The Juvenilization of American Christianity

The latest issue of Christianity Today has a brilliant cover story that accounts for much of what we see in American churches today.  A century and more ago, many Protestant churches adjusted their worship and their ministries to accord with something that at first was quite separate:  the revival meeting.  (My historical parallel.)   Now churches have adjusted their worship and ministries to accord with another separate activity:  youth group!  But, of course, there is more to it than that.  From the article by Thomas E. Bergler [subscription required, but here is the opening]:

The house lights go down. Spinning, multicolored lights sweep the auditorium. A rock band launches into a rousing opening song. “Ignore everyone else, this time is just about you and Jesus,” proclaims the lead singer. The music changes to a slow dance tune, and the people sing about falling in love with Jesus. A guitarist sporting skinny jeans and a soul patch closes the worship set with a prayer, beginning, “Hey God …” The spotlight then falls on the speaker, who tells entertaining stories, cracks a few jokes, and assures everyone that “God is not mad at you. He loves you unconditionally.”

After worship, some members of the church sign up for the next mission trip, while others decide to join a small group where they can receive support on their faith journey. If you ask the people here why they go to church or what they value about their faith, they’ll say something like, “Having faith helps me deal with my problems.”

Fifty or sixty years ago, these now-commonplace elements of American church life were regularly found in youth groups but rarely in worship services and adult activities. What happened? Beginning in the 1930s and ’40s, Christian teenagers and youth leaders staged a quiet revolution in American church life that led to what can properly be called the juvenilization of American Christianity. Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults. It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity. But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith.

via When Are We Going to Grow Up? The Juvenilization of American Christianity | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

Bergler goes on to document how that happened, including the larger cultural trend of American adults in general becoming more like adolescents.  The cover story  (who can identify who is pictured on the cover?) includes some responses by a megachurch pastor, a researcher, and a cultural critic (David Zahl of Mockingbird.com), all of whom say that Bergler’s thesis is basically right (though Zahl, being a Lutheran fellow-traveler, issues some caveats about definitions of spiritual “maturity”).

The article is adapted from Bergler’s new book on the subject: The Juvenilization of American Christianity.  It is a ground-breaking analysis, one of those explanations that accounts for virtually all of the phenomena and  that seems so obvious, once you hear it, though you had never thought of it before.

 

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.

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

    Really, it is the juvenilization of pretty much the whole culture. Used to be people were “ready” to get married as late teens/early twenties. And not just sort of married where the children don’t come along for 5 or more years, but real marriage where they became full adults with families and responsibilities. Now we think college is the necessary next step in life rather than marriage and family. Now if someone doesn’t go to college, people wonder why. Used to be if a young person didn’t marry, people were concerned and wanted to help him meet someone.

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

    Really, it is the juvenilization of pretty much the whole culture. Used to be people were “ready” to get married as late teens/early twenties. And not just sort of married where the children don’t come along for 5 or more years, but real marriage where they became full adults with families and responsibilities. Now we think college is the necessary next step in life rather than marriage and family. Now if someone doesn’t go to college, people wonder why. Used to be if a young person didn’t marry, people were concerned and wanted to help him meet someone.

  • Michael B.

    It’s actually just the opposite phenomenon. Christianity started off as a movement for the unlettered and downtrodden. Just look at the disciples and early Christian communities. Uneducated and illiterate and very credulous. Now Christianity is far more intellectual. Al Mohler and so many others are writing books, and many Christians are reading them.

  • Michael B.

    It’s actually just the opposite phenomenon. Christianity started off as a movement for the unlettered and downtrodden. Just look at the disciples and early Christian communities. Uneducated and illiterate and very credulous. Now Christianity is far more intellectual. Al Mohler and so many others are writing books, and many Christians are reading them.

  • Rachel

    I’m so glad you featured this book here. I had the privilege of reading it long before it was published, and I’ve been hoping ever since that it would find a wide audience and inspire lots of needful conversations — among Lutherans and everyone else.

  • Rachel

    I’m so glad you featured this book here. I had the privilege of reading it long before it was published, and I’ve been hoping ever since that it would find a wide audience and inspire lots of needful conversations — among Lutherans and everyone else.

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

    Yep… that’s us now.

    A pastor I know once made a reference to this phenomenon with regard to contemporary worship, and stated that it smacks of disrespect of the church elders, as he pointed out that in recent years the younger generations have been stating to the 0lder generations “Go stand in the corner. We’re taking over.”

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

    Yep… that’s us now.

    A pastor I know once made a reference to this phenomenon with regard to contemporary worship, and stated that it smacks of disrespect of the church elders, as he pointed out that in recent years the younger generations have been stating to the 0lder generations “Go stand in the corner. We’re taking over.”

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I find this trend to be more a result of the Boomer generation. It has been couched in terms of reaching the youth, but the reality is it is boomers attempting to remain cool.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I find this trend to be more a result of the Boomer generation. It has been couched in terms of reaching the youth, but the reality is it is boomers attempting to remain cool.

  • Ryan

    Um… Yes, taken this theory as true… Then what does that mean for a church body, Lutherans, that is very grown up?

  • Ryan

    Um… Yes, taken this theory as true… Then what does that mean for a church body, Lutherans, that is very grown up?

  • Joe

    I’m with DR.L21. The whole fenomenon reminds that friend you had in high schcool with the mom who thought she was really cool … but really she was just embarssing to be around.

  • Joe

    I’m with DR.L21. The whole fenomenon reminds that friend you had in high schcool with the mom who thought she was really cool … but really she was just embarssing to be around.

  • Joe

    *phenomenon* wow, really need more coffee …

  • Joe

    *phenomenon* wow, really need more coffee …

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

    “Christianity started off as a movement for the unlettered and downtrodden.”

    Like Paul on Mars Hill. Oh, wait…

    Or Justin Martyr. Well, no not him.

    Or Augustine. Oops, not him either.

    Christianity was not peculiar to the poor. There were just tons of poor people back then.

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

    “Christianity started off as a movement for the unlettered and downtrodden.”

    Like Paul on Mars Hill. Oh, wait…

    Or Justin Martyr. Well, no not him.

    Or Augustine. Oops, not him either.

    Christianity was not peculiar to the poor. There were just tons of poor people back then.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Good response, sg @9. Also, poor is a relative term.

    I have long since maintained that the problem is not a recent one. It started with the birth of evangelicalism and its precursor, revivalism. It started when people divorced the Christian religion from its sacraments, and its liturgical traditions that lasted since Chrysostom….. Maybe we should just say it – it started with Zwingli?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Good response, sg @9. Also, poor is a relative term.

    I have long since maintained that the problem is not a recent one. It started with the birth of evangelicalism and its precursor, revivalism. It started when people divorced the Christian religion from its sacraments, and its liturgical traditions that lasted since Chrysostom….. Maybe we should just say it – it started with Zwingli?

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

    Klasie @ 10, I realize that Lutherans disagree with Zwingli and Calvin on the sacraments, but attributing contemporary worship (which in many cases could be read as “juvenile Christianity”) is a bit extreme, don’t you think?

    Now, if you want to go back to Finney, Wesley, and Spener for the seeds that planted this, you may have a point. All three of these men emphasized the emotional and experiential, and juvenile Christianity certainly has this distorted elevation of feeling over doctrine.

