Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Prooftext?

That my earlier post on “missionary dating” resulted in some debate came as no surprise. What did surprise me, however, was the complaint about me “prooftexting.” Lately, I’ve seen some online debate about this, but never took it seriously until now.

“Prooftexting” merely involves using verses to support arguments, and that might or mightn’t result in verses being taken out of their proper context. Most of the time, I believe the charge of “prooftexting” is a “red herring” (an attempt to distract the opponent from the real issue at hand). Jesus Christ and the devil “prooftexted” their way through a debate (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-12). I could point out the numerous times when Christ “prooftexted” to the Jewish leaders and scholars and when the Apostle Paul “prooftexted” to the recipients of his Epistles…but that would require “prooftexting.” The second century Christian writers and everyone since have continued the “prooftexting” tradition. In my opinion, there’s little evidence to support an argument that “prooftexting” per se is bad.

Getting back to my original post: What needed to be discussed was whether or not a command not to enter “unequally-yoked” marriages can be inferred from 2 Corinthians 6:14. Instead of just questioning that interpretation many Christians hold, the commenter made “prooftexting” the issue. I’m all for a reevaluation of that verse in light of the broader passage, but (as the commenter’s own arguments proved) that’s going to take a lot of legitimate “prooftexting.” We have no other means of building a scriptural argument.