Only the 'Red Letters'

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Gershom, May 10, 2008.

  1. Gershom

    Gershom
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    How do you respond to a person who says he doesn't trust any words but the "red letters" spoken by Jesus for salvation, and who accuses others of following "another voice" (Paul the apostle, for example) and therefore following a false shepherd?
     
  2. Salty

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    Hmm, so the words spoken by God the Father (which are not in red) means he is a false shepherd?
     
  3. just-want-peace

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    Tell him to take two aspirin & go to bed.

    Hopefully morning will bring a clearer view of the Word!

    (By the way, ask him why only those words are OK, since there were no printing presses in Jesus' day, so how can we be sure that later printers "redded" the correct phrases?):BangHead::BangHead:
     
  4. Baptist Believer

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    I would disagree. However, I would try to get more information about his position before I say too much. Paul expressly identifies himself as an apostle, disciple, and servant of Jesus, so this person must demonstrate why they think that Paul is teaching another gospel.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I believe most Baptists and evangelical Christians practically ignore what Jesus has to say about salvation (for example, it’s not primarily about going to heaven, although that’s part of it) and tend to focus on certain things that Paul writes that fit fairly well with our current practice.

    The gospels (literally, “good news”) and probably the book of Acts were written to both followers of Jesus and those who do not believe. The writings of Paul and the rest of the New Testament letters are written to the church dispersed throughout the Mediterranean region. Therefore, we can expect the gospels to be the best entry point for unbelievers to build their theology. In other words, if we really believe that Jesus is God incarnate, then we can be sure that anything that Jesus has to say will be completely reliable. Since Jesus talked extensively about the “kingdom of God” (or in Matthew, “kingdom of heaven”) and presents that as “salvation”, then we need to take that as our starting place when we interpret what Paul has to say. And as someone who is intentionally doing that in a careful study at this time, I don’t think Paul is saying anything different than Jesus, although I think Paul means something different than the “plan of salvation” I was taught growing up in church.
    Essentially, the “plan of salvation” I was raised on teaches assent to a series of propositions:

    1.) All men and women are sinners.

    2.) God loves us but He hates our sin.

    3.) God must punish sin.

    4.) God the Father sent Jesus the Son down to earth to take the punishment for our sin.

    5.) God the Father blasted Jesus the Son with all His might until He had punished Jesus as atonement for the sins of all of the world (or the elect, depending on what you believe)

    6.) God the Father raised Jesus the Son from the dead.

    7.) Those of us who believe these propositions and ask Jesus to be our Savior (that is, to grant us the benefits of the atonement of our sins) will go to heaven.
    8.) We are supposed to stay out of trouble and try to do the right thing until we die. At that time, we will go to heaven.

    While I don’t dispute the sinfulness of humankind, the love of God, the holiness of God, the incarnation, the atonement (although I think the theory of substitutionary atonement in exclusion of the other major views of the atonement distorts the gospel), the resurrection of Jesus, or the fact that God saves those who put their faith in Jesus, I am convinced the popular view of the gospel radically oversimplifies and distorts the fullness of the gospel that Jesus taught.

    For instance, Jesus taught that those who want to be His disciples should follow Him. In a few cases, He did tell people to stay where they were and be the living embodiment of a transformed life (such as the Gaderene demoniac. But most of the time, the disciples of Jesus followed Him and learned how to live His life, and through that experience (and the power of the Holy Spirit working on and through them) were gradually transformed into the kind of people whose character expressed Christ in a very natural way.

    Today, now that Jesus has ascended to the heavens and the Spirit now inhabits the lives of all of those who have decided to follow Jesus, we have the same opportunity for transformation. But in order to do that, we must study and take the words on Jesus into our lives and put them into practice. As we understand what Jesus is telling us, we need to look to what Paul, Peter, John, and the other New Testament writers say in order to guide our transformation. Furthermore, we also need to be diligent in our study of the Old Testament in order to understand the words of Jesus more effectively, and also learn from the examples of the saints of old.

    Getting back around to the original question, if this person you are talking to is properly interpreting the words of Jesus, they will realize that Paul and the other New Testament writers are faithful servants of Jesus. And if this person in living in discipleship to Jesus, Jesus will correct this person fairly soon… possibly through you. If this person won’t listen to Jesus, then he is not a true disciple because a true disciple knows the voice of Jesus.
     
  5. Baptist Believer

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    That's a tremendous point, and one of the reasons I avoid red letter Bibles.

    There are many place in the gospels, John 3 for example, where it is impossible to know exactly where Jesus starts and stops speaking and John's commentary begins and ends.
     
  6. sag38

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    Most red letter liberals that I've run into are feminists who find Paul's writings about the role of women in the church and in the home to be very offensive. And, when you have them read Peter's endoresment of Paul's writings and condemnation of those who disagree with Paul in II Peter they will tell you that II Peter is suspect too. In other words, red letter liberalism is a pick and chose kind of belief theology.
     
  7. nodak

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    I tell them that they have started at the best place: with the clear teaching of Jesus.

    I also offer to show them how the OT leads up to Jesus, but that we are never to negate the teaching of Christ. For example, what Moses said about divorce or an eye for an eye are not applicable today, since we have the clearer teaching of Jesus.

    And I heartily agree with them that the rest of the New Testament has to be understood in light of the teachings of Christ. That is, if a teaching of Paul or James or whoever SEEMS to disagree with a teaching of Jesus, then we must go with the teaching of Jesus until we understand Paul or James or whoever better.

