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The Sackgasse of A-theistic Biblical Studies


Ein guter Theologe schwimmt jedenfalls nicht mit dem – säkularen oder kirchlichen – Strom, weshalb ich, ungeachtet vieler Versuchungen, nie römisch oder orthodoxen zu warden vermochte. Mindestens irdisch sind Protestanten stets unentbehrlich. – Ernst Käsemann






By Jim West
Quartz Hill School of Theology
June 2010

Hector Avalos and others have recently and infamously argued that biblical studies, as we know them, are at an end, or should be. I agree. With one minor caveat: Atheistic biblical studies are at an end: this because a-theistic biblical studies are a Sackgasse, a dead end.

Avalos previously wrote:1

"It is no secret that I have proposed to end biblical studies as we know it. Biblical studies, as we know it, is still largely a religionist and apologetic enterprise meant to serve the needs of faith communities. It is still part of an ecclesial-academic complex."

And again, I agree. Biblical studies, as we know it, needs to end. But Avalos is wrong concerning the reason because biblical studies isn’t at all primarily a religionist and apologetic enterprise in the academy, it is thoroughly “a-theistic’” (in the sense of the alpha privative prefix in Greek) in its approach and goals in the academy. Only a person who has never bothered to attend a meeting of the SBL or read the Journal of Biblical Literature or visited a Department of Religion (at, say, the University of North Carolina where Bart Ehrman teaches) could say without their tongue being firmly planted in their cheek that biblical studies is dominated by some sort of faith perspective. Indeed, I would submit for your consideration that in Colleges and Universities across the United States where Departments of Religion exist, that the preponderance of work is purely “a-theistic.”

The Bible is regularly and with delight approached as nothing more than a collection of ancient texts which hold nothing more than topics of interest to those with arcane gazes. It is simply ridiculous to assert that faith matters in university study of the Bible. And it has been that way for as long as I can remember (which is a good long while now).

To be sure, Seminaries and Graduate Schools which have as their purpose the preparation of clergy toss in faith talk; but let’s be real for a moment. Most pastors who have received even Seminary training are not really aided by it to do ministry and interpret Scripture to congregations purely because even in Seminaries not necessarily theistic approaches to Scripture dominate.

No, Avalos is dead wrong and his point of view limps and hobbles, crippled by cruel reality. It is not Biblicism or fideism which dominate, it is a-theism.

So where has this approach gotten us? It has gotten us a population utterly ignorant of the contents and meaning of the Bible. It has gotten us a generation of young people who can’t tell the difference between an Epistle and an Apostle. And it has gotten us learned societies which produce journals which propagate and promulgate a-theism to the exclusion of theism. Yes, faith is excluded, a priori, from most biblical studies enterprises. Even mocked in some quarters (as for instance, Avalos and Ehrman’s writings).

It is, then, not a faith approach that is a dead end and which needs to be concluded, but unbelief which is the true Sackgasse. When fideism ruled people on the street and in the classroom could be expected to be, and were in fact, biblically literate. Not so any longer and obviously because a-theism’s methodologies obscure the biblical text far more often than they illuminate it. So, once more, it’s time for a-theism qua dominant approach to biblical studies to come to a well-deserved end.

There are historical reasons for this. First, and foremost, the Bible is the Church’s book (and the Synagogue’s) (pace Philip Davies!). People of faith wrote it, preserved it, collected it, and passed it along. Faith is the string which holds the pearls (of texts) together. Atheists and unbelievers didn’t write a word of it, transmit it, preserve it, or pass it along. No one can argue with the fact that the Bible is the book of the people of faith. It belongs to us. Not to the atheists. They are now and have been and always will be outsiders to it. Their point of view, then, is as mere observers. Atheists are to biblical studies what television commentators are to a sporting event: they are off the field, in a booth, secure behind glass, opining concerning what others should have or could have done without ever bothering to take the field themselves.

Second, Scripture asserts its nature as “insider literature” and honest investigators have to take that assertion seriously. Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Co 2):

"The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (11) For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (12) We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (13) This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. (14) The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: (16) “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ."

