Glenn Beck and his allies in Israel

Glenn Beck is in Israel, holding a big rally supporting that country against its Islamic enemies and calling for solidarity with the Jewish people.  What’s interesting, as Sarah Pulliam Bailey shows, is the way certain media outlets are confounding Beck, a Mormon, with “Christian fundamentalists” and “evangelicals” who believe that Israel is playing a role in Christ’s second coming.  See Israel a la Glenn Beck » GetReligion.

On the other hand, some ostensibly conservative Christians are indeed embracing Beck and his cause.   These include David Barton, the revisionist historian who claims that America was founded as  a distinctly Christian nation and who maintains that Beck is a Christian on the basis of his “fruits.”  And also TV Bible-prophecy preacher John Hagee.

I think what we can conclude from this is that certain “fundamentalists” are not necessarily conservative theologically at all, that they can be very ecumenical and tolerant of other religions, to the point of theological relativism.

More important to them than theological conservatism is political conservatism.  But to have politics trump theology is a characteristic of liberal theology.  Theirs is a social gospel of the right, rather than the left, but it’s still a social gospel.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Norman Teigen

    I would think that most people would consider Glenn Beck unworthy of serious consideration. There is, I think and I fear, even among some Lutherans, an idea that Beckism has some merit. I am a conservative Lutheran who prays that he can maintain his Christian faith under the guidance of God’s Holy Word and faithful preaching. I do not need some crackpot social theorist and political hack to let me know what I should think and believe about things that happen in the public square.

  • Norman Teigen

    I would think that most people would consider Glenn Beck unworthy of serious consideration. There is, I think and I fear, even among some Lutherans, an idea that Beckism has some merit. I am a conservative Lutheran who prays that he can maintain his Christian faith under the guidance of God’s Holy Word and faithful preaching. I do not need some crackpot social theorist and political hack to let me know what I should think and believe about things that happen in the public square.

  • Tom Hering

    “But to have politics trump theology is a characteristic of liberal theology.”

    Those of us who are politically liberal, but not theologically liberal, have always thought that politics trumped theology among conservatives. Because they always told us that we can’t be both politically liberal and theologically conservative at the same time. We were being inconsistent and unbiblical. Their point – and what they valued most – was always clear as a bell to us.

  • Tom Hering

    “But to have politics trump theology is a characteristic of liberal theology.”

    Those of us who are politically liberal, but not theologically liberal, have always thought that politics trumped theology among conservatives. Because they always told us that we can’t be both politically liberal and theologically conservative at the same time. We were being inconsistent and unbiblical. Their point – and what they valued most – was always clear as a bell to us.

  • Joe

    As someone who has spent a lot of time on the inside of political campaigns (on the right side of the isle), this is not at all surprising. Politics over theology may have had its beginnings as in a left leaning social gospel movement but I have never known politics without a social gospel of the right.

  • Joe

    As someone who has spent a lot of time on the inside of political campaigns (on the right side of the isle), this is not at all surprising. Politics over theology may have had its beginnings as in a left leaning social gospel movement but I have never known politics without a social gospel of the right.

  • rlewer

    Hagee’s theology does include Israel in his faulty interpretation of Revelation. He is not the only one among those considered “conservative” who hold this false view of Israel.

  • rlewer

    Hagee’s theology does include Israel in his faulty interpretation of Revelation. He is not the only one among those considered “conservative” who hold this false view of Israel.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Perhaps I’ve been too involved with my golfing pursuit – might I inquire to the date when the Dome of the Rock was relocated elsewhere? That Glenn Beck would align himself with the secular nation of Israel (ala 1948) is not surprising; they share a common denial of the messiah. Oh well, they were having fun – weren’t they?
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Perhaps I’ve been too involved with my golfing pursuit – might I inquire to the date when the Dome of the Rock was relocated elsewhere? That Glenn Beck would align himself with the secular nation of Israel (ala 1948) is not surprising; they share a common denial of the messiah. Oh well, they were having fun – weren’t they?
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Steve Billingsley

    I have always found this to be fascinating. I am unabashedly conservative politically and would share some (read: some) of Beck’s sentiments toward Israel as an ally of the U.S. – There is something special about even the modern secular state of Israel, if for no other reason than they are the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

    That some of my fellow travelers on the conservative side of the political aisle are wingnuts and charlatans is no big surprise, there are plenty of them to go around for every political stripe.

    But what I have found fascinating is how people come to differing political conclusions with similar theological convictions. Some of the regular commenters on this blog are politically liberal (I talking to you Tom Hering and fws) and as such I typically find myself disagreeing with their political comments. But at the same time most of the time they make theological comments I find myself offering a hearty “Amen”. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising then, to find that some people who end up in similar political waters with me hold a theology that I would completely disagree with.

    I think that it highlights where priorities should lie. Political considerations are certainly not unimportant, but in most cases we are dealing with prudential judgments based upon incomplete understanding. Unity can certainly exist, however, in faith with those who come to very different conclusions on such prudential judgments.

    One of the reasons that I have read and commented regularly on this blog is that I have found, that while discussions may be heated, I can find comments made by people who hold very different perspectives politically (and sometimes theologically) that are thoughtful and at least respectful of the people who hold different points of view. There is certainly a great deal of value in that, in my opinion.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I have always found this to be fascinating. I am unabashedly conservative politically and would share some (read: some) of Beck’s sentiments toward Israel as an ally of the U.S. – There is something special about even the modern secular state of Israel, if for no other reason than they are the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

    That some of my fellow travelers on the conservative side of the political aisle are wingnuts and charlatans is no big surprise, there are plenty of them to go around for every political stripe.

    But what I have found fascinating is how people come to differing political conclusions with similar theological convictions. Some of the regular commenters on this blog are politically liberal (I talking to you Tom Hering and fws) and as such I typically find myself disagreeing with their political comments. But at the same time most of the time they make theological comments I find myself offering a hearty “Amen”. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising then, to find that some people who end up in similar political waters with me hold a theology that I would completely disagree with.

    I think that it highlights where priorities should lie. Political considerations are certainly not unimportant, but in most cases we are dealing with prudential judgments based upon incomplete understanding. Unity can certainly exist, however, in faith with those who come to very different conclusions on such prudential judgments.

    One of the reasons that I have read and commented regularly on this blog is that I have found, that while discussions may be heated, I can find comments made by people who hold very different perspectives politically (and sometimes theologically) that are thoughtful and at least respectful of the people who hold different points of view. There is certainly a great deal of value in that, in my opinion.

  • John

    Dr. Veith,

    If you (or someone else) happen to read this, would you be able to explain or direct me to resources on why David Barton is a revisionist historian? This is concerning.

    I also had not heard his claim that Beck is a Christian because of his “fruits,” seeing as how there is a wide gulf theologically between Christians and Mormons.

    Thank you.

  • John

    Dr. Veith,

    If you (or someone else) happen to read this, would you be able to explain or direct me to resources on why David Barton is a revisionist historian? This is concerning.

    I also had not heard his claim that Beck is a Christian because of his “fruits,” seeing as how there is a wide gulf theologically between Christians and Mormons.

    Thank you.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Hagee is really off the deep end. He holds to a “dual covenant” theology, which teaches a different way of salvation for Jews (the Torah) as opposed to Gentiles. Hagee essentially undermines everything in the New Testament about salvation for Jews, and it’s not too much of a stretch to accuse him of preaching another gospel.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Hagee is really off the deep end. He holds to a “dual covenant” theology, which teaches a different way of salvation for Jews (the Torah) as opposed to Gentiles. Hagee essentially undermines everything in the New Testament about salvation for Jews, and it’s not too much of a stretch to accuse him of preaching another gospel.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I will say one thing for Barton, his organization has republished and popularized some interesting original source materials. Since folks here are discerning readers, I would recommend looking at his site because it has some affordable resources. It is probable that we have all bought and found useful or entertaining many books from companies whose owners or publishers religious beliefs are in direct conflict with our own. However, that shouldn’t affect our interest in or opinion of the works themselves. Beck often said not to take his word for a thing but to go back to the original source materials and check them out and think for yourself. Good advice, even if it came from a Mormon.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I will say one thing for Barton, his organization has republished and popularized some interesting original source materials. Since folks here are discerning readers, I would recommend looking at his site because it has some affordable resources. It is probable that we have all bought and found useful or entertaining many books from companies whose owners or publishers religious beliefs are in direct conflict with our own. However, that shouldn’t affect our interest in or opinion of the works themselves. Beck often said not to take his word for a thing but to go back to the original source materials and check them out and think for yourself. Good advice, even if it came from a Mormon.

  • John

    “I would think that most people would consider Glenn Beck unworthy of serious consideration.” This. An argument can be thought of as two or more sentences in which one sentence makes an assertion, and the remainder gives reasons for the assertion. Beck is incapable of advancing a thoughtful argument, not to mention a factual one.

    As for Barton, it neither his religion nor politics that puts me off, it is his (lack of) historical method – which is to say, he “cherry picks” or “proof texts” a few authors that comport with his preconceived idea of American history, and leaves all the rest out. I am not embarrassed to call him a hack – I would say as much to his face.

  • John

    “I would think that most people would consider Glenn Beck unworthy of serious consideration.” This. An argument can be thought of as two or more sentences in which one sentence makes an assertion, and the remainder gives reasons for the assertion. Beck is incapable of advancing a thoughtful argument, not to mention a factual one.

    As for Barton, it neither his religion nor politics that puts me off, it is his (lack of) historical method – which is to say, he “cherry picks” or “proof texts” a few authors that comport with his preconceived idea of American history, and leaves all the rest out. I am not embarrassed to call him a hack – I would say as much to his face.

  • Bob

    @2

    What Tom said

  • Bob

    @2

    What Tom said

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “As for Barton, it neither his religion nor politics that puts me off, it is his (lack of) historical method – which is to say, he “cherry picks” or “proof texts” a few authors that comport with his preconceived idea of American history, and leaves all the rest out.”

    Sounds pretty much like many other historians who construct and promote narratives that suit their own preconceived prejudices and beliefs.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “As for Barton, it neither his religion nor politics that puts me off, it is his (lack of) historical method – which is to say, he “cherry picks” or “proof texts” a few authors that comport with his preconceived idea of American history, and leaves all the rest out.”

    Sounds pretty much like many other historians who construct and promote narratives that suit their own preconceived prejudices and beliefs.

  • DonS

    Hmmm. John @ 7 and John @ 10 seem to be two different people having opposing views. You should probably identify yourselves a little more specifically.

    I have found that ALL historians are “hacks”, using John @ 10′s rather broad definition, as sg notes above @ 12. You cannot possibly report all of history, so you tend to report more on the people, events, and historical viewpoints that you agree with. Regarding the nation being founded on christian principles, there is no simple answer. Some of the founders were certainly Christian, some were deists, a few were agnostic or atheistic, or nominal Christians, and they all had their particular reasons for participating in the activities that resulted in the founding of a new nation. It was not a monolithic effort, so everybody is right and everybody is wrong in what they believe and report, to a certain extent, depending on their particular emphases.

    My objection to traditional public school history curriculum is that it vastly understates (or ignores) the religious influences that have been present in U.S. history, because of its hypersensitivity to having anything that remotely resembles religion in the classroom. So that is a terrible distortion in itself, and that is the distortion that guys like Barton and Peter Marshall try to address. Sometimes they go overboard the other way. But their efforts are, by and large, worthy ones, and we as Christian parents should all be trying to instill in our own kids a sense of the religious underpinnings historically present in our society, to compensate for the secular humanism that currently dominates the establishment culture.

  • DonS

    Hmmm. John @ 7 and John @ 10 seem to be two different people having opposing views. You should probably identify yourselves a little more specifically.

    I have found that ALL historians are “hacks”, using John @ 10′s rather broad definition, as sg notes above @ 12. You cannot possibly report all of history, so you tend to report more on the people, events, and historical viewpoints that you agree with. Regarding the nation being founded on christian principles, there is no simple answer. Some of the founders were certainly Christian, some were deists, a few were agnostic or atheistic, or nominal Christians, and they all had their particular reasons for participating in the activities that resulted in the founding of a new nation. It was not a monolithic effort, so everybody is right and everybody is wrong in what they believe and report, to a certain extent, depending on their particular emphases.

    My objection to traditional public school history curriculum is that it vastly understates (or ignores) the religious influences that have been present in U.S. history, because of its hypersensitivity to having anything that remotely resembles religion in the classroom. So that is a terrible distortion in itself, and that is the distortion that guys like Barton and Peter Marshall try to address. Sometimes they go overboard the other way. But their efforts are, by and large, worthy ones, and we as Christian parents should all be trying to instill in our own kids a sense of the religious underpinnings historically present in our society, to compensate for the secular humanism that currently dominates the establishment culture.

  • Grace

    Glen Beck, being a Mormon, is not considered a Christian within the vast conservative Evangelical community. Because Beck supports Israel, and many conservative Christians support Israel, does not mean there is a Beck Evangelical alliance, that is blatantly FALSE. This seems to be the insinuation made throughout the blog and comments so far.

    Beck and Hagee, can sit on the same platform, but they don’t represent either myself or the majority of conservative Christians, that is a fallacy.

    We as conservative Evangelicals do not embrace a ‘social gospel’ any more than we agree with the ELCA, the PCUSA or any number of liberal groups, some of which are connected to TBN, Emergent Church, prosperity teachings, or other stray groups.

    Norman Teigen @1, made a cogent statement: “I would think that most people would consider Glenn Beck unworthy of serious consideration.” INDEED, that is correct. Listening to Beck on a number of occasions on FOX, ….. most serious Christians were appalled at his ramblings.

    I am pro Israel, and so are the major conservative Christian community. Aligning us with others, because of our strong stand with Israel, makes no point. It does solidify our belief that many of you have no idea what the Scriptures state about Israel and the Jews.

