Summary: There are folks who try to bring a "penknife" to a Sword fight they want to have with the Bible. Why would they even try? And why are such folks doomed to failure?
OPEN: Back in the Old Testament, in the book of Jeremiah, we read an intriguing story of a Jewish King who didn’t like something God had to say. The King’s name was Jehoiakim and God had had Jeremiah write down a prophecy condemned the King and his kingdom because of the evil that King had allowed to take place. God sent a warning to Jehoiakim and the nation of Judah to repent… or else.
But instead of repenting of his sin Jehoiakim decided to show his contempt for God’s prophecy. He ordered a scribe to come into his chambers and read the prophecy in his presence. And after 3 or 4 columns of the scroll of the prophecy had been written on were read (roughly equivalent to 3 or 4 pages from a book) the King took a knife and cut off that section from the scroll, and he crumpled it up and threw it into a fire. And Jehoiakim did that with the entire scroll until the all of the prophecy had been completely destroyed.
Jehoiakim cut out the sections of the prophecy he didn’t like… which was pretty much all of it. And over the centuries, people have – to one degree or another – done exactly the same thing to God’s Word with their own knives.
ILLUS: For example, Thomas Jefferson created his own personalized Bible using a similar technique. Jefferson titled the finished product: “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” And what he did was, he took several copies of the Bible and literally went through the Gospels, taking a penknife and cutting out the sections of Gospels that he LIKED. Then he’d paste those sections he liked into a journal – and that became his Bible.
The parts he left out the parts were rejected because he felt those sections were “contrary to reason.” You see Jefferson was offended by the idea that God would reach down into this world and “interfere” with the affairs of men. So anything that smacked of a being a miracle was ‘contrary to reason.” He left out anything that spoke of God’s miraculous power. Things like:
• the feeding of the 5000
• the various healings Jesus did
• and (of course) the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
ILLUS: More recently in the 1990s, about 150 religious scholars did pretty much the same thing.
They got together in something they called the “Jesus Seminar” and voted on verses in the Gospels as to whether these verses actually spoke of true events (as opposed to stories they felt the Gospel writers had made up). They voted by means “colored beads”:
Red meant - yes, Jesus said or did that.
Pink: The passage sounded like it could have been Jesus.
Black: Definitely did not happen.
They rejected many parts of the Gospels they felt were ‘over the top. For example, they rejected things like
• the passage where Jesus said: "I am the way, and I am the truth, and I am life". They felt it was “too exclusive”. The very idea that Jesus would say that there was no way unto the Father except by Him was offensive to them.