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Who Is The Enemy?

This will be a very personal post, about being an enemy of the Christian faith.

I’ve long been amazed, surprised, and perplexed about how, when it comes to religion, comments made in one context are completely non-problematic but when the (exact) same comments are made in another context, they are heinous and threatening.   Some of it almost certainly has to do with tone and general attitude.  But I wonder if it isn’t actually much broader than that.

One of the ways I’ve seen this over the years is in the use of humor.  When I was a conservative evangelical Christian at Moody Bible Institute there were all sorts of jokes we would tell about the faith or about our commitments or communities:  just about Moody, we would call it Moody Instant Bibletute; or say we went to Moody, where Bible is our middle name.  Or someone would say (with respect to the view that the “rapture” would occur prior to, not after, the millennium – something we were very big on indeed!) that he was so pre-millennial that he wouldn’t eat Post Toasties.

We all thought that kind of corny humor was funny.  But when later in life I would say the exact same things, evangelicals found them highly offensive.

OK, maybe I’m not so amazed, surprised, and perplexed about it.  Context changes everything.   What is self-deprecating humor on the lips of one person can be a malicious attack on the lips of another.  Same words, different speaker.

The issue keeps coming to mind these days, in a variety of ways.  Recently, as you know, I’ve been posting on the issue of whether the book of James could be a forgery.   “Forgery” is a word that most New Testament scholars really don’t like.  They think it is crass and in your face and hopelessly negative, and so, typically, they completely avoid it, either preferring a term they consider to be more neutral (e.g., “pseudepigraphon.”  Who would take offense at *that*, when no one knows that it means?) or claiming that in fact in the ancient world people didn’t think the phenomenon (an author falsely claiming to be a famous person) was deceitful – or in fact that no one in the ancient world was in fact deceived.

I think that’s completely wrong.  Ancient authors talked about the phenomenon and they consistently disapproved of it, and often said nasty things about it.   For me, if someone today were to publish a novel claiming to be Stephen King, when in fact he was Herman Schmidt, we would call it a forgery.   Why not when someone named Samuel from Antioch claimed to be James of Jerusalem?   It’s true, writing conventions were different then, and there was no such thing as copyright or legal proscriptions etc etc.  I go into all that in my books.  But the phenomenon was seen in a very similar light in antiquity.  It was wrong to call yourself by someone else’s name in order to promote your writing for one reason or another.

The other interesting thing is that when modern people hear about such ancient forgeries, they have different reactions to it.   My sense is that most readers of the blog would say that if a book is forged then Christians are flippin *crazy* to think it could be inspired by God.

This will strike many of you as weird, but I myself don’t agree.  As you know, I don’t believe in God, so it’s not that I think such a book actually *is* or *could be* inspired by God (God can’t inspire a book if he doesn’t exist…).  But I used to believe in God, and as a scholar I certainly believed, even back then, that a number of the books in the New Testament were not actually written by their alleged authors, that the person who wrote 1 Timothy claiming to be Paul was not really Paul, or the author claiming to be Peter in 2 Peter was not really Peter, e.g.  But I still thought that they were the inspired word of God.

How could that be?   I remember what my great teacher, one of the great biblical scholars of the twentieth century, Bruce Metzger used to say.  He was himself very conservative in many ways, and a highly committed and pious believer.   But he was also a learned scholar.  He didn’t accept all the findings of “liberal” biblical scholars, at all.  But there were times where he too had to admit that there were problems with the Bible.  He agreed that there was almost no way Peter actually wrote 2 Peter.  And he thought that the creation stories of Genesis 1-3 were “myths.”  He would use the word.  But he still thought they were Scripture, revelations from God.

And when his conservative students would object to him calling the creation story a “myth,” since it was in the Bible, Metzger’s reply was always: “Who says God can’t inspire a myth”?

