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Perhaps the title was a trigger. Many Evangelicals, and perhaps others, accuse members of not reading the Bible 'in context.' Frankly, most of us are guilty from time to time. We have our pet verses and our favored passages--the ones that seem to prove our beliefs. My simple suggestion for understanding any scripture in context:  Read it through quickly--even by scanning. For example, try reading the Bible for 10-chapters a day. Skim over the so-and-so beget so-and-so, go quickly over the elements including in building the tabernacle--just get the big picture of what is happening. You will finish in about 3-4 months. Afterwards, when someone comes a long and brings you a "magic-bullet" verse, supposedly proving something that seems odd, there will be a sense. They may seem to have a point. You may not have an immediate answer. However, Holy Spirit will shield you, and you will just know that this "proof" doesn't fit the big picture of scripture.

Thoughts?

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2 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

Perhaps the title was a trigger. Many Evangelicals, and perhaps others, accuse members of not reading the Bible 'in context.' Frankly, most of us are guilty from time to time. We have our pet verses and our favored passages--the ones that seem to prove our beliefs. My simple suggestion for understanding any scripture in context:  Read it through quickly--even by scanning. For example, try reading the Bible for 10-chapters a day. Skim over the so-and-so beget so-and-so, go quickly over the elements including in building the tabernacle--just get the big picture of what is happening. You will finish in about 3-4 months. Afterwards, when someone comes a long and brings you a "magic-bullet" verse, supposedly proving something that seems odd, there will be a sense. They may seem to have a point. You may not have an immediate answer. However, Holy Spirit will shield you, and you will just know that this "proof" doesn't fit the big picture of scripture.

Thoughts?

Man I absolutely love this!

I don’t think we can know the scriptures unless we know the context. I use context to memorize scripture. I can’t quote to you any scripture except the few church wide favs (ie 1 Nephi 3:7). But what I can do is have a particular teaching come to mind, think of any scripture that I have heard of that supports it, then think of who said it, then think of the context of which they said it, think of the chapter (or potential chapters) in which that scripture exists in, then go to it. On my mission that process took all but 3 seconds. I was a scripture machine! I’ve been struggling to get back to that and unsure how... I think you showed me the way!

Im going to do that read 10 chapters a day thing. That is an Amazing idea!

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I'll give an example in which this works. In the 1980s-90s (and somewhat today) there was a teaching going around Pentecostal circles called "the prosperity gospel." The basic idea is that we are children of the king, princes and princes. Thus, we should live like that. We should be healthy, wealthy and wise. If not, we lack faith--something is wrong. There was a "Precious Promise Box" that contained scripture cards with all the promises of God. What about the disciples? Well, hey, they owned a fishing business. Jesus was so rich soldiers gambled for his robe. One read through the New Testament--even the gospels and the Book of Acts should refute that kind of teaching. However, so many got sucked into it. It did not help matters that many of the heresy's biggest proponents had television platforms.

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19 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

I'll give an example in which this works. In the 1980s-90s (and somewhat today) there was a teaching going around Pentecostal circles called "the prosperity gospel." The basic idea is that we are children of the king, princes and princes. Thus, we should live like that. We should be healthy, wealthy and wise. If not, we lack faith--something is wrong. There was a "Precious Promise Box" that contained scripture cards with all the promises of God. What about the disciples? Well, hey, they owned a fishing business. Jesus was so rich soldiers gambled for his robe. One read through the New Testament--even the gospels and the Book of Acts should refute that kind of teaching. However, so many got sucked into it. It did not help matters that many of the heresy's biggest proponents had television platforms.

Elder McConkie, who died in 1985, once said something to the effect of: When men find a way to worship God, as they suppose, and still satisfy their carnal lusts, they think they have discovered a great thing. (End of pseudoquote) One of the foundational teachings of the restored Church of Jesus Christ is that we must be willing to give all—literally, everything we possess, including our hearts and thoughts and very lives—to the building up of God's kingdom. And not just be willing; we must actually do it. There are no "vows of poverty "in the restored gospel of the Lord, but neither is there anything like the modern "prosperity gospel" that we often hear about. Prosperity is the natural outcome of Zion; but that promise is extended to us for some future day, not necessarily for today. The idea that following the gospel will make us rich by worldly standards is rank heresy. I would hope that all Christians believe that, not just Latter-day Saints.

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19 minutes ago, Vort said:

Prosperity is the natural outcome of Zion; but that promise is extended to us for some future day, not necessarily for today.

It is all over the scriptures, most easily seen in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon - obey and prosper.  But it is a community promise.  If the community (or a sufficiently large percentage of it) are righteous, they will prosper.  As you say, this is a natural outcome - because people are hardworking and honest with one another and care for the poor and needy, thus avoiding all the strife which destroys prosperity, while doing all the things which develop prosperity.  The scriptures also show the dangers of prosperity.  One could argue that this is visible within the US today.

