Polemics Terms

Polemics Terms: Context Mining

Context Mining is an attempt, when polemicists or discerning Christians reveal video clips or quotations from individuals that indicate heresy or false doctrine, in which defenders of the individual claim that “context” would explain away the problem when – in fact – context does precisely the opposite.
While context is always, always, always important in good discernment, that doesn’t mean that more material (IE the full video, audio, or written presentation) is synonymous with context, or that more material necessarily indicates a fuller context.
A polemicist or discerning Christian posts a video of a false teacher saying something heretical, and the false teacher’s followers claim that the video clip was “plucked out of context” or “spliced” or “chopped up,” when in fact the full video only further highlights the problem. Knowing most people will not exercise due diligence in watching a full-length video, they rely upon others taking them at their word that the “context” changes something.
Typically, context mining occurs with any and almost every video, audio or written excerpt of fuller material. Rest assured, experience predicts, someone will engage in context mining when anything but a full-length work is provided.
Context mining assumes that more words equal more context, which logically does not necessarily follow.
Deep Context Mining is when “context” is alleged to be found in someone’s greater body of work. For example, if a prominent pastor says something heretical consistently throughout a single sermon, someone will engage in Deep Context Mining by claiming the “context” is found in the individual’s fully body of work over many years. While a full body of work may contradict a single message, it doesn’t actually change the context of that single message (which stands within itself), and may just indicate that the individual’s views have changed or that he’s double minded or inconsistent.