I still rather like that.  Why *can’t* God inspire a forgery?  I certainly don’t think he does, since I don’t think he exists; but when I did think he existed I thought he had inspired forgeries.  So it’s certainly possible to believe he did.  (I mean empirically, it’s *proven* that it’s possible to believe it, because some people do!)

And so I’m back to why a view is acceptable in one context and not in another:  the view that there are pseudepigrapha in the New Testament was completely acceptable to those of us being trained as biblical theologians and ministers at Princeton Theological Seminary, but completely Verbotten at Moody Bible Institute.

And so the personal question that I struggle with a good deal.  OK, this is really highly personal, it’s just me.   But I often feel sad about being seen as an “enemy” of the Christian faith.   People tell me I am all the time – both people who despise me and people who are rooting me on.   Yet the views I put out there for public scrutiny are almost NEVER things that I’ve come up with myself, that I’ve dreamt up, that I’m trying to push on others with no evidence or argument – just crazy liberal ideas I’ve come up with to lead people away from the faith.

So why am I an enemy?

Of course I know why, and my views were given additional support last week, at the international meeting of New Testament scholars I attended in Marburg.  I was talking with a German scholar about advanced training in biblical studies in Germany these days, and he told me that in German theological schools (in his experience), students simply are not as a rule very interested in the historical study of the New Testament per.  The kinds of historical issues we deal with on the blog are simply not pressing matters for them.  These are not why they are in theological training, either to teach or to minister in churches.

Instead, he indicated, the ONE question / issue that most of these students have is:  “How can I be Christian in this increasingly secular world?”

Of course they are interested in historical knowledge – but it’s not what’s driving them.  Instead it is an existential question about faith.  That makes so much sense.  It is what was driving me at that stage too.   But when this fellow scholar told me that, I realized even more clearly why I get so much opposition, even in some learned circles.

Most of the people who are in the business of studying the Bible are committed to faith.  That’s what generates their interest.  And these days it is very hard.  Christians are under attack.   From science, from philosophy, from the neo-atheists, from a society/culture that increasingly doesn’t care.   And the problem with someone like me is that I’m not helping the cause.  On the contrary, I’m not just someone from the outside taking potshots at this faith.  I’m someone who came from within it, and left it, with good reasons, and who argues views that are taken by people in the wider culture to be “evidence” that the faith has no good rational basis.  Even though I disagree with that assessment (since I know full well that people can be devout believers but still agree with everything I say) (not that anyone agrees with everything I say) (sometimes *I* don’t agree with everything I say…) – even though I disagree with that assessment, I get it.

Christians – even Christian scholars – want to cling on to their faith, to cherish it, and promote it, and what they see as negative assaults on the basis of their faith is threatening, especially – this is the key point – if it comes from someone who is *outside* the community of faith but who used to be inside it and understands the views of those who are still inside it extremely well, but who now rejects these views.  And says things that can lead others to reject them as well.

So no wonder I’m the enemy.  As we all say these days: duh.


Learning New Things
My Current Research Projects, 7/2019

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    Boltonian  August 9, 2019

    One word, ‘Tribalism.’ ‘I can tell my friend he is ugly because he is my friend but if you say it I will punch you.’

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  2. Avatar
    AstaKask  August 9, 2019

    Well, at least you actually believe Jesus existed, unlike say Richard Carrier. I’m sure you will be in a slightly higher rung of Hell than he. :o)
    But yeah, jokes from within the group are less offensive than jokes from outside the group. I can joke about me being fat… but I don’t like other people doing it.

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    • Avatar
      quadell  August 19, 2019

      Ehrman believes that Jesus was a real person who wasn’t God, a reasonable conclusion that results in him being called a heretic by both Evangelical Christians _and_ Mythicist Atheists!

      1
  3. Robert
    Robert  August 9, 2019

    Love your enemies, for they are the greatest of friends in the communal search for truth.

