Tuesday, 5 February 2013

CONTEXT IS CRUCIAL WHEN READING BOOKS.

Everybody knows how to read a book, right? If that's so, why do so many people come up with different ideas of what the Bible says. I believe it's because they don't read verses in the context of the rest of the passage.

The minister of a cultic house church that I attended for more than fifteen years certainly was guilty of this. One example of his misreading was Deuteronomy 33:17. "His glory is like the first born of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh." Brother Herald, as i referred to him in my book, assumed this meant America and Canada. He reasoned that since the United States has ten times the population of Canada, they must be Ephraim. Canada was, according to his warped understanding, Manasseh.

Brother Herald also reinforced this belief with Psalm 72:8. "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." Since Canada stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic and from the Saint Lawrence River to the high Arctic, he assumed that it was a prophecy about the nation.

Another of Brother Herald's off-the-wall notions was that God would fly weak Christians to a city of refuge in the Nahanni Valley. He claimed that Revelation 12:1 to 6 justified this belief. "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, in order to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a male child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." From the metaphorical language, the meaning of this passage is the story of Christ's incarnation, not some future event.

Thanks to John MacArthur, Hank Hanegraaff, Alistair Begg, and many other biblically astute teachers, I know the proper way to read the Bible. Like any literature, it has cultural contexts, literary devices, symbolism, and similar attributes which need to be understood. Cherry-picking scriptures and forcing them into one's own notions does violence to the text and misleads naive believers, such as I was at one time.

I wrote extensively about that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.