    Add to this also the “no creed but Christ” movements in history as well. I frequent a Reformed board as well as this one, and they are (rightly so) lamenting the loss of confessional Christianity, that when denominations cast off creeds and confessions they end up opening a door for going adrift, allowing for anything and everything to lead them astray, even among those “creedless and confessionless” churches that profess allegiance to Scripture.

    But to say Zwingli opened the door for rock and roll Sunday morning because he differed from Luther on the sacraments? Come on… that’s a bit of a stretch.

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

    Klasie @ 10, I realize that Lutherans disagree with Zwingli and Calvin on the sacraments, but attributing contemporary worship (which in many cases could be read as “juvenile Christianity”) is a bit extreme, don’t you think?

    Now, if you want to go back to Finney, Wesley, and Spener for the seeds that planted this, you may have a point. All three of these men emphasized the emotional and experiential, and juvenile Christianity certainly has this distorted elevation of feeling over doctrine.

    Add to this also the “no creed but Christ” movements in history as well. I frequent a Reformed board as well as this one, and they are (rightly so) lamenting the loss of confessional Christianity, that when denominations cast off creeds and confessions they end up opening a door for going adrift, allowing for anything and everything to lead them astray, even among those “creedless and confessionless” churches that profess allegiance to Scripture.

    But to say Zwingli opened the door for rock and roll Sunday morning because he differed from Luther on the sacraments? Come on… that’s a bit of a stretch.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    J Dean – Zwingli planted a tiny seed. Note that I did not say Calvin, but Zwingli. For in Zwingli one finds the easy willingness to sacrifice tradition (I’m not going to argue theological truth here) for ones own insights, whereas Luther and yes, even Calvin, wrestles a lot with transforming, nay, restoring tradition. Luther is looking both backward, to the Fathers, and forward, to the way the Church should be. He reads both Augustine and Ockham. Zwingli is willing to discard all for his own idea. Thus, he provides the philosophical narrative for others, like the Revivalists, and that Pelagian swine Finney, to introduce a new religious order, based on experience, emotion and moralism alone. What we have to day is the natural result.

    I doubt very much Zwingli could foresee all this. Yet he, though not the father of all this adolescent religion, is at least its’ great-grandfather.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    J Dean – Zwingli planted a tiny seed. Note that I did not say Calvin, but Zwingli. For in Zwingli one finds the easy willingness to sacrifice tradition (I’m not going to argue theological truth here) for ones own insights, whereas Luther and yes, even Calvin, wrestles a lot with transforming, nay, restoring tradition. Luther is looking both backward, to the Fathers, and forward, to the way the Church should be. He reads both Augustine and Ockham. Zwingli is willing to discard all for his own idea. Thus, he provides the philosophical narrative for others, like the Revivalists, and that Pelagian swine Finney, to introduce a new religious order, based on experience, emotion and moralism alone. What we have to day is the natural result.

    I doubt very much Zwingli could foresee all this. Yet he, though not the father of all this adolescent religion, is at least its’ great-grandfather.

  • Ryan

    I think this is a big problem, Sceipture calls us to maturity in faith and being. As for Michael B.’s comment… Being poor or unlettered does not mean childish or immature. My Father, and his Father come from dirt poor farmers. It was a big deal in my family when my Father graduated Highol (I’m first one out of college in my extended family, let alone an advanced degree … Just call me John-Boy I guess). Despite a lack of education and funds my father and grandfather are some of the smartest, most capable, wise, and yes mature men I know.

  • Ryan

    I think this is a big problem, Sceipture calls us to maturity in faith and being. As for Michael B.’s comment… Being poor or unlettered does not mean childish or immature. My Father, and his Father come from dirt poor farmers. It was a big deal in my family when my Father graduated Highol (I’m first one out of college in my extended family, let alone an advanced degree … Just call me John-Boy I guess). Despite a lack of education and funds my father and grandfather are some of the smartest, most capable, wise, and yes mature men I know.

  • Ryan

    And yet, they did not teach me to type well. :)

  • Ryan

    And yet, they did not teach me to type well. :)

  • http://www.chappyscorner.net Chappy

    Wow. Someone mentions the origins of the Christian movement as being the downtroden and the poor and they are castigated for that heretical statement. Yes, Paul used philosphical arguments when speaking to philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens. Paul also said that he had become all things to all people, that through all, some may come to know Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:22 – slightly paraphrased) When exactly did tradition become more important than loving God and living like it – or have we completely discarded the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10:26-28).

    Faith is not a quantifiable entity. It is not logical nor reasonable. Faith is, in fact, very illogical because if you can prove it, it is no longer faith. Faith is what you know in your heart despite what you may think in your head. The essence of Chrstianity is very experiential and emotional. It is centered on a personal relationship with God through faith in the salvation provided by Jesus Christ. After all, did not Paul also write that “So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16) Faith begins in the heart, not the mind. It begins in relationship, not in rules. Luther himself used contemporary music in his services, although he wrote his own lyrics for contemporary tunes. Emotion has a place in worship, as does sound doctrine. Be cautious you do not through out the baby with the bath water.

  • http://www.chappyscorner.net Chappy

    Wow. Someone mentions the origins of the Christian movement as being the downtroden and the poor and they are castigated for that heretical statement. Yes, Paul used philosphical arguments when speaking to philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens. Paul also said that he had become all things to all people, that through all, some may come to know Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:22 – slightly paraphrased) When exactly did tradition become more important than loving God and living like it – or have we completely discarded the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10:26-28).

    Faith is not a quantifiable entity. It is not logical nor reasonable. Faith is, in fact, very illogical because if you can prove it, it is no longer faith. Faith is what you know in your heart despite what you may think in your head. The essence of Chrstianity is very experiential and emotional. It is centered on a personal relationship with God through faith in the salvation provided by Jesus Christ. After all, did not Paul also write that “So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16) Faith begins in the heart, not the mind. It begins in relationship, not in rules. Luther himself used contemporary music in his services, although he wrote his own lyrics for contemporary tunes. Emotion has a place in worship, as does sound doctrine. Be cautious you do not through out the baby with the bath water.

  • Ryan

    They are castigated because the article is about immaturity. Poverty (and being downtrodden) does not necessarily equate with immaturity and to do so is an incredibly prejudiced statement.

  • Ryan

    They are castigated because the article is about immaturity. Poverty (and being downtrodden) does not necessarily equate with immaturity and to do so is an incredibly prejudiced statement.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Chappy – you are postulating a false conflict. Tradition is HOW we do what we do (in this case). And the how holds a clear connection to the intent. Whereas emotion is certainly not irrelevant, and contemporary music is not necessarily wrong, the question is balance and telos.

    Abandoning tradition because it is tradition, is merely starting a new tradition – but at the peril of changing its telos. Now the whole reason d’etre is to replace what was before, and to excite the emotions. Which is hardly the goal of Worship, now is it?

    The rest of your comments continues on these postulated conflicts. You find faith to be not logical, thereof it must be illogical. Have you considered the possibility that it is neither? That it is, in fact, “trans-logical”, ie, that much as we cannot prove, we cannot disprove either? That God is the God of body and soul, of emotions and mind? If religion is but an emotional response, it boils down to spiritual orgasmic experiences (which is essentially the “liver shivers” we Lutherans love to mock). Indeed, if religion is primarily emotion, it could easily be described as a psychological phenomenon, defined by biochemistry, and thus you fall into the trap that the atheists have set.