It is verse 14 in particular that is relevant for our present purposes. The simple fact is, spiritual things require spiritual enlightenment which only the Spirit of God can provide. The Scriptures are “spiritual” texts and were written intentionally to be exactly that. I’m certain that even the most dishonest atheist will admit that. Given that simple fact, if we follow Paul’s logic, it takes a person endowed with the Spirit of God to understand, to interpret, them. Hence, spiritless exegesis is no exegesis at all. Atheist exegesis is, by definition, spiritless and therefore – according to the very texts which they attempt to interpret – empty, void, vapid, pointless, meaningless. Taking the word of an atheist concerning the meaning of Scripture seriously is like taking a man born blind’s word concerning the meaning of blue. It is absurdity.

To be sure, atheists can be excellent outside observers. They can examine context and history and “text” as “textual artifact”; but they cannot interpret, they cannot explain, they cannot exegete- for they lack the requisite tool- spiritual understanding. This is precisely, exactly why unbelievers cannot, and normally do not, and absolutely under any circumstances should not, write commentaries. Avalos and Ehrman have at least in their favor the fact that they haven’t attempted what for them would be an utter and absolute impossibility: the production of meaningful comment on biblical texts. Commentaries are about meaning. And atheists cannot hear, so they self evidently cannot speak plainly or clearly concerning the Bible.

Are biblical studies at an end? No. Should biblical studies become the purview of angry atheists? No. Those very angry atheists have led society down a dead end street. Their time is over. Their work becomes less and less meaningful the more they focus on the minutiae of meaninglessness. Essays by those whose understanding is blinkered by purely secular approaches in learned journals only serve the purpose of bolstering the sense of self-importance of those engaged in the industry of biblical studies. They speak to no one and they mean nothing.

Authentic biblical studies will more and more be found among the people of faith who value the bible and who understand it because they are endowed by the Spirit with the gift of understanding. Farewell, a-theism. You were amusing, for a while, but now you’re time is over and your discipline so completely fragmented that, like Humpty Dumpty, you can never be put back together again.



1 Hector Avalos, Bible and Interpretation, http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/literate357930.shtml, accessed 17 May, 2010.




Comments (32)


"No one can argue with the fact that the Bible is the book of the people of faith."

Wrong!

You seem a tad angry, not to mention elitist. Not everyone raised in the faith finds understanding.
#1 - RustyBertrand - 06/08/2010 - 09:50



since i'm 'wrong' (though i know who wrong really is), i await with bated breath your cogent rebuttal.
#2 - Jim - 06/08/2010 - 10:22



This is a disappointing essay by a man who ought to know better. As a secular researcher who has faced consistent systemic and individual resistance for nearly 20 years, I guess I see the log in Jim's eye better than he sees the splinter in Hector's eye.

One hopes that biblical research really will evolve toward an a-theistic (as Jim defines it) discipline some day. (Incidentally, Jim, if you recall my publications, I think I can demonstrate that much of the Bible was not composed by what you call "people of faith.")

Shalom,
K.L. Noll
Brandon University
#3 - K. L. Noll - 06/08/2010 - 10:39



Right and wrong at the same time. I believe that Jim's punch was at the modernist misunderstanding of the Bible, forgetting that its public is mainly religious people. Then we -- the professionals -- have to teach them how to read the Bible (in its many versions). The recent debate over the Chinese version of Noah's ark shows how essential this job is.

In an upcoming article about Jesus (!), and the great inquisitor, my point is that there is no use for the historical Jesus, the Jesus of historical critical scholarship as we knew it. The Christian community is interested in Jesus as Christ, of faith. Then it is of course allowed to study the historical person, whether a timberman, a rabbi or ...

However, Bultmann was largely right.

Niels Peter Lemche
#4 - Niels Peter Lemche - 06/08/2010 - 11:00



"No one can argue with the fact that the Bible is the book of the people of faith. It belongs to us. Not to the atheists."

Fine, then keep it to yourselves and stop shoving it down our throats. Most importantly, stop using it as the basis of law and public policy, in violation of the US Constitution.
#5 - Ray Dobson - 06/08/2010 - 11:01



A 'faith that seeks understanding' is found with the heart that God has made regenerate! If one cannot "understand" the Text? One can only cry to God for the faith-heart ability..."For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light." (Ps. 36:9)

Very nice article Jim!
#6 - Fr. Robert (Anglican) - 06/08/2010 - 11:05



Jim,

I think you have it all wrong. The Bible is nothing more than an ancient compilation of texts. It is a very important compilation, but that's precisely what it is. Secular study of the Bible is the only way to develop true understanding and knowledge.

