June 18, 2018

“Text or Pretext, Which?”

By E. C. Koetenbah

Occasionally one encounters a zealous brother or sister who is very disturbed over some practice of another that is believed to be wrong. He or she may even be right in this matter. So he acclaims, "You must end the practice for the scripture says, 'Touch not, taste not, handle not"' (Col. 2:21).

We admire the zeal and brotherly concern but must inquire, "text or pretext"? Is this text really what Paul said? The answer is definitely, no! Paul in this context (vs. 20-23) is condemning the practice of those brethren who subject themselves to humanly devised religious ordinances and in verse 22 he specifically names some of them by way of example. He condemns them - he does not endorse them. He is contending for obedience to the pure unadulterated word of God. There is ever present the temptation for some brethren to enact by some means or other rules by which they hope to bind other brethren. God abhors the practice. Let the reader try reading the context by omitting the passage in brackets. Note Paul's injunction. Then read the entire passage and understand. You see!

An inspired quotation of an uninspired writer or speaker does not give inspiration to the source of the quotation and therefore does not bind that uninspired authority upon the faithful in Christ nor was it divinely so intended.

So let us not fall into the error of making a text into a pretext, and thus in this case endorsing the very thing one is attempting to correct. Use those texts treating of a wrong in correcting it, not those unrelated to it.

Truth Magazine IX, 3: p. 15
December 1964