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- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
Do Christians "Cherry Pick" the Bible?
Some people argue that Christians "cherry pick" the bible. They claim that Christians choose what parts to accept and what parts to reject based on personal preference. If a Christian uses the bible to make a moral claim against homosexuality for example, they might hear the objection “Do you eat shellfish? Do you wear clothing made from two different types of fabrics? Then you pick and choose the parts of the bible that you want to believe.”
Hermeneutics: a fancy word for interpretation?
A problem that many non-Christians have when they read the Bible is that they believe that just because it's printed in the Bible it is good, right or endorsed by God. We as Christians do not believe that everything written in the Bible is meant to be read and applied the same way.
The Bible is made up of several different types of literature. You cannot interpret a Psalm the same way that you can interpret one of Paul’s letters. The different types of literature require different types of interpretation.
Some people want to take everything recorded in the Bible completely literally. The authors of Bible will often use figurative language, exaggerations or even be sarcastic. We need to interpret those passages the way the author meant them to be interpreted. An example of this is when Paul says to the Corinthians “I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you.” (2 Corinthians 11:8 ESV) Paul did not literally rob churches. He is using hyperbole for emotional effect.
The Three-Fold Division of the Law
Another area where non-Christians might has problems is with the Old Testament law because of the belief that just because it is recorded in the Bible it is good, right and meant for all believers at all times. But not every part of the Old Testament law applies to all Christians in all places at all times.
The law can be divided into three categories.
The ceremonial law was regulations on worship given for Israel as God's chosen people. These regulations include sacrifices, rituals, festivals and dietary regulations. These laws were part of the old covenant with Israel.
The civil law were the laws that governed Israel specifically as a nation under God. This part of the law included rules on conducting business and penalties for crimes. The specific regulations are for Israel and are not binding to us though the underlying principles, or the spirit of the law, may be.
The third part of the law is the moral law which is binding the all people in all places.
A New and Better Covenant
The ceremonial law in the Old Testament forshadowed Christ and his work. We are not bound to those laws because we live under a new covenant though we may still be bound to the moral principles in the law. The Christian does not choose moral truths based on preference, as people claim, but on a fuller deeper understanding of the Bible and the work of God.
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