Monday, February 7, 2011

Rip It Out!

There is a scene in the film Dead Poets Society in which Robin Williams, playing a New England Prep School English teacher, begins a class by asking a young student to read the introduction to a text on English poetry. The student begins, but after a few lines, Robin Williams interrupts him and tells him that what he has read is all wrong. Rip out that page, he tells the student. The student smiles. Of course the teacher is joking. No. Rip it out! Rip that page out of the book. Well, one doesn't have to tell a class of adolescent boys more than twice to rip pages out of their textbooks. He rips the page out of the book and his fellow students do the same.

Now, I have told that story to my own congregation and then gone on to tell them that there is a page in their Bibles that is all wrong as well and ought to be ripped out. I haven't ripped that page out of my own Bible because I have written too many notes on it. But it does not belong in the Bible. In fact, it is the only page in the Bible that the Holy Spirit did not put there. It is the page that separates Malachi from Matthew, the page that suggests so powerfully, however subtly, that when one moves from Malachi to Matthew, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, one is crossing a great divide,
a great frontier, that one is moving from one spiritual world into another, from one way of looking at faith and life to another. But the Bible never teaches us that. It never teaches us to look at the first thirty-nine books of the Bible in any other way than as the living Word of God to be believed and obeyed. That page between Malachi and Matthew suggests something the Bible itself never does. It is important to remember that when we read in the NT that Holy Scripture is God breathed and so useful for teaching...and training in righteousness, the Scripture being referred to was, by and large, what we today call the Old Testament!

- Dr Robert S Rayburn

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