The sign along the highway caught my eye.  It read: “Barney’s Bible Buffet. Take-outs on all orders!” Wondering at the sign, I decided to investigate. I followed the directions on the sign.  “Take a hard-left off Narrow Way onto Broadway.  Follow Broadway as long as it’s comfortable.  Take another left onto Easy Street.  Go as far left as possible while pretending to go right.”

 

This week’s sermon text: 2 Timothy 3:15-16

Topic:  God’s Training Program.  Is it possible to be a Bible student and still be spiritually weak?  It certainly is!!!  If we do not follow God’s comprehensive spiritual training program, we can easily fall into the Cut-rate Christianity of the Last Days.  This form of godliness is an empty shell with no power.  It’s adherents are “always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth!”  Join us for a good Bible work out (which is not the same as a Bible-thumpin’!”)

 

Strange directions, I thought as I traveled the wide avenue.  I quickly found Barney’s Bible Buffet tucked between Ben’s Barbeque Pit of Iniquity and Dan’s Discounted Discipleship.  The Bible Buffet had banners stretched across the storefront with enticing slogans: “Anything goes!” (I thought to myself, those ads usually said everything goes, but I found later that both were true of this place.) “Take out what you want. Discount everything!”

 

Inside, Barney’s was like most buffets or smorgasbords. There were a few major changes. In place of the menu was a Bible – or at least parts of it.  It was missing the whole Old Testament, most of the Gospels, and major portions of the Epistles. In fact, what was left of the Bible was no larger than an average menu. I was confused so I asked one of the employees for help. He had a nametag that read “Hireling.”

 

“Excuse me Sir.  Could you explain the customary procedure to me?” I asked.

 

“Customary procedure?” he mused. “Let’s see. I’m familiar with the procedure for values clarification, the rites of unholy function, and current rationalization methods – but customary procedure I am not familiar with. Could it be a new recipe for traditional ritualism?”

 

“No, you misunderstand,” I replied.  “I mean, how do I find what I want here?”

 

“Oh, that’s quite easy,” he replied. “We have two methods. You may isolate anything you don’t like in the Bible-menu and call for a take-out order. Or, you may prefer to identify those things in the Bible-menu which you feel are too costly and they can be discounted until they are of absolutely no value. The second option is most popular. Usually unsuspecting family members will pay for it.”

 

“I thought this was a place to get fed,” I answered weakly.

 

“Oh you’ll get fed up, alright!” he replied smugly. “This is more than a diner. It is a whole new approach to roasting the Bible. We are patronized by those who detest ‘counting the cost.’  They do not want the meat, or even the milk, of the Word. So we serve, exclusively, a watered-down rendering.  We have long been closely associated with Cut-rate Christianity.

 

“I think I’m beginning to understand,” I said.  That’s why you have such a limited selection on your Bible-menu. You only offer that which will suppress a person’s spiritual appetite, rather than satisfy it. You offer nothing which might be hard to swallow or cause any discomfort. You want people to pick and choose which Biblical truths and commands they will accept, and you discount the rest or take it out.”

 

“Splendid testimonial!” he chattered in excitement. “Would you mind if we include that in future advertising? Now, would you like to place a take-out order?”

 

I was so shocked and appalled that I could only mutter: “How could you do such a thing?”

 

“Oh, it’s very easy you see.  We employ Bible butchers who are trained in special techniques to cut up the Bible. They can chop a clear-cut command into tasteless tidbits by ‘cultural cuisine.’  They simply burn the hard truths as being cultural statements and blend partial truths to suit people’s taste. Most people gobble it up.”

 

“Excuse me!”  I shouted as I rushed for the door.  “I think I’m getting sick.”

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”                                                                                             2 Timothy 3:16-17

(But) “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”                                                                                                                   2 Timothy 4:3-4