MERIDIAN — John A. Temple
"Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." — 2 Timothy 2:14-15
Thomas Jefferson, our third president and the principal author of “the Declaration of Independence,” was also the author of the Jefferson Bible. The Jefferson Bible was originally titled, “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” Jefferson endeavored to create a chronological account of the life of Jesus. His “bible” was taken from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
However, the account of Jefferson differed greatly from the accounts of the four gospels. It seems that Jefferson excluded all miracles and mention of any supernatural events. Thus, Jefferson eliminated the resurrection, most miracles, and any passages that implied Jesus was divine.
Jefferson wished to focus on his teachings such as the Sermon on the Mount where we would be taught how to socially encourage one another. Jefferson focused on Jesus as a moral teacher.
Jefferson literally used a razor and cut and pasted his version of what he could accept as truth. Where a miracle included some teaching, Jefferson eliminated the miracle and kept the teaching. He left out any accounts that mentioned angels, eternal life, heaven, hell, second coming, or a future kingdom. For Jefferson, Jesus was a teacher on social conduct.
Jefferson is not the only one that wanted to edit the Bible. Many of our society want to “pick and choose” what they believe in the Bible. For them, if they can’t explain it, they don’t accept it. Claiming some things as true, major events of the Bible are questioned by the same minds.
The Bible is more than a collection of writings where we may pick and choose what we accept. The Bible is God’s Word. It is God’s revelation of Himself and His plan for us. Even parts that cannot be explained must be accepted by faith. If we discount any part of the Bible, we must discount all of it.
Paul encourages Timothy not to strive with words but correctly handle God’s Word. The correct handling of God’s word is never with knife or scissors, cutting out “what I do not like.” Correct handling is complete application of all the Bible says in my daily life.
How we live shows how much we believe what the Bible teaches. Not only do we edit God’s Word with knife and scissors; we edit with our actions. What does your version of the Bible look like?
Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www. psdbc.org.