Proverbs 14:15 MSG
I'm a preacher. Have been for about 35 years, now.
I tend to think in terms of scripture. I'm not a fundamentalist. I don't believe that every word of the Bible was dictated by God to be taken literally by every human soul who ever reads it in any time or place. It doesn't mean I want America to be a theocracy. It just means that scripture, especially the red letters of the New Testament, is the lens through which I tend to view the world. So it's only natural that I, occasionally, quote scripture when talking about politics, or economics, or art, or life, or whatever.
Some people are offended by those quotes. They call it cherry picking the Bible. But all quotes from scripture are not cherry picking.
If you have read the text and studied to determine its original historical setting... If you have compared the different translations and worked to discover the geographical location in which it was written and the one for which it was written, the audience, the purpose, the intent of the writer… If you have considered the literary context, if you have done all of this and determined that your situation or your problem, or your issue, is a comparable one… And you have determined that the text is illustrative or illuminative, and you quote that text, then you have engaged in exegesis (reading from) and that is a responsible and appropriate approach to the text.
If, on the other hand, you have formed an opinion based on some other data, some other philosophy, some other consideration, and then you go to the Bible to find a verse or a story or a quote that, lifted out of all of its contexts, seems to support you’re a priori opinion and you use that quote to support your opinion, that is cherry picking, or what scholars call, eisegesis (reading into), and what preachers call “proof texting.”
Cherry picking, or proof texting, or eisegesis, whatever you want to call it, is irresponsible, unethical, inappropriate, inauthentic, immoral, illegal, and fattening.
Dean Feldmeyer is the author of 5 novels, 4 non-fiction books, three plays, and over 100 essays, articles, poems, and short stories, some of which can be found on this web site.