  • Grace

    Glen Beck, being a Mormon, is not considered a Christian within the vast conservative Evangelical community. Because Beck supports Israel, and many conservative Christians support Israel, does not mean there is a Beck Evangelical alliance, that is blatantly FALSE. This seems to be the insinuation made throughout the blog and comments so far.

    Beck and Hagee, can sit on the same platform, but they don’t represent either myself or the majority of conservative Christians, that is a fallacy.

    We as conservative Evangelicals do not embrace a ‘social gospel’ any more than we agree with the ELCA, the PCUSA or any number of liberal groups, some of which are connected to TBN, Emergent Church, prosperity teachings, or other stray groups.

    Norman Teigen @1, made a cogent statement: “I would think that most people would consider Glenn Beck unworthy of serious consideration.” INDEED, that is correct. Listening to Beck on a number of occasions on FOX, ….. most serious Christians were appalled at his ramblings.

    I am pro Israel, and so are the major conservative Christian community. Aligning us with others, because of our strong stand with Israel, makes no point. It does solidify our belief that many of you have no idea what the Scriptures state about Israel and the Jews.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@13), your comment is self-refuting. You tell us that:

    You cannot possibly report all of history, so you tend to report more on the people, events, and historical viewpoints that you agree with.

    But then proceed to give an attempt at representing the whole truth, anyhow:

    Some of the founders were certainly Christian, some were deists, a few were agnostic or atheistic, or nominal Christians, and they all had their particular reasons for participating in the activities that resulted in the founding of a new nation.

    According to your own argument, even this description is wrong and “hackery”. Do you agree? Or is it possible that your statement is more accurate than the distorted picture Barton paints?

    Seems to me that you and SG (@12) are a little sweet on Barton, and appreciate the distortions he brings to the table. Which is why you both seem fine with the “everybody’s doing it” excuse.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@13), your comment is self-refuting. You tell us that:

    You cannot possibly report all of history, so you tend to report more on the people, events, and historical viewpoints that you agree with.

    But then proceed to give an attempt at representing the whole truth, anyhow:

    Some of the founders were certainly Christian, some were deists, a few were agnostic or atheistic, or nominal Christians, and they all had their particular reasons for participating in the activities that resulted in the founding of a new nation.

    According to your own argument, even this description is wrong and “hackery”. Do you agree? Or is it possible that your statement is more accurate than the distorted picture Barton paints?

    Seems to me that you and SG (@12) are a little sweet on Barton, and appreciate the distortions he brings to the table. Which is why you both seem fine with the “everybody’s doing it” excuse.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@14):

    Because Beck supports Israel, and many conservative Christians support Israel, does not mean there is a Beck Evangelical alliance, that is blatantly FALSE.

    Of course, Grace, you have a habit of declaring anything and everything false that you don’t personally understand or agree with. But you are not everybody. It’s not all about you.

    There quite clearly is a Beck-Evangelical alliance, even if you, as a self-identified Evangelical, disagree with Beck. You cannot refute the article here (among others) merely by claiming it’s “blatantly FALSE”. That’s not how argument works.

    Listening to Beck on a number of occasions on FOX, ….. most serious Christians were appalled at his ramblings.

    Again, you seem to conflate what you think with what “most serious Christians” think. The two are not the same. I have read enough from Christians who seem quite serious to know that a significant chunk of them were not “appalled at his ramblings”.

    Your comment seems like little more than taking offense at what’s actually happening out there. But your issue is with the facts, not with Veith’s presentation of them.

    It does solidify our belief that many of you have no idea what the Scriptures state about Israel and the Jews.

    Give it a rest, Grace. We’ve discussed this before.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@14):

    Because Beck supports Israel, and many conservative Christians support Israel, does not mean there is a Beck Evangelical alliance, that is blatantly FALSE.

    Of course, Grace, you have a habit of declaring anything and everything false that you don’t personally understand or agree with. But you are not everybody. It’s not all about you.

    There quite clearly is a Beck-Evangelical alliance, even if you, as a self-identified Evangelical, disagree with Beck. You cannot refute the article here (among others) merely by claiming it’s “blatantly FALSE”. That’s not how argument works.

    Listening to Beck on a number of occasions on FOX, ….. most serious Christians were appalled at his ramblings.

    Again, you seem to conflate what you think with what “most serious Christians” think. The two are not the same. I have read enough from Christians who seem quite serious to know that a significant chunk of them were not “appalled at his ramblings”.

    Your comment seems like little more than taking offense at what’s actually happening out there. But your issue is with the facts, not with Veith’s presentation of them.

    It does solidify our belief that many of you have no idea what the Scriptures state about Israel and the Jews.

    Give it a rest, Grace. We’ve discussed this before.

  • DonS

    As to the topic of the original post, Christian supporters of the modern state of Israel typically are supportive for three reasons. One is that they still regard the Jews as God’s chosen people, and thus deserving of special consideration. We should not oppose those whom are under God’s special protection. Another is a more practical, earthly reason, which is that the Jews have historically suffered horrible oppression, particularly during the Third Reich and in Stalin’s Soviet Union , and they deserve a home to call their own, especially since it is the very land God originally promised to them. The third is an eschatological one — those who believe in the “Left Behind” scenario of future events believe that modern Israel will be the site of Armageddon, and that the Jews being restored to the Promised Land is part of God’s plan for the end times.

    So, whether you believe all of this or not, theologically, it is hard to say that this is an example of politics trumping theology. If anything, it is theology trumping politics, because supporters of Israel are insisting on the political support of Israel despite the fact that there is no earthly reason for doing so, and it would be more politically pragmatic to get in bed with the Arabs and Persians in that region, who have the oil, and oppose Israel.

    And I still don’t understand the mindset that if you disagree with someone theologically, you have to practically disown them in all things. If you have a common value, why can’t you work together to forward that value? Many of us worked with the Mormons here in CA to support Proposition 8 in 2008, and those of us who support pro-life causes work closely with Catholic leadership on those issues all the time. Nothing wrong with that. Working with people who have differing theologies, on matters that don’t directly intersect with theology, doesn’t mean you are in fellowship with them.

    I think this kind of narrow mindset is why the liberal activists have succeeded where conservatives have failed in the political world.

    That all being said, it doesn’t mean that I myself support Glenn Beck’s current efforts in Israel, either politically or theologically. I don’t care for his style — he’s a conspiracist and a self-promoter, and I don’t think his efforts will be helpful — they will probably do more to inflame the issues than anything. But my point is that Christians deciding differently than me on this particular issue are not necessarily putting politics over theology — they are just coming from a different theological perspective, and are trying to prevent the U.S. from being on the wrong side of God’s will.

  • DonS

    As to the topic of the original post, Christian supporters of the modern state of Israel typically are supportive for three reasons. One is that they still regard the Jews as God’s chosen people, and thus deserving of special consideration. We should not oppose those whom are under God’s special protection. Another is a more practical, earthly reason, which is that the Jews have historically suffered horrible oppression, particularly during the Third Reich and in Stalin’s Soviet Union , and they deserve a home to call their own, especially since it is the very land God originally promised to them. The third is an eschatological one — those who believe in the “Left Behind” scenario of future events believe that modern Israel will be the site of Armageddon, and that the Jews being restored to the Promised Land is part of God’s plan for the end times.

    So, whether you believe all of this or not, theologically, it is hard to say that this is an example of politics trumping theology. If anything, it is theology trumping politics, because supporters of Israel are insisting on the political support of Israel despite the fact that there is no earthly reason for doing so, and it would be more politically pragmatic to get in bed with the Arabs and Persians in that region, who have the oil, and oppose Israel.

    And I still don’t understand the mindset that if you disagree with someone theologically, you have to practically disown them in all things. If you have a common value, why can’t you work together to forward that value? Many of us worked with the Mormons here in CA to support Proposition 8 in 2008, and those of us who support pro-life causes work closely with Catholic leadership on those issues all the time. Nothing wrong with that. Working with people who have differing theologies, on matters that don’t directly intersect with theology, doesn’t mean you are in fellowship with them.

    I think this kind of narrow mindset is why the liberal activists have succeeded where conservatives have failed in the political world.

    That all being said, it doesn’t mean that I myself support Glenn Beck’s current efforts in Israel, either politically or theologically. I don’t care for his style — he’s a conspiracist and a self-promoter, and I don’t think his efforts will be helpful — they will probably do more to inflame the issues than anything. But my point is that Christians deciding differently than me on this particular issue are not necessarily putting politics over theology — they are just coming from a different theological perspective, and are trying to prevent the U.S. from being on the wrong side of God’s will.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 15: How is my statement “self-refuting”? The point I was making is that historians of various viewpoints all tend to emphasize the people in history they have more sympathy for, and that, just as in the present times, the truth is that people of all ideological and theological stripes were involved in the founding of our nation. I’m not saying that anyone is giving a false history, just that they are, probably necessarily, not telling the whole story. To get a better picture of things, you need to take a variety of historians and synthesize their historical reports. I wasn’t attempting to represent the whole truth. If one could do that in a single sentence, one would be very rich indeed.

    My main point is that the cultural norm is to teach history from a very secular perspective, so Christian parents would do well to supplement that history with a history of the church and the particular works of Christians in U.S. and western European history.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 15: How is my statement “self-refuting”? The point I was making is that historians of various viewpoints all tend to emphasize the people in history they have more sympathy for, and that, just as in the present times, the truth is that people of all ideological and theological stripes were involved in the founding of our nation. I’m not saying that anyone is giving a false history, just that they are, probably necessarily, not telling the whole story. To get a better picture of things, you need to take a variety of historians and synthesize their historical reports. I wasn’t attempting to represent the whole truth. If one could do that in a single sentence, one would be very rich indeed.

    My main point is that the cultural norm is to teach history from a very secular perspective, so Christian parents would do well to supplement that history with a history of the church and the particular works of Christians in U.S. and western European history.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Which is why you both seem fine with the “everybody’s doing it” excuse.”

    Nah, not everyone is doing it, but many are and they aren’t being challenged much except by folks at the opposite end of the spectrum.

    So, yeah, Barton fills a role by challenging folks to read some original source material. Popular historians are not doing that. Rather they encourage everyone to take their word for it. Given that structure, Barton’s stance of promoting original sources over modern interpretations seems more forthright to me. If I read the original source, I may agree or disagree with Barton or other modern historians, but at least I will have a basis beyond 2nd, 3rd hand interpretations. Barton may have more confidence in folks’ reading comprehension and intellect than other modern historians. Anyway, that is the impression he gives.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Which is why you both seem fine with the “everybody’s doing it” excuse.”

    Nah, not everyone is doing it, but many are and they aren’t being challenged much except by folks at the opposite end of the spectrum.

    So, yeah, Barton fills a role by challenging folks to read some original source material. Popular historians are not doing that. Rather they encourage everyone to take their word for it. Given that structure, Barton’s stance of promoting original sources over modern interpretations seems more forthright to me. If I read the original source, I may agree or disagree with Barton or other modern historians, but at least I will have a basis beyond 2nd, 3rd hand interpretations. Barton may have more confidence in folks’ reading comprehension and intellect than other modern historians. Anyway, that is the impression he gives.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Seems to me that you and SG (@12) are a little sweet on Barton, and appreciate the distortions he brings to the table.”

    Nah, I already said that I appreciate his republication of original source materials and directly noted that discerning readers could probably see many of Barton’s comments simply as opinions.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Seems to me that you and SG (@12) are a little sweet on Barton, and appreciate the distortions he brings to the table.”

    Nah, I already said that I appreciate his republication of original source materials and directly noted that discerning readers could probably see many of Barton’s comments simply as opinions.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@18), best I can tell, your argument is a purely relativist one:

    Everybody is right and everybody is wrong in what they believe and report, to a certain extent, depending on their particular emphases.

    Gosh, it almost sounds like all historians are equal, none better or worse than any other, but just with their “various viewpoints”. Sorry, but I don’t believe that you really think that. I certainly don’t.

    There are some “historians” who primarily have a viewpoint, and who twist what facts and figures conform to that viewpoint, ignoring or discounting the rest (e.g. Holocaust deniers). Others, however, do a better job of letting the facts speak for themselves. Sure, everyone has his viewpoint, but not everyone is equal as to objectivity.

    Saying that “ALL historians are ‘hacks’” is nothing but a cheap shot at the entire field of history. Yes, I get the context in which you said that, and I still stand by my statement. If you truly had that view of history, you’d be a lot more ignorant of the past. But since you seem to hold to the concept that we can actually, objectively know what happened in the past, I seriously doubt that you believe that all historians are “hacks” or equally wrong.

    Seems like, in your desire to correct a perceived problem, you have simply embrace the problem of the equal but opposite type, rather than seeking out an actual solution — namely, historians who are not simply agenda-driven.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@18), best I can tell, your argument is a purely relativist one:

    Everybody is right and everybody is wrong in what they believe and report, to a certain extent, depending on their particular emphases.

    Gosh, it almost sounds like all historians are equal, none better or worse than any other, but just with their “various viewpoints”. Sorry, but I don’t believe that you really think that. I certainly don’t.

    There are some “historians” who primarily have a viewpoint, and who twist what facts and figures conform to that viewpoint, ignoring or discounting the rest (e.g. Holocaust deniers). Others, however, do a better job of letting the facts speak for themselves. Sure, everyone has his viewpoint, but not everyone is equal as to objectivity.

    Saying that “ALL historians are ‘hacks’” is nothing but a cheap shot at the entire field of history. Yes, I get the context in which you said that, and I still stand by my statement. If you truly had that view of history, you’d be a lot more ignorant of the past. But since you seem to hold to the concept that we can actually, objectively know what happened in the past, I seriously doubt that you believe that all historians are “hacks” or equally wrong.

