When I was a boy, I knew that there was a certain type of literature, found in our house, that was “necessary,” but that nonetheless, I was to not look at for long. Of course, I’m talking about the Women’s Undergarment Section of the Spiegel Catalogue. I’m fifty years old now. I’ve been an ordained pastor for about twenty-six of those years and I’ve been rather shocked to find that there are portions of Scripture which most of “The Church” treats like the Women’s Undergarment Section of the Spiegel Catalogue. I’m talking about the BVBBBBs, “Bible Verses Banned By Bible Believing Believers.”
I suppose I’ve always suspected that these verses would exist, but I figured that they’d involve things like the erotic portions of the Song of Solomon, the massacre of folks in Jericho, threats of outer darkness or the eternal fire… or perhaps prohibitions against the abuse of alcohol or the myriad texts having to do with covetousness and greed. I was wrong. I won’t go into the details here. But I’ve learned—very painfully—that the BVBBBBBs have to do with the glory and power of God’s Grace… and not that it’s small, but that it’s infinite. There are quite a few BVBBBBBs, but I’ll list just a few considered most dangerous:
- “I (God) will restore their fortunes, both the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your (Jerusalem) fortunes in their midst…” – Ezekiel 16:53
- “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth a word has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’” – Isaiah 45:22-23, also Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10
- “And I (Jesus, ‘The Word’), when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” – John 12:32
- “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” – Romans 11:32
- “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” – 1 Corinthians 15:22, also Romans 5:18-19
- “For in him was all the fullness of God pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” – Colossians 1:19-20
- “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’” – Revelation 5:13
- “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” – Revelation 21:5Now some wonderful BBBs, “Bible Believing Believers,” will say that these verses don’t mean what they say. And yet, for about six years now, I’ve been asking
BBBs, Bible scholars and pastors to translate these verses for me in a way that they would “say” what they “mean.” NONE have done it. Which is a testimony to their respect for Scripture, but which also raises a question: “Why are we treating the BVBBBBBs like the Women’s Underwear Section of the Spiegel Catalogue?”
Some might argue that the Bible isn’t true; that Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, and John were drunk when they spoke or wrote the BVBBBBBs. Well, at least the folks in my crowd don’t want to say such things. And that’s good. I’m convinced that the Bible is truer than anyone of us even begins to imagine.
And so I suspect that most BBBs just can’t get the BVBBBBBs to fit in their view of reality—their “modus operandi”—and so they kind of hide the BVBBBBBs from the world thinking they’re dangerous, the way the Spiegel Catalogue is dangerous to Junior High boys.
So I’ve been wrestling with this question for six years now, “Why do BBBs think the BVBBBBBs are so dangerous?” I don’t know… here are just a few ideas:
- We’re afraid to not be afraid. We think, “If I’m not motivated by fear, I won’t be motivated at all.” There’s something to that. Scripture says, “Fear is the beginning of wisdom.” Yet it also says, “Perfect love casts out fear… God is Love.” That makes some sense to a Dad like me. I want my kids to fear me, so they won’t become crack-heads and underworld crime bosses. But I want them to not fear me so that we could be best friends. Fear is the beginning, but not the end. And just as my kids spent some time in their rooms weeping and gnashing their teeth, many will spend time in outer darkness “weeping and gnashing their teeth.” And just as my love burned them when I entered their rooms and said, “It’s time for a talk,” so the Love of God will burn. It is Eternal Fire. But fear is not the end. Jesus is “the End.”
- We are seduced by the institutions of this world. The “Principalities and Powers of this world” run on systems of reward and punishment designed to make their constituents repress destructive desires through fear. In the Kingdom of Heaven, no one is “repressed.” They have new desires. They are no longer constrained by fear but motivated by love. They don’t “have to” be good. They are good. Pastors of huge institutions have told me, “Peter, it’s fine to believe this stuff, just don’t talk about it.” You see? Grace is dangerous to the institutions of this world.
- We lack faith in God’s desire or ability to save. We have faith in “God is Not Salvation.” In other words, we have faith in fear AND a lack of faith in Jesus. Did you know that the name “Jesus,” literally means, “God is Salvation?” Perhaps we think Jesus is a test and “We are Salvation.” So, it’s my “choices” that save me from God, rather than God that saves me from my “choices” …by giving me a new chooser, which is His choice, His heart, the very Spirit of Jesus. Well faith in Jesus, which is faith in “God is Salvation,” is Heaven. And faith in “God is Not Salvation,” which is faith in the Anti-Christ, which is faith in your self, and your “choices,” is Hell. And you can get stuck there… at least for a time.
- We don’t want to be like Jesus. Which means we don’t want to be made in the image of God. Which means we like the outer darkness and are terrified of the Light, which is Love, which is Eternal Fire, which is God our Father. In other words, we don’t want to forgive as we have been forgiven. And I get that.
I’m sure there are many other reasons… but not wanting to forgive, a lack of Faith in Grace, conformity to the institutions of this world and fear, are not good reasons to hide the BVBBBBBs. Actually, I would suggest not hiding anything in the Bible.
And just to cover my bases, may I add that it’s probably best for all parties concerned if Junior High boys tried to spend their time perusing parts other than the Women’s Undergarment Section of the Spiegel Catalogue. But when it comes to the Bible, peruse the whole thing. And for BBBs I’d suggest extra time with the BVBBBBBs. They might just change our “modus operandi” and give us a new view of reality. Heaven is Reality. And Heaven is Forgiveness. It’s Faith in Grace. It’s not of this World. Heaven is the Kingdom of Love. And in the End—it’s the only game in town.