Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Are Evangelicals Semi-Marcionite?

The Marcionites were a group of heretics in the early church, who followed a guy called Marcion. Basically, he said that the God of the Old Testament was evil and different from the God of the New Testament. He did that by deciding that a lot of what we call the Bible wasn't actually the Bible. He ditched the whole Old Testament and large chunks of the New, including most of the gospels, and even bits of the ones he kept.

I think there's a danger that evangelicals do that today in a sense. Not that we say the God of the Old Testament is evil or anything, but that we ditch far too much of the Bible.

In far too many churches, the Old Testament is rarely read or preached, and large chunks of the New are ignored. Here's what's left in, give or take a bit...

  • Genesis 12, 2 Samuel 7
  • a few Psalms
  • Isaiah 6, 9, 53, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 37, Daniel 1-3, 6
  • Jesus' birth narratives from Matthew and Luke, crucifixion and resurrection narratives from all four gospels
  • The Sermon on the Mount and Great Commission from Matthew
  • Mark
  • parables from Luke
  • most of the "I am" sayings from John, and some bits about the Holy Spirit
  • a few bits of Acts, but by no means all of it
  • Romans - 2 Timothy, but with a few gaps (Romans 9,11; much of 2 Corinthians; 2 Thessalonians)
  • A few bits of Hebrews

If you don't believe me, what I've mentioned there is probably under 1/4 of the Bible. What proportion of the sermons and Bible studies at your church over the last year have been on it?

Of course, it's not just the evangelicals who do this. The Anglo-Catholics tend to preach on the gospels, and not much else.

But if we believe it's all God's word, we should preach on all of it.

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