Cecil B. DeMille, the famed Hollywood film-maker, came up with what he was convinced was a brilliant idea. He had already made a name for himself as the director of epic silent films – movies that did terrific business at the box office. So he decided he would repay his audience’s support by letting them decide what his next movie should be about. In conjunction with the Los Angeles Times, DeMille ran a public competition – whoever came up with the best movie idea would receive $1,000 cash (equal to $10,000 today). The letters came pouring in and the winner was a man by the name of F.C. Nelson, a manufacturer of lubricating oil in Lansing, Michigan. And his suggestion? The Ten Commandments! (And the rest as they say, is history). But DeMille now had to convince Samuel B. Mayer, the legendary head of MGM studio (and a real money tight-wad) to open up the vault for what would be an expensive film to make, with all the special effects required. The conversation went back-and-forth between the two for quite a while: DeMille (“It will be a blockbuster, making you tons of money”) and Mayer (“But what if it isn’t, I’ll wind up in the poor house.”) Finally, Mayer said to DeMille, “Alright, if you are such a religious man, let me hear you recite the Lord’s Prayer. If you can do that, then I’ll sign on and give you the funds.” DeMille thought to himself that the only prayer he knew was the one his mother taught him at bedtime, when he was a little child, so he quoted to Mayer – “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take.” After hearing it, Mayer said to DeMille, “I really didn’t think you knew it!”
When it comes to the Bible, how can you be religious and liberal at the same time, particularly when it comes to your cherished belief that we are all God’s children regardless of – what faith is believed (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islam, etc.), or what sexuality is practiced (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, trans-gender, etc.), or what position is held (abortion rights, common law, euthanasia, feminism, etc.)? And especially when you have those etched-in-stone Old Testament commands of Moses and those indelible-inked New Testament epistles of Paul – both of which go directly against your rainbow theology! The answer is simple, you become a red-letter Christian. And what is a red-letter Christian? A red-letter Christian is one who only follows the red letters printed in most Bibles (i.e. the words of Jesus) and who ignores all the other black-letters in the Bible (like the words of Moses and Paul) considering them inferior. In so doing your one doctrine is now the Sermon on the Mount and your one way of life is WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). And don’t even think of bringing up verses from Leviticus or Romans – for if they were as important as Jesus’ words they would have been written in red, not black. You say, “Pastor, how can anyone really believe that?” Well, in our biblically-illiterate age, they are swallowing it hook, line and sinker – just like Mayer did with DeMille’s rendition of the Lord’s Prayer.
The bottom line? Today, when it comes to the Bible, things just aren’t as black and white as they used to be.
✓Note – Red-Letter Bibles are really a fairly recent innovation, starting in 1901. The idea originated with a German immigrant named, Louise Klopsch who became the editor of a national magazine called, The Christian Herald. And it was while meditating on Luke 22:20 (This cup is the new testament in my blood…) that the thought of putting this blood verse in red ink eventually led to all of the words of Christ in colour.