by Phil Baker
I just finished reading William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride”, the book on which the classic movie is based. (SPOILER ALERT: We may be showing it this summer at Movies by Moonlight) I often like to visit the source material for movies. Not so much to compare them, but to get additional information on the characters, story or just to absorb more of that world. The premise of “The Princess Bride” is that a father had it read to him as a child. But as an adult about to read it to his own son, he discovers that his father was editing the book to leave out the boring parts to hold his attention with just “the good parts” – pirates, sword fights, R.O.U.S.’s. Thus the book often carries the subtitle “The ‘good parts’ version”.
Throughout the book, Goldman comments on parts he edited out like Buttercup’s elaborate wedding preparations, her day-to-day training to be a princess, or whole chapters on the turbulent history of the feuding countries of Florin and Gilder. This is all done with the same tongue-in-cheek comedy as the movie.
The Bible has some good parts as well. We like to read those over and over. We memorize them. We quote them. We embroider them on accent pillows. This is all well and good. But the Bible also has some bad part. Parts we don’t like to read so we forget about them. They are often long histories, lists of rules, or prophetic warnings. I think I’m safe in saying this is the bulk of The Old Testament. But there’s value in the bad parts. There’s context. It’s exposition. We can’t fully appreciate the redemption in The New Testament until we fully grasp the repeated mistakes in The Old Testament. This is why I’m grateful when Pastor Brock preaches from The Old Testament. It forces me to go there, to live in and think about the perennial sin of the Israelites. Because it’s then that I realize I’m just like them. I constantly move toward God, then fall back into old patterns. One step forward, two steps back. I like editing out the bad parts of my life and just presenting God with the good parts.
We can’t always just live in the good parts. It’s healthy to visit the bad parts as well. We have to take the Bible as a whole.
“A church that preaches the Bible” seems to be what everybody is looking for. This kinda makes me laugh because every church will claim to preach the Bible. I think what people mean is they want a church that preaches the WHOLE Bible. But do they really? Do they want “the bad parts”? Or do they want just the lovey-dovey, ‘Jesus loves you’ message?