Overlooking the Context

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This error, also referred to as “proof-texting,” is the practice where a verse or a phrase is isolated from the surrounding text in order prove a point. Many examples of this occur in each case of which the words of the isolated text are completely re-interpreted once they are removed from their surroundings. This is especially prevalent among certain cults that claim to be Christian but are not; such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists. Many non-Christian religions are also very good at proof-texting as well, such as the New Age Movement and the religion of Islam. While Jesus Himself was often the subject of proof-texting, as can be noticed predominately in the gospel accounts of His life, in each case the text in question is not taken out of its original context but is used to show Jesus’ credentials by means of passages to which most contemporaries would have already been familiar. The error of proof-texting occurs when the original text is interpreted to say that which is in opposition to, or ignorant of, the context in which the text is found.