I have received a number of suggestions about how to improve this blog, and so far the one I like best is for me to have an occasional guest make a contribution that people could interact with — that is, someone who is, like me, a scholar of NT or early Christianity who has a different thing or two to say. I think it’s a great idea. And I’m going to implement it for the first time tomorrow.
Here is a question I have recently been asked:
You’ve mention that most of your past/present fellow colleagues, friends, loved ones etc… agree with you when it comes to historical understanding of the bible and Christianity, but remain believers. I also understand the problem of suffering was the real reason for your loss of faith and not completely historical understanding. I guess my question is this: What keeps them believing in the very human invention of Christianity? Is it because they have a very liberal understanding and are more like Crossan and Borg, reinventing Christianity to make it make sense in the 21st century or is it something else. Do they ever try and explain to you where you’ve got it all wrong? What do they say?
I have come across a lot of people that use to be Christian and then through the process of reading your books and going to seminary are no longer Christians. This is a common question that comes up when discussing your books and your personal views with these people. If this is too personal, I apologize. But curious minds want to know 🙂
I’ve decided what would be really interesting is for me not to answer the question myself, but to have one of my friends in the field of New Testament studies answer it. And so I’ve asked my friend Jeff Siker, Professor of NT at Loyola Marymount University (it’s a Jesuit school, but he’s an ordained Presbyterian minister with a Masters of Divinity from Yale and a PhD, like me, in NT from Princeton Seminary) to tell me how *he* would answer. Among other things, he is a biblical theologian – yet he agrees with me on most of my historical views about the Bible. Jeff Siker is also the author of Jesus, Sin, and Perfection in Early Christianity and Homosexuality in the Church.
His answer is on the longish side — nearly 2000 words — and so I will post it in two stages, the first tomorrow and the second the day after.
He has agreed to interact with people if anyone has questions, issues, or downright objections to raise