(This was a bulletin article from a couple of years ago that also appeared on the http://www.preacherspen.org site before it got eaten.)
We have societies and organizations to defend animals. Child abuse cases have been in the local and national news constantly of late. I wonder, though, if anyone cares about Scripture abuse. The Bible is abused, misused, neglected, and forced to say and do things it really shouldn’t all the time (preachers are the guiltiest of this). Neglect may be the most common form of Scripture abuse but the others are bad, too. I would like to point out some passages that, in my opinion, are abused often.
Whenever we talk about the worship assembly, two passages are used to back up whatever opinions we have. John 4:24 (“His worshippers must worship in spirit and truth”) and 1 Corinthians 14:40 (“fitting and orderly way, decent and in order”) are often quoted when discussing how our assemblies should be. I find it interesting that if you have 10 different people with 10 different opinions about what “in spirit and in truth” and “fitting and orderly way” actually mean, instead of seeking to understand what each other means, they think it is sufficient to quote these verses and all others must back down. We have made these passages say what we want them to say.
Sometimes our opinions might be correct but we use the wrong scripture to back it up. Proverbs 29:18 in the KJV says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. This is often quoted to say we must have great vision, in the sense of leadership, planning, great ideas for God. These things are great; but Proverbs 29:18 is saying something else. Here, it is talking about revelation or prophecy, from God, not vision in the sense of planning ahead. Even by reading the full verse in the KJV, we see that one who “keepeth the law” is happy. The law is revelation from God. This passage is clearer in more recent translations. It sounds good, but we should look elsewhere to support the idea.
In 1 Peter 2:9, some translations say that we are a “peculiar people”. You and I have heard preachers talk about how the world will look at us as weird or different because we follow Jesus. Well, the concept is true but isn’t found in that word. Fortunately, though, it is found in the same verse. Merriam Webster tells us that he word “peculiar” comes from the Latin meaning “private property.” That is the sense of the word which is also translated, “a people for God’s own possession” (NAS). Much of the comments made about being different are rooted in the concept of being “Holy,” or “set apart.”
These are just a few examples of many ways we abuse scripture. Just because the Bible says, “God is love,” doesn’t mean we can define “God” and “love” however we want to. Most of us at one time or another bring our personal opinions to the Bible and find passages that seem to back them up. That is very different than studying the Word and seeking to submit to It.