RED LETTER CHRISTIANITY REVISITED

I wrote a post on Red Letter Christianity about nine years ago, RED LETTER CHRISTIAN ACTIVIST.S? – Citizen Tom. In that old post I quoted Matthew 5:17-20 AMP – “Do not think that I came to do away – Bible Gateway. Here Jesus endorses the Old Testament. So, the concept behind Red Letter Christianity does not make any sense to me.

Both the Old and the New Testaments are about Jesus. Together these two sets of books tell us about how Jesus saved us. The Old Testament predicted Jesus’ coming. The New Testament tells the story of His First Coming and prophecies His Second. Moreover, God inspired the authors of both the Old and the New Testament. If we believe the authors who faithfully recorded the words of Jesus, why wouldn’t we believe the rest of the Bible. Without the rest of the Bible, Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection does not make any sense.

When I wrote that old post, I wrote it in response to tsalmon. Well, he still comments, and he still thinks…well, let him speak for himself. Here is the last half of his last comment.

Your version of God is all Old Testament, exclusive and tribal. In your “Christianity”, you create an angry OT god out of your own image, and conveniently omit the loving Jesus of the Gospel. It’s the hypocrisy of a Pharisaic “Christianity” without the universal Christ.

Have you noticed that you almost never use Jesus’ own words? Jesus did not give us tribal “rights” – He gave us universal responsibilities toward God and each other, and the greatest of these is simply to Love. But it’s hard to stoke up much grievance in your White Nationalist mob and incite with anger and fear with the Word of Love, now isn’t it?

OF COURSE, YOU KNOW, THIS MEANS WAR! – Citizen Tom

One of the sad things about this election is all the anger. Peace requires us to agree to disagree and to leave those we disagree with in peace. Not happening anymore. When people think they have the right to fix other people, the people being fixed tend to be unappreciative. And what is one of the latest insults from the would be fixers of other people? The unappreciative are tribalistic. Apparently, calling anyone who disagrees with them names gives the fixers — busybodies for sure — the right to censor, tax, reeducate, demonize, cancel,… those unappreciative of their infinitely superior wisdom.

Does Jesus have a solution? Yes, but it is a very strange solution. We are suppose to love our enemies. Still, Jesus did not require us to be pacifists. He also did not listen without complaint to foolish heresies. That is why the Sadducees and the Pharisees were so mad at Him. That is one reason they demanded that Pontius Pilate crucify Him. They hated and feared Jesus. Apparently, the Sadducee’s and Pharisees did not see Jesus as the God of indulgent love.

What foolish heresies is tsalmon pushing? Well, here are a couple.

  • The God of the Old Testament differs from the God of the New Testament.
  • God did not give us the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He just gave us responsibilities, the main one being to love.

For some inexplicable reason Liberal Christians love to claim that the God of the Old Testament is an angry God, and Jesus, the God of the New Testament, is all love, love, love. That is, Jesus is just a kind, softhearted fellow, and a real pushover. No matter what we do we are going to Heaven because Jesus loves us so much.

I suppose people get that feeling because most people don’t bother to read the New Testament, much less the Old Testament. Unfortunately, that vast, almost inexcusable ignorance leaves us susceptible to the lies of scoffers.

God does not change. He is the same in both the Old and New Testaments. Consider how Jesus summarized the Old Testament.

Matthew 22:36-40 New American Standard Bible

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 Upon these two commandments [b]hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”

When people read that passage, what does not seem to register with some is that Jesus is summarizing the Old Testament. He is paraphrasing Deut.6.5 NASB – And you shall love the LORD your God – Bible Gateway and Lev.19.18 NASB – You shall not take vengeance, nor hold – Bible Gateway.

So what makes people think the God of the Old Testament is an angry God? When the Hebrews took over the Holy Land, at the command of God they ruthlessly killed lots of Canaanites. Why did they do that? Was it because God thought the Hebrews so wonderful?

Deuteronomy 9:4-5 New American Standard Bible

4 “Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them away from [a]you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to take possession of this land.’ Rather, it is because of the [b]wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land, [c]but it is because of the [d]wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and in order to confirm the [e]oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

God hates sin. The Canaanites worshiped idols. When we worship idols, we will sacrifice our souls and do any evil. For the Canaanites that included sacrificing their own children to the god Moloch (Moloch | Definition & Facts | Britannica).

What about Jesus, supposedly the God of the New Testament. Most of what the Bible tells us about both Heaven and Hell we learn through the words of Jesus. Here is what Jesus thought of those who abuse the faith of those who believe in Him.

Mark 9:42-48 New American Standard Bible

42 “Whoever causes one of these [a]little ones who believe in Me to [b]sin, it is better for him if a heavy millstone is hung around his neck and he [c]is thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed, than, having your two hands, to go into [d]hell, into the unquenchable fire.[e] 45 And if your foot is causing you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life without a foot, than, having your two feet, to be thrown into [f]hell.[g] 47 And if your eye is causing you to sin, throw it away; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be thrown into [h]hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not extinguished.

So did God give us rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Did Jesus ever address the subject? Yes. Curiously, the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5 – 7 NASB – The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes – Bible Gateway) contains some of Jesus’ most well known words, but we still have trouble understanding that passage.

Using an outline, The Sermon on the Mount, an outline (sermononthemount.org.uk) points out the relationship between the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:1-21 NASB – The Ten Commandments Repeated – Now – Bible Gateway). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus restates the Ten Commandments in more positive terms. He shows us how to live with a righteousness far surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees. He tells us we must love our Lord God with all heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we must love our neighbor as our self.

The last six of the Ten Commandments require us to respect each other’s rights. These commandments require us to honor those in authority and to leave each other in peace.

  • Number 5: Honor those in authority.
  • Number 6: Prohibits murder.
  • Number 7: Prohibits adultery.
  • Number 8: Prohibits stealing.
  • Number 9: Prohibits lying about other people.
  • Number 10: Prohibits coveting what belongs to someone else.

Essentially, commandments 6 – 10 require us to respect each other’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How does this work? Unfortunately, we find it difficult to avoid sinning against God and each other. So, we need a government to keep us in check. Hence, commandment number 5. Unless we honor those in authority, we cannot have a government. Unless our government protects us from those who refuse to respect the rights of others, in practice we will not have any rights. Some of will enslave others, and all will be the slaves of those who rule. Even those who rule will be enslaved by the tyranny they have created for their lives will be worthless if they relinquish power.

Therefore, God gave us the capacity to form a government and an innate understanding of right and wrong. To enhance our understanding, the Bible tells us about what God did for us. Still, we must read the Bible to understand it. Ironically, lots of people think they understand what they have never read.

30 thoughts on “RED LETTER CHRISTIANITY REVISITED

  1. “- The God of the Old Testament differs from the God of the New Testament.
    – God did not give us the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He just gave us responsibilities, the main one being to love.”

    That’s just plain nonsense.

    Matthew 5:17: “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not [g]the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished! 19 Therefore, whoever nullifies one of the least of these commandments, and teaches [h]others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever [i]keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    Which laws that are observed by Jews should also be observed by Christians is a matter for another discussions but shurely no one in his right mind can say that the 10 commandments are obsolete.

    From the commandment “Thou shall not murder” it follows logically that we have the right to not be murdered..
    From the commandment “Thou shall not steal” it follows logically that we have the right to property.

    I cannot imagine a loving God who gives us only obligations but no rights whatsoever.

    Liked by 1 person

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