Drinking Deeply

Saturday, December 03, 2005 at 3:54 PM

Red Letter Bible

Just a quick post.

I once had a conversation with someone who asked me if Jesus every condoned or condemned the execution of criminals. (aka the death penalty). I mentioned to him that I believe there is explicit warrant in the Bible for the death penalty (that's another post), and started to say that "Paul writes that..." and he stopped me. "Well, I'm only interested in what Jesus said."

Well, that surprised me, but I explained to him that Paul was an Apostle of Jesus, and thus the words that we have recorded of Paul are as Paul speaking for Jesus, in fact, that the whole of Scripture is God's very Word.

That led to an interesting discussion (I think the person was Quaker), but it got me to thinking. Recently Vincent Cheung brought up a similar point.

What's the purpose of the "Red Letter Bible"?

It emphasizes Christ's words by setting them in red, that's for sure. But why do we want that? Does Christ's words have a higher authority than the rest of the Bible? No, not really, since all of the Bible is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16-18). When Christ speaks, it has the exact same authority as when God speaks, that's for sure, but the same is true when Paul speaks (at least, in his letters), and when Moses speaks, and so on for all the authors. The words that Christ uttered have the exact same authority as the words that Moses uttered: God himself. It seems that to overemphasize one section of Scripture (Christ's words) over the rest promotes a lower view of the rest.


So now the question is: should we stay away from red-letter Bibles in order to avoid a mentality that sets Christ's Words above other's?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

tangential comment--what's your scriptural reference for the basis of capital punishment?



Blogger mxu said...

I will post about this more comprehensively in the future (I once sent an email disagreeing with someone on this topic. I may just post that email), but a few remarks (off the email):

The death penalty is very clear in the Old Testament (Gen. 9:6 and others), and Christ said in Matt. 5:18-19

18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Thus we need clear justification for saying that the death penalty should no longer be practiced. Instead we seem to have biblical warrent implicitly for it's continuation.

Some examples: Acts 25:10-12, Romans 13:1-5, Matthew 26:52

Additional support is found in how God takes life in His own hands like: Acts 5; Acts 12:23; 1 Cor. 11:30  


Blogger Mrs.B. said...

I found your blog from Lydia's at Renewed Day by Day. Here's my 2 cents worth. (o:

You're right about Paul's (or any other biblical author the HS used) words being just as inspired and important. However, I don't mind the red letter and actually prefer it. Jesus was God in the flesh and the ONLY sinlessly perfect God/man to live on this earth and to have His words set apart is fine with me. Even if His words weren't in red, there would still be plenty of people who don't 'rightly divide the word of truth'.  


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