Saturday, September 22, 2007

"A Text Without a Context is a Pretext"

Renowned Evangelical Protestant scholar Dr. Donald A. Carson ascribed to his father, a Canadian minister, this phrase which has become widely-used:

"A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text."

It's usually quoted in the slightly truncated form, "A text without a context is a pretext."

I.e., without examining the context in which something (in this case, Scripture) was said, one can easily (or even intentionally) misappropriate or misuse or misapply or misrepresent a text to support a position that it in fact does not support.

But what if the context for a Scripture or a Scriptural passage is not simply its immediate location in the paragraph or pericope or chapter or book, but the Church?