But it is also clear that this promise is for the community, not necessarily each individual - even at their height, the Nephites still had poor and needy to care for.

Anywho, when examined in context, all these things teach me that God is generous beyond our imagining and rewards the righteous.  But he also allows us to suffer (illness, misfortune, accident, at the hands of the wicked, etc.), but that's for our good.  See, context explains everything. :)

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From the sounds of what is described, it sounds like a suggestion to simply read through the Scriptures/Bible.

What I mean is that to read the Bible in order, starting at Genesis 1 and reading it in the same fashion as a book (but more intently with study) than picking and choosing. 

I do this regularly.  I have heard that many do not, but do not understand why others would not read the Bible in this fashion.  To me it is the best way to understand what is going on and the extent of what it is in relation to the rest of the Scriptures.

I suppose there are those that don't do this, but I think there are many that read it in the same fashion.  I would even say to avoid skimming through it unless there is no other way that you can persuade yourself to read through the entirety of the Scriptures. 

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5 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

I would even say to avoid skimming through it unless there is no other way that you can persuade yourself to read through the entirety of the Scriptures. 

Let me explain my recommendation more precisely. The purpose of reading through a set of scriptures quickly--with skimming--is to gain the big picture--the overview. It is a similar approach to the time I took Western Civilization in a two-week modular class. It was so awesome to have the professor say, "You remember when we discussed the Dark Ages," and we all did--because it was 3 days ago, rather than five weeks. Likewise, to read through scripture quickly, and gain that bird's eye view of events, can be such good background when someone brings up an odd interpretation of a verse or short passage. The background allows us skepticism when a teaching does not seem to fit, so we can search more before accepting, "every wind of doctrine" that comes our way.

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2 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

Let me explain my recommendation more precisely. The purpose of reading through a set of scriptures quickly--with skimming--is to gain the big picture--the overview. It is a similar approach to the time I took Western Civilization in a two-week modular class. It was so awesome to have the professor say, "You remember when we discussed the Dark Ages," and we all did--because it was 3 days ago, rather than five weeks. Likewise, to read through scripture quickly, and gain that bird's eye view of events, can be such good background when someone brings up an odd interpretation of a verse or short passage. The background allows us skepticism when a teaching does not seem to fit, so we can search more before accepting, "every wind of doctrine" that comes our way.

We may be talking about two different things here?

If skimming brings a birds eye or overview so that you have a background understanding of scripture is good, wouldn't it be far better to have a more intimate and fuller understanding by reading it in full rather than skimming it?  This would give you a more complete and better understanding as well as deeper detail on the background than a bird eye view would.

As we have many years (well, most of us) would it not be better to read through comprehensively rather than skimming through?

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2 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

If skimming brings a birds eye or overview so that you have a background understanding of scripture is good, wouldn't it be far better to have a more intimate and fuller understanding by reading it in full rather than skimming it? 

Have you never zoomed out on a map to get an idea of relative location, or general topography, and then slowly zoomed in to the point of interest?

That's the sort of thing PC is talking about.  The OT is a long book.  Most people won't (and many can't) take the time to read it in short order so that they can remember the broad picture, but a larger percentage can skim1 the book and thereby get the broad strokes, then, after, go back to reading and pick up the details - and, if they're making the effort, they can fit those details into the broad view they've previously established.

1Though it seems a fair number of people haven't learned to skim.

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On 11/6/2018 at 7:32 AM, prisonchaplain said:

Perhaps the title was a trigger. Many Evangelicals, and perhaps others, accuse members of not reading the Bible 'in context.' Frankly, most of us are guilty from time to time. We have our pet verses and our favored passages--the ones that seem to prove our beliefs. My simple suggestion for understanding any scripture in context:  Read it through quickly--even by scanning. For example, try reading the Bible for 10-chapters a day. Skim over the so-and-so beget so-and-so, go quickly over the elements including in building the tabernacle--just get the big picture of what is happening. You will finish in about 3-4 months. Afterwards, when someone comes a long and brings you a "magic-bullet" verse, supposedly proving something that seems odd, there will be a sense. They may seem to have a point. You may not have an immediate answer. However, Holy Spirit will shield you, and you will just know that this "proof" doesn't fit the big picture of scripture.

Thoughts?

Thanks PC, these are overall good thoughts. I think @Vort posted a thread about people nailing "a truth" and then finding scriptures to support that truth is similar to what you are describing, and I agree with this point.

The part that gives me hesitation is the "magic-bullet" verse. On my mission, and after, through gospel conversations with Protestant Christians they would often use this phrase (or a similar phrase) to reject the idea of baptism for the dead, and the three degrees of heaven, and other verses of scripture they would pinpoint as "magic-bullets." They would say that these verses have been taken out of context.