    Seems like, in your desire to correct a perceived problem, you have simply embrace the problem of the equal but opposite type, rather than seeking out an actual solution — namely, historians who are not simply agenda-driven.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 21: I understand why you might think that about what I said, but it isn’t what I meant.

    Firstly, my statement that “all historians are hacks” was really a refutation of John’s point. I don’t believe all historians are hacks. However, John @ 10 stated that Barton was a “hack” because he ““cherry picks” or “proof texts” a few authors that comport with his preconceived idea of American history, and leaves all the rest out.” Well, I don’t agree that that is what he does, but there is no question that he has a point of view and emphasizes historical figures and ideas that further his view of history. My “all historians are hacks” point was that all historians do this to some extent. When you distill all of human history into a few academic courses, you necessarily make value judgments about what you consider important to tell, and that is what you emphasize. Since we all have a point of view and certain preconceived biases, each history course is necessarily going to involve different emphases.

    The bottom line point I am trying to make is that if you want your children to have a fairer view of history, you need to do the work of bringing to them the perspectives of a number of different historians having diverse viewpoints. Since the current American public culture is steeped in secularism, to the extent that historical religious influences are under-taught or even ignored, it is incumbent on Christian parents to fill in those gaps for our kids.

    I agree with you that not all historians are equal in their objectivity. Some are openly agenda-driven, and some really attempt to be objective and neutral in their viewpoints. What I am saying is that NONE succeed fully in objectivity, because we are human. Moreover, the history currently being offered in the public schools is not nominally objective any longer. It is deliberately biased to emphasize the history of people who are, under the current law, historic minorities. This is particularly true in California, which mandates that curriculum include the contributions of minorities, including, now, gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. When you have non-historians setting an agenda for history curricula, based on political considerations, you are treading dangerous ground. And certainly diminishing the value of the offered education.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 21: I understand why you might think that about what I said, but it isn’t what I meant.

    Firstly, my statement that “all historians are hacks” was really a refutation of John’s point. I don’t believe all historians are hacks. However, John @ 10 stated that Barton was a “hack” because he ““cherry picks” or “proof texts” a few authors that comport with his preconceived idea of American history, and leaves all the rest out.” Well, I don’t agree that that is what he does, but there is no question that he has a point of view and emphasizes historical figures and ideas that further his view of history. My “all historians are hacks” point was that all historians do this to some extent. When you distill all of human history into a few academic courses, you necessarily make value judgments about what you consider important to tell, and that is what you emphasize. Since we all have a point of view and certain preconceived biases, each history course is necessarily going to involve different emphases.

    The bottom line point I am trying to make is that if you want your children to have a fairer view of history, you need to do the work of bringing to them the perspectives of a number of different historians having diverse viewpoints. Since the current American public culture is steeped in secularism, to the extent that historical religious influences are under-taught or even ignored, it is incumbent on Christian parents to fill in those gaps for our kids.

    I agree with you that not all historians are equal in their objectivity. Some are openly agenda-driven, and some really attempt to be objective and neutral in their viewpoints. What I am saying is that NONE succeed fully in objectivity, because we are human. Moreover, the history currently being offered in the public schools is not nominally objective any longer. It is deliberately biased to emphasize the history of people who are, under the current law, historic minorities. This is particularly true in California, which mandates that curriculum include the contributions of minorities, including, now, gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. When you have non-historians setting an agenda for history curricula, based on political considerations, you are treading dangerous ground. And certainly diminishing the value of the offered education.

  • Stephen

    Barton is known for quoting sources he does not actually have. This a clever tactic to “prove” what he wants others to believe. Once the idea is out there and becomes some kind of “meme” it is hard to refute. In and of itself, this practice qualifies him as a hack. He sounds like our dear Grace.

    And the characterizations given here of historians and their agendas is simply overstated to an enormous degree. This kind of accusation seems typical in the age of the Internet where everyone (and no one) is an authority. So, if Barton is a hack and fabricator of truths, then hey, other “historians” must be too (they all deserve to have the title in quotation marks now).

    Actually, the way it usually works is much like the scientific method. Historians approach a subject of interest with an interest or “hypothesis” about something for any number of reasons. Certainly they may be out to prove something in particular, but what separates a credible historian from Barton’s ilk is what they do with what they find when they do research. Generally, the history writes itself as the sources reveal or do not reveal what happened.

    Are their editorial decisions? Yes, because there are reasons certain connections come about and others do not. The discovery of new sources, and, what Barton does not do its seems to me, is set the materials in their context. Instead, he lifts them out and projects them into his quite narrow and wacky politcal/religious ideology that we ought to all be concerned about (another reconstructionist).

    Working in the museum and archives world I have participated research in and used the work of historians. The idea that all academics and the like are liberals with an agenda is silly, but that’s what many arch-conservatives are lead to believe. There is always interpretation, and this being the case, there is likely going to be emphasis on certain things at the expense of other things. But to suggest that all history is self-projection and the subjectivity of one is just goofy.

    History is not all “bunk” though by the measure being put forth here that it is all a calculated attempt to deceive, what value could it possibly have for truth? In which case, ditch the bible while your at it. Paying attention to someone like Barton as authentic in his pursuits (let alone honest) proves the opposite, that history has no value at all because no one “really” knows what happened. If we insist on this free for all on authority, that’s where we end up. Everyone is a hack. don’t trust your mechanic, he’s a hack. Or your doctor, or the legal system (bunch of hacks), or for that matter, your pastor. They’re all hacks. The term itself is rendered meaningless by applying to everyone in a field.

    Anyway, it seems like a lawyer and a gal who is in love with metrics would know better. Guess not.

    “I have found that ALL historians are “hacks” . . . You cannot possibly report all of history, so you tend to report more on the people, events, and historical viewpoints that you agree with.”

    This is really the only possible explanation for varied accounts of events? Really?

    “Nah, not everyone is doing it, but many are and they aren’t being challenged much except by folks at the opposite end of the spectrum.”

    Really? How many? Surely you have some stats you can lay on us.

    What a bunch “hack-ish” conjecture.

  • Stephen

    Barton is known for quoting sources he does not actually have. This a clever tactic to “prove” what he wants others to believe. Once the idea is out there and becomes some kind of “meme” it is hard to refute. In and of itself, this practice qualifies him as a hack. He sounds like our dear Grace.

    And the characterizations given here of historians and their agendas is simply overstated to an enormous degree. This kind of accusation seems typical in the age of the Internet where everyone (and no one) is an authority. So, if Barton is a hack and fabricator of truths, then hey, other “historians” must be too (they all deserve to have the title in quotation marks now).

    Actually, the way it usually works is much like the scientific method. Historians approach a subject of interest with an interest or “hypothesis” about something for any number of reasons. Certainly they may be out to prove something in particular, but what separates a credible historian from Barton’s ilk is what they do with what they find when they do research. Generally, the history writes itself as the sources reveal or do not reveal what happened.

    Are their editorial decisions? Yes, because there are reasons certain connections come about and others do not. The discovery of new sources, and, what Barton does not do its seems to me, is set the materials in their context. Instead, he lifts them out and projects them into his quite narrow and wacky politcal/religious ideology that we ought to all be concerned about (another reconstructionist).

    Working in the museum and archives world I have participated research in and used the work of historians. The idea that all academics and the like are liberals with an agenda is silly, but that’s what many arch-conservatives are lead to believe. There is always interpretation, and this being the case, there is likely going to be emphasis on certain things at the expense of other things. But to suggest that all history is self-projection and the subjectivity of one is just goofy.

    History is not all “bunk” though by the measure being put forth here that it is all a calculated attempt to deceive, what value could it possibly have for truth? In which case, ditch the bible while your at it. Paying attention to someone like Barton as authentic in his pursuits (let alone honest) proves the opposite, that history has no value at all because no one “really” knows what happened. If we insist on this free for all on authority, that’s where we end up. Everyone is a hack. don’t trust your mechanic, he’s a hack. Or your doctor, or the legal system (bunch of hacks), or for that matter, your pastor. They’re all hacks. The term itself is rendered meaningless by applying to everyone in a field.

    Anyway, it seems like a lawyer and a gal who is in love with metrics would know better. Guess not.

    “I have found that ALL historians are “hacks” . . . You cannot possibly report all of history, so you tend to report more on the people, events, and historical viewpoints that you agree with.”

    This is really the only possible explanation for varied accounts of events? Really?

    “Nah, not everyone is doing it, but many are and they aren’t being challenged much except by folks at the opposite end of the spectrum.”

    Really? How many? Surely you have some stats you can lay on us.

    What a bunch “hack-ish” conjecture.

  • Stephen

    “Nah, I already said that I appreciate his republication of original source materials and directly noted that discerning readers could probably see many of Barton’s comments simply as opinions.”

    Right . . . Barton is just offering opinions and everyone else is a propagandists. GOOFY.

  • Stephen

    “Nah, I already said that I appreciate his republication of original source materials and directly noted that discerning readers could probably see many of Barton’s comments simply as opinions.”

    Right . . . Barton is just offering opinions and everyone else is a propagandists. GOOFY.

  • Stephen

    “Nah, I already said that I appreciate his republication of original source materials and directly noted that discerning readers could probably see many of Barton’s comments simply as opinions.”

    Right . . . Barton is just offering opinions and everyone else is a propagandist. GOOFY.

  • Stephen

    “Nah, I already said that I appreciate his republication of original source materials and directly noted that discerning readers could probably see many of Barton’s comments simply as opinions.”

    Right . . . Barton is just offering opinions and everyone else is a propagandist. GOOFY.

  • Stephen

    Ha! I guess it was worth saying twice!

  • Stephen

    Ha! I guess it was worth saying twice!

  • DonS

    Stephen:

    No one is saying that all historians are propagandists. I am merely saying that they have viewpoints which color the way they view history. Unfortunately, we are currently under a political system that is hyper-sensitive to “the separation of church and state”, which has resulted in a predominant history curriculum in our public schools and universities which is afraid, for political reasons, to fairly teach the religious history of our civilization. More recently, we have other politicians meddling in the judgment of historians in passing legal requirements that the history curriculum MUST include certain elements, for political rather than historical reasons. This is reality, and we as Christian parents need to recognize that the history curriculum has been politicized.

  • DonS

    Stephen:

    No one is saying that all historians are propagandists. I am merely saying that they have viewpoints which color the way they view history. Unfortunately, we are currently under a political system that is hyper-sensitive to “the separation of church and state”, which has resulted in a predominant history curriculum in our public schools and universities which is afraid, for political reasons, to fairly teach the religious history of our civilization. More recently, we have other politicians meddling in the judgment of historians in passing legal requirements that the history curriculum MUST include certain elements, for political rather than historical reasons. This is reality, and we as Christian parents need to recognize that the history curriculum has been politicized.

  • Stephen

    DonS,

    Reading your response to tODD, you seem to make a category mistake between what historians do and what politicians do. And I still say you are all wet in your description of the historical enterprise. Subjectivity, objectivity – meh. As well, popular notions that circulate as truth and what historians do are different. Read “Traitor to His Class” and get back to me.

    It would seem you are enmeshed in a political problem that you don’t like. The fact is that most of the historical record that has been preserved HAS BEEN that of a white, Christian, Euro-centric nature. The kinds of things developing regarding the history of minorities are just that, a development in the historical record. Until recently, those histories were not preserved or recounted, at least outside of very close-knit communities. As the documentation develops, that aspect of American history is coming to the surface. It will continue to do so. Get used to it.

    I’m not suggesting there isn’t a culture war going on, but you are just as guilty of engaging in it by claiming to be repressed by the people that have, in turn, been excluded from the historical record. Make room. Your neighbor is knocking. Or perhaps it is the chickens coming home to roost. Regardless, promoting shoddy history and outright lies as Barton does is about the absolute worst way to engage the situation.

  • Stephen

    DonS,

    Reading your response to tODD, you seem to make a category mistake between what historians do and what politicians do. And I still say you are all wet in your description of the historical enterprise. Subjectivity, objectivity – meh. As well, popular notions that circulate as truth and what historians do are different. Read “Traitor to His Class” and get back to me.

    It would seem you are enmeshed in a political problem that you don’t like. The fact is that most of the historical record that has been preserved HAS BEEN that of a white, Christian, Euro-centric nature. The kinds of things developing regarding the history of minorities are just that, a development in the historical record. Until recently, those histories were not preserved or recounted, at least outside of very close-knit communities. As the documentation develops, that aspect of American history is coming to the surface. It will continue to do so. Get used to it.

    I’m not suggesting there isn’t a culture war going on, but you are just as guilty of engaging in it by claiming to be repressed by the people that have, in turn, been excluded from the historical record. Make room. Your neighbor is knocking. Or perhaps it is the chickens coming home to roost. Regardless, promoting shoddy history and outright lies as Barton does is about the absolute worst way to engage the situation.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 28: “The fact is that most of the historical record that has been preserved HAS BEEN that of a white, Christian, Euro-centric nature.” — Isn’t this an admission, on your part, that historians HAVE been biased in their reporting of history to date? Doesn’t that support my point that historians, by the fact that they are human, are biased toward their own culture and values? I think it does.

    “Until recently, those histories were not preserved or recounted, at least outside of very close-knit communities. As the documentation develops, that aspect of American history is coming to the surface. It will continue to do so. Get used to it. ” — Stephen, I don’t disagree with you. And, I certainly don’t object to the teaching of history which more fairly reflects the contributions and accomplishments of all of the people (sidebar — that includes religious people!). What I DO object to is these value judgments being forced on educators by politicians substituting their biased views for those of genuine historians. And that, unfortunately, is what is happening.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 28: “The fact is that most of the historical record that has been preserved HAS BEEN that of a white, Christian, Euro-centric nature.” — Isn’t this an admission, on your part, that historians HAVE been biased in their reporting of history to date? Doesn’t that support my point that historians, by the fact that they are human, are biased toward their own culture and values? I think it does.

