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Tag: History of the Old Testament

Knowledge: The Cure for Christian Fundamentalism

bible head vice
Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Evangelicalism is inherently Fundamentalist, both theologically and socially. (Please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) Evangelicals who say they aren’t Fundamentalists either don’t understand Fundamentalism or are Evangelical-in-name-only. I know more than a few people who are liberal theologically, yet they continue to attend Evangelical churches. Family connections, comfort, familiarity, and worship style are often given as reasons why they remain. I even know a few atheists who go to church on Sundays. Strange, from my perspective, but each to his own, right?

Christian Fundamentalism affects every aspect of our lives, regardless of whether we are believers. Fundamentalists currently have the ear of President Trump and can be found holding cabinet level seats in his administration. Fundamentalists regularly come to the White House to pray for Trump, reminding him that he is God’s super-sexy chosen one. Most U.S. people believe the Christian God created the universe, and many of them believe the earth and all therein was created 6,023 years ago. A majority of people believe the Bible is a supernatural book written by God. Worse yet, many people believe the stories of the Old and New Testaments really happened. Never mind the fact that there is no evidence for stories such as the flood or the exodus, and no evidence outside of the Bible for the supernatural claims found in the New Testament. Despite these facts, millions and millions of Evangelicals believe the stories of the Bible are true; that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text. Simply put, ignorance abounds.

There is only one cure — besides death — for Christian Fundamentalism: knowledge. And therein lies the problem. Evangelicals aren’t known for their Einstein-like intellectual prowess. Evangelicals are encouraged to just read the Bible and select Christian books that reinforce their beliefs. Questions and doubts are drowned in the sea of faith. Congregants are warned about how Satan uses doubt to lead people astray. People such as myself are tools of Satan, pawns of the Evil One. How dare we cause people to question and doubt!

In a post earlier today, I mentioned the YouTube video lectures of Yale University professor, Dr. Christine Hayes.  As I listened to her lectures, I found myself saying, man, if only I had heard these things when I was training for the ministry at Midwestern Baptist College; if only I had stumbled upon these things as a pastor. Unfortunately, I was sheltered from any and all knowledge that challenged or rebutted Christian Fundamentalism, that called into question my beliefs. Of course, my pastors and professors knew that if I was exposed to non-Evangelical theology and history, it would likely lead to either unbelief or the adoption of liberal Christian beliefs. So, they hid the truth from me.

You can’t argue Christian Fundamentalists out of their beliefs. Deeply rooted in faith, it is almost impossible to get Evangelicals to question their system of belief. The only thing I know to do is encourage them to read non-Evangelical books and blogs and listen to videos that challenge the fundamentals of their faith.

The books of Dr. Bart Ehrman, a renowned New Testament scholar, are a good starting place:

The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

How Jesus Became God : the Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee

Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior

Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them)

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer

Want to gain a good understanding of the Old Testament? Try Dr. Christine Hayes’ free course, Introduction to the Old Testament. Over 20 hours in length, this course will literally destroy everything you were taught by Evangelical pastors and professors about the Old Testament.

Start here:

Video Link

Converting Christian Fundamentalists requires exposing them to authors, writers, and speakers who challenge their sincerely held beliefs. Arguing with them and getting into shit-throwing Twitter battles is a waste of time. It might feel good to put them in their place, but if our goal is to make the world a better place, then we are going to have to evangelize Evangelicals with the gospel of reason and truth — one person at a time.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Recommended Reading: The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman

the bible unearthed

Several commenters have been discussing the historicity of Old Testament events such as the Exodus. You can read their comments here.  A good book on this subject is The Bible Unearthed: Archeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman. 383 pages long, The Bible Unearthed is an excellent primer on current scholarship (as of 2001) as it relates to the historical events recorded in the Old Testament.  Much like Bart Ehrman’s books, The Bible Unearthed is written to appeal to non-scholars; people interested in the historicity of the events and people found in the Bible,

About Israel Finkelstein:

Israel Finkelstein is an Israeli archaeologist and academic. He is the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University. Finkelstein is widely regarded as a leading scholar in the archaeology of the Levant and a foremost applicant of archaeological data in reconstructing biblical history

About Neil Asher Silberman

Neil Asher Silberman (born June 19, 1950 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an archaeologist and historian with a special interest in history, archaeology, public interpretation and heritage policy. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he studied Near Eastern archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Awarded a 1991 Guggenheim Fellowship, he is a contributing editor to Archaeology.

You can purchase The Bible Unearthed here.

Finkelstein and Silberman also wrote a book titled, David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition. You can purchase the book here. I have not personally read this book.

Bruce Gerencser