8 Degrees of Biblical Support

Preaching 4Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.   16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness…”    (II Timothy 2:15-16)

IT IS NOT UNCOMMON  for preachers and teachers to fall prey to implying or insisting a premise has a Biblical mandate by tacking on a few verses.  To rightly divide and use the Scripture is to understand to what degree the Bible does support a premise… or not.  Consider:

1    Black & White Commands.    Clearly stated directives that are to be universally applied.  This is the strongest degree of Biblical support for a premise.  Those that follow are progressively weaker.

2    General Life Principles.  Broadly stated truisms (Proverbs) designed to set general parameters and therefore guide us in personal decision making.  This leads us to “personal convictions” that are relative, rather than “universal applications” that are absolute– the main point of Paul’s brilliant explanation in Romans 14: “Let each man be convinced in his own heart and mind… one eats as unto the Lord… the other does not eat as unto the Lord.”

3   Models in Narrative Passages.  Biblical illustrations that inspire imitative attitudes & behavior. Abraham walked by faith, so should we.   Paul did great mission work, so should we, etc.

4   List of Texts to Prove a Premise.   Listing verses with related or identical terms like “child,” “woman,” or “saved,” to support or proof-text a premise, though the word definitions and/or purpose in using the term may vary from passage to passage.  May be valid or not.  Negative example:  a male chauvinist could list texts about Eve, the witch at Endor, Jezebel, Michal, and Sapphira to try and prove that “women are all trouble.”

 5   One Text Theology. Using one text as the exclusive or preeminent guideline to draw or support a premise.  One writer astutely     reminded us that “one verse does not make a theology.”  It is a worthy caveat to keep in mind as we properly search for the clearest texts in Scripture to shed light on the ambiguous  or fuzzy texts in Scripture.

6   Implications from the Text.  Seemingly logical deductions that may or may not be accurate An easy negative example would be treating Exodus 1:15-20 this way:

[]   Midwives let male Hebrew babies live.

[]   Midwives lied to Pharaoh about it

[]   “God was good to the midwives”

[]    Therefore: God blesses lying. (We know this logical implication cannot be true because later  we have a Black & White command that specifically prohibits lying (Exodus. 20))

 7   Metaphorical or Allegorical usage.  Taking a general image and  “poetically”  expounding on it to illustrate or try to prove a premise.  Very tricky and dangerous.  Comes across as Biblical support, but it really isn’t. Abuses of this abound in history.

 8   Arguments from Silence .  Since the Scripture doesn’t prohibit or mention it one way or the other, it must be okay.  This has no more weight than pure conjecture and imaginative speculation.

May we use His Word as carefully, skillfully, and wisely as surgeons use their scalpels, and always with a goal to bring healing. []

— Dr. Mark Gonzales * pastormark@markpg.org * Ft. Myers, FL