  4. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  August 9, 2019

    Thanks so much for sharing this as your more personal blogs are always your best ones. The other side of this coin is that there are many of us struggling to make sense of it all who find almost no one out there with a basic understanding of the historical issues needed to serve as a foundation for theological views. You have provided that over and over again. Please keep doing that. The historical knowledge just has to come before the theology. Through the years, I have been amazed at how respectful you are about people reaching theological conclusions different than those you reach even if they have the same historical knowledge that you have. I wish I could be as generous, but often times people reaching these theological conclusions, in spite of the historical evidence, just does not make sense to me. How in the world do they do this?

    Initially, I, too, thought that the word “Fraud” was too strong a word, but you explain your use of that word quite well in your book entitled “Fraud.” I recommend that book to blog readers.

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      Jim  August 9, 2019

      Extremely well said; my comments to describe the attitude(s) covered in the OP likely won’t be allowed past the blog’s word sensitivity bot. Maybe I eat too many lemons or I’m just a grumpy old phart. 🙂 🙂

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  August 9, 2019

      “The other side of this coin is that there are many of us struggling to make sense of it all who find almost no one out there with a basic understanding of the historical issues needed to serve as a foundation for theological views. You have provided that over and over again. Please keep doing that. The historical knowledge just has to come before the theology.”

      Historical knowledge doesn’t have to come before theology if they don’t want it to or if they have no desire to look into it. We can’t force people to see it our way.

  5. Avatar
    gwayersdds  August 9, 2019

    Unfortunately, Bart, this country and much of the world has become very divisive. It’s “Us” against “Them”. If you don’t believe the way I do then you are WRONG and become the enemy. The concept of tolerance of other beliefs has just about become extinct. In my opinion those who cling so desperately to a belief, religious, political, or whatever are the ones who are the most insecure and feel that they have to protect at all costs whatever it is they believe in or their world will come crashing down. To me, someone who is secure in their beliefs is able have a sense of humor and poke fun at themselves. Theologically you and I are worlds apart but I have nothing but the utmost respect for your scholarship and how, even as an unbeliever, act in a more Christian manner than many who call themselves a Christian. Keep up the good work and don’t let the “antiEhrman’s” get you down.

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    • Lev
      Lev  August 9, 2019

      “The concept of tolerance of other beliefs has just about become extinct.”

      Sadly, this is so true these days.

      “To me, someone who is secure in their beliefs is able have a sense of humor and poke fun at themselves”

      And to discuss it freely without getting triggered.

      “Theologically you and I are worlds apart but I have nothing but the utmost respect for your scholarship and how, even as an unbeliever, act in a more Christian manner than many who call themselves a Christian.”

      Amen. A lot of Christians could learn a great deal from Bart, not only from his teaching, but in the dignified and respectful way he conducts himself.

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  6. Avatar
    Kirktrumb59  August 9, 2019

    Well, Spinoza was thrown out by his fellow Jews and to boot was hated by the Calvinists. Double whammy.
    “Although your mind’s opaque, Try thinking more if just for your own sake…Think for yourself ’cause I won’t be there with you”

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  7. Avatar
    Stephen  August 9, 2019

    Perhaps we should be guided in our approach to the Bible by looking at the way the Biblical writers viewed each other’s work. Matthew and Luke clearly regarded Mark’s gospel as authoritative in some way but that didn’t stop them from modifying, adding and deleting his text to suit their own needs. They clearly didn’t regard Mark as inviable, inerrant or infallible.

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  8. Avatar
    AlbertHodges  August 9, 2019

    I consider myself to be a devout, authentic Catholic and I certainly don’t view you as an enemy of Christ.

    I imagine that most of those that treat you as an “enemy” are not Catholic nor Eastern Orthodox but rather Protestants who have built their faith on a house of cards that treat Scripture as magical and inerrant in all aspects rather than as a vehicle that allows God to speak to us through human instrumentality.

    Seeking all aspects of truth only serves our ability to encounter Truth Himself in a more complete and fuller manner.