    “Until recently, those histories were not preserved or recounted, at least outside of very close-knit communities. As the documentation develops, that aspect of American history is coming to the surface. It will continue to do so. Get used to it. ” — Stephen, I don’t disagree with you. And, I certainly don’t object to the teaching of history which more fairly reflects the contributions and accomplishments of all of the people (sidebar — that includes religious people!). What I DO object to is these value judgments being forced on educators by politicians substituting their biased views for those of genuine historians. And that, unfortunately, is what is happening.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Just for the record, the Chinese have extensive written history going back almost 4000 years. I haven’t read much of it, but it exists. Also, the Egyptians left written histories albeit hard to decipher.”

    Okay, Stephen, my point about Barton is that he can’t convince anyone who actually reads stuff unless they want to be convinced. He doesn’t hold some magical power.

    Here is an interesting article about several books that re examine some ancient sources and authors whose opinions are uh, different. That is what reading and thinking and coming up with your own ideas is all about, rather than just taking the professor’s, or Barton’s or anyone else’s word for it.

    The only plug I put in for Barton was that he promoted going back to the originals. And no, he ain’t the only one with an agenda.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Just for the record, the Chinese have extensive written history going back almost 4000 years. I haven’t read much of it, but it exists. Also, the Egyptians left written histories albeit hard to decipher.”

    Okay, Stephen, my point about Barton is that he can’t convince anyone who actually reads stuff unless they want to be convinced. He doesn’t hold some magical power.

    Here is an interesting article about several books that re examine some ancient sources and authors whose opinions are uh, different. That is what reading and thinking and coming up with your own ideas is all about, rather than just taking the professor’s, or Barton’s or anyone else’s word for it.

    The only plug I put in for Barton was that he promoted going back to the originals. And no, he ain’t the only one with an agenda.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@30), I don’t know why the first part of your comment is in quotes. Who are you quoting?

    My point about Barton is that he can’t convince anyone who actually reads stuff unless they want to be convinced. He doesn’t hold some magical power.

    It’s curious that you don’t seem to think the same thing about “popular historians” (@19). They do not appear to get the same blase treatment from you that Barton does.

    I don’t get it. If people (SG, DonS) are concerned about distortions from historians, then why not promote historians that are less given to distortions? Instead, all it sounds like to me is, “Sure, he’s distorting things — most all historians do — but he’s distorting things in the right way.”

    As an example:

    Discerning readers could probably see many of Barton’s comments simply as opinions.

    Why limit this to Barton, SG? Why not instead say that “Discerning readers could probably see historians’ comments simply as opinions”? Why does Barton get a pass from you that other historians do not?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@30), I don’t know why the first part of your comment is in quotes. Who are you quoting?

    My point about Barton is that he can’t convince anyone who actually reads stuff unless they want to be convinced. He doesn’t hold some magical power.

    It’s curious that you don’t seem to think the same thing about “popular historians” (@19). They do not appear to get the same blase treatment from you that Barton does.

    I don’t get it. If people (SG, DonS) are concerned about distortions from historians, then why not promote historians that are less given to distortions? Instead, all it sounds like to me is, “Sure, he’s distorting things — most all historians do — but he’s distorting things in the right way.”

    As an example:

    Discerning readers could probably see many of Barton’s comments simply as opinions.

    Why limit this to Barton, SG? Why not instead say that “Discerning readers could probably see historians’ comments simply as opinions”? Why does Barton get a pass from you that other historians do not?

  • kerner

    Look, speaking of histories that don’t get told, what abiut the history of palestinian Christians? There are some 300K Christians still living in what is now Israel and its territories. Mostof them are Arabs, and from what I can find out, they are not treated significantly better by the Israelis than the Muslim Arabs are treated. There were significantly more Christians in Palestine prior to 1948, but many have been scattered around the world after being displaced by the Israelis

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_Christians

    As near as I can tell, Christians in Israel and its territories want the Israelis to withdraw the military occupation and allow all residents of Israel and its territories the right to vote and equal protection under the law. But this is not likely because in a place that is almost 50% non-Jewish, Israel would lose its character ans a Jewish state (Given the relative birth rates, some argue that the area occupied by Israel will be majority gentile soon).

    Anyway, some Palestinian Christian leaders have written about this:

    http://www.oikoumene.org/gr/resources/documents/other-ecumenical-bodies/kairos-palestine-document.html

    one of the authors of this document is a Lutheran:

    http://mitriraheb.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=274:palestinian-lutheran-pastor-urges-preach-hope-and-amid-hopelessness&catid=28:english&Itemid=22

    So, what I want to know is, why, when we all hear about Christians who are mistreated anywhere else in the world, why do we never hear about the plight of palestinian Christians? And why, if a Palestinian Lutheran has something to say about the situation in Palestine, why do we never discuss what he thinks on this blog?

  • kerner

    Look, speaking of histories that don’t get told, what abiut the history of palestinian Christians? There are some 300K Christians still living in what is now Israel and its territories. Mostof them are Arabs, and from what I can find out, they are not treated significantly better by the Israelis than the Muslim Arabs are treated. There were significantly more Christians in Palestine prior to 1948, but many have been scattered around the world after being displaced by the Israelis

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_Christians

    As near as I can tell, Christians in Israel and its territories want the Israelis to withdraw the military occupation and allow all residents of Israel and its territories the right to vote and equal protection under the law. But this is not likely because in a place that is almost 50% non-Jewish, Israel would lose its character ans a Jewish state (Given the relative birth rates, some argue that the area occupied by Israel will be majority gentile soon).

    Anyway, some Palestinian Christian leaders have written about this:

    http://www.oikoumene.org/gr/resources/documents/other-ecumenical-bodies/kairos-palestine-document.html

    one of the authors of this document is a Lutheran:

    http://mitriraheb.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=274:palestinian-lutheran-pastor-urges-preach-hope-and-amid-hopelessness&catid=28:english&Itemid=22

    So, what I want to know is, why, when we all hear about Christians who are mistreated anywhere else in the world, why do we never hear about the plight of palestinian Christians? And why, if a Palestinian Lutheran has something to say about the situation in Palestine, why do we never discuss what he thinks on this blog?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, DonS (@29), I hate to say this to a guy on his birthday, but that is some terrible logic!

    Stephen @ 28: “The fact is that most of the historical record that has been preserved HAS BEEN that of a white, Christian, Euro-centric nature.” — Isn’t this an admission, on your part, that historians HAVE been biased in their reporting of history to date? Doesn’t that support my point that historians, by the fact that they are human, are biased toward their own culture and values? I think it does.

    First of all, historians do not, by and large, create the historical record. They research it, interpret it, summarize it, explain it, correlate it. But how are modern historians — the ones you so blithely are blaming — to blame for the historical record being what it is? I mean, seriously.

    Even if we are to go with your conclusion — that this would constitute an admission “that historians HAVE been biased in their reporting of history to date” — that would go against your earlier conclusion (@22), which is that it would “diminish the value” of education to require including the historic contributions of minorities in our public schools. How can you simultaneously conclude that the historic record has overlooked various peoples, and yet claim that including their contributions would “diminish” public education? Pick a side.

    We as Christian parents need to recognize that the history curriculum has been politicized.

    And the solution is… to politicize the history curriculum even more? That’s Barton’s solution, it would seem. Why do you think that solves things? Why not seek out the historians — which you acknowledge exist — that are not “propagandists”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, DonS (@29), I hate to say this to a guy on his birthday, but that is some terrible logic!

    Stephen @ 28: “The fact is that most of the historical record that has been preserved HAS BEEN that of a white, Christian, Euro-centric nature.” — Isn’t this an admission, on your part, that historians HAVE been biased in their reporting of history to date? Doesn’t that support my point that historians, by the fact that they are human, are biased toward their own culture and values? I think it does.

    First of all, historians do not, by and large, create the historical record. They research it, interpret it, summarize it, explain it, correlate it. But how are modern historians — the ones you so blithely are blaming — to blame for the historical record being what it is? I mean, seriously.

    Even if we are to go with your conclusion — that this would constitute an admission “that historians HAVE been biased in their reporting of history to date” — that would go against your earlier conclusion (@22), which is that it would “diminish the value” of education to require including the historic contributions of minorities in our public schools. How can you simultaneously conclude that the historic record has overlooked various peoples, and yet claim that including their contributions would “diminish” public education? Pick a side.

    We as Christian parents need to recognize that the history curriculum has been politicized.

    And the solution is… to politicize the history curriculum even more? That’s Barton’s solution, it would seem. Why do you think that solves things? Why not seek out the historians — which you acknowledge exist — that are not “propagandists”?

  • DonS

    tODD: I’m not that familiar with the work of David Barton, so I can’t speak to the extent to which he “distorts” history. But sg has made the point, it seems to me, that for her, the value of his work is that he points to original sources, and that those sources have value in illuminating certain aspects of history that are ignored or minimized by secular mainstream modern historians.

    I really haven’t found a historian who strikes me as being “less given to distortions”. In my experience, they all seem to emphasize aspects of history that particularly interest them, to the detriment of those aspects that don’t. So to be a student of history requires a synthesis of the accounts of multiple historians, to some extent, it seems to me.

  • DonS

    tODD: I’m not that familiar with the work of David Barton, so I can’t speak to the extent to which he “distorts” history. But sg has made the point, it seems to me, that for her, the value of his work is that he points to original sources, and that those sources have value in illuminating certain aspects of history that are ignored or minimized by secular mainstream modern historians.

    I really haven’t found a historian who strikes me as being “less given to distortions”. In my experience, they all seem to emphasize aspects of history that particularly interest them, to the detriment of those aspects that don’t. So to be a student of history requires a synthesis of the accounts of multiple historians, to some extent, it seems to me.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen, it does seem to me that the Culture War, in an attempt to correct perceived problems, has truly decided to wage a war on authority. You can see it pretty much anywhere Culture Warriors discuss science, attacking the scientific community left and right as they do. And you can see it here — if in a diluted form — when it comes to history.

    It’s a kind of scorched earth policy — if the authorities of science and history have come, in part, to conclusions we don’t like, let’s just wage war on the whole enterprise!

    Ironically, the end result is very postmodern: who are you to say you’re an authority on history, as you have biases like we all do? We are all equally scientists, historians, and truth-knowers! Each man determines for himself what is scientifically or historically true.

    Not where the Culture War intends to go, of course, but that’s where it’s headed, I’d say. Burning an awful lot of bridges for short-term gain.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen, it does seem to me that the Culture War, in an attempt to correct perceived problems, has truly decided to wage a war on authority. You can see it pretty much anywhere Culture Warriors discuss science, attacking the scientific community left and right as they do. And you can see it here — if in a diluted form — when it comes to history.

    It’s a kind of scorched earth policy — if the authorities of science and history have come, in part, to conclusions we don’t like, let’s just wage war on the whole enterprise!

    Ironically, the end result is very postmodern: who are you to say you’re an authority on history, as you have biases like we all do? We are all equally scientists, historians, and truth-knowers! Each man determines for himself what is scientifically or historically true.

    Not where the Culture War intends to go, of course, but that’s where it’s headed, I’d say. Burning an awful lot of bridges for short-term gain.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I don’t know why the first part of your comment is in quotes. Who are you quoting?”

    Cut me some slack, my 5 year old distracted me!
    I meant to quote something from Stephen, forgot and quoted myself!
    LOL

    Discerning readers applies to people who would seek out Barton’s stuff. I don’t follow the guy and haven’t read anything he personally has written. But hey, since we all love diversity, I would think everyone should be thrilled that there are so many diverse views and interpretations of history. :-)

    Ironic article I just stumbled upon. If we can’t trust students to be discerning readers, can we trust them to be discerning non-readers?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I don’t know why the first part of your comment is in quotes. Who are you quoting?”

    Cut me some slack, my 5 year old distracted me!
    I meant to quote something from Stephen, forgot and quoted myself!
    LOL

    Discerning readers applies to people who would seek out Barton’s stuff. I don’t follow the guy and haven’t read anything he personally has written. But hey, since we all love diversity, I would think everyone should be thrilled that there are so many diverse views and interpretations of history. :-)

    Ironic article I just stumbled upon. If we can’t trust students to be discerning readers, can we trust them to be discerning non-readers?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    It’s curious that you don’t seem to think the same thing about “popular historians” (@19). They do not appear to get the same blase treatment from you that Barton does.

    Really? I didn’t think I was that hard on them.

    Why limit this to Barton, SG? Why not instead say that “Discerning readers could probably see historians’ comments simply as opinions”? Why does Barton get a pass from you that other historians do not?

    It is not so much giving him a pass on his positions as it is giving him credit for the good he does in promoting original source materials. Maybe some other historians have websites where they have gone to the trouble of digging up old sources, republishing them and promoting them and I am just not aware of them. I know there is Project Gutenberg and some others that have done a lot to promote access to and even translate stuff into the public domain, but I am not aware of popular historians promoting these resources. Maybe they are.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    It’s curious that you don’t seem to think the same thing about “popular historians” (@19). They do not appear to get the same blase treatment from you that Barton does.

    Really? I didn’t think I was that hard on them.

    Why limit this to Barton, SG? Why not instead say that “Discerning readers could probably see historians’ comments simply as opinions”? Why does Barton get a pass from you that other historians do not?

    It is not so much giving him a pass on his positions as it is giving him credit for the good he does in promoting original source materials. Maybe some other historians have websites where they have gone to the trouble of digging up old sources, republishing them and promoting them and I am just not aware of them. I know there is Project Gutenberg and some others that have done a lot to promote access to and even translate stuff into the public domain, but I am not aware of popular historians promoting these resources. Maybe they are.

