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Comments on Jesus Are Wide of the Mark

August 02, 2003

Re "Gays Help Reclaim Jesus' Words," by Fenton Johnson, Commentary, July 29: I recognize that substantial numbers of people do not believe the Bible to be the revealed word of God, but it is frustrating to read, all too frequently, commentary on the Bible that is factually wide of the mark. Jesus was a radical, but not of the type that Johnson and people like him desire to portray. He was a radical in his insistence on giving priority to God over everything else. He stated that the greatest commandment was to love God with heart and mind, and all of one's being. He was orthodox in affirming the 39 books of the Old Testament to be the word of God, to be obeyed even when well-established religious tradition had departed from it.

Johnson's comments on slavery are off the mark. It is true that the Old Testament allowed slavery, but it also provided for the manumission of slaves and for humane treatment of them. Not only did the apostle Paul appeal for the freedom of the slave, Onesimus, in the letter to Philemon, but he wrote that slaves should secure their freedom if possible. The view of the entire New Testament is consistent: A person's relationship with God is of primary importance.

Foster H. Shannon

Los Angeles

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Johnson is quite skilled at coining a phrase, and he possesses a unique ability for writing in an entertaining fashion. Should he someday become proficient at interpreting the Holy Bible and grasping the fundamentals of Christianity, he may also become a very fine commentator.

Jim Roberts

La Mirada

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