In his second letter the Apostle Paul exhorts his young protégé Timothy not to wrangle or fuss about useless words that lead to the ruin of the hearers.
Paul shares with Timothy to avoid worldly and empty chatter that leads to further ungodliness.
Paul instructs Timothy to be a workman who does not need to be ashamed, but a workman who rightly handles the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
We must be ready for such a task and give ourselves to the labor so that we, as Paul, can entrust what we have learned to other faithful men and women who will be able to teach others.
In this article we will look at some secular challenges to proper exegesis. We as ministers and students of God’s Word must recognize many of these secular systems arise from preconceptions, pre-understandings, and presuppositions that are imposed upon the Word.
We are no doubt familiar with systems such as Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. These systems are both inherently Biblical in nature with the difference being in their respective starting points. While Dispensationalism begins at the beginning and moves forward, Covenant Theology begins in the New Testament and reads it backwards into the Old Testament.
These competing systems end up with differing ideas in places. While there is much to discuss here, there is still the desire for proper exegesis working through time, culture, language etc. to perform our best attempt at delineating proper authorial intent.
There are however scores of additional theological systems that we may find ourselves influenced by or notice while studying other works that one needs to be aware of, especially with regard to proper exegesis.
The rule to remember is that whenever a system is utilized, and not all are bad, whenever we come to an issue or nebulous spot in the Text, the “system” will make the decision with regard to exegesis.
While the exegete tries to present the meaning of truth; the theologian, the system of truth. Much of these issues arise out of authority and inspiration with regard to secular systems.
A frequently utilized secular system that offers challenge to proper exegesis is that of Liberation Theology. While its roots are in the Latin American Catholic church, its agenda is more political than theological, all the while using theology as its initial vehicle and standard for its (Liberation Theology) truthfulness.
Its ideas borrow initially from Kant, as well as Georg Hegel and Karl Marx, which throws up a huge red flag for orthodox Christians. They do not begin with any genuine inductive analysis of Scripture but instead read it through their lens of political ideology to interpret the Scriptures.
Liberation Theology violates the injunction of Scripture concerning submission to government as outlined in Romans 13. Their concern over social justice rolls completely over man’s sinfulness and his need for a savior. This exegesis ascribes a totally secondary meaning to the clear ordinary meaning of the Text.
Another secular system that challenges proper exegesis this article will discuss is that of Process Theology.
This is a bit of a misnomer and deceptive on the part of Process Theology as it is actually a philosophy instead of a theology. It is some what akin to Open Theism many of you have heard of. Open Theism is the more “biblical” version and allows for more nuances regarding Divine activity than does Process Theology.
I know of some of our own who have turned to Process Theology as they felt it helped them to deal with Theodicy. Process Theology sees God as in process and always developing and completing Himself. This notion rejects all ideas of supernaturalism and space for the miraculous.
Coming to texts like Malachi 3:6 and James 1:17 with such a paradigm does violence to the proper exegesis with regard to the Immutability of God. Any idea of sin and atonement are ignored. Carl F.H. Henry states that this school of thought says Creation becomes evolution, redemption becomes relationship, and resurrection becomes renewal.
This is beyond the bounds of sound exegesis to no real exegesis at all. Philosophy is not bad in and of itself, as we use it anytime we approach the Scripture to read and interpret, but I believe this is exactly what Paul had in mind when he warns in Colossians 2:8 not to be taken captive through philosophy and empty deception.
One of the secular systems we are often confronted with is Feminist Theology. While it is vital that women be honored and respected on a personal level, in the home, and provided with ministry opportunities that the Scriptures do afford, there is a secular camp that has brought their own agenda to the table in the name of theology and its exegesis does violence to the Text of God and that is born out in its exegesis.
Feminist Theology takes Galatians 3:28 as its proof Text, pulled from its context, and says that everyone is the same before God.
Not being any difference between bond and free did not mean Onesimus was set free from his Christian master.
The context is in a salvific sense. Feminist theology rejects Scriptures authority and now with regard to exegesis, makes decisions on exegesis based on experience and personal inclination. Feminist theology says Paul’s statements in Ephesians 5:22-6:9 are “local and temporary”, but who determines what is local or temporary?
The Feminist interpretation becomes a pick and choose method, with reason and culture sitting in judgement on Scripture. Feminists continue as they define kephale (head) as source. This brings great lexical difficulty and is a claim with no solid factual support.
Research bears out this reality and the feminist agenda is intellectually dishonest. This paradigm leads to a deterioration within exegesis. If the feminist definition of head as source is maintained, God becomes the source of Christ, which is a denial of Christs deity and thereby a denial of the Trinity.
These are but a few hindrances and systems we face with regard to proper exegesis. We may not fall prey to them but some we minister to will. It behooves us to know what is going on and how to best defend the Faith. Knowing some of the enemy’s tactics and techniques can prove helpful as we seek to properly exegete God’s Word.
If you found this helpful, please let Chad and myself know with a comment.
Chad Fultz is a husband, father, and Associate Pastor for Family Discipleship at First Baptist Church, Oneida TN.
Chad is a currently pursuing a PhD in Theology & Apologetics at the Rawlings Divinity School at Liberty University.
Chad desires to teach and equip the saints to better understand and defend their faith in Christ and His Word. Chad Fultz’s e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986), 17.
 Ibid., 640.
 Ibid., 627.
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 672.
 Ibid., 674.