What is Eisegesis & Exegesis
Within the realm of theological discussion one will often encounter terms they’d likely not find elsewhere. These words and phrases vary on importance, but can help clarify a particular point. However, some who encounter them can be left scratching their heads and feeling intimidated.
Such theological jargon should never be used with the intent of puffing oneself up or intimidating an opponent. Yet, this game of wordplay does occur far too often – especially in online debate forums. Never let someone intimidate you with their vocabulary!
New converts to Christianity, or those who have recently begun studying theology can often feel overwhelmed by everything available to be learned and such terms can be perceived as meriting far more importance than they deserve. So people can be misled, taking their eyes off of following Christ and instead wrongly believe they need to be a theological encyclopedia, understanding and articulating every bit of jargon no matter its relevance.
This article is intended to demystify these terms, explain them in a simple way, encouraging the reader to pursue Christian truth.
What is Eisegesis
Eisegesis is the flawed process of understanding Scripture whereby the reader introduces their own presuppositions, biases and agendas into and onto the text. This is essentially a fancy way of saying the reader has committed confirmation bias; as the reader goes to Scripture seeking to prove their philosophy rather than derive their beliefs from Scripture.
Someone who is engaging in eisegesis is known as an eisegete, which also is the verb form.
What is Exegesis
Exegesis is an interpretation of Scripture utilizing a critical explanation. This is the process whereby the reader considers a passage and its immediate and broader context, its historical setting, the words and grammar being employed as well as the original audience for whom it was written.
Here, rather than reading your philosophy into the text, the reader genuinely studies the text in a sincere attempt to understand the meaning of the passage and the author’s intent.
Eisegesis & Idolatry
Often in an attempt to support one’s philosophy a practice known as “proof texting” occurs. This is where one begins with a premise, then goes to Scripture ripping verses out of their context in an effort to fashion an apparent defense of their philosophy.
Here, knowingly or unknowingly, the guilty party is carving up Scripture, keeping those passages they like and disregarding those they do not to form an idol which they then feel comfortable worshipping. Such an idol utilizes Scripture as mere window dressing to give an appearance of legitimacy to their philosophy, but it is in truth empty.
Idol Killer was established to shine a light on such idolatry.
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” 1 Corinthians 3:18
From time to time we need to stop and till the hardened furrows of our heart and mind. Passages whose meanings we take for granted should be reconsidered, setting aside our presuppositions and asking ourselves am I believing what is written, or what I want it to say?
“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:5