TOP TEN: Proof-Texting Gone Wrong



Catholics have the privilege of living a faith consistent with the WHOLE Bible. There are a number of Christian churches out there, as well as non-believers, who hone in on one verse in particular to the detriment of all others. This is called "proof-texting," or is at least the dark underbelly of proof-texting.

The biggest problem with proof-texting is the taking of verses out of their proper context. Oftentimes, people will interpret a particular verse to mean something in direct contradiction to the verses before and after it. Catholics interpret the Bible canonically, which means that our interpretation of a verse cannot conflict with what the rest of the Bible teaches. Otherwise stated, the Bible, being the Word of God, does not and cannot contradict itself.

This method, by the way, is the only one which makes sense. What if we were to proof-text books other than the Bible? Here's a mini-TOP THREE before we get to the TOP TEN:

  1. Dr. Seuss' Lorax, the bittersweet anthem of environmentalists, states the following: "Business is business! And business must grow regardless of crummies in tummies, you know." You see? Dr. Seuss actually wanted the Truffula trees cut down and the Bar-ba-loots to starve.
  2. Betty Friedan states in The Feminine Mystique, the bedrock of second wave feminism, that "truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights (...)" (16). 
  3. Little Women includes this line: "It is as useful to educate a woman as it is to educate a female housecat." Ah-ha! Louisa May Alcott, the proto-feminist, is against the education of women!
The above interpretations are ridiculous, are they not? So why would we interpret the Bible like this?

I've compiled the following TOP TEN list of the worst examples of proof-texting. Catholics are confronted with these verses, not just from fellow Christians, but from atheists as well (check out the one on child sacrifice). I hope we will all be better prepared to answer for these poor pieces of logic next time around. 

  1. Romans 3:28: "Man is justified by faith apart from the observances of the law [apart from works]"
This is the great divide between Protestants and Catholics: Luther’s new doctrine of sola fide, salvation by faith alone. Catholics argue that works are also important for salvation. The best counter-verse here is James 2:22: “Faith without works is dead” (See also Mt 5:16). Clearly, something more is required than faith alone.

  1. John 6:64: “The flesh is of no avail.”
Ulrich Zwingli, one of the Protestant Reformers, infuriated even Martin Luther when he used this verse to contort Jesus’ whole Bread of Life sermon. If the "the flesh is of no avail,” Zwingli argued, the Eucharist is only symbolically the flesh of Christ. The problem is that Jesus said “THE flesh is of no avail,” but HIS flesh is “life for the world” and “real food.” Moreover, Jesus let those of his disciples go, who refused to believe the very literal meaning of his words.

  1. Matthew 7:1: "Judge not (…)"
Especially following the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, Catholics have been attacked with this verse for supporting traditional marriage. If Jesus commanding us not to exercise judgment at all – even good judgment? If we’ve been commanded never to judge, then we need to get rid of judges and the whole legal system, as well.

  1. Exodus 20:4-6: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image (…)
Protestants identify this verse as their Second Commandment, and Catholics include it as part of the First Commandment. Protestants say, according to this, that Catholics are idol-worshipers because we have statues of angels and saints in our churches. However, if God intended to prohibit His people from making any and all graven images, why did He command Moses – just after giving him the Ten Commandments – to adorn the Ark of the Covenant with two golden statues of angels?

  1. Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
This is the number one verse Catholics hear to refute the Immaculate Conception of Mary. But wait – if “all have sinned,” does that mean Jesus, too, sinned? Clearly, given the preceding verses, Paul is saying here that Jews are not superior, sin-wise, to Gentiles.

  1. Matthew 23:9: "Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven"
I knew a girl in college who actually dropped out of RCIA because a Protestant said Catholics violated this verse. Well, so much for the Fourth Commandment! If this verse means we can call no man “father” ever, we cannot even call our dads “father” – or even “dad” for that matter. This verse is a reproach to Pharisees who seek the honor of being called father or Rabbi (meaning teacher) without the requisite humility.

  1. Ephesians 5:22: “Wives must obey their husbands as they would obey the Lord.”
Radical feminists hate this verse. Ephesians 5:25 is the other half of the equation: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Wives, therefore, should obey their husbands insofar as they are Christ-like, and husbands must be willing to sacrifice everything for their wives and families, as Christ did on the cross.

