Marcion, the son of a bishop and a leader in the early church, read his Bible and came to the conclusion that Yahweh in the Old Testament was not the same God as the New Testament God. He formed a new theology, saying that the Heavenly Father was not the same as the Creator. For this he was excommunicated from the church.
Thomas Jefferson once took a razor to cut out the passages from the Gospels that he selected, and used glue to paste them together into a Thomas Jefferson version of the Bible called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. He left out all of the miracles and anything that hinted that Jesus was God in human form, because they didn’t fit with his beliefs.
Some parts of the Bible are difficult. We wish they weren’t there. How do we deal with that? Few of us will go as far as Marcion and Jefferson did, but some of us are closet Marcionites. I can think of several ways that we tend to give in to the temptation to edit:
- We ignore the parts we don’t like. We don’t study them, we don’t preach about them, we don’t discuss them, we try not to think about them.
- We come up with explanations or re-interpretations of the text.
- We throw up our hands and say “The Bible is full of contradictions and I can’t believe in it.”
- We admit that we don’t know and we don’t understand, and we wish we did.
- We read the parts that offend us and decide that we can’t believe in a God who would do such things.
But none of the above responses is very helpful. None of them brings us any closer to a true understanding of God, and none of them does anything to improve our relationship with Him. If we are planning to spend eternity with Him, this is not acceptable.
We must make the effort. We must look into the Scriptures and ask God to give us greater understanding of Himself and His purposes.