    10
    • Lev
      Lev  August 9, 2019

      “I imagine that most of those that treat you as an “enemy” are not Catholic nor Eastern Orthodox but rather Protestants who have built their faith on a house of cards that treat Scripture as magical and inerrant in all aspects rather than as a vehicle that allows God to speak to us through human instrumentality.”

      Amen!

      “Seeking all aspects of truth only serves our ability to encounter Truth Himself in a more complete and fuller manner.”

      ^ ^ This is gold.

      1
    • galah
      galah  August 9, 2019

      No disrespect. I’m neither Catholic or Protestant. There are many Catholics in my family and I love them deeply. But historically, even Catholics haven’t been very receptive of those who disagree with their theology. For many, whether it’s Sola Scriptura, or “scripture backed by tradition” it is still a “house of cards.” That’s not something that “Christians” take lightly.

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  9. Avatar
    Randybessinger  August 9, 2019

    So do you see that your enemies love you as commanded? I would think some do, but some don’t seem to live their faith. Maybe they should take note of James (whomever he was) and look at your good works😀

    5
  10. Avatar
    jmmarine1  August 9, 2019

    I’ve struggled a bit with this matter as well. For instance, for you to say that we cannot know 100% what the original NT said is not an attack, it is a point of fact because we do not have the original NT. If other fine textual scholars believe that this statement lacks perspective and/or nuance, fine, but it does not nullify the basic reality; the original NT was not preserved and the current NT has been reconstructed from thousands of Greek manuscripts and tens of thousands of non-Greek manuscripts. I am at a loss to see how this is an attack. What if we did find all of the originals and they could be verified as such. How would that change the fact that the message about Jesus is one of faith (and responding with faith) and not one of simply acknowledging (reliable) historical data about Jesus (no evangelical in the world would say that one is saved by acknowledging historical facts).
    Similarly, why is it that conservative scholars insist on historical reliability? How does historical reliability create theological verisimilitude? At the end of the day, the NT, in the hands of conservatives, is a theological book, and no amount of historical reliability of the documents can either validate or negate a theological statement, and, as you argue, no amount of historical doubt should necessarily lead individual believers to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Gospels are faith-promoting stories about Jesus, each with their own perspective, and, of course, contain historically reliable information, as well as statements Jesus most likely did not speak. They appear to have been written for the purpose of promoting faith in the person and work of Jesus (theology), though aspects of who Jesus was (according to church tradition) and what he accomplished on behalf of humanity (again, according to church tradition) cannot be known from historically reliable data, they must be revealed by the authors of the Gospels.

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  11. Avatar
    gbsinkers  August 9, 2019

    You’re the kid who tells his classmates that Santa isn’t real. No kid wants to hear that. Jesus purportedly said “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” yet most of us would rather cling to the comfort of our inherited beliefs, whether in Santa or God or anything we hold dear. I recall from your writings that your movement from faith to atheism wasn’t an aha moment and done, it was a long agonizing process. It took me years as well to leave Christianity. The truth is hard to deal with even though most of us say we seek the truth. I have a good friend who always says “we don’t have any money” but then the next time I see him he says “look what I bought”. I’ve tried to convince him to track his spending and develop a budget but he won’t do it. It bugs me each time he claims to have no money when I know it is simply the choices they’ve made. He lies to himself, he doesn’t want the truth. I lie to myself about my daily calorie intake while I’m trying to lose weight. I think we all probably have areas where we prefer comfort over the truth and anyone who tries to shine a light in that area is seen as our adversary.

    Changing topics, in this post you said “Christians are under attack”. I’ve heard this a lot and yet I don’t think it is true. You certainly aren’t attacking anyone. There aren’t protesters in front of the churches in my area. No politicians are calling for the abolishment of freedom of religion. But this notion is gaining steam and in my area of the country churches are training their members on hand guns and promoting conceal carry while in church and posting notices on their doors that they are armed. Liberty University promotes carrying guns on campus. Yes, the Charleston shooting was horrific but it was a sick lone gunman, not a systemic attack on the faith. I think the conservative faith is challenged by abortion rights, LGBTQ rights/marriage, evolution, etc. but I don’t think Christians are truly under attack and I think it feeds a false narrative and promotes fear to say that.