As for the line about "look where it has gotten us", you have offered not one snippet of causal evidence. I think there are many other factors that can be treated for the high level of biblical illiteracy that pervades America (media, corporatism, fascist politics and policies, etc.)
#7 - Michael Helfield - 06/08/2010 - 11:13



Thanks Kurt.
I think Niels Peter has understood me quite well.
#8 - Jim - 06/08/2010 - 11:24



Excellent, Jim. As a Classicist, I was taught to read ancient texts sympathetically, to gain as far as possible an "insider perspective" in order better to understand what the author of the text was trying to say to his context. Critical judgment (meaning looking at from a modern perspective) had to follow that type of reading. In Biblical studies, you have many who not only do not read the texts sympathetically, but with, it seems, outright hostility. Now, how does that help anyone understand what the author was trying to say?
#9 - N.E. Barry Hofstetter - 06/08/2010 - 11:41



You say that atheists are dishonest. You seem therefore to have picked up the fundamentalist meme that people turn to atheism because they want to sin. Now who is being dishonest?

You could only legitimately interpret the biblical texts theistically, if it could be proved that gods exists, yet any reasoned approach to that problem suggests that at best there is no evidence for such a proposition and really, some very good reasons to suggest that no such thing exists. In any case, the claim that something involves god is the same as saying 'I don't know.' God works in mysterious ways after all. Whenever we understand something, god mysteriously withdraws from it. If you could use logic and science to prove god exists, then you could begin to introduce him into scripture. As it is now, your gap is getting pretty small.

As for your business about interpreting by the spirit...Thought is created solely by bio-chemical reactions in the brain and the release of neurotransmitters throughout the body. If you can show where any non-material(whatever that means) entity is involved in it, a noble prize awaits you. What interpreting by the spirit means is imagining what the text means rather than doing work to find out what the text means through critical analysis. It is intellectually bankrupt.
#10 - Helena Constantine - 06/08/2010 - 11:47



which means that nobody "owns" the Bible, and again they have to define which Bible? There are many in circulation.

Non-committed scholarship can of course continue as one part of the truth (and don't misunderstand my use of "truth"). The historical-critical approach is a white-male-European (including the US) business. Post-colonial studies have taught us that there are many legitimate approaches. This also means that I can converse with local evangelicals, even get friends among them: They just don't have to teach me Bible history. But we can easily agree that history only represents a fragment of biblical studies, and then there is a lot to discuss.

Niels Peter Lemche
#11 - Niels Peter Lemche - 06/08/2010 - 11:53



Jim,
You have certainly generated some discussion. Congratulations!

I'd like to add a counter-example from my Old Testament class. I find that believing students often know what they want the Bible to say, what they have been taught it says, but are not interested in what the Bible actually says. When I teach them something they do not want to hear, they will tune it out. I'm thinking in particular of the Wisdom as God's assistant at creation in Proverbs 8 and in a close reading of the Adam and Eve that actually looks at what the text says, rather than how the churches have interpreted it.

So, when people mention Biblical illiteracy, this is what springs to my mind.

The problem, I think, is that reading and knowing the BIble is an intellectual pursuit, and most people really are not intellectuals.

Paul
#12 - Paul Flesher - 06/08/2010 - 12:01



Thanks Paul,

I have as much, if not more, of a problem with christian folk who talk about how much they love God and honor the Bible as the 'word of God' (whatever that means to them) and who yet refuse to listen to IT instead of reading into it. I call these eisegetes dilettantes.

Perhaps at some future date I'll turn in that direction for an essay.

Since, for me, the dilettantes and the atheists are two sides of the same coin- neither are willing to really LISTEN to the text. Both are more interested in imputing meaning.
#13 - Jim - 06/08/2010 - 13:28



Jim wrote:
"No one can argue with the fact that the Bible is the book of the people of faith."

