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“I Only Believe The Red Letters!” (Part 1)

January 20, 2013

“How pious and righteous are those who only believe the Red Letters in their bible!”

Okay…not really.

I think that it is good for us to understand why people come to such a position. Normally, this is how I have seen it happen although it might not be identical in every case.

Normally, this person starts off with the claim that all of scripture is inerrant and inspired. However, issues with the claim of biblical inerrancy beings to show when they study the epistles of the Apostle Paul. Paul is very clear when it comes to his insistence on believing certain doctrines that tend to rub our human nature in the wrong way. Doctrines like…

Predestination (Ephesians 1:3-23)
Election (Romans 9:11; 11:1-7, 28)
Justification by Faith Alone (Romans 3:27-28)
The Depravity of Man (Romans 1:18-3:20)
The Day of God’s Wrath (Romans 2:5)
The Inability of Man to Submit to or Please God (Romans 8:7-8; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24; 2:14; Hebrews 11:6)

This person sees these doctrines as antithetical to true Godly Love and as a hindrance to those who might study Christianity. Now, in order to be able to intellectually reject those doctrines as “orthodox belief”, they decide that the best way is to reject everything (except the red letters) by saying that it is just that author’s opinion and not truly the Word of God. They think that there is a fundamental difference between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Paul; such that there can be no reconciliation between the two.

However, this view is not intellectually honest and is actually a “self-defeating” argument for several reasons.

1)  If you claim to believe all the words of Jesus to the rejection of the rest of the New Testament; you actually show that you don’t believe Jesus’ words at all. Jesus was the one who established the teachings of the Apostles and so to truly accept the words of Jesus, you must also accept the teachings of the Apostles.

2)  If the Apostles are in the business of simply giving their opinions; how do you know that the words of Jesus that they recorded were truly the words of Jesus and not their opinions about what Jesus said and did? You are putting a lot of faith into writers that you claim are in the business of giving their opinions rather than giving an accurate account of history and doctrine…

3)  Their argument shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of the “Gospel” texts and the Epistles.

1)  While the Gospel texts contain many teachings by Jesus, the main reason for their existence is two-fold. The first is to simply give an accurate record of the events and teachings that surrounded the person called Jesus Christ (Luke 1:1-4). The second is so that by reading the account about Christ, you may believe that He is the Son of God and through your faith, find Life (John 20:30-31). (There are other aspects but these are the ones that are stressed by the gospel writers).

2)  The Epistles, on the other hand, stand as the EXPLANATION of many of the events that occurred in Christ’s life as well as the further explanation of Christ’s teachings. Paul and the other Apostles simply took what Christ said and applied to the new, growing Churches that they were responsible for.  Paul and the other Apostles were not in the habit of giving their opinions but rather to accurately teach the Church what Jesus taught.

4)  Jesus taught the same Gospel and Doctrine that Paul and the other Apostles did (see #3 b). To reject the teachings of Paul is to reject the teachings of Christ.

While people who say, “I only believe the Red Letters” think that what they are doing is very humble and pious, they are actually demonstrating pride and self-sufficiency. Why do they reject the teachings of the Apostles? Because they have determined, through their own wisdom, that only the red letters are inspired.

THEY are the determiners of Truth…
THEY can tell if something is inspired…
THEY are more knowledgeable then those who actually learned directly from Jesus

There is no clearer example of pride than when Man sets himself up as the arbiter of Truth.

To Be Continued…

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