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Beginning My Study of the Bible

This thread is becoming a tapestry.  Its ultimate goal is to explain why, unlike most scholars, I ended up being able to write trade books and not only scholarly books.  I’m taking a rather circuitous route to getting there (to change the metaphor).   In my last post I discussed how and why I first became interested in the Bible, back as a fifteen year-old born again Christian.

At that point I became convinced that only Bible-believing Christians (who were, of course, also born again) were the real Christians and any other people who claimed to be Christian (for example, most of the people who went to my own Episcopal church) were not *really* Christian, except in name only.   Again, the reason I thought so is because the born-agains I hung around with all said so, and they seemed to know what they were talking about.  Especially the fellow who “led me to Christ,” a mid-20s something fellow named Bruce.

Bruce had a winsome personality and strong charisma, and he ran the Campus Life Youth for Christ organization that I got involved with, an organization (like Young Life) that tries to convert high school kids to its form of Christianity and then to sustain their faith through prayer meetings, Bible studies, and so on, but *mainly* through weekly social events that were a lot of fun and that included, at the end, a spiritual message.  I thrived on these things.

And accepted everything Bruce ever said.   The next year …

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Am I A Better Person as an Agnostic? A Blast from the Past
My Original Passion for the Bible



  1. Avatar
    silvertime  August 27, 2016

    Outstanding thread of comments. This information makes the blog come alive! All of this sheds light on the thought processes or lack thereof of the religious hold on persons which often come without any critical thinking. Recently there was a letter to the editor of the Lexington(KY) Herald Leader stating that born-again Christians should only use the King James Version. As you look back on your experiences, do you consider all of them valuable to your education?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 28, 2016

      Yes, in the end I really do. (When I was a fundamentalist, by the way, we knew that the KJV had problems as a study Bible; we used the New American Standard Bible as the most literal translation.)

  2. Avatar
    Habib  August 27, 2016

    Hello Bart,
    When i listen to your debates i, sometimes, get the feeling that you’re somewhat familiar with the Islamic “Sciences of Hadith”, have you checked it out? If you did not, it is amazing, but you certainly owe it to yourself. It also showed how Muslim scholars dealt with the issue of “Memory”, oral traditions and the authentication procedures, something the Christian world never knew or tackled.

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