This is why the last sentence you provide is tantamount, "Holy Spirit will shield you, and you will just know that this "proof" doesn't fit the big picture of scripture." The Holy Spirit is how we know what is true. I would also add though, prophets (particularly seers) have been since Adam (patriarchs/seers) the Lord's way to reveal truth, even if it is one verse the prophets/seers are able to -- through the Holy Spirit -- to enlighten the minds of God's children.

I also know, that God can take one verse of scripture and open the heavens to more knowledge, even if people say it is out of context. We have a whole section Doctrine and Covenants 76 that was the result of translating John 5:29 in correlation with other matters/revelations.

I think your challenge is similar to the challenge we just received from President Nelson to read the Book of Mormon simply looking for scriptures where the Lord is mentioned. I have been able to see an overall picture I had not been able to see previously. This is due to the faster pace of reading. I think @zil's example of zooming in and zooming out with maps is a good analogy to express the idea.

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2 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

We may be talking about two different things here?

If skimming brings a birds eye or overview so that you have a background understanding of scripture is good, wouldn't it be far better to have a more intimate and fuller understanding by reading it in full rather than skimming it?  This would give you a more complete and better understanding as well as deeper detail on the background than a bird eye view would.

As we have many years (well, most of us) would it not be better to read through comprehensively rather than skimming through?

Your first sentence may be the right answer. Most believers who have been active for awhile have engaged in comprehensive studies of scriptures. However, my sense is that very few have tried what I am suggesting--a fast-speed reading, to get an overview. So, the short answer is that skimming through scriptures should not be seen as an alternative to regular, in-depth study, but rather as an supplement. Most of us are good at seeing the trees, but we often miss the forest. Skimming will give us that. Of course, no method will work if we are not prayerful and Spirit-led in our reading.

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@zil, How do we discern out-of-context-magic-bullet proof texts from applicable scripture passages that explicate a doctrinal truth? Answer one is the confirming or red-flagging that the Holy Spirit gives us. Beyond that, the wise counsel of teachers, preachers, and yes, prophets help us. Another support--the one I've pointed to in this string--is to have an overview of scripture in our hearts and minds. One way of gaining this is to read through the scriptures in a short amount of time. Hope this clarifies.

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On 11/6/2018 at 8:32 AM, prisonchaplain said:

Perhaps the title was a trigger. Many Evangelicals, and perhaps others, accuse members of not reading the Bible 'in context.' Frankly, most of us are guilty from time to time. We have our pet verses and our favored passages--the ones that seem to prove our beliefs. My simple suggestion for understanding any scripture in context:  Read it through quickly--even by scanning. For example, try reading the Bible for 10-chapters a day. Skim over the so-and-so beget so-and-so, go quickly over the elements including in building the tabernacle--just get the big picture of what is happening. You will finish in about 3-4 months. Afterwards, when someone comes a long and brings you a "magic-bullet" verse, supposedly proving something that seems odd, there will be a sense. They may seem to have a point. You may not have an immediate answer. However, Holy Spirit will shield you, and you will just know that this "proof" doesn't fit the big picture of scripture.

Thoughts?

I actually gave testimony recently to something along these lines somewhat.

I've downloaded the audio files for all four standard works.  And I listen to them in the car @ 2x speed.  When listening to it that fast, I miss a lot of details.  But I get to see patterns and overall themes.  I get the overall story.  

In fact, there are times I get more of the story because I go through it so fast.  If I have to read it slowly, it seems like the different parts of the same story are actually separate stories.  It is only by listening to it very quickly that I've been able to connect dots when I realize Part A was actually the same story as Part C.

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5 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

How do we discern out-of-context-magic-bullet proof texts from applicable scripture passages that explicate a doctrinal truth?

Holy cow, dude.  Am I supposed to understand what that question asks? 

... half an hour later, after diagramming the sentence...

:huh::unsure:

9 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

Hope this clarifies.

What did I do to prompt asking me?  (That is, I didn't think I asked for clarification or disagreed with you, just rephrased the idea you presented.  Maybe I got that wrong...?)

Meanwhile, my general answer is that the whole of scripture, plus the Holy Ghost, plus prophets should all agree with each other.  If they don't, something's wrong.  (At least, that's my answer unless I misdiagrammed your sentence.)

PS: Get yourself a TWSBI Go and some Colorverse Ham #65 - good stuff!

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Attempt 3:  How do we tell whether or not a Bible passage really supports and explains a doctrine or not? I answered that skimming through to get a big picture is a good tool. 

Oh, and I think I created confusion by using @zil. It should have been @Anddenex. 😎

Edited by prisonchaplain

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My worst subject in elementary school was cursive writing. I remember having to hand write a paragraph for a job interview, once. Most candidates took five minutes. It took me half an hour. On the other hand, I do have a keyboard that makes clacking noises, and has tactile response like an old-fashioned electric typewriter. 

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4 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

cursive writing.

That was printing.  Perhaps with the odd cursive character thrown in.  Just sayin'.  I've seen lots of FP users with lousy handwriting.  Like everyone else, it's not about the handwriting, it's about making writing as pleasant as possible.  Some of us enjoy it.  A few just hate it less than with other pens.

Meanwhile, I do like a nice clacky keyboard. :)

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7 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

My worst subject in elementary school was cursive writing. I remember having to hand write a paragraph for a job interview, once. Most candidates took five minutes. It took me half an hour. On the other hand, I do have a keyboard that makes clacking noises, and has tactile response like an old-fashioned electric typewriter. 

Apparently, you just need to be versed in Fountainpenese. It's an obscure tongue taught in the deep recesses of the prep school society with over 10 practitioners worldwide.

Edited by Guest

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32 minutes ago, zil said:

online.jpg.cc125cb262fa295f20a025f9fe3adb30.jpg

The numbers speak for themselves...

Quit ruining my talking point with your useless facts!

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13 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

How do we discern out-of-context-magic-bullet proof texts from applicable scripture passages that explicate a doctrinal truth? Answer one is the confirming or red-flagging that the Holy Spirit gives us. Beyond that, the wise counsel of teachers, preachers, and yes, prophets help us. Another support--the one I've pointed to in this string--is to have an overview of scripture in our hearts and minds. One way of gaining this is to read through the scriptures in a short amount of time. Hope this clarifies.

 

12 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

Attempt 3:  How do we tell whether or not a Bible passage really supports and explains a doctrine or not? I answered that skimming through to get a big picture is a good tool. 

Oh, and I think I created confusion by using @zil. It should have been @Anddenex. 😎

Let me begin with the following first:

1) We are in agreement that people can and do take verses of scripture out of context.

2) We are in agreement that the Holy Spirit is the source to see things as they really are, and as they really were, and will always be.

3) We are in agreement that we need to protect ourselves from this type of religious fervor that focuses on a part of the scripture, while forgetting the whole. I would call them religious hobbies. The prosperity gospel is a good example provided. We have a similar disease in the Church where people who have had the hand of providence smile upon them (prosperity) looking down and not becoming familiar with people who have not.

4) We are in agreement that the method you have provided allows one to see the "whole" in order to plainly see out of context misplaced religious fervor.

In answer to your "Attempt 3" question, we need to do the following:

1) We need to have the Spirit of the Lord with us always.

2) Read our scriptures and become acquainted with the doctrines of Jesus Christ. As we become more read and versed we can more easily recognize when a scripture passage is taken out of context. The example of "the prosperity gospel" is a prime example of someone taken scripture out of context, while ignoring other scriptures that speak otherwise.  We have an excommunicated member who entertained a religious hobby for baptisms of those who were eight years old. Despite the Lord's words in scripture (other verses of scripture) he decided that adults who were baptized at the age of eight could enjoy a "second baptism." Anyone who is somewhat read, has the spirit with them, and keeps the commandments can easily recognize this is a religious hobby, and not the mind, will, or voice of the Lord. I get baptized again every Sunday without having to go back into the water. :)

This is the easiest method of determining a scripture taken out of context. What have other scriptures specified and do they confirm or contradict what is being said. For example, a person will read, "Ask and it shall be given." They become fixated on the ask and given, while ignoring the other verses that specify, "if we ask not amiss," "if we ask with a sincere heart," "If we do not ask to consume it upon our lust," etc... Scriptures become intertwined into one great whole.

3) Keep the commandments and honor our covenants we have made with the Father in the name of his beloved son, Jesus Christ.

4) The "source" of the inspiration. If a person is revealing something "new" from a verse of scripture -- who is not the Lord's prophet -- and telling people to follow him. We can safely make the choice to reject it. God reveals his word through his prophets to the Church collectively on any new matter. This does not mean we can't know for ourselves new doctrine, or receive new knowledge. If we have, and it is new, then we keep it sacred and never reveal it until the prophet has been authorized to reveal it. The chances are, the prophet is already well aware of this "new" knowledge, but has been constrained (like Nephi) not to reveal it -- as of yet.

As a side note, the overall emphasis of your post was spot on. The "magic bullet" just happens to be a buzz word for me, and so I clarified my thoughts. If the "magic bullet" is from the Lord's annointed -- his prophet -- who is speaking as a prophet (i.e Doctrine and Covenants 76), then I have no problem with "magic bullets."

I hope that clarifies :D

 

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