Generally when we discuss constructive theological issues, its important to establish the authorities recognized by the participants, be it Revelation, Tradition, Scripture, Reason, or Shared Experience.
In many discussions, both scripture and traditional interpretation of scripture head up the list. Once those authorities are recognized, theological arguments often fall victim to cherry picking of select verses to back up a point.
Recently while looking over a Quaker response to the Lima text (aka Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, a publication of the World Council of Churches) from the London Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, I found a great paragraph in their discussion of that sort of biblical proof-texting:
We understand the Bible as a record arising from similar struggles to comprehend God’s ways with people. The same Spirit which inspired the writers of the Bible is the Spirit which gives us understanding of it: it is this which is important to us rather than the literal words of scripture. Hence, while quotations from the Bible may illuminate a truth for us, we would not use them to prove truth.
In response to the biblical passages cited in BEM to make certain points, the statement added:
May we offer the comment that occasionally the Lima text shows too little critical discrimination in the evidential use of scripture?
What a great passage! Here, a minority voice within the Christian tradition raises concerns that many of us share — that it’s just too easy to pick out some verses to prove a point, regardless of their original context or the overall trajectory of the biblical witness or even recognition of human values masquerading as divine mandates.
There are some days when the Quakers just get it right…