  • Stephen

    Okay, I’ll jump in quickly and then I got to get back to things here at home.

    No to your first point Don. There is not some library somewhere that is full of equal parts of every historical record from every demographic that historians pick and choose from. The dominant culture for most of American history has been preserved by white Christians is the point I was making. For most of American history, that’s the only record available. Lots of reasons for that, but “bias” misses the point. The institutions themselves that preserve history favor a European “style” of doing/preserving history. As other histories (like oral traditions) become available and find a place in these institutions like archives, they are woven into the story and it is enlarged. That is not a historical bias, that is reality. I’ll leave out the emotional reaction that comes about when this sort of thing happens. All I can say is, get used to it and give it time.

    The thing is Don, you make these strong declarative statements (historians are all biased), get challenged (you simply do not know what you are talking about), backpedal (I wasn’t talking about those “genuine historians”), and then defend your backpedaling for the rest of the comments. It’s a pattern. It’s tedious. We usually end up with you in a huff and feeling persecuted just like you feel “Christian parents” are being persecuted by all those ethnic minorities and homos. Of course, none of them are classed as “Christian” whether they are or not.

    sg, discerning readers have checked into Barton. He’s a cherry-picking hack. He’s not interested in primary sources other than ones that he can excise quotes from that seem to prove what he is saying. He’s a freak, a nutbag, and a liar, just like the hippie at the health food store who tells me that homeopathy will cure my asthma. Bullsh#t! But what’s worse about idiots like Barton is that they present a picture to the world of what “Christians
    ” are up to – lies. See what the latest fantasy that those religious people are cooking up. It is so transparent.

    You may not agree, but there are historians and hacks, artists and dabblers, doctors and quacks, and for that matter, mothers who mother and those who don’t and do not deserve the title “mom.”

  • Stephen

    Okay, I’ll jump in quickly and then I got to get back to things here at home.

    No to your first point Don. There is not some library somewhere that is full of equal parts of every historical record from every demographic that historians pick and choose from. The dominant culture for most of American history has been preserved by white Christians is the point I was making. For most of American history, that’s the only record available. Lots of reasons for that, but “bias” misses the point. The institutions themselves that preserve history favor a European “style” of doing/preserving history. As other histories (like oral traditions) become available and find a place in these institutions like archives, they are woven into the story and it is enlarged. That is not a historical bias, that is reality. I’ll leave out the emotional reaction that comes about when this sort of thing happens. All I can say is, get used to it and give it time.

    The thing is Don, you make these strong declarative statements (historians are all biased), get challenged (you simply do not know what you are talking about), backpedal (I wasn’t talking about those “genuine historians”), and then defend your backpedaling for the rest of the comments. It’s a pattern. It’s tedious. We usually end up with you in a huff and feeling persecuted just like you feel “Christian parents” are being persecuted by all those ethnic minorities and homos. Of course, none of them are classed as “Christian” whether they are or not.

    sg, discerning readers have checked into Barton. He’s a cherry-picking hack. He’s not interested in primary sources other than ones that he can excise quotes from that seem to prove what he is saying. He’s a freak, a nutbag, and a liar, just like the hippie at the health food store who tells me that homeopathy will cure my asthma. Bullsh#t! But what’s worse about idiots like Barton is that they present a picture to the world of what “Christians
    ” are up to – lies. See what the latest fantasy that those religious people are cooking up. It is so transparent.

    You may not agree, but there are historians and hacks, artists and dabblers, doctors and quacks, and for that matter, mothers who mother and those who don’t and do not deserve the title “mom.”

  • Stephen

    tODD.

    You have it right. What bothers me is the claim that this isn’t what is happening. Or maybe it is that “my authority beats your authority” thing going on, which pretty much trivializes the whole idea of authority. And now with the Internet . . . oh brother! Not sure what to do. Speaking from experience, this idea that historians are out to e get people is stupid. That’s what politicians do :) And Barton has nothing but a weird reconstructionist political agenda to what he does (as do the Mormons – no wonder they get along!). He’s no historian. He’s a fanatic.

  • Stephen

    tODD.

    You have it right. What bothers me is the claim that this isn’t what is happening. Or maybe it is that “my authority beats your authority” thing going on, which pretty much trivializes the whole idea of authority. And now with the Internet . . . oh brother! Not sure what to do. Speaking from experience, this idea that historians are out to e get people is stupid. That’s what politicians do :) And Barton has nothing but a weird reconstructionist political agenda to what he does (as do the Mormons – no wonder they get along!). He’s no historian. He’s a fanatic.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The institutions themselves that preserve history favor a European “style” of doing/preserving history.”

    Good.

    European style = quality

    “sg, discerning readers have checked into Barton.”

    Good.

    If folks can easily see he isn’t doing a good job, then what is all the panic?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The institutions themselves that preserve history favor a European “style” of doing/preserving history.”

    Good.

    European style = quality

    “sg, discerning readers have checked into Barton.”

    Good.

    If folks can easily see he isn’t doing a good job, then what is all the panic?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “But what’s worse about idiots like Barton is that they present a picture to the world of what “Christians
    ” are up to – lies. See what the latest fantasy that those religious people are cooking up. It is so transparent.”

    It is so transparent which means everyone can see it, therefore no one is fooled.

    Good.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “But what’s worse about idiots like Barton is that they present a picture to the world of what “Christians
    ” are up to – lies. See what the latest fantasy that those religious people are cooking up. It is so transparent.”

    It is so transparent which means everyone can see it, therefore no one is fooled.

    Good.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “As other histories (like oral traditions) become available and find a place in these institutions like archives,”

    In other words, preserved European style.

    “they are woven into the story and it is enlarged.”

    But they aren’t fact checked and could have changed over time etc.

    “That is not a historical bias, that is reality. I’ll leave out the emotional reaction that comes about when this sort of thing happens. All I can say is, get used to it and give it time.”

    Get used to lower standards to accommodate non-European style?

    Oh, I have seen non-European style. Not looking forward to getting used to it.

    Have you ever read http://www.chinasmack.com/
    or http://www.vbs.tv/

    Not suitable for family viewing!!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “As other histories (like oral traditions) become available and find a place in these institutions like archives,”

    In other words, preserved European style.

    “they are woven into the story and it is enlarged.”

    But they aren’t fact checked and could have changed over time etc.

    “That is not a historical bias, that is reality. I’ll leave out the emotional reaction that comes about when this sort of thing happens. All I can say is, get used to it and give it time.”

    Get used to lower standards to accommodate non-European style?

    Oh, I have seen non-European style. Not looking forward to getting used to it.

    Have you ever read http://www.chinasmack.com/
    or http://www.vbs.tv/

    Not suitable for family viewing!!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “As other histories (like oral traditions) become available and find a place in these institutions like archives,”

    I still can’t get past this statement. Basically it reads, “These obscure sources can’t hide from compulsive Euro-style historical catalogers who will hunt them down and preserve them Euro-style in their Euro-style institutions and make them static and unchanging just like Euro-style written records. These Euro-style catalogers will preserve them in their static form for the view of coming generations due to their Euro-style values of preserving things and accurately transmitting heritage.”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “As other histories (like oral traditions) become available and find a place in these institutions like archives,”

    I still can’t get past this statement. Basically it reads, “These obscure sources can’t hide from compulsive Euro-style historical catalogers who will hunt them down and preserve them Euro-style in their Euro-style institutions and make them static and unchanging just like Euro-style written records. These Euro-style catalogers will preserve them in their static form for the view of coming generations due to their Euro-style values of preserving things and accurately transmitting heritage.”

  • kerner

    OK, so this thread is about white Christians living 10,000 miles away think of Israel; not what Christians actually living in Israel think of Israel. Sorry. I got confused.

  • kerner

    OK, so this thread is about white Christians living 10,000 miles away think of Israel; not what Christians actually living in Israel think of Israel. Sorry. I got confused.

  • Stephen

    “European style = quality”

    This is the premise of every argument you make. Guess what? Oral traditions are the reason we have the Holy Scriptures in the first place. Other than two stone tablets, the Hebrews lived on it until they had a royal city and a king. The oral tradition in the church has in fact never gone away. We are a people of Holy Writ, but we are also a people of Holy speaking and hearing. “Faith comes by hearing” means that the truth is not read, it is spoken and heard.

    “If folks can easily see he isn’t doing a good job, then what is all the panic?”

    Obviously not everyone is as discerning as you are, or else this nonsense would not gain any traction. But now we have a presidential candidate (or three) who like this stuff.

    “It is so transparent which means everyone can see it, therefore no one is fooled.”

    Exactly, and others think Christians are fools because of it. In his case, that would appear to be true.

    “In other words, preserved European style.”

    Not exactly. They adopt the dominant cultural model. Not better, just dominant. It’s a matter of survival.

    “But they aren’t fact checked and could have changed over time etc.”

    Not true. These materials come in all kinds of forms (not just oral histories) and correspond with other materials already in existence. They are “written” in a number of ways, including documentary evidence of various sorts, sometimes on the page. Not really different in any significant way than the materials already gathered and recorded by the previous generations. But they were never valued before by the dominant culture. That is changing, as is the dominant culture that neglected them. I’m not claiming this neglect was intentional, just that it is the way it’s turned out. If we seek knowledge of history that is as thoroughgoing as possible, then we need to invite the introduction of these other histories rather than fear them because they might offer a different, and sometimes critical view of the status quo.

    “Get used to lower standards to accommodate non-European style?”

    You are restating your premise.

    @43 – see above.

    Even written materials are not static as you seem to believe. They always require interpretation. Ever read Gadamer? Give that a shot and get back to me.

  • Stephen

    “European style = quality”

    This is the premise of every argument you make. Guess what? Oral traditions are the reason we have the Holy Scriptures in the first place. Other than two stone tablets, the Hebrews lived on it until they had a royal city and a king. The oral tradition in the church has in fact never gone away. We are a people of Holy Writ, but we are also a people of Holy speaking and hearing. “Faith comes by hearing” means that the truth is not read, it is spoken and heard.

    “If folks can easily see he isn’t doing a good job, then what is all the panic?”

    Obviously not everyone is as discerning as you are, or else this nonsense would not gain any traction. But now we have a presidential candidate (or three) who like this stuff.

    “It is so transparent which means everyone can see it, therefore no one is fooled.”

    Exactly, and others think Christians are fools because of it. In his case, that would appear to be true.

    “In other words, preserved European style.”

    Not exactly. They adopt the dominant cultural model. Not better, just dominant. It’s a matter of survival.

    “But they aren’t fact checked and could have changed over time etc.”

    Not true. These materials come in all kinds of forms (not just oral histories) and correspond with other materials already in existence. They are “written” in a number of ways, including documentary evidence of various sorts, sometimes on the page. Not really different in any significant way than the materials already gathered and recorded by the previous generations. But they were never valued before by the dominant culture. That is changing, as is the dominant culture that neglected them. I’m not claiming this neglect was intentional, just that it is the way it’s turned out. If we seek knowledge of history that is as thoroughgoing as possible, then we need to invite the introduction of these other histories rather than fear them because they might offer a different, and sometimes critical view of the status quo.

    “Get used to lower standards to accommodate non-European style?”

    You are restating your premise.

    @43 – see above.

    Even written materials are not static as you seem to believe. They always require interpretation. Ever read Gadamer? Give that a shot and get back to me.

  • Stephen

    kerner –

    Funny!

  • Stephen

    kerner –

    Funny!

  • Bob

    It’s not surprising in the least that David Barton — accurately described on here as a cherry-picking hack (not to mention totally lacking in any type of scriptural/theological discernment whatsoever), not a trustworthy historian — is a cheerleader for Glenn Beck. They’re two peas from the same pod.

    Here’s Barton:
    “Christians concerned about Glenn’s faith should judge the tree by its fruits, not its labels. After all, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton openly call themselves Christians, as do Evangelical Christian ministers such as Jim Wallis and Joel Hunter. Although these individuals have the right labels, they have the wrong fruits; yet many Christians have a more visceral reaction to Glenn than to Pelosi, Clinton, or Wallis. This is wrong; it is not Biblical.”


    “In conclusion, I have been with Glenn in numerous settings; I have watched him up close and can heartily endorse both his public and his private life. I have witnessed his tender heart, his love for God, and his passion to keep God in America. Glenn and I have prayed together on numerous occasions; he has sought God for specific guidance on numerous situations and I have personally not only seen God answer him but have also seen Glenn completely change his plans after feeling the Lord was leading him to move in a different direction or address a different subject. I judge Glenn by his fruits, not by his labels, and I am honored to call Glenn not only an ally and a fellow warrior (and a General) in the culture war, but especially to call him a good friend.”

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/barton-beck-may-be-mormon-hes-more-christian-wallis-clinton-and-pelosi

  • Bob

    It’s not surprising in the least that David Barton — accurately described on here as a cherry-picking hack (not to mention totally lacking in any type of scriptural/theological discernment whatsoever), not a trustworthy historian — is a cheerleader for Glenn Beck. They’re two peas from the same pod.

    Here’s Barton:
    “Christians concerned about Glenn’s faith should judge the tree by its fruits, not its labels. After all, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton openly call themselves Christians, as do Evangelical Christian ministers such as Jim Wallis and Joel Hunter. Although these individuals have the right labels, they have the wrong fruits; yet many Christians have a more visceral reaction to Glenn than to Pelosi, Clinton, or Wallis. This is wrong; it is not Biblical.”