    And if that leads to an ultrafundamental understanding of a passage, so be it.

    And if it leads to a liberal feminist understanding of a passage, so be it.

    I don't read the Bible to re-enforce my own prejudices (of which I have many and am sure I misread it often.)

    I endeavor to let it be light and truth to me even when it disagrees with my pet theories and theologies.

    I prefer a conservative, complementarian take on women and family issues. It is pretty obvious to me Jesus did not--and I am TRYING to let Him change me. He sure has a hard time with my hard head.

    I don't get rattled by the red letter Christians.

    I much prefer them to the legalistic Judaizers who completely set aside the red letters as for somebody else to pay attention to but not born again Christians.
     
  8. skypair

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    Tell them, then, to be like the thief (Luke 23:42) or the publican (Luke 18:13-14) whose prayers Jesus said saved them on account of their 1) repentance and 2) their "sinner's prayer."

    skypair
     
  9. Pastor Larry

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    Remind him that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Remind him as well that Jesus cited the OT Scriptures as authoritative and preauthenticated the NT Scriptures as authoritative (John 14, 16). He even spoke to his apostles of those who would believe on him through their word (John 17). So quite clearly, Jesus did not believe the "red letters" were more important than the others. By looking at the words of Jesus we can see that we should trust all of Scripture equally. The idea that the words of Jesus are more important than other words in the Bible is an idea with no merit whatsoever.

    Someone mentioned the appearance of contradiction between Jesus and Paul. When that appearance appears, you should not go with the words of Jesus. You should study until you figure out why your mind (limited because of sin) is not grasping the truth.
     
  10. Baptist Believer

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    I certainly agree that you need to work things out in your mind and reconcile the two, but Jesus' words are more foundational and should be the guide to interpreting Paul since Paul is a disciple of Jesus. In other words, everything that Paul wrote is conditioned upon the reader already having an understanding of the words of Jesus, since Paul wrote to established churches who had already heard and received the gospel of Jesus.
     
  11. Gershom

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    Thank you all for your replies.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    No they aren't. That is not a biblical idea. Paul said his words were revelation from Jesus Christ (Gal 1). So for Paul (and for the Bible believer), there is no difference inthe "foundational" nature of it that woudl mean the words of Jesus are the key to interpreting Scripture.
     
  13. Revmitchell

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    That's Right!
     
  14. Baptist Believer

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    Sure it is. Paul was writing to the churches... he states that specifically. The churches were made up of people who had already heard the gospel of Jesus (foundational beliefs) and were following the commands of Jesus, more or less.

    Never said they weren't revelation from Jesus... The very fact that Paul claimed he was an apostle (one who is sent) from Christ demonstrates that he expected to be heard because he was representing Someone they were already committed to. And that's the point. Paul is adding to the foundation of their faith, which is the teaching of Jesus.

    The nature of revelation is not different, but the way we interpret Jesus' teaching is different.

    Exactly.

    Jesus is the criterion by which the Bible should be interpreted. Not because the nature of revelation is different, but by the difference between audiences. The gospels were written to both believers and unbelievers. The epistles were written to believers (the churches).

    Why does this make a difference? If you read what Jesus has to say about "salvation", you get quite a different picture than the traditional "Roman Road" presentation.
     
  15. Pastor Larry

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    No, that is simply not true. It is true that Paul was writing to churches, but Jesus was not speaking to churches but to Jews. Furthermore, to draw a distinction and say that Paul should be interpreted in light of Jesus is simply incorrect biblically. Paul placed his writings on par with the words of Jesus.



    I don't know what that means.

    No he's not. That makes no sense biblically. Scripture is interpreted by Scripture, by normal hermeneutics.

    I don't know what you are referring to here so it is hard to make any response.

    The distinction you appear to be making is that Jesus' words are the really important ones and others are not so much. THat is a typical response from moderate Baptists (I am not sure what you are), but it has no merit whatsoever in orthodoxy.
     
  16. sag38

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    2Pe 3:15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
    2Pe 3:16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. NASB

    To minimize the teachings of Paul is to minimize even the teachings of Jesus. Scripture, all of it, is interpreted by scripture from the front of the Bible to the end of it. Jesus' words are only part of the entire Biblical narrative which is eqaually as much God's word as are the recorded words of Jesus. You cannot elevate Jesus' words over the rest of the Bible.
     
  17. JustChristian

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    I think it's an incorrect way to interpret the scriptures but I think with the proper interpretation I think there is some merit to emphasizing Christ's words. Suppose Jesus, Paul, James, and John were standing in front of you right now. Would you be any more attentive to what one of them said? The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit but isn't it true to what these men actually said? I do believe that in our preaching and teaching the church today deemphasizes the "words in red." Why? I don't know.
     
  18. Revmitchell

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    The words in red do not carry any more weight than any other passage in scripture. They are all God's words.

    2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
     
  19. Pastor Larry

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    Since all Scripture is inspired, that means that the written words of all three men carry equal weight. There is no biblical reason to emphasize the words of one more than another. But again, we have to focus on biblical issues, which too often get overlooked.

    Deemphasizes? Sounds like you need a new church if your church deemphasizes the words of Christ. If you church deemphasizes that words of Paul, Peter, or other Scripture (as you seem to prefer), then you also need a new church. All Scripture is God-breathed.
     
  20. Rubato 1

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    OP is saying that they only trust the 'red' letters to believe in the area of salvation? or they only trust what Jesus said about salvation in the NT?
     

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