Leaving out essential parts

President Obama spoke Sept. 15 to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, in Washington D.C. During his speech, he quoted from the Declaration of Independence. But after a pause, he resumed the quote and left out — some would say deliberately — part of the text. Deliberately, because he omitted exactly the phrase that attributes man’s “unalienable rights” as being endowed “by their Creator.”

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Since he was letter-perfect on the rest of the quote, it does make one wonder. And one presumes he was reading from his Teleprompter. He was reading the text of his speech.

Deliberately or not, his omission was telling.

A similar telling omission occurs when people quote Scripture and leave off essential parts.

People want to leave obedience off when speaking of faith (Hebrews 5:9).

Some prefer not to consider consequences when talking about actions (Galatians 6:7-8).

Others recommend grace without ever getting around to the effort needed to obtain it (Hebrews 12:15 ESV).

Not a few enjoy the language of forgiveness, reconciliation, and knowing God, but refuse to acknowledge the Bible as a pattern or eschew the thought of sound doctrine (Romans 6:17; 2 Timothy 1:13).

Even brethren may skip lightly over repentance in their hurry to speak of baptism (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38).

The warnings against omissions are clear, both in dealing with Scripture and in living out the will of God:

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you (Deuteronomy 4:2).

They hear your words, but do not obey them (Ezekiel 33:31-32).

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:17).

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book (Revelation 22:18-19).

These telling omissions are different in nature from the president’s, however. Few reacted, and some likely approved, when words were left out of the Declaration of Independence. Those who omit God’s words in teaching and practice will discover the Lord’s censure. He will bar them from entry into heaven (Matthew 7:21).

For this reason the apostle Paul stressed to the Ephesian elders, “for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God” (Acts 20:27 HCSB). Nothing was held back, no part of God’s will was omitted. He was careful to expound to Christians and outsiders alike all that God wanted them to know. We should be so careful.

Those who leave off the whole will of God will be left out on the day of judgment.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

2 thoughts on “Leaving out essential parts

  1. No, it was an ad lib that was not in the prepared remarks.


    More from Brody:

    “If you want to criticize him for not reciting one of the most important lines in American history correctly fine. Have at it. But when you start to question someone’s motives without really knowing what’s going on in their heart or mind then you become off base. Would you like it if someone judged what was in your heart or mind? No thank you.”

What do you think?