Monday, May 13, 2013

Review: Abusing Scripture: The Consequences of Misreading the Bible By, Manfred Brauch IVP Academic

Abusing Scripture: 
The Consequences of Misreading the Bible [Paperback]

Manfred Brauch 

  • Publisher: IVP Academic (March 17, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0830825797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830825790

This is one of the best books on the topic of Biblical Misrepresentation I have read. Braunch has a definite way of putting into clear context sections of scripture that have for years been pulled out of context and form fitted to someones doctrinal idea of a "truth". Many times preachers will unknowingly pull a sentence or two out as a sermon illustration or as a topic starter thinking there is no harm in this, but what happens when we begin adding to The Word ends up belittling the truth of scripture. Its not our job to make scripture fit our sermon or our notes, but rather our duty to make sure our sermons and notes fit the truth of Scripture. After Reading this book I have to agree with the very appropriate and concise review given by George P. Wood the Director of Ministerial Resourcing for the Assemblies of God.

 Brauch is past professor and president of Palmer Theological Seminary (formerly Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary), as well as the author of Set Free to Be and Hard Sayings of Paul. The seminary has been described as "conservative, yet progressive" because of its combination of theological orthodoxy and social activism. The primary example of this conservative progressivism is undoubtedly Ron Sider, Palmer's best-known professor. Brauch is also an able exponent of that tradition.

Abusing Scripture offers a sixfold taxonomy of ways evangelicals (including us Pentecostals) are guilty of "doing violence to" Scripture:

  •  The abuse of the whole gospel through a failure to address human need for salvation in both "personal and social dimensions"
  • The abuse of selectivity, which "is not an outright distortion of the meaning of given texts" but rather entails "ignoring or rejecting...other parts or passages of Scripture that support a different teaching, or present an alternative perspective, or advocate an opposing view"
  • The abuse of biblical balance by means of "emphasizing certain biblical doctrines, perspectives, teachings, themes or mandates, while ignoring or minimizing the equal, or even greater, importance of complementary ones"
  • The abuse of words, "when words and expressions are decoded (by teachers or readers) in ways that are not in keeping with the original encoding [by the biblical authors]"
  • The abuse of literary and theological context, in which the meanings of specific passages are not derived from "the immediate textual materials that surround them" or from "the overarching theological concepts in broader literary contexts"
  • The abuse of historical situation and cultural reality, which is really a failure to discern between "those things in Scripture that are culturally or historically relative, and, therefore, limited in their inspired authority to the people and situations addressed at that time, and the things that are transcultural and transhistorical, where the authoritative Word of God ins binding for all Christians at all times and in all cultures"

Throughout his discussion of this taxonomy, Brauch returns to three illustrations of these kinds of abuses in practice: "(1) the use and justification of force and violence in human affairs; (2) the relationship between men and women in home, church and society; and (3) the concern for justice and the sanctity of life in all areas of human relationships, institutions and culture."