    But religion is not unemotional either, in case you misread my comment, and think that is what I am claiming. It is either all, or nothing.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Chappy – you are postulating a false conflict. Tradition is HOW we do what we do (in this case). And the how holds a clear connection to the intent. Whereas emotion is certainly not irrelevant, and contemporary music is not necessarily wrong, the question is balance and telos.

    Abandoning tradition because it is tradition, is merely starting a new tradition – but at the peril of changing its telos. Now the whole reason d’etre is to replace what was before, and to excite the emotions. Which is hardly the goal of Worship, now is it?

    The rest of your comments continues on these postulated conflicts. You find faith to be not logical, thereof it must be illogical. Have you considered the possibility that it is neither? That it is, in fact, “trans-logical”, ie, that much as we cannot prove, we cannot disprove either? That God is the God of body and soul, of emotions and mind? If religion is but an emotional response, it boils down to spiritual orgasmic experiences (which is essentially the “liver shivers” we Lutherans love to mock). Indeed, if religion is primarily emotion, it could easily be described as a psychological phenomenon, defined by biochemistry, and thus you fall into the trap that the atheists have set.

    But religion is not unemotional either, in case you misread my comment, and think that is what I am claiming. It is either all, or nothing.

  • http://www.chappyscorner.net Chappy

    Ryan, what I was attempting to point out is that this article is equating Contemporary Worship with immaturity, which is both unfair and unjust. Both Paul and Luther adapted their delivery of the Gospel to better communicate to their audience. An emotional, experiential act of worship is not necessarily immature, nor is a service devoid of emotion and experience automatically mature. Emotion, experience, and sound Scriptural teaching are all partof the act of worship. This article seems to be going to one end of the spectrum to decry something occurring at the other end of the spectrum. Please reread the last two sentances o my post.

  • http://www.chappyscorner.net Chappy

    Ryan, what I was attempting to point out is that this article is equating Contemporary Worship with immaturity, which is both unfair and unjust. Both Paul and Luther adapted their delivery of the Gospel to better communicate to their audience. An emotional, experiential act of worship is not necessarily immature, nor is a service devoid of emotion and experience automatically mature. Emotion, experience, and sound Scriptural teaching are all partof the act of worship. This article seems to be going to one end of the spectrum to decry something occurring at the other end of the spectrum. Please reread the last two sentances o my post.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Ryan @ 16 – well spotted!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Ryan @ 16 – well spotted!

  • http://www.chappyscorner.net Chappy

    Klasie, I fear you misread my comments. Please see my response to Ryan above.

  • http://www.chappyscorner.net Chappy

    Klasie, I fear you misread my comments. Please see my response to Ryan above.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Chappy – what you intended does not equate with the arguments you used.

    You mention Luther’s use of contemporary music. But you neglect to see that he did so within the liturgical settings defined by Chrysostom. Thus he kept a handle both on the past (tradition), as well as innovating within the confines of that tradition. The “modern” expression neglects to do the former, and thus my charge that they indulge in emotive practices in an unbalanced, nigh-exclusionary manner. The focus has shifted. And THAT is the problem.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Chappy – what you intended does not equate with the arguments you used.

    You mention Luther’s use of contemporary music. But you neglect to see that he did so within the liturgical settings defined by Chrysostom. Thus he kept a handle both on the past (tradition), as well as innovating within the confines of that tradition. The “modern” expression neglects to do the former, and thus my charge that they indulge in emotive practices in an unbalanced, nigh-exclusionary manner. The focus has shifted. And THAT is the problem.

  • Kelly

    When we see Baby Boomers engaging in some of the most embarrassing displays as part of church, I don’t see how the phenomenon of the “juvenilization” of the modern church could possibly be denied. Of course, most people will deny that what they are doing is adolescent, because they just mean it so much in their sincere hearts (a very adolescent stance). As a 31-year-old with very young and impressionable children… please, stop. I don’t need to relive my youth group days, really. A lot of us would rather forget that they happened in the first place. This reality is why so many spend lots of time in youth group and then drift away from the church altogether in college and beyond. Christianity comes to look like a sport for goofball kids, and what’s worse, what used to be at least restricted to youth group is now stretched out and widespread for people who are supposed to be adults.

  • Kelly

    When we see Baby Boomers engaging in some of the most embarrassing displays as part of church, I don’t see how the phenomenon of the “juvenilization” of the modern church could possibly be denied. Of course, most people will deny that what they are doing is adolescent, because they just mean it so much in their sincere hearts (a very adolescent stance). As a 31-year-old with very young and impressionable children… please, stop. I don’t need to relive my youth group days, really. A lot of us would rather forget that they happened in the first place. This reality is why so many spend lots of time in youth group and then drift away from the church altogether in college and beyond. Christianity comes to look like a sport for goofball kids, and what’s worse, what used to be at least restricted to youth group is now stretched out and widespread for people who are supposed to be adults.

  • Jon

    What I find funny is ““God is not mad at you. He loves you unconditionally.”

    Oh reallly???! Ha Ha Ha!

  • Jon

    What I find funny is ““God is not mad at you. He loves you unconditionally.”

    Oh reallly???! Ha Ha Ha!

  • Steve in Toronto

    All this time I thought I was an Anglican. But now I know I am a “Lutheran fellow-traveler”!

  • Steve in Toronto

    All this time I thought I was an Anglican. But now I know I am a “Lutheran fellow-traveler”!

  • Michael B.

    @sg

    When I speak of early Christianity, I meant first century. Not the “sanitized” versions of Christianity that appeared later. Clearly by the 4th century when the emperor converts, Christianity has become mainstream. We are fortunate that some of Paul’s letters survive, and they give a great picture of what the early church was like.

  • Michael B.

    @sg

    When I speak of early Christianity, I meant first century. Not the “sanitized” versions of Christianity that appeared later. Clearly by the 4th century when the emperor converts, Christianity has become mainstream. We are fortunate that some of Paul’s letters survive, and they give a great picture of what the early church was like.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. said (@2):

    Christianity started off as a movement for the unlettered and downtrodden. Just look at the disciples and early Christian communities. Uneducated and illiterate and very credulous.

    Well, duh. That’s why none of the disciples ever communicated Jesus’ teaching to each other or the first churches with the written word.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. said (@2):

    Christianity started off as a movement for the unlettered and downtrodden. Just look at the disciples and early Christian communities. Uneducated and illiterate and very credulous.

    Well, duh. That’s why none of the disciples ever communicated Jesus’ teaching to each other or the first churches with the written word.

  • Michael B.

    @tODD

    Are you claiming that the disciples of Jesus could read and write?

  • Michael B.

    @tODD

    Are you claiming that the disciples of Jesus could read and write?

  • BW

    Michael B @ 27,

    Matthew was a tax collector, and had to be able to read and write. Luke, while not one of the Twelve, was a physician.

  • BW

    Michael B @ 27,

    Matthew was a tax collector, and had to be able to read and write. Luke, while not one of the Twelve, was a physician.

  • Michael B.

    @BW

    A valid point on Matthew. But was that typical?

  • Michael B.

    @BW

    A valid point on Matthew. But was that typical?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michael, on what do you base you conjecture?

    You forget Jewish educational tradition. Education was instituted for young boys in the first century BC. It seems to have been pretty widespread. You really need to investigate the facts before you make a fool of yourself.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michael, on what do you base you conjecture?

