"The word exegesis comes from a Greek word meaning 'to lead out.' As I have said, you start with the text and draw out its meaning, Eisegesis, on the other hand, is when you start with an idea or conviction, then search for verses in the Bible to prove your point. I was warned against eisegesis, and rightly so. The danger in this is that we can take verses out of context to support just about any point of view." ~Francis Chan, p.24 'Forgotten God,' 2009 David C. Cook, publisher.
People are constantly working eisegetically on the Bible, on the Constitution, on statistics, on science. I am only 40 pages into Chan's book, but already he has emphasized several times that while it is important not to simply make up your own extreme doctrines without accountability, it is also important to let the God speak through His Word rather than come to it with your own preconceived agenda, using Scripture to support what you've already made up your mind about.
If we are going to call ourselves Christian, don't we need to 1) actually read God's Word? 2) not just read it casually but really dig in and read mark and take it to heart? and 3) use Scripture to help us understand and interpret other Scripture?
One of my favorite teachers made a point of always encouraging his students to "check it out, don't just take my word for it, look it up yourself!" This is the best advice about all thinks Biblical, but more than that, it is important advice for everything; spiritual, philosophical, political, and scientific.Don't assume, don't blindly follow. Question EVERYTHING.
This policy may seem like it flies in the face of "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7), but in this book about the Holy Spirit, Chan points out that Saint Paul praised the Bereans for not just blindly following his teachings, but examining Scripture every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).
If you're afraid of your own doubt, or if you're scared that I'm some false prophet trying to unsettle your foundations, like the serpent challenging Adam and Eve, "did God REALLY say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?" Just remember, you're going directly to God's Word to find out what He REALLY said. Not a televangelist, not some politician, not your neighbors, not a devotional book or a pastor or priest, but God's own Word itself.
If we take the trouble to actually read the Bible ourselves, and ask God in prayer to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to what He has to say to us while we read it. We might just be surprised at how different God's ideas and our own have been.
Someone once said, "sitting in church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in the garage makes you a car." If you REALLY want to know Jesus, trust Jesus, and follow Jesus, you can't let someone else do it for you. You can't be lazy. You have to read His Word for yourself.
Likewise, if you're going to be a responsible, informed voter, you can't just let some TV commercial or some direct mail voters' guide tell you about the Constitution, you really need to get a copy and look up the amendments for yourself.
God doesn't just want you to say you're on His team or for you to pledge your loyalty to Him or to defend His traditions- H wants a personal relationship with you. And He gave us His Word so that we can get to know Him and grow closer to Him every day by reading what He says to us.
Give it a try. You don't have to read whole books at a time. Start with something easy, just a chapter, Matthew, Mark, or the Psalms. Find an easy to follow translation or paraphrase like the NIV, Eugene Petersen's 'The Message,' the Living Bible or 'the Story,' but don't put it off till next month or till New Years and don't just read it once a week- make an effort to read it every day or at least three or four days a week.
If you do, not only will your assumptions about God and Christianity get challenged, but you will see everything in a new way, including (if not especially) other people.
Before you assume that you know what good and evil are and what the world's ways and God's ways are, don't just use a verse here or there to try to back up some political point of view- actually commit to reading the Bible every day for a month. You will be humbled and you will know that all of God's Word points to Jesus, His love, forgiveness, mercy and grace and that you won't ever have to win arguments again or defend God's ways- because He already won the ultimate victory and He really doesn't need your help. He wants your heart.
New International Version (NIV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive,because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]?6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.