I suppose the Bible is only the book of the people of TRUE FAITH. Which is why myriads of gentile Christians have through the centuries argued that those abominable Jews don´t really understand the book that they claim is theirs. They are blind, wicked and they are definitely not God´s people any more, goes the old refrain. What Jim is actually asking those poor blind Jews and us poor blind atheists or agnostics is that we should let him and millions of likeminded Christians go on believing and preaching that the TRUE meaning of things like the Servant verses in Isaiah are REALLY about a crucified galilean 1st century excorcist who one happy day flew to heaven. I can guess why Jim is unhappy about foolish Jews and foolish atheists meddling in things that really don´t belong to them, but I guess some of us are not going to give him that pleasure since some of us has such respect for the real meaning of the word TRUTH that we usually the try to give due respect to the author of a text by letting him/her speak with his own voice, without distorting the meaning he is trying to give to the words.
Jim reminds my of millions of muslim zealots around the world who are just as sure as him that they REALLY understand the Bible by heavenly revelation and guidance from the Spirit. To them Jim is a blind fool who REALLY doesn´t know the meaning of the text he claims is his own. Doesn´t pastor Jim SEE that the promise of the Paraclate Jesus talks about in John´s gospel is REALLY about Mohammed - the seal of the prophets?
I must admit that it is a mighty spectable for atheistic fools like me seeing Christian and Muslim zealots banging each other in the head with competing revelations from heaven. It also feels fine for fools like me to let them go on playing their stupid games while us others try to do some serious work.
#14 - Antonio Jerez - 06/08/2010 - 14:43



Jim,

I appreciate the article very much. Can you perhaps explain a bit more about how atheists and others might "LISTEN" to the text? I'm just not sure what you mean here, but I assume you mean something more than attitude or pre-disposition.

Thank you,

Jon
#15 - Jon - 06/08/2010 - 15:46



Antonio,
Your suggestion or implication that atheists alone are capable of 'serious work' shows precisely why it is unfruitful and unproductive to interact with them. They've already decided. Scholarship with that disposition isn't scholarly. It's dogmatism of the fundamentalist sort.

Jon,
By 'listen' to the text I mean take it seriously on its own terms; take it for what it, itself, claims to be. That's what we do when we listen to other people. It should be what we do when we listen to texts.
#16 - Jim - 06/08/2010 - 17:50



"Thought is created solely by bio-chemical reactions in the brain and the release of neurotransmitters throughout the body."

If the above reductionist view of the thinking process is the reality, then "thought" is really nothing more than the product of a bodily function--like methane from the digestive tract.

If one consistently holds to the above purely mechanistic view of "thought," than that person cannot legitimately argue for a "right" or "wrong" view, a "true" or "false" view, an "honest" or "dishonest" view. There are just views, the product of brain "digestion" if you will.
#17 - Stephen C. Lord - 06/08/2010 - 18:37



Jim,
You wrote, "Thanks Kurt. I think Niels Peter has understood me quite well." If Niels Peter was responding to me (I did not take his comment that way), then both he and you have misunderstood my point. Although I have no objection to Niels Peter's comment, it is irrelevant.

My point is that the thesis of your essay is objectively false. You are entitled to your opinion of the current state of scholarship and I will not comment on that opinion. But your essay slanders the ones you (mis-)label atheists and misrepresents the majority of biblical scholars, almost all of whom are theologians. Your characterization of the SBL is particularly outrageous, since this organization is dominated by theologians and obviously serves their interests primarily.

To repeat: You note the splinter in Hector's eye, but do not see the log in your own. You need to re-think this essay from foundation up. It is simply false.

Shalom,
K. L. Noll
Brandon University
#18 - K. L. Noll - 06/08/2010 - 19:39



Jim,

Thank you for the clarification. If I may have one set of follow-up questions: If we listen to the text, what (if anything) is our obligation at that point? For instance, are we allowed to interrogate the text? Must we take the text at its word?
#19 - Jon - 06/08/2010 - 20:21



Good one Dr. West!

I agree with you that their approach will only take us up to a point. We who believe are the only ones who can go beyond that point.

I tell my students that the Bible is authoritative only to the ones who allow it to be. So personally, I do not agree with shoving the Bible down one's throat. It's not worth giving pearls to pigs.
#20 - Michael Janapin - 06/08/2010 - 20:35



Well, this one seems to have provoked some comment!! I agree with a lot of it. Biblical Studies is humanistic. Athesim is as dogma as much as any religious creed and secularism is about plurality of dogmas but also about the lack of privilege of any dogma.
The NT is indeed insider language and I can't imagine most non-religious believers being much interested in it (The Gospels tell a nice story and Revelation is a bit of nasty science fiction), but the Hebrew Bible is different: it does not represent either Judaism or Christianity, but forms part of their literary heritage as it does in Islam too. Western civilization as a whole can claim that great monotheist Plato - and even to understand an appreciate him; equally they can claim the Bible.

But I would give this essay more marks that Hector's.
#21 - philip davies - 06/09/2010 - 03:50



Well Kurt obviously I disagree completely with you. My premise is sound and there's no need to start from the foundation of the essay since the facts are self evident.

