As the verse of the day popped up on my iPhone this week, I wondered if I’d discovered yet another favourite!
If you’ve been reading scripture for sometime, you know that it’s common to identify favourite verses. But what about an unfavorite verse? Do you have one?
In 1804, Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of the United States) took a razor and glue to his bible, removing all of his unfavorite verses. In 1939, Nazi leaders (Himmler, Rosenberg and Müller) sought to start a new National German Church which supported their views.¹ Eric Metaxas² notes that they first removed the Old Testament and then twisted – like pretzels – the words of Jesus to accomplish this. Point thirteen of their thirty-point program stated their ultimate aim,
“The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany…”.
Of course, what they ended up with was not Christianity, but Nietzschean social Darwinism.
Surely we’ve learnt from the past? Surely we wouldn’t go cutting and pasting our unfavorite verses? Surely we wouldn’t become so called ‘red-letter Christians’ or something similar and place the priority of social reform above good theology?
I have said before that good theology is not what we think about God but what God thinks about himself. For that reason, it is going to contain some ‘unfavourite’ verses.
R.T. Kendall³ points out that there are two approaches to theology. The first is from the human point of view. This he says, should more aptly be labelled ‘anthropology’. The second approach is from God’s point of view and requires us to begin and end with God and see things through his eyes. From God’s point of view man does not deserve the explanation man thinks is coming to him.
From man’s point of view: God has a lot to answer for and a lot of explaining to do. From God’s point of view: man has a lot to answer for and a lot of explaining to do.
Good theology is marked by a distinct humility. “The more I understand, the more I understand how much more I need to understand.” Poor theology is marked by arrogance and often a sense of entitlement.
Good theology, will lead to good worship and vice versa. We are to love and worship God with all that we are and have, including our minds. Jesus said,
“…true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23)
How could your worship of God be enlarged by some ‘unfavourite’ verses?
¹Thanks Lachie Perry for this insight from staff devotions:)
²Eric Metaxas, “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy”
³R.T. Kendall, “Understanding Theology, Volume II”
4For further study, consider 2 Peter 3:15-17, 1 Tim 1:3-11, 2 Timothy 4:3.