There is an old preachers’ tale of a young man who turned to the Bible for guidance on making decisions. Using the text as a divining rod, he would flip through Scripture and let his finger land on a verse, using the result as a divine insight into how he should decide.
One day while wondering what to do with his life, he flipped his Bible open and pointed to Matthew 27:5. He read, “[Judas] went and hanged himself.” He decided to try again and on the second attempt landed on Luke 10:37, “Go and do likewise.” He tried flipping one more time and arrived at John 13:27, “What you do, do quickly.”
Although we might find the story amusing, most of us Christians have done something similar ourselves. Eventually, though, most of us outgrow the “flip and point” method of guidance. As we mature in our faith we begin to recognize that just because the Bible is the word of God does not make it a sanctified Ouija board that will answer whatever questions we might ask. Unfortunately, we often discard such childish approach only to replace them with more sophisticated, yet equally flawed, hermeneutical methods. Once such approach is what philosopher Roy Clouser calls the encyclopedic assumption: