at times difficult to understand; in fact, the Scriptures not only recognize that portions therein are hard to understand, but they also anticipate the fact that people will misuse the Scriptures.
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. The Second Epistle of Peter 3:15–16
Who twist the Scriptures? The ignorant and the unstable.
To reverse that, we can see that to properly understand the Scriptures, to avoid twisting the Scriptures, we must be informed and stable. We must approach the Scriptures intelligently, consistently.
The Scriptures aren’t like other books; while the best works of men can do nothing more than convey a fragment of a finite mind to other men, the Scriptures’ perform a far higher task in that they express a portion of the infinite mind of God to man; it can scarcely be said that we are only getting a slice of the overall metaphorical pie — a slice from an infinite pie still leaves an equally infinite pie! ((That’s one of the interesting things about infinity; if it exists, it cannot be diminished.))
At least when we are tasked with understanding another man, we are aided by the fact that most men think similarly — no, it isn’t “sex this, sex that” all the time. We have similar aspirations, desires, needs. These thoughts may be dressed up in cultural clothing, but the essence is largely similar.
Not so with God. His ambitions are not ours, for there is nothing He must attain. His needs are not ours, for with Him, nothing is lacking. His desires are not ours, for He is untainted by this world.
The prophet makes this plain:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. The Book of Isaiah 55:8–9
Think of the relationship between God and man as like unto the relationship between a man and his dog. While a man may talk to the dog day in and day out for several years, the dog understands very little of the message — the dog recognizes its name as referring to itself and may even be able to relate a few basic commands — fetch, roll over, sic ‘im, heel, et al.
The same situation happens with the Scriptures. God has told us a great deal, and like the dog listening to its master, we so often read the Scriptures without understanding.
Like the dog, we hear things which we perceive to be of benefit to us. Give a dog a biscuit after telling it to sit enough times, and eventually a dog will sit on command; it obeys because it perceives a benefit in obeying.
This is why we so often approach the Scriptures and pick and choose those things which seem to be solely for our benefit, context be damned.
- Judge not lest you be judged. ((Matthew 7:1))
- The prayer of Jabez. ((1 Chronicles 4:10))
- Believe and be saved. ((John 3:16))
- The Lord is your Shepherd. ((Psalm 23:1))
This doesn’t happen because God failed when He inspired the Scriptures; this happens because people are ignorant and unstable. Bottom line? Sin.
Sin taints everything in our lives, and it has a devastating effect on our understanding of the Scriptures.
This is why to truly understand the Scriptures, one must first be saved — one must be transformed by the Holy Spirit. We must have eyes to see and ears to hear the teachings of God, and these are faculties with which we are not naturally born.
This is why atheists create
laughably sorrowfully ignorant sites listing what they think are “morally questionable” or “contradictory” content in the Scriptures, and this is why Christian apologists have been able to easily respond to such accusations throughout history.
The Bible is difficult to understand, but with a little bit of faith, the Scriptures will reveal so much to you, irreversibly changing how you view the world around you.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. — C.S. Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?