October 1976

The Abridged Bible

Dan S. Shipley

Strange as it may seem, one of the most popular versions of the Bible has never been published. It is what I call the Abridged Version. Its contents may vary considerably, depending on the discretion and tastes of the abridger. His method of abbreviating the Scriptures is very simple — elimination by ignoring. He merely disregards all passages except those he chooses to recognize and emphasize. Scissors couldnt be more effective!

Many seem satisfied with only a slight abridgment, maybe one or two verses. One popular unpopular verse among the discreet abridgers is 1 Cor. 16:2 — you know, the one about giving as prospered on the first day of the week. Some dont much like the giving part; others dont care for the as prospered part and still others would like to ignore or minimize every week giving. Otherwise, they are apt to be as strong as horse radish on most of the remaining 7,958 verses in the N.T.

Another popular verse among the less-active scripture pruners is the one about not forsaking the assembling (Heb. 10:25). Now, theyll debate baptism at the drop of a sprinkle — more than likely quoting the right passages in doing so. Likely, they can tell you what the NT has to say about the work and worship of the church. Trouble is, you never know if theyll be present for the work and worship because they have forsaken what God says about not forsaking. Abridgment of Divine truth is serious business, even when done in small portions — and even when done by those claiming to be Christians. On the other hand, many abridgers seem perfectly willing to disregard greater portions of Scripture. Some, in fact, have been known to wind up with little more than a one-verse Bible! Take, for example, the singular emphasis often given to a passage like Jn. 3:16 —- almost as if it were the very epitome of the gospel. True, this beautiful verse does say much, but it doesnt say everything. The faith it mentions is all-important, but not all that is important! When seen in the light of other NT teaching (as all passages should be), the faith of Jn. 3:16 can be understood and appreciated as the kind that includes works of obedience, rather than excluding them. It is a passage to be complemented by others (such as Jas. 2:24) and not arrayed against them. Whether one passage is emphasized to the exclusion of others or whether just one is excluded and all others emphasized, the sin is the same. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all. For He that said.. .said also.. (Jas. 2:10,11). To disregard law is to disregard the lawgiver; whether in one instance or many is academic.

What men need to hear and heed today is what Paul said he preached nearly 2,000 years ago: THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD! (Acts 20:27). All Scripture was given by inspiration and given for a purpose — and that purpose involves making man complete, as God would have him (2 Tim. 3:16-17). An abridged gospel cannot make a complete man! Only one thing can, and thats the truth, the whole truth and nothing but