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Breakfast at Tiffany's: A serpent and a starfish

“The Bible is a book of redemption. It is that or nothing at all.” –W.A. Criswell, D.D., Ph.D.

 

Many modern teachers and preachers critically dissect the Bible, cherry-picking what seems personally and culturally relevant, and throwing out what feels unpleasant or uncomfortable. Some say that the Old Testament is simply an antiquated text meant only for its original readers, ignoring the fact that up to 28% of the New Testament contains allusions to the Old Testament.[1] The apostle Peter warned:


I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? (2 Pet 3:1b-4, KJV).


The theme of redemption has been called “The Scarlet Thread” that is woven through Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Redemptive patterns create a continuity between the Old and New Testaments, giving Christians a secure basis for understanding God’s unchanging character and the hope of heaven. They reveal God’s wrath against sin coupled with His grace, mercy, longsuffering, kindness and faithfulness. He cannot and will not let evil go unpunished because He is righteous and just. However, Israel’s history reveals over and over that God—though angered by their sin—made a way for His people to remain in communion with Himself. Discipline was always followed by God acting redemptively in power, freedom, and love.


Since the Garden of Eden account in Genesis, that old serpent, the devil, has instigated disobedience by making people doubt God’s word. This is apparent in the conversation he had with Eve when tempting her to eat of the forbidden tree. He cleverly asked, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” and portrayed God as a liar when he said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:1, 4, ESV).


Beware of teachers who claim to be Christian but doubt the inerrancy of the whole Bible and claiming they have a new, better version of faith. A simple illustration of a starfish and a snake can help one understand whether someone is a false teacher. When a starfish is cut in two, both pieces typically regenerate into two whole, new starfish.[2] True biblical theology is similar in that no matter how you “cut” it, each part will be a representation of its whole. Jesus, the bright and morning star, said in Rev 22, “If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (v.19, ESV). When a snake is cut in two, it might wriggle around for a while, but it eventually dies. False theology attempts to cut the word of God into separate parts, cherry-picking what is culturally relevant and discarding what feels uncomfortable or challenging. It might seem like it has life, like a snake that still moves around after being cut in half, but in the end, you just have two separate, dead pieces.


[1] Vern S. Poythress, “Edmund P. Clowney’s Triangle of Typology in Preaching and Biblical

Theology.” Unio cum Christo. 7, no. 2 (2021).

[2] Adam Dove, “The Future of Human Healing Lies in the Brain of a Starfish,” Carnegie Mellon University

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