Prooftexting is the practice of using decontextualised quotations from a document (often, but not always, a book of the Bible) to establish a proposition rhetorically through an appeal to authority. Critics of the technique note that often the document, when read as a whole, may not in fact support the proposition.
Ministers and teachers have used the following humorous anecdote to demonstrate the dangers of prooftexting:
During the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church accused – fairly or otherwise – the reformers of prooftexting. One instance of alleged prooftexting related to the Protestants' use of Ephesians 2.8-9, which reads, in the New Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible:
This text was cited by the Protestants in support of the doctrine of sola fide (salvation by faith alone, apart from good works), and against Catholic understanding of salvation, which holds that for salvation to be effective, individuals must be willing, active instruments of God's grace.
The Protestants dismissed the accusations of prooftexting as Straw man fallacy, noting that other verses (Romans 3:26, Philippians 1:29, Romans 3:28, 1 Corinthians 12:3, etc.) carry similar messages and that these themes are more fully developed throughout the New Testament, notably in Paul's Epistles to the the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians and the Hebrews.
Maimonides and the Hermeneutics of Concealment: Deciphering Scripture and Midrash in "The Guide of the Perplexed.".(Book Review)
Jun 22, 2005; Maimonides and the Hermeneutics of Concealment: Deciphering Scripture and Midrash in "The Guide of the Perplexed," by James...