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Tag: Rachel Held Evans

Alf Cengia Thinks He Knows Why People Reject the Bible. Hint: He Doesn’t

bible inerrancy

Another day, another Evangelical who thinks he is Carnac the Magnificent when it comes to knowing what atheists, agnostics, liberal Christians, and other unbelievers really believe.

Alf Cengia recently wrote an article for the Evangelical website Sharper Iron titled Why Do People Reject the Bible? Cengia gave several reasons why people (non-Christians) reject the Bible:

  • People reject the Bible because they suspect the Bible contains truth, and if it does they would have to change their lives
  • People reject the Bible because they don’t like what the Bible says about itself
  • People reject the Bible because they don’t want it to be true
  • People reject the Bible because it’s seen as an imposition on the lives they want to live for themselves

Cengia goes on to make two overarching statements:

  • People know the truth and suppress it
  • The Bible is self-attesting

Cengia uses the late Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber (both Christians) as examples of people who justify the premise of his post:

A classic example is Nadia Bolz-Weber. Chapter 2 of her book Pastrix begins with citing 1 Timothy 2:11-12. At its conclusion, she thanks her parents for blessing her desire to become a pastor. Sorry Paul, Nadia did what she wanted to do.

The same can be said of Rachel Held Evans. She wrote Inspired in order to introduce her readers to an un-inspired Bible, which she insisted ought to be loved despite imperfections—perhaps like a dithering beloved family member with dementia. I guess RHE felt she needed to maintain a foot in Christianity; hence, couldn’t totally abandon it.

Bolz-Weber, RHE and a slew of deconstructionists didn’t reject Scripture because it is a fallible outdated document. They know the truth and suppress it because they refuse to submit to God’s authority.

Cengia is a presuppositionalist. In his mind, the Bible is true because it says it is true. Further, people know the Bible is true because the Bible says they know it’s true. Got that? Non-Christians, or even some Christians such as Bloz-Weber and Held-Evans deliberately, and with full knowledge, reject some of the Bible’s truth claims. Cengia believes the Bible is inerrant and infallible, so, for him, whatever the Bible says is absolute truth. People who reject Cengia’s claims do so because they reject what they know to be true. This claim, of course, is patently false.

Presuppositionalists such as Cengia think they can ignore demands for evidence for their claims because, in their minds, the truthiness of their claims is self-evident. Of course, as an atheist and a materialist, I reject such claims out of hand. If Cengia wants to convince me (and others) of his claims, he is going to have to do more than say, “it’s true because I (God/Bible) says it is.” Cengia sees no need for providing evidence for the claims he makes about the Bible. We know the Bible is not inerrant or infallible (neither translationally or in the non-existent original manuscripts). Further, I have yet to see evidence for the claim that the sixty-six books of the Protestant Christian Bible are God’s Word or written by mostly unknown men who were supernaturally inspired by God. Those are faith claims.

Cengia concludes his post by making by this fantastical claim:

One cannot find a comparable work of non-Christian faith which spans thousands of years, with multiple authors, yet telling a cohesive non-contradictory story.

The Bible tells a “cohesive non-contradictory story”? Really? In what universe? As someone who spent 50 years in Evangelicalism, pastored churches for twenty-five years, and spent over 20,000 hours (on average, 20 hours a week) reading and studying the Bible, I can confidently say that Cengia’s claim cannot be rationally sustained. I understand “why” Cengia believes what he does. After all, I once believed the same things. And as long as I only read Evangelical authors, my beliefs were safe and secure. However, once I started reading authors such as John Shelby Spong, Bart Ehrman, and other scholars, I quickly learned that my beliefs about the Bible were not true.

As far as the Bible being a cohesive narrative, if that is so, why have Christians been arguing nonstop about that “cohesive” narrative for 2,000 years? Why are there thousands and thousands of Christian sects, each believing they are absolutely right? Why can’t Christians even agree on the basics: salvation, baptism, and communion? Every sect sees a cohesive narrative, as, of course, interpreted by them. Landmark Baptists look at the Bible (and church history) and see an unbroken line of Baptist purity. Roman Catholics do the same. Some sects start their narrative in Genesis, others start with the Gospels. The claim that there is a “cohesive narrative” in the Bible simply cannot in any meaningful way be rationally sustained.

In 2008 I walked away from Christianity. While the reasons for my deconversion are many, one simple fact brought my house down: the claim that the Bible is inerrant and infallible was untrue. Once the Bible lost its authoritative hold over me, I was then free to re-investigate the central claims of claims of Christianity. I concluded that these “truths” were, in fact, myths. None of Cengia’s claims played any part in my loss of faith. Will he accept my story at face value? Probably not. Why? The Bible is true because the Bible says it is true. End of discussion.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Bruce Gerencser