Below is a brief essay I wrote while studying Greek for exegetical purposes. I thought originally to write an article as a follow-up to my last post My Opinion Doesn’t Matter but then I was going through some of my documents and came across the subject document. The reason for the article is because many believe that the Bible is subject to the interpretation of individuals. The fact is it is not.
As such the following is presented as it was originally in seminary.
William James Carter, I
The Importance of Good Exegesis
Recently this writer had opportunity to sit under a local pastor who chose not to study the Scripture but declared that he relied strictly on the Holy Spirit at the time of preaching. With this he never took notes and often used specific words out of context. One such word was “save” as used in Luke 8:51. The Scripture was used totally out of context thereby teaching the people the wrong idea which resulted in confusion.
This then is part of the importance of good exegesis. When good exegesis is not performed then what is taught can be damaging to the hearers. This is coupled with the fact that most do not read their Bibles regularly and study it even less. This then makes the preacher the ultimate authority of God’s Word. So, if the preacher declares a thing to be true and it is not true not only does it create confusion in the minds of the unlearned but it also creates mistrust, divisiveness and possibly a falling away from the faith.
If these negative items are true then their opposites must be true as well. If the preacher takes time to properly exegete the Word rather than creating confusion he will create peace. In the absence of mistrust there must be trust. Union eradicates the divisive spirit while those that may fall away, because of what ultimately can be construed as heretical, become stronger in the faith.
The above example of the lack of exegesis has resulted in weak membership. That is to say that none of the members have a clear understanding the Word of God therefore there is no reliance on it. Instead there is an expectation that the pastor will hear from God and give them whatever they need. Ultimately there has been the creation of a cult-like following of the pastor because no one is allowed to question what is being taught and if anyone does there is a severe penalty. With this there is tremendous damage done not only to those being “ministered” to but the impact goes beyond the immediate following to the families and friends of the parishioners. Unfortunately, the ultimate damage of this example has been that some have fallen from the faith.
But the pastor noted above appears to have a motive for his treatment of the presentation of the Gospel. While this writer is being careful to use good tact in this presentation there has to be acknowledgement of the fact that good exegesis prevents one from becoming arrogant concerning the things of God. This is to say that without dutiful exegesis one psychological problem could play out as arrogance.
There are many that feel the need to control others and some in ecclesiastical authority use the Scripture and pulpit to bolster their own sense of significance. When this happens there is no need to do proper study of Scripture instead the person presumes that he has been preaching so long that there is nothing he does not know.
This attitude was witnessed by this writer in that the pastor all but dared anyone to call into question his ability to “teach” and “preach”. His arrogance did not allow him to listen if someone may have had a suggestion or question that seemed contrary to what he taught. In fact, the psychological need for him to control lent him to public open rebuke of anyone that merely sought clearer understanding of what was taught.
So then, proper exegesis of the Word creates a right mind in the minister. He realizes that he has no need to control the people of God but that they are in need of good leadership – and that leadership can only come in the absence of arrogance and psychological weaknesses. It also allows for good reasoned discussions thereby promoting not only spiritual growth but also good practical academia. Good exegesis is the laying down of one’s own views in order that the truths of the Word are presented not to fulfill the needs of the speaker but to strengthen all that fall under his voice. Good exegesis results in the building of a strong and unified church.