One of my students was talking about biblical interpretation on his blog. As an illustration, he posted the following video. My jaw dropped open as I watched.
The video is from a popular Brazilian TV show called “Fantástico”. The announcer begins by saying that the next story involves an Evangelical pastor, his neighbor, and his neighbor’s wife. Then it cuts to two people from the community who say that it is “really strange” and that “they have never heard of a pastor having this kind of privilege.”
The “privilege”, as it turns out, is being able to sleep with other people’s wives. It seems that the man in question, one Justino, who divides his time between being a pastor and being a stonemason, is convinced that the Bible gives him the right to have more than one woman.
As the video progresses, we learn that a woman in his “congregation” had a dream where she learned that she would have children by Pastor Justino. The minor detail that she is married with four children of her own doesn’t seem to matter. At 1:31 in the video she says “God made me do this. I had no other option.” Her husband, incredibly, was OK with the whole thing.
What follows, beginning at 1:43, is the Pastor’s own justification of their actions. He says that they prayed about it because this was the most difficult thing he had ever done. Then, at 2:04, begins the most amazing part of this video. Even if you do not speak Portuguese, you should watch this.
The pastor justifies his actions by appealing to Hosea 3:1. The Portuguese translation of this verse reads as follows:
Disse-me o Senhor: Vai outra vez, ama uma mulher, amada de seu amigo, e adúltera, como o Senhor ama os filhos de Israel…
A literal translation from the Portuguese would read “The Lord said to me: Go again, love a woman, loved by her friend, and adulterous, as the Lord loves the children of Israel.”
However, in the course of the interview, it becomes obvious that “Pastor” Justino is not reading the little accent above the “u” in adúltera. This changes the emphasis of the word, and thus, it’s meaning. According to him, the text reads thus: “The Lord said to me: Go again, love a woman, loved by her friend, and commit adultery…”
The golden part of this video is when the reporter points this out to him. Watch from 2:12 as the reporter challenges his “interpretation”. Justino passes the Bible to the reporter, the camera focuses on the text (and then on the word adúltera), then the reporter hands the Bible back to Justino. There is a long pause. One needs understand no Portuguese to read the expression of utter disbelief on the face of “Pastor” Justino as he realizes that he has based a terrible, life-altering, sinful decision on his failure to notice an accent above the letter “u”.
Desperate to save face, he finally looks up and says weakly, “It was good for you to point this out, because one thing leads to the other, right? This is why we need the direction of the Spirit.” And, one might add, a Portuguese dictionary.
I was pleased that the video ends with a Baptist pastor explaining how our friend Justino is completely out to lunch. He comes off as lucid, sane and reasonable. Of course, next to Justino, anybody would come off as lucid, sane and reasonable.
Talk back to the missionary: This is of course an extreme case. What doctrinal aberrations or heresies have you heard that are based on wrong understandings of scripture? Bring your wood, torches and lighter fluid to the comments section.
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