Fun N’ Games with Scripture

Ridiculing the Bible does nothing to disprove it.     

Seems I read an article (I can’t remember from where), about a woman who married a comedian, but then divorced him because he wasn’t funny.  He was, as she described, normal, like everyone else.  Makes you wonder what she was paying attention to during their courtship.  Did she fall for his onstage persona while ignoring the rest of him?  Or did she simply say “I do” to a version of him she invented?    

It’s not unusual when two married people begin to have problems that one abruptly blurts out, “You’re not the person I married!” 

Falling in love with part of someone is a common experience.  That’s why there’s an old saying, “Many a man who married a dimple made the mistake of marrying the whole girl.”  

The same might be said of every Christian who once raised an enthusiastic hand during a gospel invitation, bolted down an aisle, prayed a prayer.  Later, they find out that the same adorable Lamb of God promotes a redemptive worldview that in certain respects runs counter to their politics, their embedded opinions of Him, their assumptions about God, and how they think the rewards and punishments of the afterlife ought to play out.             

So-called deconversions are becoming more popular as previously confessing Christians now proudly step up to announce their divorce from the faith (or at least an unofficial separation).  They’ve typically discovered something about God that doesn’t sit well with them.  Maybe they had tolerated it for a while like an off-taste in the chili, so to speak, but can’t stand it anymore.    

The common refrain:  I could never believe in a God who does or doesn’t, is or isn’t.  This attitude supposes God’s self-revelation in Scripture as needing to be subject to Christian approval and sensitivities before being received as legitimate.  And there’s no better way to dismiss objectionable teachings than by turning them into jokes.  Lampooning something makes you feel better about not believing in it.  

Case in point:  The Sadducees, first century religious leaders, who populated the ranks of chief temple priests.  They denied any authoritative belief emanating outside of the Pentateuch (an ancient “only-words-of-Moses-in-red” kind of approach).  Most notably, they refuted anything related to the afterlife—especially resurrection.  The prophetic writings carried no weight for them, but Greek philosophy did.  

The Greeks were the torch bearers of secular wisdom, and dismissed resurrection as something ludicrous, a fact borne out when Paul went to Athens to preach the gospel (c.f. Acts 17: 32).  The raising of the body and a world beyond this one was to them low Jewish folklore.  That attitude had gained traction among the priesthood, the elite who were supposedly in charge of Israel’s corporate worship.  These priests thus discarded resurrection as shallow, only to be left with something even more shallow:  a religious life with a hope only in this world.     

These same people later challenged Jesus on the issue of resurrection, disguising it as a question (Luke 20:27-33, Matt. 22:23-28).  They hoped to entangle Him in some sort of goofy, controversial response.  It was a follow-up act to the Pharisee’s failed bid to trap Him (See last week’s post).  

And so they tested Jesus with a far-fetched hypothetical, where a woman marries successive times successive brothers, each of whom dies.  Whose wife would she be in the  resurrection?  You can tell they had recycled this silly straw man argument among the Pharisees, probably with some effect.  

But again, such games don’t work with Jesus.  

He said to them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29).  The mistake was not with the Bible, but with its self-bound handlers.  For they denied the Scriptures, looking for  workarounds, loopholes, clever arguments.  They would not submit to the Word.  

Secondly, they didn’t understand the nature of resurrection life. In their ignorance, they mixed up things of this age—marriage, romance, sex, children, inheritance—with things of that age, one of immortality, power, and new creation.  They viewed resurrection as earthly life part two.  From that perspective, not much of it made sense to them.  Therefore, it was easy to concoct ridiculous “resurrection” scenarios for the sake of holding it up to ridicule.      

Christians went on to do it too.  

Paul had to literally combat Christian reluctance to receive the teaching of resurrection–Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:12).  Indeed, their very faith depended on it!— “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (v. 17).     

And so-called Christian progressivism today affects our ability to see how scriptural truth is interconnected.  If we remove, or even modify certain embarrassing ideas, or “unfortunate” doctrines—cogs we deem antiquated—eventually it will affect the coherence of the whole.

The love of Christ you responded to that night at junior high church camp, was not some maneuver designed to trick you into signing up for something unpleasant.  That love, so impossibly deep, must join hands at some point with His righteousness, His righteousness with His goodness, His goodness with His Holiness, and so forth, out into eternity.       

If you’re taking a harder second look at what you’ve believed, then great.  But just remember to take a hard look at why you’ve decided to take that second look.  Was there something else involved, something other than a quest for truth?  Be honest.  Has your doubt morphed into a strange faith of its own?  Have your questions about Scripture simply turned into evasive games?

Remember that through faith we were joined to a whole truth, a whole Christ.

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