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Do Christians "Cherry Pick" the Bible?

Updated on June 9, 2012

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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    • Civil War Bob profile image

      Civil War Bob 5 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

      Welcome to HubPages, Bockshiner! I voted up and interesting to this hub...I gave up golf decades ago, so I won't read your other two unless the urge to go "ruin a good walk in the woods" as Winston Churchill said strikes! You might find my hub, "Cherry Picking, Sour Grapes, and a Bite of an Apple" interesting. Enjoy your day!

    • bockshiner profile image
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      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      Thanks Civil War Bob. I'm still trying to figure out this Hubpages thing. Your hub looks interesting. I will definitely check it out.

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      Hxprof 5 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      Was drawn to this article because of the title. It seems to be a response to another 'hub' article claiming that Christians cherry pick. You've made a quick, accurate summation of the importance of God's word and how it applies to Christians. I voted up and interesting.

    • bockshiner profile image
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      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      Thanks Hxprof

    • profile image

      Write to Inspire 5 years ago

      You make good and truthful points in this article. I would say the majority of Christians fall into this category and sadly it is these folks who cause the most controversial events to happen in today's society. Good job on the article.

    • bockshiner profile image
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      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      Thank you Write to Inspire. And thanks for reading my hub.

    • Rina Pinto profile image

      Rina Pinto 5 years ago from Dubai - UAE

      Welcome bockshiner, Laws are good and God is Love. God shows us through various Gospels,parables,teachings,rebuking from both the OT & the NT. As for cherry picking, i would say when a believer is called to rebuke/preach/teach/warn it is when God directs the Teachers/Pastors/Preachers/Evangelist to speak to HIS lost sheep/sons/backsliders through certain verse/chapter/scripture. This is not to condemn but to show him/her the stairways to Heaven. Thanks for this hub.. God Bless you and lead you to lead His wheat into His barn!

    • bockshiner profile image
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      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      You're right Rina Pinto. The Bible is used for correction, teaching and training in righteousness. Thanks for stopping by my hub.

    • lstCitizen profile image

      lstCitizen 5 years ago from California

      Well done bockshiner. I'd also commented on that other "cherry-picking" hub with some of these same points. One thing that I add is the fact that the Christian Church existed (about 400 years) BEFORE the canon of the Bible was established and (about 1500 years) BEFORE the printing press was invented. So the premise that Christianity is based on a bible is entirely false. Emma couldn’t respond to this, (Because if she did, her entire argument would fall apart). Now it may be fair to criticize cherry-pickers for making doctrinal mistakes, but it is ridiculous to use those mistakes for criticizing Christianity generally.

    • bockshiner profile image
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      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      Good points lstCitizen!

    • profile image

      Jacob Cremer 5 years ago

      Doesn't specifying civil laws, moral laws, and ceremonial laws as being different count as cherry picking? I think that would be adding to the bible. Where in the bible does it say what kinds of laws no longer apply?

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great hub, unfortunately many Christians these days do commit the crime of choosing parts to believe and parts not to believe.

      Great job explaining hermeneutics as well!

      Well written and informative, voted up and useful, keep up the good work!

    • bockshiner profile image
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      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      Thanks for your comments

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      I think the one part of the New Testament which Christians tend to forget is Galatians. It is helpful to see the different types of OT Laws, but it also can tempt us to hang onto the old. The NT is clear. Jesus said He would fulfill the whole law. Paul picks this up and says if you try to live according to one particular OT law, you are obliged to keep it all. The Law is the Law. Don't complicate it. The NT says it is finished. Galatians Galatians Galatians. It is like a blind spot in the evangelical world. They want to keep the law of the tithe. But the old is gone. I have bowed out of the Christian world because of these kinds of silly arguments. I did not say I turned my back on God by the way. One more thing. If Christians really, really believed in hell, they would forget everything else and spend one hundred percent of their time trying to rescue their loved ones from it. But this is not what happens. Christians have parties, vacations and jobs. They don't really believe that their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters are going to burn for eternity. Christians go on with life like all is well. Silly, silly debates. My God is bigger than this.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You are welcome, anytime!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Cam, unfortunately I agree with everything you just said concerning complacent Christianity. Many of us do live our lives with no care for those who dying spiritually. Thank you for that "kick" in the butt. It was very insightful and necessary for me in my stage of life.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Good work...the Bible needs to be taken as a complete work, not just the verses we like....it is a complete love story, God's love for man.

