The Importance of Context

The Importance of Context

WHEN I HEAR OR READ THE WORD “CLEARLY” OR THE PHRASE, “The Bible clearly says”, alarm bells start to ring. My immediate thoughts are something like, “The guy must be out of context”, or “He has got something wrong”. My experience tells me this. Usually many problems in understanding the Bible stem from taking something out of context. It is so easy for any of us to get something wrong, and yet to think we are right when we ourselves are actually taking a matter out of context.

Few people really understand what context is and what the consequences are of misapplying or changing contexts in the Bible. From my observations, misuse of context happens both within Identity and outside of Identity. It happens often! The consequences are either wrong doctrine or wrong practice. Many people completely misunderstand the application of “context”. Where their mistake occurs is thinking that what applies to one context applies to a differing context as well. Doing this is a major cause of doctrinal conflict, and thus projects into our actions.

Most of us will have heard about a person who is supposed to have stuck a pin in a Bible and is supposed to have read, “Judas went and hanged himself”, and then stuck in the pin again and read, “Go thou and do likewise”. This might sound a bit corny, but in sermons and in writings this activity is an ongoing reality. Yes, it does happen; and of course, the consequences may be just as unreasonable and wrong.

This matter of context can be best be illustrated by means of examples. In this paper, we can look three context areas in a general sense and then at one in detail: