There are basically two tactics used by most fundamentalist preachers when confronted with passages of Scripture that are unclear, confusing, or contradictory to their own doctrinal positions. The most common is simply to pretend that such troublesome verses don’t exist. This involves just reading some other verse before launching into the weekly rant. After all, it’s not like it really matters what the text is, we all know that the sermons is going to end up on the pastor’s four or five pet topics without fail.
But for those who are convicted that ALL Scripture is given for doctrine, reproof, and self-promotion, there exists another tactic: just read it and then make something up. Guess. Theorize. Give random definitions to the words and then just make it say whatever you want. Bonus point if the passage contains words no longer in common usage.
But what must be avoided here at all cost is the fundy s-word: “scholarship.” Definitely don’t open up commentaries by other people who actually have a clue about the original languages, cultural context, and traditional interpretation. Don’t read translations that straighten out the syntax a little. Just make something up and keep moving. After all, every fundy pastor has The Spirit, And THE CALL™, and the best doctorate that his home church can provide him. Trusting him is inevitable.
But whatever the case there’s something I’ve only heard a handful of fundamentalist pastors in my life ever say: “I don’t know what that means. I don’t think anybody really does.” Honesty like that is almost as rare as a really good exegesis of Genesis 38:8-10.
Posted by Darrell