Many years ago, I was a part of a Bible Study group and one day we were sitting around discussing the applications of some passages in the Letters of Paul. We all had our big study Bibles that we were reading from.
All of a sudden, right in the middle of the discussion, one of the study members took out a bottle of corrective fluid – the stuff (sometimes called Liquid Paper or White Out) that was commonly used in offices back in the dark ages when people still used typewriters. (Yes, I am that old!) She took a bottle of correction fluid and began dabbing away at the pages of her study Bible. What she was doing, of course, was cleaning up or changing some marginal notes that she had made in her Bible on some previous occasion. But that is not what it looked like.
Immediately the rest of the group began to accuse her (it was all in fun, of course) of actually editing the text of her Bible – of removing a verse simply because she didn’t like it.
It was that incident that inspired me to invent what I consider to be the greatest Bible Study tool in the history of the Christian faith: Script Out®. I figured that we all have Bible verses we don’t like – ones that we don’t agree with or that we don’t like what other people do with them. Most of the time we just ignore them – pretend that they aren’t there so we don’t have to deal with them, so why not make it official by using Script Out® to literally remove them from the Bible.
But, of course, what I’m really saying is the opposite – that, while we acknowledge that there are Bible passages that we don’t like (sometimes for good reasons) it is not good enough to just ignore them and pretend that they aren’t there. We cannot and must not edit the Bible because the Scriptures — the whole Scriptures — are a marvelous and wonderful gift given to us by God.
I have always seen myself as someone who takes the Bible – the whole Bible – seriously. Of course, there are verses that I love and that have been a great blessing to me. But I really believe that if I only dwelt on those verses, I would be much poorer for it. Often, I have found, it is when I struggle with a verse that I don’t like and, over a period of time, find a way to live with it, that can be an even deeper blessing to me.
So, while I will identify a number of passages this fall as Script Out® verses, my main reason for doing that is to help us to all struggle with those passages and acknowledge that we need them too. Sometimes that will require a deeper understanding of what lies behind those passages. Sometimes that will require that we pay attention to the wider context of the passage. And maybe, sometimes we may even discover that we have been misunderstanding these passages all along. I admit that it may be a bumpy journey, but I think that it is a very important one.