Jon, I don't think there's any need for me to clarify my position any further. I think it's laid out fairly plainly. I would only quote Stephanie Fisher, who wrote

"haha – I think you’ve been successful here. I think you intended to provoke debate, and predictably… It is well known that you have been an active supporter of critical scholarship, secular and religious. But here you fight fundamentalism with fundamentalism in order to draw attention to the difference between critical scholarship and ‘scholarship’ of contempt. I don’t know, but it’s what I think."

My beef is with the scholarship of contempt which is so clearly in evidence in so much 'biblical scholarship' and indeed, in the responses here of Kurt, Antonio, and the clearly pseudonymously attributed 'Helena'.
#22 - Jim - 06/09/2010 - 08:08



I have posted a response to Jim's piece here: http://bigbible.org/sansblogue/bible/the-end-of-biblical-studies-in-the-west/

"The end of biblical studies in the West"

It is probably too long to make a comment.
#23 - Tim Bulkeley - 06/09/2010 - 21:47



There is an uncritical assumption underlying West’s essay that the Christian claim of spiritual discernment entails some form of real discernment. But there is no evidence this is the case. In fact, for anyone who has observed students who are new to biblical studies, the opposite may quite reasonably be assumed. The requisite quality of a practitioner of biblical studies should not be some uncritical hunch or so-called 'spiritual insight'. Instead, as in all subjects in the humanities, good results are based on a deep and penetrating empathy with the subject matter. Such empathy will never dismiss the texts as an archaic collection, per West’s caricature, nor will it fail to appreciate the religious motivations of its creators, insofar as they can be discerned from careful study of the texts and their contexts. It is simply not true to claim that the outsider is unable to perform the most discerning studies of texts - or de Tocqueville would not have given us his highly discerning analysis of the U.S.A. in the 19th Century. It is, rather, the superficial and unengaged scholar who is unable to carry out biblical studies. And the handful of atheists within biblical studies do not have a monopoly on such superficiality.

West's statement that 'Only a person who has never bothered to attend a meeting of the SBL or read the Journal of Biblical Literature or visited a Department of Religion... could say without their tongue being firmly planted in their cheek that biblical studies is dominated by some sort of faith perspective' is a completely misleading misrepresentation of the field. Furthermore, in every era since Eichhorn claimed that his 'Higher Criticism' should increase readers' estimation of the religious value of the text (1780 edn. of his Introduction, II.295 §424), biblical studies has, above all, served religious interests of some stripe or another. West might point towards a thin veneer of humanist method which biblical studies typically displays within the academy. But for those of us with ears to hear, that does not obscure the ongoing domination of biblical studies by those who have confessional and ecclesiastical goals.
#24 - Deane Galbraith - 06/10/2010 - 00:05



Yes the Scriptures are spiritual texts with spiritual meanings. Not one homogeneous spiritual meaning. And it needs sceptics not dogmatists to get in touch with the spiritual meaning.
Have you considered what William Blake meant when he said that Tom Pain was a better Christian than the Bishop?
#25 - David Hillman - 06/10/2010 - 07:49



I went and read Mr West's post because Neil Godfrey mentioned it, and found it laughable. I thought I would make an effort to try to write something that might contribute to the issue at hand.

First off, the fundamental issue that I hope will one be be made more clear, and will actually be addressed is this. Are we talking the study of history or are we talking the promotion of some group? This is a fundamental issue. Over time, I hope to see the people that are interested in the study of the history of Christianity, get degrees from history departments, not religion departments. The problem that evolved with religion departments is that they evolved over time, and contain a confused lots. There are some that are trying to do history, and there are some that are really doing the work of priests/ministers under the guise of academics of scholarship. This is a problem, and has made religion departments virtually useless for information on the subject.

My hope is that over time, more people interested in the subject of the history of Christianity will get degrees from history departments. That their work will be peer reviewed by others in history departments so that parts of their writings that are not historically methodologically correct get edited out, and the information that is presented is more historically foundationally sound. I will in the future write more about this topic. But this is a very important aspect to move the study of the history of Christianity forward.

