Red Letter Christianity

September 3, 2016

John 10:30 is the Best Verse Ever

When you ask people to name their favorite Bible verse you’re likely to get a variety of answers. Some invoke John 3:16. Others take refuge in the 23rd Psalm or Jeremiah 29:11. But for me, the best verse in the entire scripture is John 10:30, in which Jesus said these six words “I and the father are one.”

I love this verse for all the obvious reasons. It is this verse where Jesus unambiguously claimed to be the God of the Old Testament.  He was crucified because of this verse and those like it (John 10:33, John 5:18, Matthew 26:63-66).

This verse gives life to C.S. Lewis’ classic Lord/liar/lunatic dilemma. Either Christ was a lunatic with delusions of grandeur, the most blasphemous of liars who led people to their death for nothing, or He is correct and deserves to be honored and obeyed as God. This verse leaves no room for compromise.

This verse also refutes the heretical claims of Islam and Jehovah’s Witnesses who say that Christ was merely a man who never claimed godhood.

It helps speak to the Trinitarian nature of our Lord, thus refuting Oneness Pentecostalism.

John 10:30 is also instrumental in tying Jesus to the rest of the scripture. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would echo what He tells Him to say to His disciples (John 16:13-15). In Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit fell upon Peter and he said that Paul’s writings were scripture (2 Peter 3:16). In II Timothy 3:16-17 Paul says that all scripture is “God Breathed.” Since John 10:30 informs us that Jesus is God, all scripture is “Jesus breathed.” That means that ALL scripture – both the Old and New Testaments-ultimately came from Jesus, rather than men.

But there is another reason this verse deserves our attention: it is the ultimate antidote to religious leftism.

The religious left is primarily built upon the idea that the direct teachings of Christ in the gospels should be isolated from and be emphasized to the detriment of the rest of scripture. This is commonly known as red letter Christianity, although not everyone in the religious left claims this label.

Whether the issue is capital punishment, war, homosexuality, incest, or religion in the public square, the religious left always takes a liberal position on these topics using the gospels as proof texts.

Self-Described red letter Christian Tony Campolo claims, “it is impossible to read the Sermon on the Mount and not come out against capital punishment…and…as a pacifist.”

Activist Episcopal priest the Rev. Susan Russell counseled LGBT supporters to quell critics of homosexuality by telling them “Jesus said absolutely nothing about being gay, but he said a lot of things about judging other people.”

The incest lobby used a modified version of this argument. “Jesus did not mention either homosexuality or incest…no such quote exists.”

President Obama delivered the most naked presentation of this red letter hermeneutic in explaining his support for homosexual civil unions. “If people find that controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.”

Admittedly, when looking only at portions of the gospels one can see how Jesus can appear to be an apolitical, anti-war (Matt 5:38-46, Matt 26:52), anti-death penalty (John 8:1-11), figure who never condemned homosexuality or abortion, and advocated a vague all accepting, nonjudgmental notion of “love” as the highest ethic (Matt 7:1, Luke 10:27).

However, when one looks at John 10:30 this image of Jesus as a proto-leftist evaporates.

By claiming to be God, Jesus is saying that all of God’s dialogue and actions were His own. This means that his teachings in the New Testament must be interpreted in light of His teachings in the Old Testament. Considering that God told Israel to go to war, gave them regulations on how to conduct it (Deut. 20), instituted the death penalty (Gen. 9:6), and regulated deviant sexuality (Lev. 18), it is impossible to claim that Christ is a pacifistic, nonjudgmental figure who is apathetic about abortion and sexual deviancy.

In the end, John 10:30 is to be treasured because it helps us understand that the real picture of Jesus is found in the totality of scriptures rather than in just the four gospels. Recognition of this fact is vital to fighting heresy, both in the church and in the political arena.


  • Wesbury

    Wow. Good stuff. Thank you.

  • John Kenyon

    When one assumes the unity of the Godhead, your point is well taken. When one assumes the distinctions of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then one must face statements by Jesus such as “The Father is greater than I am” and “You have heard it said by men of old…, but I say unto you…”. Don’t think your point slays the liberals.

    • Nutstuyu

      There really is no slaying of liberals because their father is the Prince of Lies and everything they adhere to is built on shifting sand. The only thing that will slay them is the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider named Faithful and True.

  • Excellent points! Wolves use their false view of Jesus as a springboard to their false teachings, and they rely on the biblical ignorance and/or bad motives of their followers.

    “Red letter Christians” tip their hands at their foundational error. Jesus is God and is in agreement with all of scripture. He quoted the Old Testament extensively, and referred to its most controversial elements without apology: Sodom & Gomorrah, Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, etc.

    And Jesus didn’t hand-write the Gospels. They authors had some eyewitness accounts and some reliable second-hand accounts, just like the epistles. And all were inspired by God.

    The “red letter” Christians are nearly always false teachers who pretend that the only words of the Bible that really matter are direct quotes of Jesus (i.e., the words that are printed in red in some Bibles). Their logic fails on many levels, and they can’t even get their own pet verses right.

    If they were the least bit consistent they’d agree with Jesus’ “red letters” that say you should live on all the letters. Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

    The red letters say to live on all the letters. Why don’t Campolo, Russell, et al obey that simple teaching?

    The “red letters” crowd is full of nonsensical hypocrites.

    Black Letters Matter!