Revenge of the Black-Letter Christians

In our effort to honor all of Scripture, let’s not forget that Jesus is at the heart of it.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

I remember standing in a convention hall once, arguing with an elderly lady about the song “Jesus Loves Me.” Let me first say that I would thoroughly rebuke my 20-year-ago self for my overconfidence in the theological correctness of my “tribe.”

I even felt bad at the time—this woman reminded me of all the Southern Baptist ladies who taught me Sunday school (and “Jesus Loves Me”!), right down to the bouffant hairdo. I’ll bet she had peppermints in her purse, too. I was annoyingly polemical, and she would have had every right to pat me on the head, say, “Bless your heart,” and send me on my way.

We were on opposite sides of what was then a big doctrinal schism in my denominational tradition, and we were debating one of the points of contention in that controversy. I asked for her interpretation of a biblical passage dealing with whatever the subject was, and she said, “That’s Paul; that’s not Jesus. Jesus never said anything about that.”

When I turned back to another passage, she said, “That’s the difference between you and me. Your authority is the Bible; mine’s Jesus.” I responded, “But what do you know about Jesus apart from the Bible?” And she said, “I know everything I need to know: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know!’” And to that I said, “… for the Bible tells me so.”

I cringe when I think about how proud I was of “winning” that debate. When this woman walked away, I assumed it was because she couldn’t respond to my retort. Now I know she was probably thinking, Who is this …

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