  1. Genesis 22: The Sacrifice of Isaac 
I *kid* you not – atheists claim this is a promotion of child sacrifice. God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son: "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you." (Genesis 22:2)

The Sacrifice of Isaac - Jacob Jordaens
But there’s a problem! Isaac is not a boy. Many people don’t realize this, since Isaac is often depicted in this scene as a little boy and Abraham as an old man with a long beard. There are a few problems with this. First, the Hebrew word often translated as “boy” in Genesis 22 is the same word used for Abraham’s servants. This same word could mean a male baby up to a young adult, even to age of Jesus at his crucifixion, where he, too, carried the wood of his sacrifice. This brings us to the second point, how could a little boy be strong enough to carry the wood of the sacrifice up the mountain? Ultimately, we see that Isaac, who foreshadows Jesus, was a willing sacrifice, who could have easily overpowered the much older, Abraham.

  1. Acts 2:38: “Be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to have your sins forgiven.”
Pentecostals and other fundamentalist Christian denominations baptize ONLY in the name of Jesus, NOT “in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” This is very odd given that Jesus, himself, instructs the Eleven Apostles in Matthew 28:19 to baptize in all three names. This is also why Pentecostals need to be re-baptized when becoming Catholic.

  1. 1 Timothy 2:5: “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.”
Confessing sins to a priest has been called blasphemy based on this verse. It is true that no one but Christ unites, within his very being, divinity and humanity. Nevertheless, Christ himself grants his apostles authority to forgive sins and to teach on his behalf, i.e. subordinate mediation. After his Resurrection, Jesus breathed on his disciples, saying “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). And again, as St. Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “It is not I, but Christ who [teaches] in me…”

5 comments:

  1. Ex 20. The full statement: 'Don't make images [of items of the creation]. Don't worship them.'
    The nations around the Jews worshiped images. Yahweh's intent was to keep his people's worship clean from such practices. The cherubs on the ark were objects of decoration, not worship. [Same with the decorative images of pomegranates, also specified by Yahweh.]
    Any visitor to a Catholic church can see people worshioing statues, by praying to them, garlanding them for processions on their "days", burning candles in front of them ...
    Observant non-Catholics say, 'If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, then it's idol worship.'
    1Tim 2:5. The publications of the Church often refer to Mary as "mediatrix". This is a title that the Bible does not give her, which she did not ask for, and which makes Jesus a liar.
    Mt 28. "Jesus, himself, instructs the Eleven Apostles in Matthew 28:19 to baptize in all three names." I'm curious: Just what are those three names?

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    1. Do you think Catholics are worshiping the statues - the stone, the wood, the plaster - or what these images represent? The Ark of the Covenant, itself, not to mention the cherubim atop of it, was given great, GREAT reverence - remember the fate of Uzzah who touched the Ark to keep it from falling?

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    2. The ark of the covenant: This was made by men to a divinely furnished pattern, not by men after their own image.
      It was the focal point of correct worship of the invisible God, Yahweh; it was not itself an object of worship. It was also a repository for some items that reminded the Jews of their debt to God for their salvation out of Egypt. David ordered the ark moved unnecessarily and improperly [by hand; not in its wagon], or it would not have been upset. Uzzah paid the price for David's impatience and his own rashness in disobeying the rules for proper handling.
      Statues: Anyone may worship God properly at any time by approaching him in prayer through his son. Anywhere, anytime. No statue required. When religious leaders install a 'representation of any creature' in a church and set the people to praying to it [in front of it, gazing on it, talking to it], this is an act of worship. It is a duck. Try taking away the statues and watch the reactions; you'll see why Paul counseled Christians to 'walk by faith and not by sight'.
      When Pliny the younger sent out soldiers to shut down this 'troublesome sect' calked "Christians", his men came back to express their puzzlement. 'These people have no gods in their places of worship!' That is, they had no statues. For this reason they were persecuted as "atheists". This was tantamount to treason, since the "real" gods of the nation would be offended. If you won't read ypur Bible then at least read your history - so you won't be condemned to repeat it.
      Mediatrix?
      Names? Here's a start: the son's name is Jesus.

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    3. You asked me two questions: "Mediatrix?" and "Names?" Do you realize you just *prayed* to me twice through this webpage [read: statue]? In particular, you *prayed* to me through that funny drawing of my face, i.e. a "representation of any creature", as you say. See, e.g. 1 Kings 2:17, "Pray ask ..." Isn't that ironic?

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    4. I "prayed" to you on what way? In a religious way, or in a way suggested by this blogger?
      [Quote] Notice some of the important parts of this passage. Adonijah "prays" to Bathsheba, the mother of the King, that she would ask the King to grant Adonijah's "request." This may not be the definition of "pray" we're accustomed to hearing. Adonijah is not "praying" to Bathsheba as if she were God. To "pray" simply means to "ask" or to make a request. Also, notice that Adonijah knows that the king "will not refuse" his mother. How does he know this?[end quote]
      In your excitement you remembered the questions but forgot to answer them.

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