Ron Reffet is a regular contributor to Believers Radio and his blog posts are redistributed here with permission.
There is no shortage of the effects of biblical illiteracy in our culture, especially within the church. That is almost a shocking statement, however whenever we drift from the gospel, we should expect nothing less. Along with the illiteracy comes misinterpretations or what David Croteau would call “Urban Legends of the New Testament”
What Croteau has done is given us a great resource to help combat the crisis of misinterpretation and biblical illiteracy with a wonderfully simple yet extremely effective book filled with true biblical answers to many of the most common misinterpretations of God’s Word.
Take for instance chapter 7 regarding the passage in Matthew 7:1 about not judging others (a very relevant topic) He first unravels the legend of the meaning, I loved the quote from Inigo Montoya (yes from the Princess Bride.) “I do not think it means what you think it means” Croteau then proceeds to break down what the verse does not mean. I loved the example that he gives in regards to the misinterpretation of this verse, “The Sermon on the Mount calls on Christians to judge others in the sense of being discerning. Jesus’ illustration immediately following this prohibition is primarily intended to communicate the hypocritical penchant humans have for criticizing others while tolerating the same (or worse) behavior in themselves (Matt 7:3-5) Jesus concludes that illustration by saying that after the log is removed from your own eye, then you will be able to see clearly enough to help your friend by removing the speck from his eye. This means that you will have to see the speck, the “minor shortcoming”, in order to remove it.”
In our day and age, when this verse is quoted most frequently, I found his example here to be most helpful.
Croteau goes on to discuss the rest of Matthew 7 in regards to Jesus’ words regarding tossing our pearls before the pigs. “In Matthew 7:6 Jesus prohibits his followers from giving “what is holy to dogs” or from tossing “your pearls before pigs.” Obedience to Jesus’ words requires discerning the identity of the “dogs” and of the “pigs.” Finally, how are Jesus’ followers expected to watch out for “false prophets” (Matt. 7:15) if they are prohibited from discerning what is false?”
I would also add, how can we be expected to give a call to repentance if “everything” is okay in God’s eyes? In our culture we want a god who approves of our sinful behavior and never ever calls us to a place of turning from that sin. Which is where this verse is commonly quoted, extremely out of context with the words of Jesus.
David Croteau goes on to explain what the verse indeed means and then as in all of the short sections, he gives a very practical application for the verse. His response here is very good, “While many of us are quick to criticize and condemn other Christians , we should be more generous in our assumptions about others actions. You might see another Christian doing something that appears sinful, but we shouldn’t conclude too quickly that our judgement is correct. While sometimes it could be obvious, other times reality is much more complicated that what we think. Try to give the charitable assumption when possible.”
I was actually disappointed that he didn’t go further into discussing the misquoting of this verse by our culture. However he does provide a list of resources that would indeed be more extensive in studying these verses in Matthew’s gospel.
Another great thing about this book is that throughout the book there are QR codes that you can scan with your smart phone, (download a QR reader in any app store) and there you will find David Croteau in video form navigating through 10 urban legends of the New Testament. This is something that I find incredibly helpful and B&H Publishing has done this before, most notably with their Life Essentials Study Bible by Gene Getz. (technology is amazing!)
Overall the book Urban Legends of the New Testament would be a fine resource to add to your library’s shelf, for a reference tool or just for digging deeper into the New Testament and being able to give an ample reason for the great hope that we now have because of the Gospel!
Source: Think On These Things