    “In conclusion, I have been with Glenn in numerous settings; I have watched him up close and can heartily endorse both his public and his private life. I have witnessed his tender heart, his love for God, and his passion to keep God in America. Glenn and I have prayed together on numerous occasions; he has sought God for specific guidance on numerous situations and I have personally not only seen God answer him but have also seen Glenn completely change his plans after feeling the Lord was leading him to move in a different direction or address a different subject. I judge Glenn by his fruits, not by his labels, and I am honored to call Glenn not only an ally and a fellow warrior (and a General) in the culture war, but especially to call him a good friend.”

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/barton-beck-may-be-mormon-hes-more-christian-wallis-clinton-and-pelosi

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “European style = quality”

    “This is the premise of every argument you make.”

    Well, not every, but many.

    I find it helpful to start with a premise that is true.

    “Guess what? Oral traditions are the reason we have the Holy Scriptures in the first place.”

    Okay. Sounds good. When you say first place, do you mean like 3,000 years ago when they were written down and then scrupulously copied and proofed for accuracy until the present day? So while we may have them from oral tradition in the first place (1) ever after that (1+n) is from the written record.

    “Even written materials are not static as you seem to believe.”

    Not sure what that means. If they are copied accurately, then we still have what was written. The characters on the page can’t just change.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “European style = quality”

    “This is the premise of every argument you make.”

    Well, not every, but many.

    I find it helpful to start with a premise that is true.

    “Guess what? Oral traditions are the reason we have the Holy Scriptures in the first place.”

    Okay. Sounds good. When you say first place, do you mean like 3,000 years ago when they were written down and then scrupulously copied and proofed for accuracy until the present day? So while we may have them from oral tradition in the first place (1) ever after that (1+n) is from the written record.

    “Even written materials are not static as you seem to believe.”

    Not sure what that means. If they are copied accurately, then we still have what was written. The characters on the page can’t just change.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Just out of curiosity, what is it about Barton that some, not necessarily you, think will logically lead to X? and what is X? I got that Barton’s general schtick is that the US was founded as a Christian nation etc. But how does that translate into a future that is dangerous in some way? Why all the consternation and fear? I mean, if he is wrong so what? If the president likes him, so what? If he gives Christian haters ammunition, so what? Jesus already told us we would be hated because the world hated Him. So what? If he hangs out with Mormons, then what? It sounds kind of chicken little.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Just out of curiosity, what is it about Barton that some, not necessarily you, think will logically lead to X? and what is X? I got that Barton’s general schtick is that the US was founded as a Christian nation etc. But how does that translate into a future that is dangerous in some way? Why all the consternation and fear? I mean, if he is wrong so what? If the president likes him, so what? If he gives Christian haters ammunition, so what? Jesus already told us we would be hated because the world hated Him. So what? If he hangs out with Mormons, then what? It sounds kind of chicken little.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 38: OK, so I think you are saying that history curriculum tends to emphasize white Europeans because they are the ones whose history is best recorded. Many other cultures didn’t record history, but relied on oral traditions or less.

    I understand that point. I also agree that, to the extent we can, the significant history of these other cultures living among us should be documented and taught, as appropriate. Our children, and our future generations, should have as full of a view as possible of the complete history of our nation, and that is certainly not simply a white Eurocentric one. However, the point that I have been making is that the enrichment of the historical record with this additional significant history of other cultures should be done by those with historical expertise, not by judges (separation of church & state fanatics), school administrators who misinterpret judge-made law to prohibit historical religious teaching in schools, and politicians. Unfortunately, that is the state of our educational system with respect to the teaching of history today.

    The thing is Don, you make these strong declarative statements (historians are all biased), get challenged (you simply do not know what you are talking about), backpedal (I wasn’t talking about those “genuine historians”), and then defend your backpedaling for the rest of the comments. It’s a pattern. It’s tedious. We usually end up with you in a huff and feeling persecuted just like you feel “Christian parents” are being persecuted by all those ethnic minorities and homos.

    Really, Stephen? I never mind a genuine discussion on the issues, and I don’t mind disagreement. The only time I express disappointment with a discussion is when it gets personal and degenerates into ad hominem attack on the person, rather than staying on the topic of the thread.

    In this case, you misunderstood my original point @ 13. I was mocking John’s comment @ 10 when I used the word “hack”, and was not really meaning that all historians are really hacks. I believe all historians have a bias, just as I believe all people have a bias. That doesn’t mean they’re “biased”, which is a term I take as meaning they deliberately slant accounts to their point of view, i.e. an intentional bias. Clarification is not backpedaling — it’s the purpose of discussion.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 38: OK, so I think you are saying that history curriculum tends to emphasize white Europeans because they are the ones whose history is best recorded. Many other cultures didn’t record history, but relied on oral traditions or less.

    I understand that point. I also agree that, to the extent we can, the significant history of these other cultures living among us should be documented and taught, as appropriate. Our children, and our future generations, should have as full of a view as possible of the complete history of our nation, and that is certainly not simply a white Eurocentric one. However, the point that I have been making is that the enrichment of the historical record with this additional significant history of other cultures should be done by those with historical expertise, not by judges (separation of church & state fanatics), school administrators who misinterpret judge-made law to prohibit historical religious teaching in schools, and politicians. Unfortunately, that is the state of our educational system with respect to the teaching of history today.

    The thing is Don, you make these strong declarative statements (historians are all biased), get challenged (you simply do not know what you are talking about), backpedal (I wasn’t talking about those “genuine historians”), and then defend your backpedaling for the rest of the comments. It’s a pattern. It’s tedious. We usually end up with you in a huff and feeling persecuted just like you feel “Christian parents” are being persecuted by all those ethnic minorities and homos.

    Really, Stephen? I never mind a genuine discussion on the issues, and I don’t mind disagreement. The only time I express disappointment with a discussion is when it gets personal and degenerates into ad hominem attack on the person, rather than staying on the topic of the thread.

    In this case, you misunderstood my original point @ 13. I was mocking John’s comment @ 10 when I used the word “hack”, and was not really meaning that all historians are really hacks. I believe all historians have a bias, just as I believe all people have a bias. That doesn’t mean they’re “biased”, which is a term I take as meaning they deliberately slant accounts to their point of view, i.e. an intentional bias. Clarification is not backpedaling — it’s the purpose of discussion.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG said (@41), regarding Barton:

    It is so transparent which means everyone can see it, therefore no one is fooled.

    “Everyone”? “No one”? Um, no. Have you completely forgotten your analytical side? Are you conflating your own understanding with everyone else’s? Seriously, the man that Time put in an article titled “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals”, saying about Barton:

    A major voice in the debate over church-state separation. … A hero to millions — including some powerful politicians”

    And you’re going to try to convince me that “no one is fooled” by him? That’s just delusional. Or, you know, goofy.

    As to your other comment (@49):

    Just out of curiosity, what is it about Barton that some, not necessarily you, think will logically lead to X?

    I’m surprised you haven’t picked up on this, but it’s troubling when an Evangelical — meaning he is apparently a Christian — buddies up to a non-Christian for political or cultural expediency. Kind of makes it seem like at least that Evangelical’s theology has been sold out. All the more troubling when that politics-masquerading-as-theology has, or desires, access to political leaders. It can only lead to a worse reputation for Christians. And while I’m fine with Christians being mocked and ridiculed for what we actually believe, I see no value in Christians being mocked for what we do not believe — namely, for ridiculous “conservative” revisionist history. (Ask yourself: in what way is revisionist history even “conservative”?)

    But I don’t buy your whole “Why all the consternation and fear?” schtick, SG. You, who have no problem with consternation and fear when it comes to your own bugaboos. After all, what was it you said in one of your comments (@42)?

    Get used to lower standards to accommodate non-European style? Oh, I have seen non-European style. Not looking forward to getting used to it.

    Why all the consternation over non-European style, SG? If it’s worse than European style, then so what? Everyone will see it’s worse and no one will be fooled by the non-European style. How does non-European style translate into a future that is dangerous in some way? You kind of sound like Chicken Little. (
    Cf. your comment @49, in case it wasn’t obvious).

    See, you get fear, SG. You get the problem with bad ideas.

    So I have to conclude, again, that you’re a little sweet on Barton. Or else you’d get what the problem is. As if he were proposing non-European ideas or something!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG said (@41), regarding Barton:

    It is so transparent which means everyone can see it, therefore no one is fooled.

    “Everyone”? “No one”? Um, no. Have you completely forgotten your analytical side? Are you conflating your own understanding with everyone else’s? Seriously, the man that Time put in an article titled “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals”, saying about Barton:

    A major voice in the debate over church-state separation. … A hero to millions — including some powerful politicians”

    And you’re going to try to convince me that “no one is fooled” by him? That’s just delusional. Or, you know, goofy.

    As to your other comment (@49):

    Just out of curiosity, what is it about Barton that some, not necessarily you, think will logically lead to X?

    I’m surprised you haven’t picked up on this, but it’s troubling when an Evangelical — meaning he is apparently a Christian — buddies up to a non-Christian for political or cultural expediency. Kind of makes it seem like at least that Evangelical’s theology has been sold out. All the more troubling when that politics-masquerading-as-theology has, or desires, access to political leaders. It can only lead to a worse reputation for Christians. And while I’m fine with Christians being mocked and ridiculed for what we actually believe, I see no value in Christians being mocked for what we do not believe — namely, for ridiculous “conservative” revisionist history. (Ask yourself: in what way is revisionist history even “conservative”?)

    But I don’t buy your whole “Why all the consternation and fear?” schtick, SG. You, who have no problem with consternation and fear when it comes to your own bugaboos. After all, what was it you said in one of your comments (@42)?

    Get used to lower standards to accommodate non-European style? Oh, I have seen non-European style. Not looking forward to getting used to it.

    Why all the consternation over non-European style, SG? If it’s worse than European style, then so what? Everyone will see it’s worse and no one will be fooled by the non-European style. How does non-European style translate into a future that is dangerous in some way? You kind of sound like Chicken Little. (
    Cf. your comment @49, in case it wasn’t obvious).

    See, you get fear, SG. You get the problem with bad ideas.

    So I have to conclude, again, that you’re a little sweet on Barton. Or else you’d get what the problem is. As if he were proposing non-European ideas or something!

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    “…he revisionist historian who claims that America was founded as a distinctly Christian nation ”
    Hmmm-
    the Black Regiment (pastors who signed the declaration and et al) come to mind-
    the motto of the Revolution- NO KING but KING Jesus-
    comes to mind—
    stating the above–
    if Barton really believes that Beck is a Christian -Mormon- that is troubling- Mormons are not followers of Christ but followers of -whats’ his name!–(rhetorical- no need to answer-)
    Carol-CS
    La LFL

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    “…he revisionist historian who claims that America was founded as a distinctly Christian nation ”
    Hmmm-
    the Black Regiment (pastors who signed the declaration and et al) come to mind-
    the motto of the Revolution- NO KING but KING Jesus-
    comes to mind—
    stating the above–
    if Barton really believes that Beck is a Christian -Mormon- that is troubling- Mormons are not followers of Christ but followers of -whats’ his name!–(rhetorical- no need to answer-)
    Carol-CS
    La LFL

  • Stephen

    sg, forget what I said. It doesn’t address what I said about what a hack is. It was probably a poor choice on my part. Cut me some slack. I’m not sleeping much from all the cryin’ going on. It’s a diversion anyway. You glanced over the part about interpretations of texts. That is what historians do, and not primarily or intentionally to score political points in a culture war, but because it’s history. Hacks do that.

    And what a silly idea that because people take issue with Barton they are persecuting him because Jesus said they would. That’s simply a distortion of what Jesus said or meant.

    And all these diversions worked on me I admit. You’re good at that and I have to give you credit. Now we are talking about your favorite subject – the oppression of white people and not about your unsubstantiated statement about what historians are up to. Criticize a hack as a hack and suddenly it’s unfair and alarmist because he’s a so-called Christian fighting for the truth about white people.

    And no Don, I’m not talking about school curriculum, you are (now). I’m talking about how history gets written by all those hacks out there that you see that are bias(ed) for whatever reason. Oh yeah, not hacks, just people who are intentionally leaving stuff out because they don’t agree with it, like a hack would. Remember the very next sentence about how they “tend to report more on the people, events, and historical viewpoints that you agree with” (see? this is the thing you are backpedaling against). You don’t actually know how history gets written, do you? But then the culture war, that’s what is really at stake, and you’d rather talk about that. See? defending the new thing instead of where you started calling all historians intentional “leaver outers” (not bias(ed) of course). You’d never stoop to that because you don’t engage in ad hominem arguments. See how we are now talking about something else?

    And now we are stuck on me mentioning oral traditions, another diversion, as if that’s the only way or even primary way that records about under-documented segments of a population get heard or employed. It is part of how everyone’s history gets written and remembered.

    Basically, as you two see it, the whole historical enterprise is primarily a political culture war (“many” historians do it – but that is not addressed as well as the fact that all history is written by bias(ed) people who intentionally work that way. But that’s not what you said and you actually agree with me. Backpedaling.) And neither of you address why Barton is a hack AND NOT A HISTORIAN or what that actually means. Barton’s just sticking up for the truth about “Christians” who are being oppressed (ya know, like Glenn frickin’ Beck for heaven sake!).

    Goofy.

  • Stephen

    sg, forget what I said. It doesn’t address what I said about what a hack is. It was probably a poor choice on my part. Cut me some slack. I’m not sleeping much from all the cryin’ going on. It’s a diversion anyway. You glanced over the part about interpretations of texts. That is what historians do, and not primarily or intentionally to score political points in a culture war, but because it’s history. Hacks do that.

    And what a silly idea that because people take issue with Barton they are persecuting him because Jesus said they would. That’s simply a distortion of what Jesus said or meant.

    And all these diversions worked on me I admit. You’re good at that and I have to give you credit. Now we are talking about your favorite subject – the oppression of white people and not about your unsubstantiated statement about what historians are up to. Criticize a hack as a hack and suddenly it’s unfair and alarmist because he’s a so-called Christian fighting for the truth about white people.

