Throwing the Book

I’ve noticed this tendency in on-line dialogue with Christians to respond to a comment by just quoting scripture or a string of passages. I’ve seen this in blog, discussion forum and Facebook comments. Now I think it’s reasonable for Christians to quote Scripture. However, when we respond by only quoting a verse or passage of Scripture, it sends a message. It communicates a few things I think.

  • We’re really not interested in hearing what the other person is saying
  • That other person obviously does not know Scripture
  • We have the holy upper-hand, so to speak
  • We are right and they are wrong

Whatever the reason, it says I really am not interested in dialoguing with you. There are other problems with responding with only proof-texts, as well, especially with a string of proof-texts. One of the main issues is addressing the context. I’ve written more about that here. But again that takes communication. Throwing a passage of scripture at someone is not really communicating.

However, one exception that comes to mind is quoting something in support of what they are saying or as a means of edification. Because at that point, it’s not really dialogue anyway but something more akin to pressing the Facebook “like” button.

So here’s a radical idea. Perhaps we should talk to the person first. Make sure we understand their perspective correctly. Identify with them as a person. When quoting scripture, explain why that passage is relevant to the discussion or use it as support of your point. What that communicates is that you are willing to engage with person and what they are communicating.

Otherwise, it can have the impression that we are throwing the book at someone and preaching at them rather than talking to them.


About Lisa Robinson

Servant of Christ, DTS Grad, member of Town North Presbyterian Church (PCA), non-profit professional, anti-poverty advocate, writer, thinker, explorer of ethnic food, lover of good coffee and a good laugh.
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4 Responses to Throwing the Book

  1. xulonjam says:

    Excellent post, Lisa. The bald Scripture quote shuts down a conversation and comes across as (most of the time it really is, I guess) a I’m-right-and-you-don’t-believe-the-Bible blunt instrument.

  2. xulonjam says:

    Even if, as Kim said, it’s a matter of humility; that one is submitting to the Scriptures, an explanation is in order as to why you think it fits in the context of the discussion.

  3. ljrobinson says:

    Thanks Jim. I agree. I think even when we just want to affirm what someone says it helps to have some type of intro, like “this reminds me of when Paul says X…..”

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