June 7, 1994
A certain group of scholars have decided to color-code the Bible. They are trying to determine which words Jesus actually said, which words He may have said, and which words (in their opinion) He did not say. Their goal is to print these words in red, grey, or black.
Christians believe that the Bible was inspired by God and is an accurate historical record. That is, all words the writers attribute to Jesus actually do represent things He said.
On the other hand, these scholars (who may call themselves Christian), come from a tradition of liberal theology. In that tradition, sceptics and rationalists, for many years, have discounted the literal value of the Bible. For instance, they say miracles are not logical therefore cannot happen, so the miracle accounts cannot be accurate.
They also say Jesus was perhaps a real person but the New Testament could not have been written by those who knew Him directly. It was compiled much later. Because of that, so they say, whoever Jesus is, and whatever He actually said, is lost. Based on their rational judgment, the scholars have put themselves in a position to decide which quotes have merit and which are only a later addition.
The entire premise behind this reasoning is that Jesus could not possibly be God and the miracles attributed to Him could not have happened. Their color-coding is not an attempt to discredit the value of the Bible as religious literature but somehow explain where it came from. After all, it has endured and has a positive effect on those who follow its teachings.
Some Christians feel threatened by this sort of “scholarship.” Others laugh at the “stupidity” of the so-called educated. Quite frankly, it seems these people are sincerely trying to understand, but cannot do it because their God is too small. He is unable to come into history in a human form or do miracles.
Sometimes my concept of God shrinks a bit too, but not quite the same way. For example, if I give in to despair in “impossible” situations, I am not really believing that “with God, all things are possible.” Whenever I yield to temptation, I am not relying on a God who is able to help me resist it.
An even more extreme situation is whenever I disobey God by choice. I may know what He wants of me but, for a time anyway, I simply refuse to do it. During that kind of rebellion, my attitude may actually come from listening to Satan instead of God. When this inventor of evil and “father of lies” tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, he used this line: “Did God really say that?”
When Eve began to doubt what God said, she actually changed His command from “do not eat” to “do not touch.” Her tampering with the Word of God led to disobedience on her part, then Adam’s. As a result, their sin brought the propensity to sin into the entire human race.
Doubting that God really means what He says leads to sin. Doubting that Jesus is not deity and casting doubt on everything He said sounds like dangerous business for anyone.
However, rather than point fingers at the foolishness of that error, all who claim to be Christian need to be on guard. If we obey only what appeals to us from the words of Jesus, perhaps we are no different than the liberal scholars. That is, if we don’t follow ALL of His Words, we too are “color-coding” our Bibles.