    And no Don, I’m not talking about school curriculum, you are (now). I’m talking about how history gets written by all those hacks out there that you see that are bias(ed) for whatever reason. Oh yeah, not hacks, just people who are intentionally leaving stuff out because they don’t agree with it, like a hack would. Remember the very next sentence about how they “tend to report more on the people, events, and historical viewpoints that you agree with” (see? this is the thing you are backpedaling against). You don’t actually know how history gets written, do you? But then the culture war, that’s what is really at stake, and you’d rather talk about that. See? defending the new thing instead of where you started calling all historians intentional “leaver outers” (not bias(ed) of course). You’d never stoop to that because you don’t engage in ad hominem arguments. See how we are now talking about something else?

    And now we are stuck on me mentioning oral traditions, another diversion, as if that’s the only way or even primary way that records about under-documented segments of a population get heard or employed. It is part of how everyone’s history gets written and remembered.

    Basically, as you two see it, the whole historical enterprise is primarily a political culture war (“many” historians do it – but that is not addressed as well as the fact that all history is written by bias(ed) people who intentionally work that way. But that’s not what you said and you actually agree with me. Backpedaling.) And neither of you address why Barton is a hack AND NOT A HISTORIAN or what that actually means. Barton’s just sticking up for the truth about “Christians” who are being oppressed (ya know, like Glenn frickin’ Beck for heaven sake!).

    Goofy.

  • SKPeterson

    Interesting historiographical argument over the last 30 posts or so. I would weigh in and say that most historians are a mix of objectivity and subjectivity – two historians can agree upon a historical fact, but disagree on the meaning, the outcome or the precursors to the fact. Or they may recognize the same factors, but emphasize one at the expense of the others. That is why it is good practice to read as many histories as possible. Also, though this is often lost on the general public, historians are also loosely grouped into schools of thought or historiographical practice. This provides a somewhat meaningful shorthand for signalling the probable biases that might exist in a historians work. I would further argue that most historians have an arc of research that can traced over books and scholarly articles that flesh out the biases in the research agenda. To further buttress this, most historians that are credible, whether one agrees with their premises or not, will lay out what their agenda is, their influences and biases, and their expectations of what the research will reveal. One can then argue whether or not they have succeeded in doing so, what evidence or arguments they may have dismissed, discounted or ignored.

    In essence, history does not exist in a vacuum. Understanding the background of the historian, the oeuvre of a historian and his school, the arguments presented in the work, provide the context within which to discern the merits or demerits of any historical writing.

  • SKPeterson

    Interesting historiographical argument over the last 30 posts or so. I would weigh in and say that most historians are a mix of objectivity and subjectivity – two historians can agree upon a historical fact, but disagree on the meaning, the outcome or the precursors to the fact. Or they may recognize the same factors, but emphasize one at the expense of the others. That is why it is good practice to read as many histories as possible. Also, though this is often lost on the general public, historians are also loosely grouped into schools of thought or historiographical practice. This provides a somewhat meaningful shorthand for signalling the probable biases that might exist in a historians work. I would further argue that most historians have an arc of research that can traced over books and scholarly articles that flesh out the biases in the research agenda. To further buttress this, most historians that are credible, whether one agrees with their premises or not, will lay out what their agenda is, their influences and biases, and their expectations of what the research will reveal. One can then argue whether or not they have succeeded in doing so, what evidence or arguments they may have dismissed, discounted or ignored.

    In essence, history does not exist in a vacuum. Understanding the background of the historian, the oeuvre of a historian and his school, the arguments presented in the work, provide the context within which to discern the merits or demerits of any historical writing.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Why all the consternation over non-European style, SG? If it’s worse than European style, then so what? Everyone will see it’s worse and no one will be fooled by the non-European style. How does non-European style translate into a future that is dangerous in some way? You kind of sound like Chicken Little.

    Please list all the non European style places you wish your kids could live in. You know, places without schools, sanitation and civil order.

    I haven’t read anything by Barton, but you guys are familiar with him. What is it you think he will do that will so endanger life as we know it?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Why all the consternation over non-European style, SG? If it’s worse than European style, then so what? Everyone will see it’s worse and no one will be fooled by the non-European style. How does non-European style translate into a future that is dangerous in some way? You kind of sound like Chicken Little.

    Please list all the non European style places you wish your kids could live in. You know, places without schools, sanitation and civil order.

    I haven’t read anything by Barton, but you guys are familiar with him. What is it you think he will do that will so endanger life as we know it?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Criticize a hack as a hack and suddenly it’s unfair and alarmist because he’s a so-called Christian fighting for the truth about white people.”

    How about we criticize folks for what they have actually said and written. I haven’t read the guy, so I can’t. If you want to make the point that ideas have consequences, that is fine, but we have to start with the idea and the plausible consequence to even sort of discuss cause and effect. I stated that all I knew of him was his publishing efforts. I will just assume he chose to republish stuff he likes and feels has value. It is a free market. No one has to buy those reprinted editions. So far, I haven’t seen anyone present anything except accusations. Maybe he is a hack, but you haven’t offered anything to support that other than to repeat it ever more emphatically. Do you think that is convincing? As for other historians, there are those who claim Jesus and Muhammed never lived. Are they on the fringe? I am going with yes. Do some folks on the fringe believe that stuff? I am going with yes. Now, I don’t know if you are implying that Barton is that far fringe, or if he is a milder version because you haven’t supplied any examples. What I know of Barton is that he has tried to popularize the reading of some sources that he feels have been slighted. Doesn’t sound too scary. What is his American history reading materials market share? <1%? Hey, maybe that is due to the discernment of readers.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Criticize a hack as a hack and suddenly it’s unfair and alarmist because he’s a so-called Christian fighting for the truth about white people.”

    How about we criticize folks for what they have actually said and written. I haven’t read the guy, so I can’t. If you want to make the point that ideas have consequences, that is fine, but we have to start with the idea and the plausible consequence to even sort of discuss cause and effect. I stated that all I knew of him was his publishing efforts. I will just assume he chose to republish stuff he likes and feels has value. It is a free market. No one has to buy those reprinted editions. So far, I haven’t seen anyone present anything except accusations. Maybe he is a hack, but you haven’t offered anything to support that other than to repeat it ever more emphatically. Do you think that is convincing? As for other historians, there are those who claim Jesus and Muhammed never lived. Are they on the fringe? I am going with yes. Do some folks on the fringe believe that stuff? I am going with yes. Now, I don’t know if you are implying that Barton is that far fringe, or if he is a milder version because you haven’t supplied any examples. What I know of Barton is that he has tried to popularize the reading of some sources that he feels have been slighted. Doesn’t sound too scary. What is his American history reading materials market share? <1%? Hey, maybe that is due to the discernment of readers.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I’m surprised you haven’t picked up on this, but it’s troubling when an Evangelical — meaning he is apparently a Christian — buddies up to a non-Christian for political or cultural expediency.”

    No, it is not troubling. Ever heard of diversity? It is also not troubling when Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists buddy up to one another for political and cultural expediency. Rather that is exactly the kind of cooperation we need for the future of all of our kids.

    Now if they are getting together for interfaith prayer services, then, no, that seems like an unfaithful witness at least for Christians if not all the others.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I’m surprised you haven’t picked up on this, but it’s troubling when an Evangelical — meaning he is apparently a Christian — buddies up to a non-Christian for political or cultural expediency.”

    No, it is not troubling. Ever heard of diversity? It is also not troubling when Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists buddy up to one another for political and cultural expediency. Rather that is exactly the kind of cooperation we need for the future of all of our kids.

    Now if they are getting together for interfaith prayer services, then, no, that seems like an unfaithful witness at least for Christians if not all the others.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “See, you get fear, SG. You get the problem with bad ideas.”

    Uh, huh. But that does not establish that Barton is promoting any bad ideas.

    “So I have to conclude, again, that you’re a little sweet on Barton.”

    Like I am sweet on the Veritas Press because they promote reading original source material cover to cover. Not that it matters since it’s not about me, and maybe not about Barton either really. It may be about his confident determination to popularize the idea that Christian influenced society, while flawed, is better than anything else that ever was because of all the individuals who were influenced by…Christ.

    “Or else you’d get what the problem is.”

    What is the problem? Go ahead, explain it.

    “As if he were proposing non-European ideas or something!”

    Yeah, but he isn’t.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “See, you get fear, SG. You get the problem with bad ideas.”

    Uh, huh. But that does not establish that Barton is promoting any bad ideas.

    “So I have to conclude, again, that you’re a little sweet on Barton.”

    Like I am sweet on the Veritas Press because they promote reading original source material cover to cover. Not that it matters since it’s not about me, and maybe not about Barton either really. It may be about his confident determination to popularize the idea that Christian influenced society, while flawed, is better than anything else that ever was because of all the individuals who were influenced by…Christ.

    “Or else you’d get what the problem is.”

    What is the problem? Go ahead, explain it.

    “As if he were proposing non-European ideas or something!”

    Yeah, but he isn’t.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Seriously, the man that Time put in an article titled “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals”, saying about Barton:”

    “A major voice in the debate over church-state separation. … A hero to millions — including some powerful politicians”

    Well, if Time said it, it must be true. How exactly did they establish the “hero to millions” claim? And who are the “some powerful politicians” and what have they said of Barton? If Barton is a “hero to millions” do they self-identify that way? I mean did they do a survey and ask a representative sample of Americans, “Is David Barton a hero to you?” I just find the claim a little over the top. And which powerful politicians did they interview who answered yes to the question, “Is David Barton a hero to you?”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Seriously, the man that Time put in an article titled “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals”, saying about Barton:”

    “A major voice in the debate over church-state separation. … A hero to millions — including some powerful politicians”

    Well, if Time said it, it must be true. How exactly did they establish the “hero to millions” claim? And who are the “some powerful politicians” and what have they said of Barton? If Barton is a “hero to millions” do they self-identify that way? I mean did they do a survey and ask a representative sample of Americans, “Is David Barton a hero to you?” I just find the claim a little over the top. And which powerful politicians did they interview who answered yes to the question, “Is David Barton a hero to you?”

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 53: I’m not really sure how to respond to your comment — it seems to ramble a little. History is about preserving the past for the next generation — school curriculum is probably the most important aspect of doing that, so it’s hard to talk about history without talking about education. I was never talking about deliberately leaving things out of historical accounts. I was always talking about emphasizing the aspects of history that most comport with your values — meaning that other aspects of the historical record are not taught or emphasized. To emphasize — I was never talking about intentional distortion of history (except maybe by some truly hack politicians who love to meddle in curriculum development). To the contrary, I was always talking about we as parents making sure that we expose our kids to the works of multiple historians having various viewpoints and emphases, to ensure that they get as rounded a historical education as possible. Those historians who have deliberately elected to fill the huge gaps in current public school education by emphasizing the history of Christianity in our nation are part of the picture, and perform a valuable service, since this part of our history would otherwise be more lost than it already is.

    SKP @ 54 says exactly what I was trying to say all along, except far more eloquently and succinctly. So, I’ll leave it at that.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 53: I’m not really sure how to respond to your comment — it seems to ramble a little. History is about preserving the past for the next generation — school curriculum is probably the most important aspect of doing that, so it’s hard to talk about history without talking about education. I was never talking about deliberately leaving things out of historical accounts. I was always talking about emphasizing the aspects of history that most comport with your values — meaning that other aspects of the historical record are not taught or emphasized. To emphasize — I was never talking about intentional distortion of history (except maybe by some truly hack politicians who love to meddle in curriculum development). To the contrary, I was always talking about we as parents making sure that we expose our kids to the works of multiple historians having various viewpoints and emphases, to ensure that they get as rounded a historical education as possible. Those historians who have deliberately elected to fill the huge gaps in current public school education by emphasizing the history of Christianity in our nation are part of the picture, and perform a valuable service, since this part of our history would otherwise be more lost than it already is.

    SKP @ 54 says exactly what I was trying to say all along, except far more eloquently and succinctly. So, I’ll leave it at that.

  • John

    Two final points on a dying thread.
    1) It has been suggested that Barton points back to original sources. He doesn’t. He lifts a few words out of their own context within historic documents (not to mention the literary culture they were a part of) and interprets them within his own structure. My concern is not primarily about his interpretation, but about his method – he ignores available historical data because it simply will not fit his model. Whether others do this, or to what extent is largely irrelevant. The question is, does this constitute good history? I suggest that it does not.

    2) The Bible is largely historical. Whatever we say about history, historians, and historical method, be aware that our conclusions should logically extend to parts of the Bible. Cf. Michael Licona’s excellent prolegomena in his “The Resurrection of Jesus” (IVP 2010).

  • John

    Two final points on a dying thread.
    1) It has been suggested that Barton points back to original sources. He doesn’t. He lifts a few words out of their own context within historic documents (not to mention the literary culture they were a part of) and interprets them within his own structure. My concern is not primarily about his interpretation, but about his method – he ignores available historical data because it simply will not fit his model. Whether others do this, or to what extent is largely irrelevant. The question is, does this constitute good history? I suggest that it does not.

    2) The Bible is largely historical. Whatever we say about history, historians, and historical method, be aware that our conclusions should logically extend to parts of the Bible. Cf. Michael Licona’s excellent prolegomena in his “The Resurrection of Jesus” (IVP 2010).

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    John, which of David Barton’s works have you read? I haven’t read any. However, he does point to original sources in as much as he republishes whole volumes and sells them. Other people are welcome do the same with other volumes from history that may not fit with Barton’s uh, interest. Do you know of other folks doing that?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    John, which of David Barton’s works have you read? I haven’t read any. However, he does point to original sources in as much as he republishes whole volumes and sells them. Other people are welcome do the same with other volumes from history that may not fit with Barton’s uh, interest. Do you know of other folks doing that?

  • Jonathan

    Whenever somebody begins a sentence by saying “History proves that…..” the next thing they tell you will be false. History comes from the Greek word “to inquire”. The really good students of History ask more questions than they answer.

  • Jonathan

    Whenever somebody begins a sentence by saying “History proves that…..” the next thing they tell you will be false. History comes from the Greek word “to inquire”. The really good students of History ask more questions than they answer.

  • Grace

    tODD @ 16

    ~~Grace said (@14) Because Beck supports Israel, and many conservative Christians support Israel, does not mean there is a Beck Evangelical alliance, that is blatantly FALSE. Of course, Grace, you have a habit of declaring anything and everything false that you don’t personally understand or agree with. But you are not everybody. It’s not all about you. ~~

    Poor tODD, …… You throw everything into a “everybody” box as though it’s your only argument, no matter how shallow. It’s not about any individual, …. you must understand this simple uncomplicated concept… perhaps you don’t!

    “There quite clearly is a Beck-Evangelical alliance, even if you, as a self-identified Evangelical, disagree with Beck. You cannot refute the article here (among others) merely by claiming it’s “blatantly FALSE”. That’s not how argument works.”

    What’s the argument? Israel was made promises by God Almighty, and, evidently you would rather either ignore them, or believe the promises God made. There are only two choices.

  • Grace

    tODD @ 16

    ~~Grace said (@14) Because Beck supports Israel, and many conservative Christians support Israel, does not mean there is a Beck Evangelical alliance, that is blatantly FALSE. Of course, Grace, you have a habit of declaring anything and everything false that you don’t personally understand or agree with. But you are not everybody. It’s not all about you. ~~

    Poor tODD, …… You throw everything into a “everybody” box as though it’s your only argument, no matter how shallow. It’s not about any individual, …. you must understand this simple uncomplicated concept… perhaps you don’t!

    “There quite clearly is a Beck-Evangelical alliance, even if you, as a self-identified Evangelical, disagree with Beck. You cannot refute the article here (among others) merely by claiming it’s “blatantly FALSE”. That’s not how argument works.”

    What’s the argument? Israel was made promises by God Almighty, and, evidently you would rather either ignore them, or believe the promises God made. There are only two choices.

  • SKPeterson

    Grace @64 – God did make promises to Israel. Yet, this begs questions: Have those promises been fulfilled or not? In their fulfilling are they then complete or are they perpetual? If so, how so? Does Christ fulfill those promises, or not? And who is Israel? The current nation-state created in 1948? The Jewish people? Or the current Christian Church, the “New Israel” described by Paul?

    I hold to the New Israel of Paul as being the recipient and fulfillment of those promises as defined in Scripture. Perhaps you disagree.

  • SKPeterson

    Grace @64 – God did make promises to Israel. Yet, this begs questions: Have those promises been fulfilled or not? In their fulfilling are they then complete or are they perpetual? If so, how so? Does Christ fulfill those promises, or not? And who is Israel? The current nation-state created in 1948? The Jewish people? Or the current Christian Church, the “New Israel” described by Paul?

    I hold to the New Israel of Paul as being the recipient and fulfillment of those promises as defined in Scripture. Perhaps you disagree.

  • Grace

    SKPeterson – 65

    YOU WROTE: “God did make promises to Israel. Yet, this begs questions: Have those promises been fulfilled or not? In their fulfilling are they then complete or are they perpetual?

    SK, they are “everlasting” and “evermore” – that would mean, they don’t end.

    God’s Everlasting Covenant with Israel, the Jews

    God does not break His Covenants, no matter what we do, they stand – too many people have forgotten or never studied the Old Testament, the promises of God.

    21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:

    22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:

    23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.

    24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.

    25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.

    26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

    27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. Ezekiel 37

    “everlasting covenant”

    “set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.”

    “my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”

    This is God’s Covenant with Israel for “evermore” and “everlasting”-

  • Grace

    SKPeterson – 65

    YOU WROTE: “God did make promises to Israel. Yet, this begs questions: Have those promises been fulfilled or not? In their fulfilling are they then complete or are they perpetual?

    SK, they are “everlasting” and “evermore” – that would mean, they don’t end.

    God’s Everlasting Covenant with Israel, the Jews

    God does not break His Covenants, no matter what we do, they stand – too many people have forgotten or never studied the Old Testament, the promises of God.

    21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:

    22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:

    23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.

    24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.

    25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.

    26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

    27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. Ezekiel 37

    “everlasting covenant”

    “set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.”

    “my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”

    This is God’s Covenant with Israel for “evermore” and “everlasting”-

  • John

    @sg
    I read “Original Intent” and “Setting the Record Straight”. Republishing books may be good (or not, depending upon the book), but it hasn’t got to do with his historical method.

  • John

    @sg
    I read “Original Intent” and “Setting the Record Straight”. Republishing books may be good (or not, depending upon the book), but it hasn’t got to do with his historical method.

  • SKPeterson

    Grace,

    Now take the fine passages from Ezekiel and place them in the context of Revelation. Also let’s trace another arc,

    I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit– 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (Romans,ESV)

    “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11; ESV)

    “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6; ESV).

    “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12; ESV).

    6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

    14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which2 the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6, ESV)

  • SKPeterson

    Grace,

    Now take the fine passages from Ezekiel and place them in the context of Revelation. Also let’s trace another arc,

    I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit– 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (Romans,ESV)

    “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11; ESV)

    “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6; ESV).

    “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12; ESV).

    6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

    14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which2 the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6, ESV)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@66), I know you somewhat petulantly ignore my comments these days, so please read SK’s comment (@68), as I share his thoughts (though he forgot to label his quote from Romans 9).

    You accuse others here of having “forgotten or never studied the Old Testament”, but if your reading of Ezekiel 37 only pertains to the modern, post-1948 political entity called Israel, then you really have missed the point. I heartily recommend you read and reread the last half of Romans.

    After all, if you’re correct, then how do you explain that God’s “everlasting” and “evermore” promises in Ezekiel 37 aren’t even true today, nor have they been for quite some time, if they only pertain to the modern political entity:
    * “One king shall be king over them all”? Israel has no king.
    * “They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things”? Yeah, um, a land where most of the people reject the Second Person of the Trinity doesn’t really fit that. Plenty of idols and detestable things in those political borders.
    * “My servant David shall be king over them”? Definitely not true for that democracy.
    * “They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes”? Again, they almost all reject their own Messiah. How is that obedient?
    * “David my servant shall be their prince forever”? God’s clearly making a point with all this repetition. But isn’t the “forever” something of a giveaway that he’s not talking about earthly political entities? Think hard: who’s of the line of David that is called a king “forever”? I’ll give you a clue:

    Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.

    Hmm. That kind of sounds like Ezekiel 37!
    * “And will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore”? Come on. 2 Corinthians 6? Revelation 21?

    And you still think this is just about the country of Israel? Really?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@66), I know you somewhat petulantly ignore my comments these days, so please read SK’s comment (@68), as I share his thoughts (though he forgot to label his quote from Romans 9).

    You accuse others here of having “forgotten or never studied the Old Testament”, but if your reading of Ezekiel 37 only pertains to the modern, post-1948 political entity called Israel, then you really have missed the point. I heartily recommend you read and reread the last half of Romans.

    After all, if you’re correct, then how do you explain that God’s “everlasting” and “evermore” promises in Ezekiel 37 aren’t even true today, nor have they been for quite some time, if they only pertain to the modern political entity:
    * “One king shall be king over them all”? Israel has no king.
    * “They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things”? Yeah, um, a land where most of the people reject the Second Person of the Trinity doesn’t really fit that. Plenty of idols and detestable things in those political borders.
    * “My servant David shall be king over them”? Definitely not true for that democracy.
    * “They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes”? Again, they almost all reject their own Messiah. How is that obedient?
    * “David my servant shall be their prince forever”? God’s clearly making a point with all this repetition. But isn’t the “forever” something of a giveaway that he’s not talking about earthly political entities? Think hard: who’s of the line of David that is called a king “forever”? I’ll give you a clue:

    Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.

    Hmm. That kind of sounds like Ezekiel 37!
    * “And will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore”? Come on. 2 Corinthians 6? Revelation 21?

    And you still think this is just about the country of Israel? Really?

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Well, I’ve been busy. If you bother to come back and read this, here’s what I have to say.

    I hear you saying that basically all historians pick and choose what history they will tell based on “their values” which I take to mean something personal (or perhaps political). They don’t actually research materials and see what history reveals, like it or not. They are out to promote their values, least of which is a love for history itself and what it can tell us. What you leave out is that historians are also professionals, and that there are academic/professional standards that are generally expected of historians. These things are the kinds of things that hacks avoid and skirt, people like revisionists such as David Barton, who does not deserve to be called a historian.

    So, by intentionally (or not) making historians out to be nothing more really than propagandists for their personal values, you make room for hacks by default. They are just balancing things out, in this case for the sake of Christians. It’s a postmodern world for cryin’ out loud, why not?

    All those other professionals that you fault for being political in their decisions that “comport with their values” have no business doing so. Wait a second! Who does get to decide these things; administrators, historians, or hacks? Or maybe it should be you? In other words, it is about what you like. Or at least you would like things slanted in a more favorable direction toward the things you like. Thank goodness for a hack like Barton who can make up the difference by telling half truths and making false claims, eh? That’s certainly a good lesson for the kids.

    If you are truly that concerned with children being exposed to multiple aspects of history, then where is the beef really? It would seem “the more the merrier” then, wouldn’t it? But that’s not quite it, is it? Is it that you don’t like what history is telling you, or that you have to make room in your mind for other stories, ones you’d rather not hear about? What about all that multiplicity you are advocating?

    I really don’t see you saying anything other than you think all historians slant things in their personal direction (no professionals out there, just hacks) and we might as well have our own hack in there to even the score. Also, you don’t like that the people who have always made decisions on curriculum are actually making them. What would it matter anyway? Everything out there described as history is slanted toward the historians values anyway, in which case, there’s nothing to learn at all. This being the case, us Christians might as well get in there and straighten things out (no pun intended) by slanting things in our direction. We’ll use a hack for that because it really doesn’t matter. It’s all opinions and competing “values” (big word, that one). Professionalism and, for that matter, history be damned. It’s about the children after all. Supporting what this hack is doing for the sake of Christians, even though you say you don’t think there ought to be deliberate distortions like a hack would do, is what really needs to be happening, right? If they’re going to lie and distort, we might as well do it too.

    Meanwhile, what is left out is again the fact that you don’t know what historians actually do. This is obvious. Hacks do the kinds of things you both support and denigrate – base what they say about history largely on things that “comport with their values.” Again, like you said initially, all historians are doing a hatchet job on history, pretty much like David Barton, the great crusader for Christians. Good thing “somebody” us there to fix things even if he doesn’t know what he’s doing, though I think he does. It’s propaganda, and it’s dishonest. Why doesn’t that bother you?

  • Stephen

    DonS

    Well, I’ve been busy. If you bother to come back and read this, here’s what I have to say.

    I hear you saying that basically all historians pick and choose what history they will tell based on “their values” which I take to mean something personal (or perhaps political). They don’t actually research materials and see what history reveals, like it or not. They are out to promote their values, least of which is a love for history itself and what it can tell us. What you leave out is that historians are also professionals, and that there are academic/professional standards that are generally expected of historians. These things are the kinds of things that hacks avoid and skirt, people like revisionists such as David Barton, who does not deserve to be called a historian.

    So, by intentionally (or not) making historians out to be nothing more really than propagandists for their personal values, you make room for hacks by default. They are just balancing things out, in this case for the sake of Christians. It’s a postmodern world for cryin’ out loud, why not?

    All those other professionals that you fault for being political in their decisions that “comport with their values” have no business doing so. Wait a second! Who does get to decide these things; administrators, historians, or hacks? Or maybe it should be you? In other words, it is about what you like. Or at least you would like things slanted in a more favorable direction toward the things you like. Thank goodness for a hack like Barton who can make up the difference by telling half truths and making false claims, eh? That’s certainly a good lesson for the kids.

    If you are truly that concerned with children being exposed to multiple aspects of history, then where is the beef really? It would seem “the more the merrier” then, wouldn’t it? But that’s not quite it, is it? Is it that you don’t like what history is telling you, or that you have to make room in your mind for other stories, ones you’d rather not hear about? What about all that multiplicity you are advocating?

    I really don’t see you saying anything other than you think all historians slant things in their personal direction (no professionals out there, just hacks) and we might as well have our own hack in there to even the score. Also, you don’t like that the people who have always made decisions on curriculum are actually making them. What would it matter anyway? Everything out there described as history is slanted toward the historians values anyway, in which case, there’s nothing to learn at all. This being the case, us Christians might as well get in there and straighten things out (no pun intended) by slanting things in our direction. We’ll use a hack for that because it really doesn’t matter. It’s all opinions and competing “values” (big word, that one). Professionalism and, for that matter, history be damned. It’s about the children after all. Supporting what this hack is doing for the sake of Christians, even though you say you don’t think there ought to be deliberate distortions like a hack would do, is what really needs to be happening, right? If they’re going to lie and distort, we might as well do it too.

    Meanwhile, what is left out is again the fact that you don’t know what historians actually do. This is obvious. Hacks do the kinds of things you both support and denigrate – base what they say about history largely on things that “comport with their values.” Again, like you said initially, all historians are doing a hatchet job on history, pretty much like David Barton, the great crusader for Christians. Good thing “somebody” us there to fix things even if he doesn’t know what he’s doing, though I think he does. It’s propaganda, and it’s dishonest. Why doesn’t that bother you?

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