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Pressing Jeff Siker for Answers: An Intriguing Query and Response

The comments by Jeff Siker on why he is still a Christian even though he, like me, has a thoroughly historical-critical understanding of the Bible (comments posted from four years ago) sparked some interesting responses.  One reader wrote him directly the following pressing questions, and Jeff wrote a reply that I thought was even more germane, interesting, and helpful than the original posts.

Here are the questions and his response (as he forwarded them to me).  Jeff, by the way, has said he is happy to answer other questions.  So if you have any, let me know, possibly by making a comment on this post.

 

QUESTIONS FOR JEFF SIKER:

I was extremely interested in the republication of your guest post from Jan. 2013 on Bart Ehrman’s blog this week.  You were addressing an issue paramount in my own life: How can I be a Christian knowing what I have learned in the past 70 years? Can you confirm for me what being a Christian means to you? I realize you are busy, so if you need to point me to something specific you have already written, please do so.

But, I really am asking about specifics. Belief in Jesus death vicariously propitiating for universal sin? Jesus being bodily resurrected? Jesus and God being identical (traditional Trinity belief)?  Regarding human suffering, you wrote “In light of his ministry I believe that we are called to embrace human suffering with the hope and faith that God will transform such an embrace into new life.” Can you expand on this? It seems to simply express a personal conviction that suffering is a fact of life and we should simply try to alleviate it.

 

JEFF SIKER’S RESPONSE:

As to your question about how one can be a Christian knowing what we do about the world and the terrible suffering that persists.  To me being a Christian means that I find my fundamental orientation to the world and to God in the person of Jesus as reflected in the NT writings.  I say this while at the same time being fully aware that the portrait of Jesus in the NT is highly ideological and…

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The Trinity in the King James Bible
Jeff Siker Part 2: Why I am a Christian (and yet a New Testament scholar): A Blast From the Past

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    leo.b@cox.net  February 3, 2017

    I do have a question for both you and Jeff about suffering. Looking at a broad philosophical perspective, what would the world look like if all suffering were eliminated? Every human advancement has come from suffering. Who would define suffering? Is a mother giving birth suffering? Could it be that suffering was designed to be allowed in the world simply for the evolution towards a more perfect world?

  2. Avatar
    DavidBeaman  February 6, 2017

    Thank you, Dr. Siker. You have put into words what I have been trying to formulate for my religious organization. And thank you Dr. Ehrman for your rational comments to those who seemed a bit contemptuous to Dr. Siker’s position. The contempt that is held by some intellectualizing atheists toward people who believe otherwise is difficult for me to understand. It does amuse me somewhat because I see them as fundamentalist atheists. On the other hand, you, Dr. Ehrman, though an atheist, can accept the fact that there are people who believe differently than you do without being contemptuous of them. I appreciate that in a person.

  3. Avatar
    screwtape  February 7, 2017

    “You were addressing an issue paramount in my own life: How can I be a Christian knowing what I have learned in the past 70 years? Can you confirm for me what being a Christian means to you?”

    Why is this question being asked of Dr. Siker and not God himself? Could not God easily answer it ?

    Is he taking a nap?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 9, 2017

      My sense is that Siker thinks God could easily answer the question, but it was asked of him (Siker) not God! As to napping, good question!

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