How To Properly “Cherry Pick” Scriptures

Religious conservatives are often accused of “cherry picking” scriptures as an exercise in confirmation bias. Here is how Oxford Languages define cherry-picking:

Definition from Oxford Languages – cher·ry-pick verb — choose and take only (the most beneficial or profitable items, opportunities, etc.) from what is available. “The company should buy the whole airline and not just cherry-pick its best assets.”

The truth is, anyone who goes into the text of the Bible and tries to live their lives by it cherry-picks their scriptures. Even non-believers pick the scriptures they use as reasons not to believe. In other words, anyone who reads the Bible will make judgments on “The Word of God,” just like the myriad of people creating myriads of versions of the Bible.

Did you also know that it is estimated that there are 45,000 denominations representing over 2 Billion people globally? Yes. Why? They formed over differences in how to view, read, interpret, and apply the scriptures to everyday life.

We all choose what to believe (or not) and how to apply that belief (or not). I remember my evangelical days believing in the one true church built on the inerrant “W”ord of God as represented by my culturally-driven beliefs and ESV (English Standard Version) bible. Anyone who didn’t believe that every single word in the Bible is the word of God was viewed with great suspicion. They were often accused of arguing with God at best or playing God at worst.

What I am not going to do today is make a gigantic bullet-point list of how the scriptures are manipulated to fit whatever scheme or bias the reader has of it. I simply want to encourage those concerned to embrace the truth that we all pick and choose scriptures. If we didn’t, our lives would look very different.

No more wrinkle-resistant clothing for you! :::big grin:::

But today, I will share the three buckets to put your cherries, I mean scriptures, in. The following is from Adam Hamilton’s book “Making Sense of The Bible.” It changed my life for the good, and I highly recommend this incredible resource. In a very brief paraphrase of what he eloquently makes a case for, here are the three buckets you can put scriptures in:

  • Bucket 1, God’s heart and will for all people for all time. – example. Jesus, all things Jesus. He is called the “Word” of God. All scriptures must align with his teachings and how He role-modeled life and relationships for us, or they are not the word of God.
  • Bucket 2, God’s heart and will for his people at a specific time, but not relevant for today – example, Moses leading Israel out of Egypt.
  • Bucket 3, Scriptures that never reflected God’s heart and will – for example, King David’s prayers in the Psalms asking for the murder and genocide of his enemies.

It just makes sense. There are 66 books in the bible, and every scripture reference within them can be run through the filters of the three buckets. People will disagree and argue about what scriptures go in what bucket, but that is not the point of this post. This is a tool for an individual to determine what in the Bible is good and true forever, for a time, or not good at all.

As a Christian Universalist, I believe the Bible contains the word of God. But I also believe it contains the words of David, Joshua, Paul, Peter, and others that aren’t dictated from God’s heart. Another thing that blew my mind was when Pastor Hamilton said something to the effect that the Apostle Paul probably had no clue that someday, the letters he was writing would be considered “Holy Scripture.” He was probably like us and thought he should share his opinions with the various churches because that is what he believed the Spirit was revealing to him for their benefit. The inference being, to me, is that if he had known his letters would be considered holy and inerrant for billions of people over time; they probably would have looked and read differently with many disclaimers.

When I read Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian shortly after this book, I felt a deep confirmation of what I believe the Spirit had shown and taught me experientially before reading the books. While I am not exclusive to any religion (they all reflect the Divine in some way), these two books reaffirmed my faith in Jesus and why I still claim to be a Christian.

If you are struggling with this, please read these two books. The Reformation Project also has a great library of books for Christians to consider. And of course, we can have a discussion in the comments below or privately through my contact page.

You are a Divine treasure,

2 responses to “How To Properly “Cherry Pick” Scriptures”

  1. I like this way of interpreting scripture, makes sense. I’m sorta leaning towards universalism but I am still trying to figure that all out, but I do embrace fully a God who is not concerned about our small ideas about Them! They are much bigger than that!


    1. They definitely surpass what we can comprehend <3. I am glad you appreciated Pastor Hamilton’s insights. The book confirmed and taught me so many things. It’s the most approachable theology book I have found so far.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: