“The Bible was not written to us”* these words can sound like both an alarming claim and a harsh assault to the widely held modern understanding of how to comprehend the Bible. Today anti-intellectualism still influences the American church and if one does not approach the Scriptures correctly, an interpreter could find application or meaning that the original author did not intend. While it is certainly true the very basics of the faith can be discovered on plan reading, and certainly reading each passage in context provides even further clarity, education about the culture, geography, and literature are often necessary to ascertain what the author intended to communicate. Scripture actually encourages to have this type of deeper and more accurate understanding. Ephesians 4:14 is just part of a passage calling us towards maturity and states, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (NASB)
Unfortunately I have witnessed many troubled parents who had been emotional blown about, and even driven from their faith by their own, or by another’s, misunderstanding of Proverbs 22:6 which states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NASB) This verse does not serve as an absolute, but is, like all proverbs, a general truth. Parenting is certainly going to have an enormous impact on a child’s life, this however does not negate their free will, or serve as a solid guarantee, nor was it ever meant to; instead it was meant to encourage a parent to raise their child to honor God, not give them some sort of false hope. I’ve seen many tears from parents over this verse, and many have had to come to terms with their misunderstanding of the verse, or else blame themselves, many choose the later because of a deeply ingrained misunderstanding. I have also sadly heard this verse used as excuse to ignore the importance of Apologetics, and focusing solely on theology, which truthfully is hardly raising a child in the way that they should go, given 1 Peter 3:15’s command to us all, but it is actually likely to decrease the child’s chances of staying on the path of faith in Christ as an adult!
Not only do these misunderstandings cause trouble within the body, similar issues arise from skeptics and are used as ammo against the church, and the faithful. Some will charge that God couldn’t be good or true, because of verses like Proverbs 22:6 are promises that are obviously broken. A student of God’s word should be able to respond to this charge in two ways, asking the accuser about the literary context of the verse (is that meant for everyone?) and demonstrating the difference between a flawed interpretation and an infallible text. While a skeptic isn’t likely to accept the bible is inerrant, it can be demonstrated that a reader’s understanding of what something says, isn’t necessarily what the author intended. One could take “hit the nail on the head” as a literal direction or a recognition of someone’s understanding, context is the key to discovering what the author or speaker intended.
*Henderson, Scott PhD. Course Notes and Resources Biblical Apologetics: Luther Rice College and Seminary September 2015, accessed September 10th 2015, pg 3.