Manfred Brauch, now retired from many years of teaching at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer), calls us to a more serious approach to Scripture in order to end the all-too-common abuse of Scripture.
Scripture is used for everything by everyone … what I mean is that everyone thinks the Bible is on their side. Which means we’ve tamed the “blue parakeet” passages.
But I’ve been thinking of the many who have a great idea, know the texts where that idea is found, and then run everything in the Bible — and I mean everything — through that one idea. These folks “use” the Bible and end up “abusing” the Bible. That’s why we need more Bible studies that focus on what the Bible does say in its context.
Brauch addresses just that concern and his book is called Abusing Scripture: The Consequences of Misreading the Bible
. I’m not hearing much about this book, even though it deserves a wide hearing and would make an excellent textbook for college students and a good Bible study book for the serious student of the Bible.
In the process of urging us to take more seriously what we are doing — and he’s smack-on in this appeals — Brauch illustrates his points. The focus of his illustrations revolve around three biblical themes: the use and justification of force and violence, the relationship of men and women — home and church and society — and the concern for justice and the sanctity of life.
After a welcome sketch of the inspiration and authority of Scripture, in which sketch he shows a moderate traditional view, Brauch addresses the following “abuses” of Scripture that can be found on too many church corners:
Which of these abuses do you see the most? Do you see others that concern you?
1. The abuse of the whole gospel, which he argues distorts the whole Bible: the healing, redeeming work of God is both personal-spiritual and social-corporate. Overdoing either or ignoring either distorts both gospel and the Bible.
2. The abuse of selectivity — selecting the passages we want to believe and burying the others.
3. The abuse of biblical balance — riding one hobby without considering of larger themes or complementary themes. He examines elevation of particular sins and imbalancing theology and ethics.
4. The abuse of words.
5. The abuse of context, and here he examines literary, theological, historical and cultural.
The whole is an appeal to be more responsible, to take more time, and to think more deeply. We need this book. It would be a very good textbook for upper level college students or for seminary students.