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Read:  Luke 14:26

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.”

Proof-texting.  I hate it!  Proof-texting is the term for when someone takes a verse from scripture out of its context and inappropriately applies it to a situation in life in order to prove a point.  It misuses the scriptures and it abuses people.  Want an example?  These are Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26,

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.”

Most of you will recoil at this verse, and you should!   This statement stands at odds with the vast majority of what Jesus taught.  Jesus teaches love, right!  YES!  Yes, He does. This is a classic example of why John Wesley taught the importance of using four methods for discerning the truth of God:  scripture, reason, tradition, and experience, commonly referred to as the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral”.  Wesley emphasized the primacy of scripture, but he wanted people to use all four sources to confirm the message of scripture.  Wesley advocated that we use scripture to help us interpret scripture.  We look at unusual verses in light of other verses, and the whole body of scripture, in order to discern spiritual truth.

By the way, Bible scholars aren’t at all perplexed by Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26, they simply say that Jesus is using a common rhetorical method of speech called “hyperbole”, which uses exaggeration for emphasize to make a point.  Jesus isn’t really advocating that Christians should hate their family members.

Cult leaders use verses like this to separate vulnerable people from their family ties, to demand ultimate loyalty and dedication.  Biblical literalists choke on that verse, double-checking their Bible to make sure it’s really in there.  Eventually they have to concede that Jesus didn’t really mean what He clearly said in that verse, and that you can’t always take the Bible literally.  Context is important, and so is the method of speech, and the literary genre, in understanding God’s word for our lives.

Shalom, Pastor Rob Nystrom