    You forget Jewish educational tradition. Education was instituted for young boys in the first century BC. It seems to have been pretty widespread. You really need to investigate the facts before you make a fool of yourself.

  • BW

    Michael @ 29

    From a couple sources I’ve looked at, like Catherine Hezer’s Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine, and Timothy Paul Jones’ Misquoting Truth, it is noted that tax collectors in the Roman world did write receipts at times for various accounts. I mean, being a tax collector, you do have to be able to keep track of money and who paid and how much.

    Don’t forget Mark, who many think was an educated rich kid that hung around Christ and His Disciples and was used as a scribe by the Apostles.

  • BW

    Michael @ 29

    From a couple sources I’ve looked at, like Catherine Hezer’s Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine, and Timothy Paul Jones’ Misquoting Truth, it is noted that tax collectors in the Roman world did write receipts at times for various accounts. I mean, being a tax collector, you do have to be able to keep track of money and who paid and how much.

    Don’t forget Mark, who many think was an educated rich kid that hung around Christ and His Disciples and was used as a scribe by the Apostles.

  • Grace

    Christ Jesus had reasons to choose HIS twelve Disciples, no matter what their educational background, or lack thereof. Some were tent makers, fishermen, one was a tax collector. Perhaps HE wanted to show everyone that no matter the education, HE could impart to them knowledge above and beyond what any learned individual had accomplished. Maybe that’s what the LORD is doing today. The Bible is the only way in which we can understand the LORD and HIS Gospel, no matter how many books were written in the past, apart from those who knew HIM, when HE was on earth.

    The LORD God chooses who HE will. I have seen those in churches who never went to Seminary, but yet knew and understood more of God’s Word then those who had earned doctorates.

    The LORD spent 40 days with these men (see Acts 1) before HE ascended to Heaven. They were taught by God the Son, HE imparted to them exactly what they needed to spread HIS Gospel to all who would listen. That is how we got the HOLY Scriptures.

  • Grace

    Christ Jesus had reasons to choose HIS twelve Disciples, no matter what their educational background, or lack thereof. Some were tent makers, fishermen, one was a tax collector. Perhaps HE wanted to show everyone that no matter the education, HE could impart to them knowledge above and beyond what any learned individual had accomplished. Maybe that’s what the LORD is doing today. The Bible is the only way in which we can understand the LORD and HIS Gospel, no matter how many books were written in the past, apart from those who knew HIM, when HE was on earth.

    The LORD God chooses who HE will. I have seen those in churches who never went to Seminary, but yet knew and understood more of God’s Word then those who had earned doctorates.

    The LORD spent 40 days with these men (see Acts 1) before HE ascended to Heaven. They were taught by God the Son, HE imparted to them exactly what they needed to spread HIS Gospel to all who would listen. That is how we got the HOLY Scriptures.

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

    How is illiteracy in the first century a mark of being down trodden? If 90% of society is illiterate, you don’t have to be anywhere near the bottom to be illiterate. I don’t know the literacy rate in the first century. I just don’t think it is comparable to today. Also, when your country is conquered and they take you as slaves, your education is not some sort of protection. Lawyers, scribes, accountants, architects could be slaves and downtrodden if they were from a conquered land. Of course that doesn’t count the juvenile Christians who probably were illiterate until they got to age six or seven. And since Christians didn’t kill their kids but fed them, well maybe they were poor with all those juvenile mouths to feed.

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

    How is illiteracy in the first century a mark of being down trodden? If 90% of society is illiterate, you don’t have to be anywhere near the bottom to be illiterate. I don’t know the literacy rate in the first century. I just don’t think it is comparable to today. Also, when your country is conquered and they take you as slaves, your education is not some sort of protection. Lawyers, scribes, accountants, architects could be slaves and downtrodden if they were from a conquered land. Of course that doesn’t count the juvenile Christians who probably were illiterate until they got to age six or seven. And since Christians didn’t kill their kids but fed them, well maybe they were poor with all those juvenile mouths to feed.

  • Grace

    Do any of you know who Mark was?

    And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
    Acts 12:12

    And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
    Acts 12:25

    This man is very interesting.

  • Grace

    Do any of you know who Mark was?

    And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
    Acts 12:12

    And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
    Acts 12:25

    This man is very interesting.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. asked (@27):

    Are you claiming that the disciples of Jesus could read and write?

    Well, some of them, obviously. In addition to the ones others have discussed already (@28), there’s the rather glaring exception to your claim that was St. Paul. Who, you know, wrote. A lot. And, it would seem, the people he wrote to read his letters. And passed them around.

    Am I claiming that literacy was the norm, or even common, among early Christians? No. But I think your initial claim is fairly obviously riddled with holes:

    Christianity started off as a movement for the unlettered and downtrodden. Just look at the disciples and early Christian communities. Uneducated and illiterate and very credulous.

    It’s kind of like you don’t know where the Bible came from.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. asked (@27):

    Are you claiming that the disciples of Jesus could read and write?

    Well, some of them, obviously. In addition to the ones others have discussed already (@28), there’s the rather glaring exception to your claim that was St. Paul. Who, you know, wrote. A lot. And, it would seem, the people he wrote to read his letters. And passed them around.

    Am I claiming that literacy was the norm, or even common, among early Christians? No. But I think your initial claim is fairly obviously riddled with holes:

    Christianity started off as a movement for the unlettered and downtrodden. Just look at the disciples and early Christian communities. Uneducated and illiterate and very credulous.

    It’s kind of like you don’t know where the Bible came from.

  • Debra

    I was referred to this article from another website, and thought I would read the comments.

    A couple of things: 1) downtrodden would seem an apt application to a people under Roman rule and 2) even if every single Jewish boy received an education (very doubtful) that still leave half of the population unlettered and uneducated. So by today’s American standards, they might well qualify as illiterate. These are not accusations, merely contextual.

    Klasie @30,
    “You really need to investigate the facts before you make a fool of yourself.”

    Definitely NOT classy. It’s a conversation. Lighten up.
    That’s all. You may continue with your self-congratulatory preening. :–)

    Ciao.

  • Debra

    I was referred to this article from another website, and thought I would read the comments.

    A couple of things: 1) downtrodden would seem an apt application to a people under Roman rule and 2) even if every single Jewish boy received an education (very doubtful) that still leave half of the population unlettered and uneducated. So by today’s American standards, they might well qualify as illiterate. These are not accusations, merely contextual.

    Klasie @30,
    “You really need to investigate the facts before you make a fool of yourself.”

    Definitely NOT classy. It’s a conversation. Lighten up.
    That’s all. You may continue with your self-congratulatory preening. :–)

    Ciao.

  • Michael B.

    @Klasie

    There have been estimates that in the Roman empire under the best of times, about 10% of the population was literate. You can imagine the odds of a rural fisherman in rural Palestine being able to read and write. If you don’t believe modern scholarship, maybe you’ll believe the author of Acts, who calls Peter and John “unlettered”. (Acts 4)

    It is true that being illiterate was typical, but early Christianity is not something that appealed to the more respectful in society. A good comparison are these religious (cult?) movements in our ghettos who are sometimes regarded as below overt criminality, but other times are not. Even before official persecution, many were very suspicious of Christians and they were often the victims of local persecution. There were exceptions, but early Christianity had a fantastic appeal toward the downtrodden, as there were messages like “The first would be last”, “No rich man shall enter the kingdom of God”. “Blessed are the meek”. And while there were exceptions to these rules, one has to ask if they were typical.

