For the Love of God, Read the Whole Bible

And stop rewriting the parts that make you question him.

Liberal Christians love Jesus. They love his teaching and his example, and they have a habit of prioritizing his words above all others in Scripture.

They don't love the Old Testament or honestly much of the New Testament, so they often limit their faith to the gospels, particularly Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. It's filled with lots of left-wing ideology about love and pacifism and conveniently fits the average liberal's slacktivism without confronting their shallow theology of the living God. It's all about the love, so nothing else needs to be said.

If you know your Bible pretty well, don't bother arguing with a liberal Christian because they have the same answer for everything. Doesn't the Bible prohibit homosexuality? "No, that would be unloving." Doesn't the Bible prohibit women from preaching? "No, that would be unloving." It's an argument from authority where they respond to controversial passages by using Jesus as a trump card and never addressing the contradictory evidence (which they dismiss through a genetic fallacy).

Some liberal Christians take the time to explain the difference between the Mosaic Law and the law of Christ, but their hermeneutic is still suspect. One of my favorite examples of liberal inconsistency is a meme that says "Since you're so fond of quoting from Leviticus" and then quotes a passage from the book about treating foreigners like citizens.

It's a jab at the evangelicals who use Leviticus to condemn gay people yet ignore it to support the immigration ban. But it's a self-defeating jab because if Leviticus applies to refugees, then why doesn't it apply to gay people? Either the law is still in effect or it isn't.

Evangelical Christians generally know and make use of their Bibles better than liberal Christians, but they're hermeneutics are just as inconsistent. Instead of avoiding the Old Testament, evangelicals often overuse it. While liberals are guilty of treating the law as irrelevant, evangelicals treat it as God's final revelation.

In evangelical churches, Sabbaths are kept, tithes are enforced, and the ten commandments adorn the buildings despite the fact that Jesus affirmed none of these things. Many even see ancient Israel as not only as our spiritual forebears but our nationalist ones too, claiming that America's actions garner divine blessings or cursings just like God's chosen people.

No wonder evangelicals are always whining about persecution and losing their rights. Thinking that America inherited Israel's responsibility to judge the nations has led them prioritize justice for Christians over minorities or refugees. Like the ancient nation before them, they feel cornered by those who refuse to recognize their spiritual pedigree and appeal to it constantly as cause for their ungenerous demeanor.

Whether your hermeneutic is unbalanced towards the Old Testament or the New, the result is the same. We may feel content in our selective readings, but a holistic theology does't run from disparate texts--it reconciles them.

For example, the Old Testament says "eye for an eye" while the New Testament says "turn the other cheek". Liberals will say the former is archaic and evangelicals will say the latter is situational, but we all know the Bible says both. What many of us don't know is why.

Jesus said that he came to fulfill the law before telling his disciples to turn the other cheek instead of taking an eye for an eye. Which means that the law was established with an unfulfilled ethic and God allowed his people to engage in retributive justice for centuries when that wasn't his ultimate plan.

It almost sounds like God mislead his people for some sinister, unknown reason, but Paul reminds us of an easily forgotten purpose of the law: it was our tutor. Believe it or not, the law was remarkably merciful for its time, so eye for an eye was real progress. It was one step closer towards being who we were made to be.

Like how he revealed his plan of salvation progressively over time, God has been teaching us how to be citizens of his kingdom for thousands of years. That's why the law isn't archaic or the Old Testament irrelevant. It's a record of how far we've come and hope for where we have yet to go.

I recently saw another meme that recounted some of the people the law condemned and how the Bible never ends there but moves towards redemption. The Moabites were excluded for there evil but Ruth was not only accepted, she became an ancestor of David and Jesus.

It would be easy to say that God still excludes people after a certain point of sin or dismiss Old Testament stories as the uninspired propaganda of a prejudiced people. But it's a lot harder to accept that God authored a barbaric law because humanity wasn't ready for his kingdom. Nevertheless, that's the story of our redemption, of God's patience. That's the story of the whole Bible.

Photo credit: national museum of american history via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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