      Thanks

    • bockshiner profile image
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      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      Cam thanks for your comments. I wouldn't say that trying to understand the Bible is a silly argument. Jesus said that if we loved him we would keep his commandments. How would we know his commandments if we are afraid of discussing what the Bible says. Galatians tells us that the law doesn't save us. But it still shows us what sin is. I find it sad when I see someone that rejects Christianity because discussing who God is is just too scary for them, they would rather come up with who God is themselves. Your God doesn't want you to discuss who he is and what he wants of his people. That doesn't sound like a very big god at all.

    • bockshiner profile image
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      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      FSlovenec, you're correct. The Bible is a complete work and should be looked at that way. Thanks for stopping by my hub.

    • profile image

      Cam8510 5 years ago

      Bockshiner, Galatians also admonishes Christians who, while admitting salvation is by faith, believe they are kept by the Law. Which seems to be your position. I have spent my adult life studying the Bible and have found Christians spend a great deal of time on subjects that produce nothing but more arguments. Example: asking the title question of this hub solely to berate people who don't agree with you. The question section of hubpages is for asking genuine questions in order to learn from others.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      My apologies. We aren't in the question/answer area are we? Your description of Bible study principles was good and helpful. The only place I disagree is with the place of Law under the New Covenant. Apologies also for overstating my case in my previous post.

    • bockshiner profile image
      Author

      bockshiner 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      I never claimed that we are kept by the law. We are saved and kept through faith alone by grace alone. But I still believe in sin. This hub This hub isn't for the purpose of berating anyone. This hub is a response to atheists claims that Christians cherry pick verses to decide what is sin and what isn't. I'm sorry if you misunderstood.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      The threefold division of the Law is helpful as a way of organizing the material and understanding it. But, when Jesus said that He had fulfilled the Law, I doubt that He expected any of His immediate listeners to break the law up in this way and know which parts were fulfilled and which were not. The book which you are advertising on the hub claims that the Ten Commandments are binding on us today. Obviously I am going to bring up the question about the Sabbath. In the end, the NT instructs Christians to worship on Sunday. So, the NT trumps the OT. Why not skip the part about the Ten Commandments being for today and recognize that NT teachings cover all those bases. There is no need to confuse things by suggesting that one third of the Law is still binding on us when it isn't at all necessary.

    • profile image

      Write to Inspire 5 years ago

      cam8510 you are wrong!! Nowhere in the Bible New or Old does it say Christians worship on a Sunday. Sunday worship is a Catholic invention here's the proof, "It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest(from the Bible Sabbath) to the Sunday...Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves,to the authority of the Catholic Church," Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk about the Protestantism of Today,page 213. Why do the catholic church believe they had this right? Because they believe that, "The Pope is not only the Representative of Jesus Christ, but HE IS Jesus Christ himself,hidden under a veil of flesh." -The Catholic National, July,1895. Bottom line by worshiping on Sunday you follow the pagan worship (Antichrist)of the catholic church and DENY God his rightful day of worship Saturday.

    • profile image

      Hxprof 5 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      The requirement for Christians to 'worship' on any one day of the week isn't stated anywhere in scripture. The Jews day of worship at the temple was Saturday - that was under temple worship. God's presence is no longer limited to the glory of glories - Christ did away with that on the cross, tearing the veil as He died. Now our bodies are the temple of God. Paul said this in Romans 12:1.

      Bottom line is that every day is a Sabbath Day - that is the day of worship. If we offer our bodies as a "living sacrifice", this is our worship and it's done every day. We're not to avoid gathering together to worship as one, but there's no specific day of the week decreed for that even though many Christians gather on Sundays.

    • profile image

      Write to Inspire 5 years ago

      Hxprof But God set aside the seventh day as Holy and as a day of rest. God says he's the same yesterday,today, tomorrow. IF we don't acknowledge the seventh day as Holy are we not calling god a Liar?

    • profile image

      Hxprof 5 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      No we're not. I realize that Seventh Day Adventists advocate this very thing, and perhaps Jehovah's Witnesses do as well, but of that I'm not certain.

      Again, I hold to the comment I made above and will not converse on this subject any longer in order to avoid doctrinal arguments...I don't have time for it. Best to you.

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