  • Michael B.

    @Klasie

    There have been estimates that in the Roman empire under the best of times, about 10% of the population was literate. You can imagine the odds of a rural fisherman in rural Palestine being able to read and write. If you don’t believe modern scholarship, maybe you’ll believe the author of Acts, who calls Peter and John “unlettered”. (Acts 4)

    It is true that being illiterate was typical, but early Christianity is not something that appealed to the more respectful in society. A good comparison are these religious (cult?) movements in our ghettos who are sometimes regarded as below overt criminality, but other times are not. Even before official persecution, many were very suspicious of Christians and they were often the victims of local persecution. There were exceptions, but early Christianity had a fantastic appeal toward the downtrodden, as there were messages like “The first would be last”, “No rich man shall enter the kingdom of God”. “Blessed are the meek”. And while there were exceptions to these rules, one has to ask if they were typical.

  • BW

    Michael B. @ 37

    I think that passage in Acts 4, read in context, can also be taken to mean, and probably more likely, that the Jewish council were amazed at how Peter and John were speaking and quoting Scripture since they hadn’t been been through “higher” education to become rabbis.

    But also, you said

    It is true that being illiterate was typical, but early Christianity is not something that appealed to the more respectful in society

    It is evident that Christianity did attract quite a number of folks from all levels of society. You’re ignoring people like the centurion who asked Christ to heal his slave, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimethea, the centurion at the crucifixion who admitted Christ had to be God, the Ethiopean eunuch in Acts who also was a court official of the queen, just to name a few.

  • BW

    Michael B. @ 37

    I think that passage in Acts 4, read in context, can also be taken to mean, and probably more likely, that the Jewish council were amazed at how Peter and John were speaking and quoting Scripture since they hadn’t been been through “higher” education to become rabbis.

    But also, you said

    It is true that being illiterate was typical, but early Christianity is not something that appealed to the more respectful in society

    It is evident that Christianity did attract quite a number of folks from all levels of society. You’re ignoring people like the centurion who asked Christ to heal his slave, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimethea, the centurion at the crucifixion who admitted Christ had to be God, the Ethiopean eunuch in Acts who also was a court official of the queen, just to name a few.

  • BW

    And don’t forget too, the amount of Christian fathers who write in the 2nd century, like Clement, Irenaus, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Papias, Polycarp…etc. Quite a lot of writing is generated by early Christians.

  • BW

    And don’t forget too, the amount of Christian fathers who write in the 2nd century, like Clement, Irenaus, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Papias, Polycarp…etc. Quite a lot of writing is generated by early Christians.

  • Michael B.

    @BW

    I can’t imagine that the message of early Christianity would have been especially appealing for those people. A tax collector and a centurion probably made a half way decent living. Not to mention the rich man who asks Jesus what he must do to enter heaven. But Jesus seems to say, “if you follow my message, you’re no longer a tax collector or a rich man. Are you sure?”. It’s not like what you see a lot of today, where Christianity is a yuppie’s accessory.

  • Michael B.

    @BW

    I can’t imagine that the message of early Christianity would have been especially appealing for those people. A tax collector and a centurion probably made a half way decent living. Not to mention the rich man who asks Jesus what he must do to enter heaven. But Jesus seems to say, “if you follow my message, you’re no longer a tax collector or a rich man. Are you sure?”. It’s not like what you see a lot of today, where Christianity is a yuppie’s accessory.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michael B, so it appears I was a bit hasty – I read up some more, and all in all it appears that determining the literacy rates of Second Temple Israel is very difficult to estimate, so apologies for that harsher part of my arguments above.

    However, overall rates do not determine individual status – ie, we cannot say if the disciples were literate or not, when Jesus called them.

    Also, your argument is underlain by a political agenda: You are attempting to counter what you perceive as the pro-rich agenda of the American right (it is very obvious, don’t deny). But to do that, you make several mistakes. “Poor” is a relative term, not only economically, but also culturally. It seems, from reading Scripture, that “poor” refers to people that cannot take care of themselves, which would exclude fisherman, for instance, from that definition. While we might define them as “poor”, how were they defining themselves? Difficult to answer, except indirectly, as I indicated above.

    Furthermore, you make very broad statements such as “yuppie’s accessory”. How many yuppies do you know?

    As to the poor and meek in general, I think you are being far too parochial. I have been a Christian among third world, uneducated people, as well as first world wealthy folks, as well as everything in between. In the modern context then, I can emphatically state that the issues of greed and selfishness do not change when you go up the pay scale. I think you have a projected, romanticized image of the poor. You are also forgetting context: In pre-Christian Roman Palestinbe, wealth bought you religious favours. Remember, a wealthy man could easily display his wealth by his offerings, apart from tithes (oxen vs doves…..). Thus the appearance of buying into God’s favour would be created, although that was very much not the teachings of Talmudic Judaism. But there were also common beliefs, evidenced by the disciples’ response to Jesus, that wealth meant you were a good boy – which seems to have been based on interpretations of the blessing expressed in the Torah. This Jesus corrected by his treatment and attitude towards the poor. He brought back the then seemingly forgotten parts of the Torah, where charity was encouraged.

    Context, context, context.

    It doesn’t mean that if we find ourselves in one ditch, we must run right across the road to the other…..

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Michael B, so it appears I was a bit hasty – I read up some more, and all in all it appears that determining the literacy rates of Second Temple Israel is very difficult to estimate, so apologies for that harsher part of my arguments above.

    However, overall rates do not determine individual status – ie, we cannot say if the disciples were literate or not, when Jesus called them.

    Also, your argument is underlain by a political agenda: You are attempting to counter what you perceive as the pro-rich agenda of the American right (it is very obvious, don’t deny). But to do that, you make several mistakes. “Poor” is a relative term, not only economically, but also culturally. It seems, from reading Scripture, that “poor” refers to people that cannot take care of themselves, which would exclude fisherman, for instance, from that definition. While we might define them as “poor”, how were they defining themselves? Difficult to answer, except indirectly, as I indicated above.

    Furthermore, you make very broad statements such as “yuppie’s accessory”. How many yuppies do you know?

    As to the poor and meek in general, I think you are being far too parochial. I have been a Christian among third world, uneducated people, as well as first world wealthy folks, as well as everything in between. In the modern context then, I can emphatically state that the issues of greed and selfishness do not change when you go up the pay scale. I think you have a projected, romanticized image of the poor. You are also forgetting context: In pre-Christian Roman Palestinbe, wealth bought you religious favours. Remember, a wealthy man could easily display his wealth by his offerings, apart from tithes (oxen vs doves…..). Thus the appearance of buying into God’s favour would be created, although that was very much not the teachings of Talmudic Judaism. But there were also common beliefs, evidenced by the disciples’ response to Jesus, that wealth meant you were a good boy – which seems to have been based on interpretations of the blessing expressed in the Torah. This Jesus corrected by his treatment and attitude towards the poor. He brought back the then seemingly forgotten parts of the Torah, where charity was encouraged.

    Context, context, context.

    It doesn’t mean that if we find ourselves in one ditch, we must run right across the road to the other…..

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  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. said (@37):

    If you don’t believe modern scholarship…

    I’m sorry, is someone here citing “modern scholarship”? Because here’s what I read:

    There have been estimates that in the Roman empire under the best of times, about 10% of the population was literate.

