Ignoring Biblical Genre

bibleFundamentalist tend to assume that since all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, all Scripture can be handled in the exact same way. Want to defend your evangelism techniques from Proverbs? Go ahead! Want to base part of your soteriology on an obscure passage from Psalms? Help yourself!

Poetry, parable, prose, prophecy — those are just labels given to texts by liberal professors who want to confuse people. Just read a verse and let the Spirit move. Everything from the most trivial details from parables to the strangest acts of minor prophets is up for grabs when the fundamentalist needs a proof text to support some preconceived notion.

In fact the only time that genre comes into play at all is when something comes up that makes a fundy preacher uncomfortable. For example, take all that sex talk in Song of Solomon. To fundamentalists this is obviously a deeply shrouded poetic picture of Christ and the Church. To prove it all you have to do is cross-reference a few verses from Malachi and 3rd John…

17 thoughts on “Ignoring Biblical Genre”

  1. This is so true when it comes to giving. Instead of going to 2nd Corinthians 8-9 where it outlines simple heart-felt giving by Christians in the NT, they instead teach tithing and go to Malachi 3, or even before that to Abraham giving the spoils of war to Melchizedek as our model for giving. They jump through similar hoops justifying “faith promise.”

    Fundamentalists often pride themselves on proper hermeneutics, but abandon that when it comes to tithing. They even ignore the fact that tithing was abhorred by Baptists in early America and that it is a made-up doctrine that only started to be regularly practiced about 100 years ago.

    Worse yet, when giving should be done in secret (Matt. 6) we instead bring men up to the pulpit for “tithing testimonies” [Darrell – this should be another post by itself!].

    1. faith promise giving to missions is one of my favorite IFB sacraments. We had a dude come do an annual missions conference one time who’s whole point the whole week was that you need to DOUBLE your missions giving. If you didn’t double your giving you don’t have faith God will provide for your needs.. I think I reduced my giving that year, just in “rebellion” (another favorite categorizations used by the IFB preachers)..

  2. Not to mention those “offering” contests where people are encouraged to give and make a big show of it.

  3. I could be wrong, but I thought tithing went back to the Roman Catholic Church. The Feudal system in the Dark Ages taxed people by 10% of their land, that is ten percent of the earnings went to the Lord of that area. The Catholic Church picked up on this and started taxing 10% as well, later going to the Old Testament for proof-texting.

    I could be wrong, its been a while since I studied it out.

  4. Yes, that’s true. Tithing was unknown in the early church and it was hundreds of years later that it started to be practiced by the Roman Catholic Church. But it started to creep into the Protestant American churches in the nineteenth century and became much more fully practiced, especially by IFB churches, in the early 20th century (tithing as such was rediscovered!).

    I believe it is one of the most abused practices in Christianity and has actually made the church poorer because it does not allow Christians to be the kind of givers outlined in 2nd Corinthians. I know, because as a ‘faithful’ tither for 20+ years, I began to really study this practice out and saw how little Biblical support it has. It is now a joy to give as the early Christians did like those in 2 Corinthians.

    This is why Darrell’s post struck such a cord with me because I would still consider myself an IFBer and yet I saw in my circles that NT giving was ignored while the emphasis was on tithing in the OT (we’re ‘robbing God’, the storehouse is now the church, etc.). Tithing was an ordinance, and that ordinance was nailed to the cross.

  5. Yeah, like those poor apostles. When replacing Judas, they went back to the Psalms and took a passage about “let another take his office” totally out of context and genre. It’s a wonder God didn’t smite them dead on the spot.

  6. One thing I appreciated about my Bible classes at BJ was the fact that they emphasized studying Scripture literally, but only as it was meant to be taken literally. In other words, study the book of Psalms as poetry that teaches a literal truth–i.e., God does not have feathers, but does care for us with the same protection that a mother bird gives her chicks.

  7. It’s so true they do this! I got proof-texted into oblivion by dispensationalists, who supposedly believe that certain passages aren’t relevant until certain points in history. But mention that during a proof-texting tirade, and you’re not allowing Scripture to work in your life!

    1. Fundy hermeneutics=projecting what they do on you if you disagree. They are free to take verses out of context if it proves their point, but clear passages about OT traditions being removed in Christ are explained away by calling on “principles.”

  8. Darrell, the HISTORIC view of the Christian church has been that the Song of Solomon is about the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. For you to claim that it is some “sex manual” is blasphemous and perverse beyond every measure.

    Why don’t you try reading John Gill’s commentary on the Song of Solomon some time?

    1. Why don’t YOU try reading the actual text of the Song of Solomon?
      It just might be about what it says it’s about on every page.

  9. I should add that it is you, Darrell, who is ignoring Biblical genre in the case of the Song of Solomon.

  10. It’s always sad to be late to the party, but lest a poor stray surfer find this and see no rebuttal…

    Henry, Darrell never said it was a “sex manual.” He merely mentioned that there is stuff about sex in it. That is undeniable, unless words don’t mean what they say. I’m not sure why you’re so hot under the collar. Why can’t this passage be both the record of a human love story, and on another level also symbolic of Christ and the Church? Many passages throughout the Scripture have a fuller or spiritual meaning in Christ Himself: but that doesn’t mean they don’t also have a meaning at the moment. When Abraham was made promises about his seed, those promises were clearly fulfilled in part by Isaac, in part by the nation of Israel and in part by Christ Himself.

    In fact, where Song of Solomon ONLY a far-in-the-future spiritual description not meant to be taken literally in any part, it would be unique in all of the Old Testament.

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