Thursday, May 29, 2008

Those Red Letters

Printing the words of Jesus in red is considered by some to be foolish. It’s certainly not without it’s dangers.

Today there are a host of people who desire to make the red letters a canon within the canon – that is, they believe the red letters, as the words of Jesus, carry special weight. That goes against the idea of the inspiration of all scripture, and it ignores the fact that the words of Jesus are filtered through the gospel authors.

There is also some debate about which letters should be red. The first time I read my Bible’s footnote on John 3:15, I was taken aback – how could John 3:16 not be the words of Jesus?! But when I compare other passages, I can see how some might think John, not Jesus, first uttered those words.

After all of that, I still don’t care. I like the red letters. No, I love the red letters.

I truly believe that the words of the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit. But it is not the Spirit-filled Paul I long to meet.

If my wife had her mother send me a letter, the information sent to me would be from my wife, but it would be in her mother’s words and in her mother’s hand. Wouldn’t a letter in her own hand be a bit more precious to me?

In the same way, the words of Jesus, though filtered through the gospel writers, are closer to Jesus than the words Peter, Paul, or Isaiah wrote under the Spirit’s influence. Even though there should be no theological difference, there is still a qualitative, emotional difference to me.

I would give anything to be able to sit at the feet of Jesus. If I could, I’d go back then. If I could, I’d get Him to come here now. Since I have to wait, I’ll settle for the only bit of His presence I can get. I’m going to hold on to those red letters.


tcblack said...

dissenting voice here. I don't get nasty over the red letters as some do but I want them removed from my bibles: Make 'em all black.
You already note the problems of heightening the importance of Jesus' words over Peter's. But what bugs me is that they distract my already scrambling mind. If I'm reading a page with red letters they draw my attention by shear contrast with the rest of the page. Well there are more reasons than that one, but it's a start.
OTOH I appreciate your comments. I too am eagerly awaiting the joy of seeing Jesus. No matter what color his words are on the page.

ChrisB said...

Funny -- you find the red distracting; I find it's absence distracting.

It's almost like reading a black and white copy of a color comic strip -- I know I'm missing out on something, so it hinders my enjoyment of what I do have.

I can appreciate your point though. Thanks for stopping by!