The Most Misused Stories In The Bible, by Eric J Bargerhuff
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
In many cases, misuse is in the eye of the beholder. So it is with this book. There are many stories that are greatly misused in the Bible, and many of the stories I think of as characteristically being misused in the discussions I have with other believers are not even discussed here. So, I thought it worthwhile here to discuss some of the flagrantly misused stories of the Bible that are not included here: the stories of the healing Jesus Christ did on the Sabbath used erroneously in support of anti-Sabbath false theology, the use of Philemon to justify American slavery in the antebellum period, the misuse of Acts 10 in opposition to biblical laws on clean and unclean meats, the misuse of the story of John on Patmos in support of an erroneous view on the Lord’s day, and so on. All of these misuses, and others, I have written about elsewhere . So, in the interests of accuracy and truth-telling, this book ought to have been called Some Of The Misused Stories of the Bible, because it is not a complete list by any means.
It is not just to review the book we would have preferred to have read or written, but rather the book that actually was written, and it is to that task which I will now turn. A few aspects of this book stand out in particular. For one, the stories chosen are familiar: Gideon’s fleece, David and Goliath, Cain and Abel, Jonah and the big fish, the woman caught in adultery, Jesus’ inability to do miracles in his hometown, Zacchaeus, sowing our seed, the wise men, Judas, the Samaritan “Pentecost,” the rich fool, the use of symbolic language to justify transubstantiation, and what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. For another, in many ways, the author shows himself to be writing a polemical book, which manifests itself in at least two ways. First, the author uses many of these stories in a way that directly criticizes the religious practices of others. This is most in evidence when he criticizes Catholics for transubstantiation, a criticism I would echo, and when he comments on the way Gideon’s fleece has been used to justify those whose lack of faith is not unlike that of Gideon himself in the story. Second, the author frequently gives praise to authors like Piper and MacArthur who wear their polemical Calvinism on their sleeve. As I comment quite frequently, this is not a viewpoint I greatly enjoy reading when engaged in polemics.
So, is this work a worthwhile one to read? For the most part, yes. As this book reminds us, the essential truths of passages can be blurred and our attention can be guided amiss by the way stories are told and the details, sometimes false, that are added in the retelling or those details in the Bible that are missed. A classic example of this is the story of the magi from the east, whose number is not given in scripture (although there were three gifts) and the timing of whose visit must be determined through careful reading that shows it was after Jesus Christ was presented in the temple and the family had moved from its manger to a house in town. So, despite the fact that I find the perspective of the author occasionally irksome, and find the author very selective and not at all complete when it comes to stories of the Bible that are misused on a regular basis by professed Christians, perhaps even by the author himself in his other polemical work, this is a worthwhile book. At the very least, this book points out some of the stories in the Bible that are misused and instructs the reader on our own characteristic biases on how we misread the Bible, all of which is worthwhile and informative, and makes this book worthy of a recommendation, especially for the last chapter of the book that discusses how we (and the author!) misread scripture consistently.
 See, for example: