Joe Carter Hammers Barton and Copeland

Many years ago, when I first started my blog, I had many exchanges with Joe Carter. He then had the blog Evangelical Realism and now works for the Southern Baptist Convention and blogs at The Gospel Coalition. He’s also a former Marine. And he’s really pissed off at David Barton and Kenneth Copeland for claiming that PTSD can be eliminated by one out-of-context Bible verse.

How then should we answer the fools Copeland and Barton? While it is tempting to ignore them completely, I believe that would be a mistake. Had they merely proffered another laughably inept reading of the Bible, it would have hardly been worthy of notice. Throughout his career, Copeland has been accused of various heresies, most of which he created through his inept handling of Scripture. And though Barton is still, inexplicably, trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes. They are, in other words, among the last people who could be relied on to intelligently interpret a text.

Yet many people will erroneously believe that Copeland and Barton speak as experts on the Bible and that their interpretation is the natural result of a literal or inerrant view of Scripture…

Their mishandling of Scripture is inexcusable, but what makes it unconscionable is they use God’s Word to shame and berate veterans with PTSD. Barton and Copeland imply that PTSD is due to guilt over actions carried out in wartime that leads to self-condemnation. This is a profoundly ignorant view of both the causes of combat-induced PTSD and the motivations behind medical and psychological based treatment.

PTSD is psychological trauma that can change how the brain and mental processes function. While in combat, veterans are exposed to the stresses of hyper-violence while living in a near constant state of hyper-vigilance…

On returning from combat, the veteran is no longer exposed to violence, yet the reflex for hyper-vigilance — whether conscious or subconscious — may remain intact and beyond the person’s control. “Exposed to continuous threats of warfare,” says Shay, “the body remains mobilized for battle indefinitely.” Veterans suffering from PTSD can lose some of the authority over mental processes, such as perception and memory, which civilians take for granted…

For Copeland and Barton to resurrect this “blame the victim” trope and coat it with the veneer of Biblical warrant is Satanic. Christians need to counter this demonic, gospel-destroying message by letting the men and women who are suffering from combat related PTSD know what the Bible really says about hope, healing, and deliverance through Christ Jesus.

Harsh but fair.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • barry21

    Not harsh enough!

  • Randomfactor

    Except that Carter is using “Satanic” literally…

  • matty1

    I saw Hammers, Barton and Copeland live back in 96. They were pretty cool for a country rock band as I remember.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    First, wasn’t Joe Carter’s blog titled “Evangelical Outpost?” That’s the one I started reading after you praised Carter for condemning torture — only to find that was the only decent thing that Huckabee-supporter had to say.

    Their mishandling of Scripture is inexcusable, but what makes it unconscionable is they use God’s Word to shame and berate veterans with PTSD.

    I guess he deserves some credit for being right on this (relatively narrow) issue — but I can’t help but notice that he’s only attacking another Christian Reich asshalo for hitting too close to home with the Bible-based stupidity, not for the core stupidity itself.

    This guy is really not our friend — he’s spent years demanding that America adopt a “comprehensive Bible-based worldview” (his words IIRC), which included most of the same right-wing-Christian ignorance and hatred we’ve come to expect from the Christian Reich, endlessly repeated and reworded on his own blog (before it got taken over by Palinistas that is). His episodes of intellience and decency are few and far between.

  • John Pieret

    ‘Fools’ … check!

    ‘Inept’ … check!

    ‘Twisting and misrepresenting’ … check!

    ‘Ideological and propagandist’ … check!

    ‘Mishandling of Scripture’ … check!

    ‘Unconscionable’ … check!

    ‘Profoundly ignorant’ … double check!

    ‘Satanic … demonic, gospel-destroying’ … places blame on a non-existant third party for doing something the gospels do themselves.

    Grade: mostly factual and not overstated. And considering how often Barton and Copeland proclaim people and ideas they don’t like Satanic, hardly unfair turnabout.

  • Moggie

    How the fuck is it “harsh but fair” to claim that someone’s message is demonic? That’s bullshit.

