We Haven’t Arrived Yet

The sum total of all useful exegetical knowledge did not reach the apex during the Reformation, or even in the past century. As much as we can must learn from our theological forebears, we face the harsh realities of this century; and neither nostalgia nor the preferred position of an ostrich will remove either the threats or the opportunities that summon our exegetical skills to new rigor.

D. A. Carson. Exegetical Fallacies. 2nd ed. Baker Academic, 1996.

The Preciousness of the Word

Careful handling of the Bible will enable us to “hear” it a little better. It is all too easy to read the traditional interpretations and invest them with a false, even idolatrous, degree of certainty. Because traditions are reshaped as they are passed on, after a while we may drift far from God’s Word while still insisting all our theological opinions are “biblical” and therefore true. If when we are in such a state we study the Bible uncritically, more than likely it will simply reinforce our errors. If the Bible is to accomplish its work of continual reformation – reformation in our lives and our doctrine – we must do all we can to listen to it afresh, and utilize the best resources at our disposal.

D. A. Carson. Exegetical Fallacies. 2nd ed. Baker Academic, 1996.

Cannot Be Taken Lightly

This study is important because exegetical fallacies are painfully painfully frequent among us—among us whose God-given grace and responsibility is the faithful proclamation of the Word of God. Make a mistake in the interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s plays, falsely scan a piece of Spenserian verse, and there is unlikely to be entailment of eternal consequence; but we cannot lightly accept a similar laxity in the interpretation of Scripture. We are dealing with God’s thoughts: we are obligated to take the greatest pains to understand them truly and to explain them clearly.

D. A. Carson. Exegetical Fallacies. 2nd ed. Baker Academic, 1996.

When and When Not To Strive For Balance

“It is easy to think of other polarities under this heading that sustain relationships that are more complex yet. For example, the Bible urges Christian unity (think John 17), and the Bible insists on the non-negotiability of sound doctrine (think Gal 1), even if this means the most fundamental disruption of unity, namely, excommunication. The two desiderata are not quite parallel: one, the truth of the gospel, is always non-negotiable; the other, the virtue of unity, is often presented as something eminently desirable, but sometimes as an act of compromise (e.g., the alliances of Jehoshaphat). In other words, to achieve balance in polarities of this sort, one must study how Scripture holds them up, if and how each relates to the other, whether both are equally non-negotiable, and so forth.”

– D. A. Carson, “The Beauty of Biblical Balance