The Most Offensive Verse in the Bible

In Christian Teaching by eric holmberg11 Comments

I first heard this wonderfully provocative thought when Doug Wilson referenced it during his concluding remarks in his debate with Andrew Sullivan on gay marriage.  (I loved Doug’s addendum about “rolling our own” and then smoking it.) Intrigued, I tracked down the original source. It is from a blog entry by Dan Phillips on Pyromaniacs.

I was going to comment on it, but thought “what’s the point?” Phillips just nails it. I would encourage all my fellow Christians to read and absorb this observation and make it a part of your apologetical tool kit. When it comes to a first principle it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

When Piers or Larry or Tavis or Rosie or Ellen or The View or whoever tried probing me about homosexuality, or wifely submission, or any other area where God has spoken (to the world’s consternation), I think I’d decline the worm altogether. I think instead, I’d say something like,

“You know, when you ask me about X, you’re obviously picking a topic that is deeply offensive to non-Christians — but it’s far from the most offensive thing I believe. You’re just nibbling at the edge of one of the relatively minor leaves on the Tree of Offense. Let me do you a favor, and just take you right down to the root. Let me take you tothe most offensive thing I believe.

“The most offensive thing I believe is Genesis 1: 1 and everything it implies.

“That is, I believe in a sovereign Creator who is Lord and Definer of all. Everything in the universe — the planet, the laws of physics, the laws of morality, you, me — everything was created by Another, was designed by Another, was given value and definition by Another. God is Creator and Lord, and so He is ultimate. That means we are created and subjects, and therefore derivative and dependent.

“Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning.

“Any time you bring up questions about any of these issues, you do so from one of two stances. You either do it as someone advocating and enabling rebellion against the Creator’s design, or as someone seeking submissive understanding of that design. You do it as servant or rebel. There is no third option.

“So yeah, insofar as I’m consistent with my core beliefs, everything I think about sexuality, relationships, morals, the whole nine yards,all of it is derived from what the Creator says. If I deviate from that, I’m wrong.

“To anyone involved in the doomed, damned you-shall-be-as-God project, that is the most offensive truth in the world, and it is the most offensive belief I hold.

“But if I can say one more thing, the first noun in that verse —beginning — immediately points us forward. It points to the end. And the end is all about Jesus Christ. That takes us to the topic of God’s world-tilting Gospel, and that’s what we really need to talk about.”

I mean, why quibble about minor offenses, when we know how to take them right to the mother lode of all offense — that God is God, and we are not?

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11 Comments on "The Most Offensive Verse in the Bible"

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Rebecca
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Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

Raul
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Can you explain what you mean by that?

Rebecca
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Zamar, You didn’t leave a comment as to who you were replying to, so I will answer as if it were to me. Gen 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” that means God created the heavens and earth. It continues on to explain what that looked like. The “everything it implies” as the “teacher” above mentions above, falls under the category of anyone who adds or removes anything from the word category. Let’s talk about the things he mentioned above, since he skirted the issues people were truly asking about. Homosexuality is an abomination… Read more »
Anonymous
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“Do I show love and grace, mercy and compassion as Jesus did?” You mean like when Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple with a whip? How do you know He is loving, gracious, merciful, and compassionate without elevating that understanding and interpretation of the Bible over another?

Andy
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“Anonymous” said (Mar. 7, 2013), “God is God . . . [but] the Bible is not.” That’s a false dichotomy. If the Bible was divinely inspired, then what the Bible says–God says. The fact is, you *do* elevate a given interpretation over other interpretations–the moment you commit yourself to a given interpretation! Stop pussyfooting around and just make a commitment and don’t apologize about it or neutralize it by giving it the death of a thousand qualifications.

Zamar
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So how do you interpret Genesis 1:1? Does t leave wiggle room to allow anything that the world attempts to take credit for? Jesus was NOT all love and mercy. He called a spade a spade. Read the rest of the Bible accounts of times when Jesus did not allow error. When He rebuked sin. When He made no apology for Scripture.

threegirldad
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Hello. I’m a big fan of Dan’s writing. If you liked that post, you’ll love this book:

http://www.amazon.com/World-Tilting-Gospel-Embracing-Biblical-Worldview/dp/0825439086

Rebecca
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There is most definitely a third option. How arrogant of you. The third option is pointing out that some chauvinistic asshole interpreted the scripture wrong, and the chauvinistic assholes of the time latched onto it, and now it is widely accepted as correct doctrine.

Zecryphon
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Why is he doing a disservice to Christianity by replacing God with Another? That helps no one and does not defend the Biblical teaching he is referencing. In fact to be completely truthful about Genesis 1:1, it’s not God the Father being talked about there, it’s pre-incarnate Jesus, John 1:1 backs this up. So what he should be saying is that I believe Christ created everything as stated in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1. That’s a much stronger statement and definitely more offensive as you can say God all day long and most people are okay with it, but bring… Read more »
Anonymous
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God is God… with that point, I agree with all my heart. On the other hand, the Bible is not god… and neither can I elevate one interpretation of the Bible above someone else’s understanding and interpretation of the same book… Each of us who claim to follow Christ and his teachings must search our heart. Do I show love and grace, mercy and compassion as Jesus did? That’s the question I must always ask myself.

Eric
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Hello Anon,

What if my interpretation is that Jesus was actually mean and nasty and self-centered and wants me to be like him? Why do you think we should be all loving and merciful? Isn’t my interpretation just as valid as yours? Or could it be that not all interepreations are equally correct and that there is knowable truth in the words of Scripture?

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