  • Henry Neufeld

    Joe Carter is condemning something he sees as wrong in Christian terms and with Christian vocabulary. Though I am a somewhat more liberal Christian than Carter (and we’ve exchanged a word or two on various topics in the past), I can understand his vocabulary, as will his Christian readers.

    It’s certainly fine to disagree with him, and with other Christians, but I become concerned with the suggestion that if we are not allied in all things we are allied in none. I’m allied with secular humanists of all varieties on issues like evolution (including, but not limited to the teaching of it in public schools), separation of church and state, religious freedom (including the freedom from it). I regularly have to explain myself to other Christians who question my alliances with people who are, in their view, wrong.

    Perhaps it would be valuable to realize that Carter’s words are going to help change minds on an important topic, whether or not one agrees with his theological positions on everything else. It’s very hard to build coalitions to deal with specific problems if one is expected to agree broadly. Sometimes one point is enough, and should be acknowledged.

  • eric

    I become concerned with the suggestion that if we are not allied in all things we are allied in none.

    Ed made no such suggestion; in fact, his post pretty much implies the opposite – that he agrees with Carter’s post. Thus, your argument appears to be something of a straw man.

  • Henry Neufeld

    I was perhaps unclear that I am referring to a number of commenters and not to Ed’s post. I find that I agree with Ed on a large array of issues, and I find his comments on target.

  • freehand

    Henry – a reporter once asked Malcolm X if, as a Muslim activist clergyman, he could work with secular people. Malcolm replied “I can work with secular people on secular problems.”

  • freehand

    Perhaps I should expand on my comment to Henry. Whether folks hold different views of religion or not, they should be able to work together on any problem which they view in more or less the same way. I fear, however, that someone like Barton or Copeland see things so differently that we couldn’t agree on how to change a flat tire.

  • Henry Neufeld

    @freehand – I doubt there is anything I could work with Barton and Copeland on either. Joe Carter, on the other hand, has put those two in their place on the PTSD issue. I’m not going to complain about how he did it, even though my vocabulary would be different.

  • Michael Heath

    Henry Neufeld writes:

    Joe Carter is condemning something he sees as wrong in Christian terms and with Christian vocabulary. Though I am a somewhat more liberal Christian than Carter (and we’ve exchanged a word or two on various topics in the past), I can understand his vocabulary, as will his Christian readers.

    [Heath emphasizes]

    As will those people indoctrinated to be Christians who eventually developed critical thinking skills and applied those skills to Christian dogma. As will those people who’ve studied how authoritarians think and how they can be so easily controlled.

  • matty1

    He uses group in-talk to talk to the group. Why is this an issue? He didn’t in this case advocate bad stuff so why not find the cases where he did to argue about and accept that on this one you are allies?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523300770 stuartsmith

    The fact that drone operators suffer from PTSD seems to lend support to the former interpretation, since they don’t live with hyper vigilance, or even have to be particularly aggressive. The only thing they have in common with front line soldiers is the fact that they kill hundreds of people.

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    I will accept that Carter is an expert on PTSD and that he therefore knows that Copeland and Barton are full of crap. But since he “now works for the Southern Baptist Convention and blogs at The Gospel Coalition”, I wonder whether he will accept the expertise of biologists that evolution is responsible for the diversity of life. I wonder if he will accept the conclusions of psychologists, sociologists, and other scientists that gays are not sick, not evil, and that recognition of their rights will not lead to the downfall of civilization. I wonder if he will accept the expertise of geologists that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and of astronomers that the universe is 13.7 (+/-) billion years old – and that there’s no evidence for a global flood. Will he accept the expertise of historians and archeologists who say that the Old Testament was cribbed from older legends, and that the New Testament contains no 1st person testimonies? Will he accept the expertise of climate scientists who agree nearly universally that anthropogenic climate change is occurring?

    Or does he just object to BS put out by religious authoritarians when it’s his own ox that’s gored, only when his own, personal, knowledge is contradicted by them?

    By the way, these questions aren’t entirely rhetorical. I don’t have time to research the guy, so if I’m accusing him unjustly, I retract my comments…