History, Preaching, Theology

Abusing History in Bible Teaching

As a student of history and the Bible, I often find myself telling people to learn the background and context of things before making definitive statements.

As of late, however, I am discovering that the only thing more dangerous than ignorance of historical context is the abuse of incomplete knowledge of history. People who develop a thesis based on partial or unverifiable evidence can develop some very erroneous and even dangerous thoughts about the Bible and its message.

Be cautious about making definitive statements because you read some interesting historical anecdote or perused a website. Verifying your evidence and your conclusions is part of the responsibility of any competent Bible teacher.

By all means, learn all you can. Don’t be afraid of the backdrop of the Scriptures, but make sure you don’t go off half cocked because some idea caught your fancy. More poor doctrine has been born from incomplete context than probably any other single factor.


3 thoughts on “Abusing History in Bible Teaching”

  1. Here’s an interesting question: is Pentecost history? At the core of that story is a claim that more than 1000 people joined a movement in the name of Jesus in the very year he was executed. Think about Waco, Texas, a city about the size of first century Jerusalem. Think 1993: dead leader, no new religion. We might have more sophisticated tools than they did, but people living in and around Judea at the time of Jesus were neither isolated nor gullible. If that claim weren’t true, it would have died out. It seems plausible that what became Christianity originated in an explosive event of unprecedented nature and unknown cause.

    Do I abuse history in writing this?


    1. There was certainly something substantial to the movement – something that could survive persecution and dispersion. The idea that some critics view it as just a fanciful fiction makes no sense. There was more than just teaching or hierarchy. Something tangibly supernatural fueled the Church.

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