First things first

Monday Musings for December 27, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

I think it’s pretty common for people to start the new year with fresh intentions. The problem for us is that God is not writing any more Scripture — and after 2000 years of post-first-generation-church-scholarship, what more could be said about God? Well… plenty... as it turns out.

You see, although there is “nothing new under the sun,” there are infinite iterations of how the Holy Spirit will interface with God’s completed revelation in the hearts of his people. The problem comes when “old truths” are seen as Christian clichés... and people practice what they considered to be “higher” Christian arts while ignoring our faith’s foundations… the foundations established in Jesus Christ before the foundations of the world (1 Peter 1:20).

What are these foundations? Or perhaps more importantly, what are we doing that challenges these truths… because we ignore the teachings of Christ at our peril? One of America’s founders did just that. Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson was enamored with the person of Jesus Christ. But Jefferson — a then-modern thinker who had some new ideas about reality — was an antisupernaturalist. As such, he didn’t believe in God or miracles.

Now, the Bible is full of God and miracles — almost like that was its point! But that did not deter Jefferson; he considered it a valid historical account. So, the ever-practical American took scissors to his Bible and cut out the parts of Jesus’ story that comported with more forward-thinking and assembled them into a story. People often refer to this as the “Jefferson Bible.”

But the Jefferson Bible was not a Bible at all. It was more “The life and times of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of an atheist.” We Christians see this type of Bible editing as horrific — as well we should! It cuts Scripture off at the ankles… and Jesus too. Here’s what I mean.

In a high view, the Bible is verbally and plenarily inspired. That means that both its parts and its whole are inspired. It has supernatural synergy... an idea which Jefferson repudiated. If humans are the ones to assign value or inspiration to parts of the Bible, then those assignments would be limited by human reasoning. Biblical “truth” would be arbitrary… and not truth at all.

Furthermore, Jesus was not just a great teacher or a great moral leader. He was the Son of Man — the Messiah sent from God! ... the one who would die for humanity and save it from its sins! This came at a great cost to both the Father and the Son. Only an infinitely good being would make such a sacrifice, and only an infinitely good being can be the basis of morality.

You see, if morality were a mere social agreement, then — just like “truth” in the previous argument — sin would be arbitrary… but it’s not. Nevertheless, this business about Jesus fulfilling prophecy has a very high tone… so perhaps Jefferson was onto something.

What if — in an effort to put “first things first” — we made the things that Jesus taught a priority... and let only the necessary structures grow around them. What would such an organization look like? It would look like the first-century church. Start one today!


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