Taking the Bible Seriously – Rev. Dr. Rodney Kennedy

Dr. Marvin McMickle has a sermon called “How Much of Leviticus Do You Really Want?” He says, “If I hear one more preacher tell me about Lev. 18:22, by itself, I will just scream.” Well, I agree with him. I’m tired of one-verse theology. Tired of it. It’s dishonest. It’s disconnected from the rest of the Bible. Verses of Scripture do not exist as separate entities as if they were on a shopping rack where you get to pick and choose the verses that you like and leave the verses you don’t like on the rack.
One-verse theology? That’s right, and you know what I’m talking about. “It is an abomination to lie with a man as with a woman” (Lev. 18:22). I know the verse but what about the rest of Leviticus? There’s stuff in Leviticus that would seriously hurt the diet of most Baptists because it says not to eat pork chops and shrimp. Nobody in the Baptist tribe is going to pay one second’s attention to that part of Leviticus. If you are going to read all of Leviticus you have to give up medium or rare ribeye steak.
Or how about I Timothy 3:1? How many Baptist preachers are always hooting and snorting about women not being ordained because they have a verse from here and there that they wave around like it was engraved on a stone they just carried down from Mount Sinai? You know the verse. We all know it. “Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once” (I Tim. 3:1). I know all about I Timothy 3:1. Well, the verse says “bishop” and Baptists don’t have bishops. Even the one-verse users are guilty of making more of the verse than it actually says.
I’m also tired of one-book preachers like the one from Answers in Genesis who keep droning on and on about Genesis having all the answers to all the questions. Genesis? All the answers? Come on. You know that can’t possibly be true! There’s nothing about Jesus in Genesis. There’s no Calvary in Genesis. There’s no resurrection in Genesis. There’s no church in Genesis. There’s a lot a strange stories about the sons of God mating with the daughters of men and a man named Noah who built an ark to save his family from a flood and the people of earth trying to build a tower that reached to heaven. But there’s no gospel in Genesis. Why do we shrug when preachers engage in these obvious falsehoods? All the answers are not in Genesis. In fact, all the answers are not in the Bible. No one except God has all the answers. Jesus himself famously said, “I don’t know.”
Whether it’s one verse or one book I will have nothing to do with these truncated canons, these little midget idols lifted up on high as if they contain the entire truth of God’s revelation. We have to use the whole canon, all of it, even the parts we don’t like, the parts that disagree with our most cherished theological notions. The book judges us, all of us.
We can’t pick and choose. We can’t string verses of Scripture together from all over the book and put them together as if we have solved a jigsaw puzzle and we now have the answers to the total revelation of God. It’s not true. The book is too big, too inspired, too truthful to let preachers use it like that.
Maybe we need to learn to read the Bible all over again. Too many preachers have taken too many liberties with the Word, and there’s something not quite right about a preacher taking part of one verse of Scripture and offering his opinions for the next forty-five minutes.
Seriously, let’s take the Bible – all of it – seriously! Dr. K