Proof texting is preacher jargon. A proof texter first determines what they want to say, then they go hunting for a snippet of Scripture to validate their point. More often than not, the Scripture used (or abused) is just a short passage taken out of context. The proof texter isn’t generally concerned with what the text actually means (in context) but rather is only concerned with what they can make the text mean in support of their point.
I strive to take the opposite approach, especially when it
comes to Scripture. The best conclusions come when we first determine what a
text means and then apply ourselves to making that point.
Folk don’t only proof text with Scripture; they proof text
with people. Folk take isolated words or actions out of context and use them as
proof to make their predetermined point. They misread and misrepresent people
with their proof texting.
I watched it happen this week. One who was in vocal
opposition to a direction about to be taken by the group pulled an isolated
action into their argument in an attempt to strengthen their predetermined
point. It was a desperate attempt to make a point by reminding the group of some previous behavior, but it was a swing and a miss. In this case, I was on the fence and could have been swayed to lend my
voice to his… but he lost me when he proof texted.
We lose informed listeners or readers when we proof text; it
is a cheap and lazy way to make a point or support an argument. When I sense
proof texting I assume that the point is either wrong or flimsy. Proof texting
is a huge yellow (or even red) flag that turns me in the other direction.