    That is the scholaraly equivalent of “I heard from a friend of a friend that …” Besides, if at least 90% of the population was illiterate (your claim), then your other claim — the one you’re ostensibly defending with all this flailing — loses its point. Nearly every movement would have been “for the unlettered and downtrodden”, because that’s pretty much all there were. Christianity would have not been unique in that way. Yet you’re obviously trying to single it out.

    You can imagine the odds of a rural fisherman in rural Palestine being able to read and write.

    I can imagine that imagination is the basis of most of your claims here. I don’t know what the odds were, but I know better than to foolishly claim that some (heretofore unspecified) estimate for the entire Roman Empire could be uniformly applied to any particular region, especially one with the cultural distinctives that those in Palestine had.

    There were messages like … “No rich man shall enter the kingdom of God”.

    Oh were there? Shall I imagine that’s true, or will you tell me where it says that “no rich man” can be saved? Or has there just been an estimate that the Bible says that?

    I can’t imagine that the message of early Christianity would have been especially appealing for those people.

    You see? We’re not discussing facts here, we’re discussing your imagination — what you, personally, can fathom.

    You are, after all, the same Michael B. who once told a fellow commenter this:

    I doubt your claim that you’re in medical school. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s not typical that bright people such as medical students believe that women shouldn’t have control over their reproductive decisions.

    So you’ll understand, perhaps, if I’m not really concerned with what you can imagine. Your worldview is incredibly narrow.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. said (@37):

    If you don’t believe modern scholarship…

    I’m sorry, is someone here citing “modern scholarship”? Because here’s what I read:

    There have been estimates that in the Roman empire under the best of times, about 10% of the population was literate.

    That is the scholaraly equivalent of “I heard from a friend of a friend that …” Besides, if at least 90% of the population was illiterate (your claim), then your other claim — the one you’re ostensibly defending with all this flailing — loses its point. Nearly every movement would have been “for the unlettered and downtrodden”, because that’s pretty much all there were. Christianity would have not been unique in that way. Yet you’re obviously trying to single it out.

    You can imagine the odds of a rural fisherman in rural Palestine being able to read and write.

    I can imagine that imagination is the basis of most of your claims here. I don’t know what the odds were, but I know better than to foolishly claim that some (heretofore unspecified) estimate for the entire Roman Empire could be uniformly applied to any particular region, especially one with the cultural distinctives that those in Palestine had.

    There were messages like … “No rich man shall enter the kingdom of God”.

    Oh were there? Shall I imagine that’s true, or will you tell me where it says that “no rich man” can be saved? Or has there just been an estimate that the Bible says that?

    I can’t imagine that the message of early Christianity would have been especially appealing for those people.

    You see? We’re not discussing facts here, we’re discussing your imagination — what you, personally, can fathom.

    You are, after all, the same Michael B. who once told a fellow commenter this:

    I doubt your claim that you’re in medical school. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s not typical that bright people such as medical students believe that women shouldn’t have control over their reproductive decisions.

    So you’ll understand, perhaps, if I’m not really concerned with what you can imagine. Your worldview is incredibly narrow.

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

    I was just asking my husband about literacy among Romans and he said that since tons of graffiti has been found by archaeologists, they figure it was a pretty literate society. I seem to remember that from some linguistics class. Anyway, just for the fun of it there is the old skit:

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

    I was just asking my husband about literacy among Romans and he said that since tons of graffiti has been found by archaeologists, they figure it was a pretty literate society. I seem to remember that from some linguistics class. Anyway, just for the fun of it there is the old skit:

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, Michael projects his feelings or perceptions onto others, and then imagines that that is how they think/feel. No real concept of data, spatial/cultural/chronological differences – as you say, an incredibly narrow outlook.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, Michael projects his feelings or perceptions onto others, and then imagines that that is how they think/feel. No real concept of data, spatial/cultural/chronological differences – as you say, an incredibly narrow outlook.

  • jem

    The general condition of the modern church in the USA tends to promote weakness and lowering standards in a declining culture. Instead of the elders (the older experienced brothers) bringing the younger ones up to a higher level. We take the present youth culture and try to incorporate it into the church. So then we are all made to descend to a lower level. The Worship of God is brought down to more of a performance by musicians with modern hymns that have lower doctrinal content. The thought of entering to the Holiest of All is set aside. We seem to be in the Laodician phase of the church. Sorry, but as we seem to be more and more conformed to the declining culture there seems to be no real remedy but the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • jem

    The general condition of the modern church in the USA tends to promote weakness and lowering standards in a declining culture. Instead of the elders (the older experienced brothers) bringing the younger ones up to a higher level. We take the present youth culture and try to incorporate it into the church. So then we are all made to descend to a lower level. The Worship of God is brought down to more of a performance by musicians with modern hymns that have lower doctrinal content. The thought of entering to the Holiest of All is set aside. We seem to be in the Laodician phase of the church. Sorry, but as we seem to be more and more conformed to the declining culture there seems to be no real remedy but the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • Cincinnatus

    So anyway, the point of the article in question isn’t that Christianity has returned to its original appeal to the “poor and downtrodden,” assuming those are valid categories–after all, the liturgical traditions were specifically articulated to communicate Christian practice and doctrine without the need for expansive sermons and complex creeds–but that contemporary “liturgical” practices are intentionally designed to appeal to adolescents to the exclusion of other, more respectable levels of maturity.

    “Praise” songs evoke the impulses of teenage, emotive romances. Sermons are laced with adolescent slang. Spectacular visual aids, etc., are pitched to our ADD-addled youth. Comparatively vast sums are invested in “youth” programs, while specifically adult–or better, universal–discipleship and catechism is neglected. Is this not the case? I know it’s the case from personal experience. In fact, it was difficult for me to find a congregation that took mature liturgy seriously in my current hometown, even after visiting many, many churches, and casting an ecumenical net.

    And yeah, the ideas kitschy ideas belonged to the baby-boomers. But they raised a generation of liturgical illiterates.

  • Cincinnatus

    So anyway, the point of the article in question isn’t that Christianity has returned to its original appeal to the “poor and downtrodden,” assuming those are valid categories–after all, the liturgical traditions were specifically articulated to communicate Christian practice and doctrine without the need for expansive sermons and complex creeds–but that contemporary “liturgical” practices are intentionally designed to appeal to adolescents to the exclusion of other, more respectable levels of maturity.

    “Praise” songs evoke the impulses of teenage, emotive romances. Sermons are laced with adolescent slang. Spectacular visual aids, etc., are pitched to our ADD-addled youth. Comparatively vast sums are invested in “youth” programs, while specifically adult–or better, universal–discipleship and catechism is neglected. Is this not the case? I know it’s the case from personal experience. In fact, it was difficult for me to find a congregation that took mature liturgy seriously in my current hometown, even after visiting many, many churches, and casting an ecumenical net.

    And yeah, the ideas kitschy ideas belonged to the baby-boomers. But they raised a generation of liturgical illiterates.

  • Cincinnatus

    And my comment is the most superficial of superficial accounts of the atmosphere typical in today’s juvenile worship habits, of course.

