Wesley Bros: Holy Ghost Busters

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10052014

When there’s something strange in your Bible verse…who you gonna call?  Everyone who reads the Bible is going to find something that bothers them.  Marcion was kind of the first Christian to just cut out all the stuff that bothered him.  Marcion edited his Playlist to really only include the letters of Paul, (and some of Luke), but even still he cut out references to the Old Testament.  This was because when Marcion thought of Jesus as the New Covenant, he took that to mean that the Old Covenant was useless and fallible…and then took it a step further to mean that no Supreme God would create a useless and fallible covenant…and then took it a step further to mean that the Creator God who gave the Law to Moses in the Old Testament was a false god.

All sorts of early Church fathers wrote against Marcion for centuries after his death because his view continued to be pretty popular.  Cut out all the Jewish symbolism from Christianity and you have a Christianity that makes a lot more sense to Gentiles.  I had the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man challenge the church fathers on the same logic, because they did heavily and selectively emphasize certain parts of Scripture to connect them to Christ in a way that makes little to no sense to Jews reading the same Scripture.  In many ways, its easy for anyone to take the parts of the Scripture that appeal most to us and make that our Gospel, while ignoring other parts that don’t make sense in light of our claims.  It’s easier to ignore the verses that challenge my worldview, or to read them off as not as important as other verses that fit my perfect theology.

Perhaps the most helpful thing the church Fathers did in response to Marcionism was to solidify the canon (closing the Bible as something that can’t be added to or taken away), AND emphasize the importance of Apostolic Succession (the connection, or tradition, passed person to person from Christ to the Apostles, and so on).  Both of these mean that we have to wrestle with the tensions. We belong to one another in community and can’t just go theologically rogue.

So if you find the ghost of Marcion trying to possess you, call on the Holy Ghost Busters.

Charlie Baber

Rev. Charlie Baber is author and illustrator of the weekly web comic: Wesley Bros. When he isn’t finding new ways to mash-up church history with modern culture, he has actual responsibilities as a Deacon serving at Highland UMC in Raleigh, NC. Check out Charlie’s site at www.wesleybros.com.

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