    15
    • Avatar
      godspell  August 9, 2019

      Well, you could argue he’s the adult who tells children Santa isn’t real, and when Trump did that, saying at seven years old you should know better, people were very upset. Rightly so. Now Bart isn’t a rude ignorant bigoted narcissist–anything but. And people studying theology at a high level aren’t children (though in some cases, not yet full adults, I personally don’t think anyone’s an adult in the true sense before thirty). But in both cases, somebody is telling them something they’re not ready to hear yet.

      And for the record, I’m equally guilty of telling atheists that their beliefs are ridiculous. That you can’t know God is a myth, even if you know specific stories about God or gods are. That Jesus was a real person, no matter how many Richard Carrier videos you blow your money on. That cons and frauds exist everywhere, not just in church, and some religious people are smarter than most atheists, just like some atheists are more moral and decent than many religious.

      Everybody has myths. Everybody. Without exception. You do. I do. And that’s apparently because we need them, they are part of how we survive reality, and they do express deep and lasting truths, and when believed in a group, they can give us a sort of corps morale, that is hard to come by in this world. You can’t be a human being without believing in things that aren’t real. I’ve never once encountered anyone who didn’t believe things that can’t be proven.

      And if I question those beliefs, I do run the risk of offending them. And sometimes I choose not to do that (as with a child who still believes in Santa Claus, or a pious religious person who I see is doing only good with his/her beliefs, not attacking others for believing differently (as most of them in fact do not). And sometimes I have to do it. And sometimes so does Bart, and there have always been those who questioned the beliefs of others, which is how beliefs change, which is how we grow.

      The irony here is that Jesus was probably crucified precisely for questioning the beliefs of others. Bart just gets irritable comments. And I get flamed by people who only exist for me as words on a screen.

      Modern times. 🙂

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      • Avatar
        gbsinkers  August 11, 2019

        I like the word “myths” versus “lies” that I used. And for the record the Santa reference was my poor attempt at humor.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  August 9, 2019

      I disagree with that. Christians are under attack all the time. I’m not a Christian anymore, but I won’t pretend the faith isn’t attacked on a daily basis in some form or fashion.

      • Bart
        Bart  August 11, 2019

        My view is that *everyone* is under attack all the time.

        9
        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  August 11, 2019

          True

          1
        • Avatar
          godspell  August 11, 2019

          Honestly, atheists are still mainly ignored these days. The fact that the late Christopher Hitchens could form an alliance with conservatives over the Iraq War (and that a man raised Presbyterian who doesn’t know if Presbyterians are Christians is now President) is prima facie evidence that people care far more about politics than religion at the present time, and therefore it’s what side of the political struggle you put yourself on that matters.

          If you confine yourself entirely to religious matters–pro or anti–people aren’t that interested. It’s when you’re perceived, rightly or wrongly, as having taken a political stance that you get hammered. Religions is politics, and politics is religion. And that’s awful, but that’s how it is.

          I think the problem in Germany, as in most of the rest of Europe, is that Christians in anything other than the nominal sense are increasingly in a minority position. Still a very large minority, but an increasingly embattled one, and they feel like you changed sides. That’s not really what happened, and you’ve said many good things about Christians, and had critical things to say about the ideas of some atheists (for which you’ve also been criticized), but you have written a book called God’s Problem, which is not about early Christianity’s development, but rather about whether religion in its present form is even relevant to modern times.

          You had every right to express your opinion, but in my opinion, that question doesn’t fall under the heading of anyone’s scholarly expertise. You may not have meant that as a political work, but how could it not be perceived as such? Dawkins used to write about evolution, then he started writing about how people should all be atheists like him. Nobody is an expert on what anyone else should believe.

          This all worries me, because it’s indicative that we’re going back to the Roman idea that religious loyalties are political loyalties, and that just believing differently can be seditious.