  • Cincinnatus

    And my comment is the most superficial of superficial accounts of the atmosphere typical in today’s juvenile worship habits, of course.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    I forget where I heard this, but somebody once said that arguing with a fundamentalist is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter what move you make, the pigeon will knock over pieces, defecate on the board, and strut around triumphantly. A quick Google search reveals several sources on literacy in the Roman Empire. Are you arguing that Galilee was this shining exception to the rule? Again, a quick Google search gives you this:
    “if literacy rates were low as we think…William V. Harris’s comprehensive study suggests 10 percent for the empire…There is little reason to suppose that literacy was more common in Galilee than elsewhere in the Roman world; given that the region was mostly rural, it may have been even less common.” See http link below.

    Then you doubt what the Bible says about the rich. “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19) Does rich mean something else here? Or was there a way that the young man could have kept his riches and still entered the Kingdom of God, but Jesus just wasn’t telling him about it?

    Finally, you completely change the topic, which people often do when they feel they are losing. I’ll address it anyway. I still stand by what I said about the poster “MedicalStudent”, who doesn’t support reproductive choice. It might not be politically correct to say so, but there are links between lack of education and ideas like “a zygote is a person”, “the earth is ten thousand years old”, and “homosexuality is evil”. Here’s one for abortion: http://www.gallup.com/poll/127559/education-trumps-gender-predicting-support-abortion.aspx. Here’s one on evolution: http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/hold-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx. There are several on gay marriage as well. And pointing to studies doesn’t mean you can’t use plain common sense. How often do you meet people who are vigorously against reproductive choice, but the women in the family are very well educated, and in this case actually going to medical school?

    P.S. We’re taking the kids to visit family in another city for a birthday party this weekend. If I don’t respond to your post right away, don’t think I’m being rude.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=q4AYezkifKoC&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=literacy+rates+galilee&source=bl&ots=ayJmhiJb9Q&sig=NqZrZfbxR1MK6S5cfYlPDwY7as0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=I4fST9_xN-G46QH0teSHAw&ved=0CFQQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=literacy%20rates%20galilee&f=false

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    I forget where I heard this, but somebody once said that arguing with a fundamentalist is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter what move you make, the pigeon will knock over pieces, defecate on the board, and strut around triumphantly. A quick Google search reveals several sources on literacy in the Roman Empire. Are you arguing that Galilee was this shining exception to the rule? Again, a quick Google search gives you this:
    “if literacy rates were low as we think…William V. Harris’s comprehensive study suggests 10 percent for the empire…There is little reason to suppose that literacy was more common in Galilee than elsewhere in the Roman world; given that the region was mostly rural, it may have been even less common.” See http link below.

    Then you doubt what the Bible says about the rich. “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19) Does rich mean something else here? Or was there a way that the young man could have kept his riches and still entered the Kingdom of God, but Jesus just wasn’t telling him about it?

    Finally, you completely change the topic, which people often do when they feel they are losing. I’ll address it anyway. I still stand by what I said about the poster “MedicalStudent”, who doesn’t support reproductive choice. It might not be politically correct to say so, but there are links between lack of education and ideas like “a zygote is a person”, “the earth is ten thousand years old”, and “homosexuality is evil”. Here’s one for abortion: http://www.gallup.com/poll/127559/education-trumps-gender-predicting-support-abortion.aspx. Here’s one on evolution: http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/hold-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx. There are several on gay marriage as well. And pointing to studies doesn’t mean you can’t use plain common sense. How often do you meet people who are vigorously against reproductive choice, but the women in the family are very well educated, and in this case actually going to medical school?

    P.S. We’re taking the kids to visit family in another city for a birthday party this weekend. If I don’t respond to your post right away, don’t think I’m being rude.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=q4AYezkifKoC&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=literacy+rates+galilee&source=bl&ots=ayJmhiJb9Q&sig=NqZrZfbxR1MK6S5cfYlPDwY7as0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=I4fST9_xN-G46QH0teSHAw&ved=0CFQQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=literacy%20rates%20galilee&f=false

  • Stephen

    Liturgically Illiterate. That’s excellent. I’m stashing that one away.

    In the Gospel of John Jesus is found writing in the dirt when the woman is brought to him who was caught in adultery. The Greek word could also be construed as “drawing” but I don’t think a good Jew would be drawing. Jewish boys would have learned to read the Torah scrolls in a language they didn’t actually speak, Hebrew, and perhaps also in Greek. Jesus does this in the temple before he gets run out of town. But he seems to have actually spoken in Aramaic, and there is an Aramaic NT called the Peshitta, but it was taken from Greek, or so it is thought, in the 1st or more likely 2nd c.

    Also, Jesus was described as having a father, Joseph, who was a “technia” which we commonly understand to be carpenter, but it really just means tradesman. Any moderately successful tradesman would need to be able to function in a Roman society that used Koine Greek as the language of commerce (and the language of the NT). This includes writing it. In fact, much of what is known about Koine comes from sources like business records and transactions. This was due to Alexander conquering everything around there a couple hundred years before the 1st c. So we can say that Jesus probably knew three languages, maybe wrote at least two of them, and there’s no reason to think his disciples did not also know three in a similar way. There is much more to say about the assumptions we make about fisherman being a bunch of illiterates. They were businessmen as well, and it seems James and John, Peter and Andrew had family businesses.

    The best illustration I have of what is how it is in India today. Because of British colonization, English is the best language for getting around the entire country. Otherwise, with something like 15 regional languages and 200 + dialects, people in the country could not communicate. Even though kids learn Hindi because it is the national language, it would be more learning Latin or Greek today, or how Hebrew was in the 1st c. Palestine. You know it, but you don’t actually converse in it if you live in the south of India. So most people speak their regional language and perhaps even a dialect as well, like being Cajun for instance. English in India is something like Koine Greek would have been. And kids are still taught it in public school. Imagine asking questions in one language, writing it down in characters borrowed from another, reading books in still another, then going home and speaking a yet another.

    By the way, when Jesus or Paul quote the OT, it seems to be the Septuagint – a Greek version. For sure Paul, but not as easy to tell with Jesus. However, the Hebrew language was still used in the temple liturgy. Think of it like Latin in the old Roman Catholic Mass. All very confusing because it was a much more linguistically fluid situation, one that the WASPish among us might have a hard time imagining.

    The last thing is that it seems Paul dictated his letters to a greater or lesser degree. There is no reason to think that this is not also true of the Gospel writers. God works through means, like scribes who make a living writing. I’m not saying it did happen that way, but it is not completely unlikely. That probably rubs people the wrong way, but we know from Paul that there was an oral tradition before there was a written one in that he quotes things that are not found in other scripture such as Phil 2:5-11.

  • Stephen

    Liturgically Illiterate. That’s excellent. I’m stashing that one away.

    In the Gospel of John Jesus is found writing in the dirt when the woman is brought to him who was caught in adultery. The Greek word could also be construed as “drawing” but I don’t think a good Jew would be drawing. Jewish boys would have learned to read the Torah scrolls in a language they didn’t actually speak, Hebrew, and perhaps also in Greek. Jesus does this in the temple before he gets run out of town. But he seems to have actually spoken in Aramaic, and there is an Aramaic NT called the Peshitta, but it was taken from Greek, or so it is thought, in the 1st or more likely 2nd c.

