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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I think he liked it 

What Martin Luther said about Romans:

This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.

Of course, you shouldn't focus on one part of the Bible to the exclusion of all others (and, if you look at the scripture references in the Book of Concord, it's obvious that Luther cited most if not all of the books in our Bible, including James).

Yet we all have our foci. Here's what Good Anger said, in part, about the topic:

Certain books of the Bible are valued over other books. No one will say this, especially at a more fundamentalist church, but it appears that it is undoubtedly the case.

More conservative churches, I have noticed, seem to emphasize the Pauline Eptistles and the general Epistles that agree with it (like John's gospel and Peter's letters). These churches are literally hellbent on anything else. There is little quoting from the synoptics and the book of James, in the tradition of Luther, is given little weight in church.

The more liberal denominations seem to hang on very word of the synoptics and they put off Paul's writing as extra fluff that isn't as important. They are all about the transformation of the Christian life as a follower of Jesus Christ and are less hellbent on ideas that contradict "salvation by grace alone." They are often more into transforming the population to be more like Jesus than to convert them to a particular set of doctrines that Christians have been sticking to for a long time.

And of course you have the end-times churches, which seem to spend a huge amount of time in Revelation, Daniel, Acts 2, and the like. (True story - in a church that I attended for a while, one Sunday the pastoral team suddenly said, "Hey! It's Easter!" and broke out into various tongues.)

Good Anger then asked people to honestly state which parts of the Bible are most important to them. One person initially responded:

Just the parts from Genesis to Revelation.

However, when pressed, the response changed a bit:

I think that Jesus is the whole deal here. To that end I might narrow it down to a couple verses like John 3:16 and Romans 10:9. But the tip of an arrow is useless without the shaft and feathers. So too, these verses alone would lose there significance if written independent of anything else.

One writer argues that the Bibles most of us use are guilty of selective emphasis - unless you're color blind:

The most common thing today is to toady the second member of the Trinity by insulting the first and third members. This involves claiming that one part of the Bible is more important than another and setting it off with red ink. This is an insult to the third member who is credited with influencing the entire writing of the Bible and the first member who is credited with the meaning and content of the entire Bible. Red is also the worst possible color for causing reading fatigue.

An anonymous person made the following comment in an evolution/creationism thread:

Another problem is Human nature where people naturally emphasize the parts of the Bible that they agree with and mentally supress or rationalize away the parts of the Bible that they don't agree with. This is why few fundamentalists get into a religeous fervor over portapotties for migrant workers. The Bible has an answer to this problem, but you won't find many who know it.

So now, being completely honest, which portions of the Bible do you personally emphasize more than others?

I'll answer this question myself.
  • PORTIONS I EMPHASIZE: Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, James

  • PORTIONS I DE-EMPHASIZE: Chronicles, most of the minor prophets, most of Paul's personal epistles

Again I argue that all of the Bible is valid, but I have to admit that I look to some parts rather than others. I don't believe this is right, however, since once we start to be selective in which parts of the Bible we read, we can go in all sorts of different directions, including the Jefferson Bible.

Your thoughts?

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

The words of Jesus are the most important part of the Bible to me. I don't care what color they're in. Everything else is filler.
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