Let's adjust some of the basics of this argument for a moment. Let's say we are reading a book on the history of Egyptian relion. And let's take an adjusted thing you might see from someone like William Lane Craig in almost all of his presentations. Imagine him ending a book on the religions of egypt that is supposed to be a study as a historical effort with... "and so, when I was 23, I asked Ra to come into my life, and my life has been blessed ever since. And so I would like to take this oppertunity to offer you, my reader to accept Ra, or at least considering asking Ra into your life." If this was included in any book on the religions of Egypt I would hope that it would be edited out. Yet it is the kind of thing you can find in supposedly scholarly books on Christianity.

Now let's look at Mr. West's sort of premise in the article you pointed out. It would go something like; "by definition only Ra worshioppers should be allowed to write books on the history of egpytion religions. Work by those of you that do not believe in Ra is dead and annoying, and I happily say good bye to you." Again, when you start to replace the object with some other objects you begin to see the ridiculessness of these posts.

Mr. West's post is fine for a priest/minister to read out in a sermon, but as a work to be considered as a work offered from a history department it is laughable.

The real problem is that religion deparments and the religious scholarly field is a mixed bag, with some trying to do the work of the historian, yet others using the guiese of the historian to promote some view of a supernaturalistic group they belong to and want to promote.

Until we find a way to separate these two types in the field of religious studies Hector Avolos does have a point when he notices that biblical studies really are dead.

Cheers!
RichGriese.NET
#26 - Rich Griese - 06/10/2010 - 20:17



As Rich Griese notes, West's argument is generalizable to any situation contrasting what believers understand about some object X with which they personally identify and what non-believers understand about it. It's the old knowledge-by-acquaintance versus knowledge-by-description conundrum - up to a point, that is. What West ignores (among many things) is that not all "a-theists" were always so, and that some of them (Ehrmann case in point) might well have previously experienced the subjective "spiritual understanding" that West thinks is the be-all and end-all of biblical studies. But if so, then they would seem to be in a position to understand both the subjective and objective points of view. The same could presumably be said about anyone who comes from the "objective" focus to the "subjective" focus (i.e., becomes a believer in X.) West would presumably say that becoming a believer makes one _gain_ "spiritual understanding", whereas going in the opposite direction makes one _lose_ "spiritual understanding" (though it's hard to see exactly how that could happen, since memories of intense feelings don't disappear quickly like that.) In any case, this is but one solution to the conundrum that might be thusly posed: believers (in some X) can't see the forest for the trees, non-believers can't see the trees for the forest. I'm not at all sure that that characterization is accurate, but at least it has the virtue of stating the matter with some impartiality, which West fails to do, perhaps judging that aspiring to impartiality (insofar as possible, of course) is one of the sins of "secularism".
#27 - M.W. Grondin - 06/11/2010 - 01:42



'It is not Biblicism or fideism which dominate, it is a-theism.'

'When fideism ruled people on the street and in the classroom could be expected to be, and were in fact, biblically literate.'

The Bible Interpreter web site was set up precisely to publish articles for a call for atheism to be replaced in Biblical
studies with Biblicism or fideism.
#28 - Steven Carr - 06/11/2010 - 05:40



I'm but a layperson with a deep love for biblical studies and an ardent love for my faith in God. But Mr. West's position strikes me as just a form of fundamentalist clap trap that marries us to false interpretations that are determined to reconcile the irreconcilable and make little of errors. From one who believes that the Spirit inhabits each of us, I think that those who have come to not believe can still approach exegesis with an open and sharp mind. I'm frankly more fearful of the "expert" who is desperate to prove that the bible says what he needs to believe it does.
#29 - Sherry Peyton - 06/12/2010 - 17:31



To Stephen C., Lord of the non-sequitur (#17):

That's right, though is entirely physiological. Is there a neurophysiologist who things that there is a little demon standing by every synaptic connection, or whatever non-material entity you think is involved?

Morality is not and cannot be derived from a god. Plato proved that in the Euthyrphro a long time ago. You might want to catch up on your reading.
#30 - Helena Constantine - 06/18/2010 - 13:44



In order to claim that you have help from the "Spirit of God" you will need to show that there *is* a "Spirit of God." The Greek text speaks of the "breath of God" - it is only foolish Trinitarian tradition that has misconstrued this breath as a "Ghost" who communicates "Orthodoxy" within Catholics and Protestants.

I would argue that one must break *free* of the Catholic-Protestant ("Trinitarianism") shackles of the mind if one hopes to understand a word of the text.
#31 - WoundedEgo - 07/09/2010 - 14:50



I have found these comments to be at least as interesting and thought-provoking as the post itself.
#32 - Daniel B. - 08/04/2010 - 15:52






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