Generalizability of Scripture: You’re Doing It Wrong!

My sister likes a lot of conservative stuff on Facebook and it shows up in my newsfeed.  I usually try to ignore it, but every once in a while something piques my interest and I have to click on the link and check it out.

That happened the other day with this new Mike Huckabee promo:

As I was watching it, I started wondering whether that particular verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, could be rightly applied to the situation Huckabee is applying it to.  So I started looking into it.

In the sciences, there is a concept called generalizability.  When a researcher runs an experiment or analyzes data to produce a new result, one of the questions that he or she has to answer is whether the results of that experiment or data analysis can be generalized to a larger population.  For example, say a researcher discovers in a survey of 20 men, a statistically significant portion of those men prefer blonde haired women over redheaded women.  Can we then generalize these results to say that men in general prefer blondes?  There are very specific reasons for or against being able to generalize the results of research onto a larger population.

It seems that Huckabee, as well as countless other christians generalize 2 Chronicles 7:14 to include themselves, and in this case, America into the promise god made in that verse.   I don’t think this is reasonable.  I’m always being told to read verses in context, so let’s give that a go, shall we?  Here is the verse in context:

2 Chronicles 7:11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

I have taken the liberty to emphasize some important words in the scripture.  This shows exactly what the intent of the author of these verses was trying to say.  The promise was specifically for Solomon, the Jews of that time and place, and the land they lived in.  If you remain authentic to the intent of the passage, there’s no way it can be generalized to people other than the Jews and the city of Jerusalem, or possibly the entire land of Israel as it existed at that time.

But there is no way that an authentic reading of this passage can make someone think it applies to America, let alone Mike Huckabee.  That’s quite a stretch that is in no way supported by this passage.

So there it is: another case of christians using the bible out of context, using it to further their own political aims, and picking and choosing the verses they follow, as well as how those verses are interpreted.

I don’t think that’s how it is supposed to work.  I don’t think that’s how any of this is supposed to work.  You’re doing it wrong!

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One thought on “Generalizability of Scripture: You’re Doing It Wrong!

  1. you are in fact correct. that verse has nothing whatsoever to do with either America or Christianity. it most definitely is being misapplied. gold star!!
    -mike

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