31 March 2015

Repost: The most offensive verse in the Bible

by Dan Phillips
If life is funny, blogging is a laff riot. The oddest thing I've learned about it is that predicting the impact of my posts is — at least for me — completely impossible. More times than I can say, I've posted something that by rights should have created a tsunami response... and then, biff! Nothing. 

Then on the other hand, there are posts like this one. The thought occurred to me as I described, I sat down and dashed it off, and it became our most popular post, ever. It has been reprinted, cited by AIG's Dr. Georgia Purdom, used by Doug Wilson in debating Andrew Sullivan about "gay mirage," and so forth. As I write, it's received 38,716 views. The next runner-up received 29,173.

I'm deeply grateful that folks have found it helpful, but I never would have predicted it.

Today at 2:00pm, Texas time, Janet Mefferd and I will have a chat about the post and its implications. I thought it might help to make this easily available.
In the Sunday School class at CBC we're doing a series called Marriage, the Bible and You. In the second lesson of the series, I brought up the subject of secular talk shows and how they like to try to beat up on Christians of any size, shape, and significance about whatever topic they think is most embarrassing and controversial. Of course, at the moment it's "gay" "marriage," or the topic of homosexuality at all.

In the course of the lesson, I remarked that I think — from the comfortable quiet safety of my study — that I'd take a different approach.

When Piers or Larry or Tavis or Rosie or Ellen or The View or whoever tried probing me about homosexuality, or wifely submission, or any other area where God has spoken (to the world's consternation), I think I'd decline the worm altogether. I think instead, I'd say something like,

"You know, TaPierRosEllRy, when you ask me about X, you're obviously picking a topic that is deeply offensive to non-Christians — but it's far from the most offensive thing I believe. You're just nibbling at the edge of one of the relatively minor leaves on the Tree of Offense. Let me do you a favor, and just take you right down to the root. Let me take you to the most offensive thing I believe.

"The most offensive thing I believe is Genesis 1:1, and everything it implies.

"That is, I believe in a sovereign Creator who is Lord and Definer of all. Everything in the universe — the planet, the laws of physics, the laws of morality, you, me — everything was created by Another, was designed by Another, was given value and definition by Another. God is Creator and Lord, and so He is ultimate. That means we are created and subjects, and therefore derivative and dependent.

"Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning.

"Any time you bring up questions about any of these issues, you do so from one of two stances. You either do it as someone advocating and enabling rebellion against the Creator's design, or as someone seeking submissive understanding of that design. You do it as servant or rebel. There is no third option.

"So yeah, insofar as I'm consistent with my core beliefs, everything I think about sexuality, relationships, morals, the whole nine yards, all of it is derived from what the Creator says. If I deviate from that, I'm wrong.

"To anyone involved in the doomed, damned you-shall-be-as-God project, that is the most offensive truth in the world, and it is the most offensive belief I hold.

"But if I can say one more thing, the first noun in that verse — beginning — immediately points us forward. It points to the end. And the end is all about Jesus Christ. That takes us to the topic of God's world-tilting Gospel, and that's what we really need to talk about."

I mean, why quibble about minor offenses, when we know how to take them right to the mother lode of all offense — that God is God, and we are not?

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naturgesetz said...

Great insight.

DickThur said...

Couldn't agree more. Hope to remember this when the occasion arises, as it will.

Dan McGhee said...

Excellent article, Dan. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

""Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning."

Great article. A text to reflect on what we are doing to begin discussions concerning the gospel.