Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of our nation, created his own version of the Bible. Jefferson did not care for the miraculous aspects of Scripture, the resurrection of Jesus or His followers who wrote the New Testament. He called them “ignorant, unlettered men” who created “superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications.” So, with a razor and glue in hand, Jefferson cut and pasted a version of the Bible he called, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.
It seems the spirit of Jefferson lives on in our nation. Scripture cutters have always been among us and continue their work to this day. Some have given themselves to cutting and deconstructing Scripture to such a degree it has become a drug of choice. They have become pushers of this drug and the kingdom of darkness has used that addiction to create spiritual drug cartels that produce addicts ready to mainline strange and unhealthy doctrines.
While this cutting is taking place, it is easy to miss an important distinction. While there are people who are pulling a Thomas Jefferson with misguided cuts of Scripture, others are rightly dividing the Word by carefully unpacking the historical background required to correctly interpret and understand what was written. For example, trying to understand a difficult section of Scripture without knowing the context and audience to whom it was written will leave you with a partial, and in some cases, a dangerous misunderstanding. We need this valuable insight if we are to rightly represent the heart of God.
A reformation is taking place within the Church. The process of reformation has produced a renewed desire to correctly interpret Scripture and to take a second look at our tightly held assumptions. This Spirit-birthed stirring has come to prepare us to consider new and undiscovered aspects of our faith.
Jude, a half-brother of Jesus, wrote to the believers in his day about this subject, “I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” The faith Jude described was the original deposit of faith that we will spend the rest of our lives trying to unpack and understand. Some call this faith a progressive revelation. It is not progressive in content but in the way we progressively unpack the immensity of its original deposit. On our best day, we only see bits and pieces of the truth of God. Contending for an understanding of the original deposit is not meant to be a contentious interaction with other believers. It is supposed to be an honest and honorable search for a clear understanding of a truth that remains the same, yesterday, today and forever.
Surround your life with trusted people who are gifted in the area of biblical interpretation. Give these interpreters the time needed to work out their own understanding of what they offer before you blast them away with a premature dismissal. These inquisitive relationships are part of a healthy spirituality. Put down your fear, your biblical cutting tools and the all-too-easy-to-attach label of “heretic”. Let the Spirit walk you through this uncomfortable season of reformation with wisdom and discernment. On the other side of these challenging experiences, you will discover a stronger, healthier and more informed version of the Church.