          3
      • Avatar
        gbsinkers  August 11, 2019

        “Christians” versus “the Christian faith”. People versus the belief system. Yes, I think the belief system of Christianity, the faith, is under constant attack. But Christians, real people I know, claim they are under attack and want to arm themselves. When I ask them for specifics about them being attacked they never have an answer. I see a BIG difference between attacking a belief system with arguments and attacking people physically. That’s why I think it is dangerous to say “Christians are under attack”. If you said “Christianity is under attack” I think that is true. If you disagree and have specific examples of people being attacked please educate me.

        1
    • Avatar
      Bewilderbeast  August 11, 2019

      I agree. Sure, the conservative faith is challenged by some things, but none of those things are denied them. They want to dictate what I can and cannot do. They don’t need to have an abortion (yet they do); they don’t need to have any LGBTQ people in their ranks (yet they do); etc etc. If one is clear and forthright and you analyse it, there is dishonesty and hatred and unnecessary, manufactured fear behind their “we’re under attack” meme / myth.
      This is how bad people stoke up a war.

      2
  12. Avatar
    lobe  August 9, 2019

    If someone saying true things (and relatively non-controversial things, in scholarly circles) qualifies someone as your “enemy”…perhaps it’s time to examine why the truth is so threatening? Fighting against facts is rarely a winning proposition.

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    birder1949  August 9, 2019

    As one who has come from inside the faith twice, as a fundamentalist, and from progressive Christianity, I deeply appreciate this blog. I appreciate what you do very much, using it to help Christian family members and friends see that the Bible is far more complex (and rich) than it appears, and to explode some of the anti-Christian myths (Jesus never existed, for example) of atheist friends. You are not Christianity’s enemy. These days, Christianity is its own.

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      Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  August 9, 2019

      It is a serious mistake to consider all atheists as anti-Christians.
      It is true that in Western Europe there are many that more than atheists, they are anti-clerical. But almost all atheists I know are by rational and enlightened conviction. In fact, atheists generally know much more about Christianity or Islam than the vast majority of believers. It is easier to be a believer than atheist with firm critical judgments and very well founded arguments.
      After all, we must recognize that the Bible – and the Koran, although to a lesser extent – is the best manual to be an atheist “come-il-fault” that has ever been written.
      Atheists are not usually enemies of any religion, but of the damage and deception that they have caused and cause many of them.

      1
  14. epicurus
    epicurus  August 9, 2019

    It’s usually more informative to read books by people who were in a movement and know the inner workings of it. I remember reading ex Jehovah’s witnesses and ex Mormon’s and Muslim’s and found their insights shed more light than Christians criticism of them. But of course I bet they were hated by their ex communities. But Christians would love to hear their story and praise them for seeing the faults and leaving. It’s a double standard, one of many in the religious world.

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    • Avatar
      godspell  August 9, 2019

      True, but wouldn’t the same apply to any atheist who became religous? Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s son, growing up with what one must admit was probably not the most desirable home environment, rebelled against his mother and became an evangelical preacher. He was certainly praised for this by fellow evangelists. And try if you will to find a single atheist who didn’t speak ill of him, if the subject came up. Even though they had in many cases done the same thing in reverse for similar reasons.

      Jesus wasn’t God, but he was often right. Get the log out of your own eye. Judge not lest ye be judged.

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  15. Avatar
    Meiguoji  August 9, 2019

    Bart, I do not agree that you are an “ enemy” of Christianity. You are a seeker of fact. Some people may argue that fact and truth are separate entities but I like to think of fact and truth to exist outside of perspective but I don’t know if that is possible.
    You remind me of Rabbi David Wolfe, who announced to his congregation some years ago, that based on sound research current archeological findings, and critical study of The Jewish Bible- The Exodus as stated almost certainly did not happen as described in Scripture. Rabbi Wolpe is quoted as saying that we have intellect and we should use it and that all scripture should be scrutinized according to the methods and science available to us today. He ended by saying words to the effect , “ G-d’s Seal is Truth”. Even for those who don’t believe in G-d – sound fact based evidence is still the seal of of Academia. You are not the enemy of anyone, Bart!! Keep up the good work!!!

