When I was a kid, I loved to read my mom’s books. It’s important to note that my mom was OLD when she had me, so her books were also old. My favorites were the classic murder mysteries from the 1930s and 40s. She had hundreds of them.
Among the paperbacks and Reader’s Digests and story collections that littered our home were all the big names of yesteryear. Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Rex Stout, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Ellery Queen. Let’s talk about that last one, shall we? We’ll go slow because it’s a little complicated.
Ellery Queen: the Basics
First of all, Ellery Queen was the pseudonym of two guys, Manfred Lee and Fred Dannay.
Under the pen name Ellery Queen, they produced a whole bunch of mystery novels and stories, featuring a character named…Ellery Queen.
The fictional character, Ellery Queen, was a mystery writer (staaaaay with me) who, of course, solved murder mysteries in his spare time.
So in conclusion, Ellery Queen was both the main character of the books, AND the author. Get it? (I apologize if there’s a more contemporary example of this sort of thing. I haven’t really kept up with crime novels since I became an adult. Though I do sometimes appreciate Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta novels.)
Whenever I hear somebody talking how Jesus “never said anything” about (for example) homosexuality, alcohol, pornography, video games, abortion, guns, etc., I think of Ellery Queen.
I don’t usually mention it, because nobody seems to remember Ellery Queen. People already tend to think my stories are too long and roundabout, so I don’t want to see their eyes glaze over while I try to explain. But I do think about it.
I understand why non-Christians make these comments (though I could do without the smug tone). In fact, even Christians make the mistake of seeing Jesus as just a character in a book. There are folks, fellow believers, who have written entire reference works from that standpoint. Books in which ONLY the words of Jesus, the character, are isolated and collated and pulled out of their context as a sort of “shorthand” for people to latch onto. But here’s the thing:
The entire Bible is God’s Word.
Not just the “red letters” that are highlighted as being spoken by Jesus when he was in his human form on Earth.
I want to be very clear that I don’t understand everything in the Bible. There are things that still don’t make sense to me, despite years of Bible study classes and commentaries given to me by well-meaning friends and associates. Things that are hard for me to reconcile as an adult who believes in Christ as well as science. This does bug me, but ultimately I trust in God and his Word, and hope that I’ll figure out the details as I go. He’s helped me connect the dots on plenty of occasions.
So when someone says “Jesus never said that,” I can’t really take it seriously. If it’s in the Bible, Jesus did say it, because he’s the author. He appears in the flesh in the climax (and in the dénouement, Revelation). But to say that the rest of the Bible somehow doesn’t count (or counts for less) because it’s not Jesus actually speaking is to fundamentally misunderstand his Word.
Of course, inevitably, the next questions are: So, you want gays to be put to death? Should we shun people who eat bats and lobster? Throw actual rocks at adulterers? Selling my daughter into slavery blah blah bacon cheeseburgers blah blah wool and linen fibers blah blah all the Old Testament stuff everybody brings up?
Short answer, no.
Slightly longer answer, no, because Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament law. We’re under grace now. But if you’re the type of person who likes to debate (or as I call it, playing “Poke the Christian”) you’ve stopped listening at this point anyway. You’ll now move on to “What about all the inconsistencies” or “What about people who never have a chance to hear the Gospel” or some other goalpost, so, you know.
Getting back to the point I thought I was making, Jesus is the author, narrator, protagonist, and actual Word of the Bible (John 1:1, 14).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (KJV)
He isn’t just the most famous character in a fun story. And when we try to latch onto whether Jesus did or didn’t say anything about this or that modern issue, we miss the big picture. CHRISTIANS TOO.
I really only posted this because I was so proud of my Ellery Queen analogy. Carry on.