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  16. Avatar
    joncopeland  August 9, 2019

    I have found your writings, lectures, and debates extremely useful in the bible study classes I lead. It’s a mixed group of believers and non-believers. I like your stuff because it is rigorous, yet accessible to lay people. I’ve personally recommended your books and this blog to numerous Christians. In my context, you’re not the enemy. Just the opposite!

    1
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    RICHWEN90  August 9, 2019

    To some extent I echo the comments of others: you appear to me to be committed to the truth, and for the life of me I can’t see anything wrong with that. If someone’s faith can’t stand up to a close and careful and thoughtful examination, based on evidence, then they are better off without that faith. In the long run, living in fantasy land is probably damaging to one’s health. I can’t see that Christianity is under any kind of attack. Science is a method for discovering how things work, and it does an exemplary job of that. Scientific methods are unimpeachable and can be applied in history and many disciplines. If the results don’t square with one’s faith, your faith isn’t being attacked. If anything, that faith is being exposed as counter-factual– at variance with what we know to be empirically true. If your faith is in something that does not exist or does not exist as you imagine it, and scientific/critical inquiry exposes the defects– your faith isn’t under attack! If you believe that eating pebbles will nourish you, and people get sick after eating pebbles and doctors tell you that eating pebbles is NOT nourishing, is your faith in pebbles being attacked? Not at all. You’ve merely been exposed as a lunatic.

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  18. Avatar
    UCCLMrh  August 9, 2019

    In my view, you are much more an enabler of the faith rather than an enemy of the faith. Thousands of us have used your work to sharpen our thinking about the faith and to see that there are other, well thought-out ways of understanding the faith that don’t require us to suspend our intelligence and that are not hate-filled.

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  19. Avatar
    longdistancerunner  August 9, 2019

    As you say, it’s not suprising.. You may be taking food out of the mouths of the preaching community who may not be able to make a living doing anything else.
    They need followers.
    Isn’t that what Albert Schweitzer said early on in his book…” The quest of the historical Jesus” when discussing one German scholars theory about the disciples, theorizing that the resurrection was made up by them because they wanted to continue the disciples life and not have to get a real job.
    They enjoyed the following, camp life, women followers etc…
    Pretty good theory really.

  20. Avatar
    Bernice Templeman  August 9, 2019

    Since you mentioned the “rapture”, I think we each are born equal and connected to good, most disconnect, and we can also reconnect with beliefs and actions that result from beliefs. I think you need to do it while alive on earth and the sooner the better. I don’t think it is predestined. You can choose eternal life with your daily prayers and actions.

    I don’t think history is the enemy. We can make better decisions with history. History can help us understand the parables in the Bible.

    The enemy may have convinced people to believe the Bible as history and to not look back at history.
    We triumph over the enemy by becoming the master/ruler/king of our own thoughts and actions. We rule our own thoughts and actions instead of others. We learn to think and do good. We become responsible for our eternity, with the help of Spirit.

    We have to help others to learn to love again. Love is kind and good. That is God’s will for us.
    Inequality, hate, and enemies are the results of human wills. These are learned and can be changed.

    Although I believe that all people are born good and in the light and that people from different religions can relearn to be in the light (Ancient Egyptian, Judaism, Catholic), I found that I couldn’t convert to Judaism. So this could mean that once you move forward from Judaism, you can’t (or won’t) go back. Currently, a combination of Catholicism and Ancient Egyptian prayers are working for me. I wouldn’t hate any ethnicity, gender, or religion. Know that people were all created good and equal. Some learned different cultural or religious beliefs that can be changed, but each person has to choose their beliefs and actions. You can help educate people to make better decisions, but it is still their choice.

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