    Also, Jesus was described as having a father, Joseph, who was a “technia” which we commonly understand to be carpenter, but it really just means tradesman. Any moderately successful tradesman would need to be able to function in a Roman society that used Koine Greek as the language of commerce (and the language of the NT). This includes writing it. In fact, much of what is known about Koine comes from sources like business records and transactions. This was due to Alexander conquering everything around there a couple hundred years before the 1st c. So we can say that Jesus probably knew three languages, maybe wrote at least two of them, and there’s no reason to think his disciples did not also know three in a similar way. There is much more to say about the assumptions we make about fisherman being a bunch of illiterates. They were businessmen as well, and it seems James and John, Peter and Andrew had family businesses.

    The best illustration I have of what is how it is in India today. Because of British colonization, English is the best language for getting around the entire country. Otherwise, with something like 15 regional languages and 200 + dialects, people in the country could not communicate. Even though kids learn Hindi because it is the national language, it would be more learning Latin or Greek today, or how Hebrew was in the 1st c. Palestine. You know it, but you don’t actually converse in it if you live in the south of India. So most people speak their regional language and perhaps even a dialect as well, like being Cajun for instance. English in India is something like Koine Greek would have been. And kids are still taught it in public school. Imagine asking questions in one language, writing it down in characters borrowed from another, reading books in still another, then going home and speaking a yet another.

    By the way, when Jesus or Paul quote the OT, it seems to be the Septuagint – a Greek version. For sure Paul, but not as easy to tell with Jesus. However, the Hebrew language was still used in the temple liturgy. Think of it like Latin in the old Roman Catholic Mass. All very confusing because it was a much more linguistically fluid situation, one that the WASPish among us might have a hard time imagining.

    The last thing is that it seems Paul dictated his letters to a greater or lesser degree. There is no reason to think that this is not also true of the Gospel writers. God works through means, like scribes who make a living writing. I’m not saying it did happen that way, but it is not completely unlikely. That probably rubs people the wrong way, but we know from Paul that there was an oral tradition before there was a written one in that he quotes things that are not found in other scripture such as Phil 2:5-11.

  • Stephen

    Michael B.

    You are forgetting (or this person you quote is – I didn’t check the links, it’s late) that the Hebrews had a very closed culture of its own centered around worship and most especially, the Torah. The need to carry on the tradition implied literacy for every male, perhaps to a degree less common in that time in the entire empire. No, they probably were clueless in Latin, and so were many Romans because Greek was the lingua franca of the time. But from what I wrote in my previous post, I think it is safe to say that they all spoke at least three languages and could write some.

  • Stephen

    Michael B.

    You are forgetting (or this person you quote is – I didn’t check the links, it’s late) that the Hebrews had a very closed culture of its own centered around worship and most especially, the Torah. The need to carry on the tradition implied literacy for every male, perhaps to a degree less common in that time in the entire empire. No, they probably were clueless in Latin, and so were many Romans because Greek was the lingua franca of the time. But from what I wrote in my previous post, I think it is safe to say that they all spoke at least three languages and could write some.

  • Stephen

    A couple other things Michael.

    The argument that intelligent people have certain views means . . . well nothing really. An IS, as they say, is not an OUGHT. 1930s Germany – a civilization of people who excelled in the arts and sciences and pretty much every intellectual pursuit. I hate to pull the Nazi card, but all that high culture imbedded in German history and language, etc. didn’t stop what happened. People will believe some crazy stuff en masse, especially when they are lead to believe there own well-being is at stake and the other person (fetus) is the problem.

    Also, what you say about the early church appealing to mostly the poor is really just speculative. Even Roman soldiers came to Jesus for help. In the gospels, we also know that Jesus got invited to swanky parties with important people. The rich man did come to Jesus. Zacheus was a wee little man, and a wealthy one too. There is also evidence that there were wealthy Christians who helped finance the early church and send money back to Jerusalem. For all that can be deduced from the texts we have, Christianity had a broad appeal then just as it does today.

    I was just talking with a friend today about how unremarkable Jesus was a person. That is not to say he was illiterate, but to say he was common, common in every way but one – he was without sin.

  • Stephen

    A couple other things Michael.

    The argument that intelligent people have certain views means . . . well nothing really. An IS, as they say, is not an OUGHT. 1930s Germany – a civilization of people who excelled in the arts and sciences and pretty much every intellectual pursuit. I hate to pull the Nazi card, but all that high culture imbedded in German history and language, etc. didn’t stop what happened. People will believe some crazy stuff en masse, especially when they are lead to believe there own well-being is at stake and the other person (fetus) is the problem.

    Also, what you say about the early church appealing to mostly the poor is really just speculative. Even Roman soldiers came to Jesus for help. In the gospels, we also know that Jesus got invited to swanky parties with important people. The rich man did come to Jesus. Zacheus was a wee little man, and a wealthy one too. There is also evidence that there were wealthy Christians who helped finance the early church and send money back to Jerusalem. For all that can be deduced from the texts we have, Christianity had a broad appeal then just as it does today.

    I was just talking with a friend today about how unremarkable Jesus was a person. That is not to say he was illiterate, but to say he was common, common in every way but one – he was without sin.

  • BW

    Michael B @ 40

    Whether or not you can imagine it, Joseph of Arimathea is mentioned as a disciple of Christ in John 19, Nicodemus did come to Christ asking questions in John 3, the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized by Phillip, and the centurion did exclaim that Christ must’ve been the Son of God. Don’t forget about the multitudes, including tax collectors and soldiers, of people that came to see and be baptized by John the Baptist. And as Stephen mentioned, Zaccahaeus too was a wealthy man who wanted to see Jesus.

    Also, the point of the Matthew 19 passage is that Christ is crushing this young man’s hopes that he can somehow earn his way into heaven by keeping the Law? Christ intends humble this guy who thinks he’s making the grade and has done a great job in this life on Earth. It’s not about excluding rich from the Kingdom of Heaven.

    @48 You use the term fundamentalist. Do you know the history and usage of that word? Or are you using it for shock value? Are you saying that tODD agrees with the fundamentals of Christianity, like the Princeton types at the start of the 20th century (BB Warfield)? Cause it sounds like he does, though he’d probably add a more sacrmental emphasis to them, being a Lutheran, than those old Presbyterian guys. Or are you using it as it was used to describe the Iranian muslim extremists during the Iranian Revolution and Hostage Crisis? Because I’m pretty sure tODD in no way, shape, or form desires to attempt to “spread” Christianity by force like that. Either way, I really don’t think the term fundamentalist describes anyone on this thread. As a common lurker on this blog, I have to say that of all the people to drop that word on, it’s amusing you drop it on tODD.

    Anyway, I do think tODD’s point stands. It’s very close minded of you to find data, like MedStudent and others, that don’t fit your idea of how a certain group should think, and then just to exclude it. There are also studies showing links between lack of education and lack of church attendance so I’m not sure what you are getting at. http://www.geneveith.com/2011/08/26/who-the-unchurched-actually-are/

    You should know full well the wide range of ideas and views represented on this blog.

  • BW

    Michael B @ 40

    Whether or not you can imagine it, Joseph of Arimathea is mentioned as a disciple of Christ in John 19, Nicodemus did come to Christ asking questions in John 3, the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized by Phillip, and the centurion did exclaim that Christ must’ve been the Son of God. Don’t forget about the multitudes, including tax collectors and soldiers, of people that came to see and be baptized by John the Baptist. And as Stephen mentioned, Zaccahaeus too was a wealthy man who wanted to see Jesus.

    Also, the point of the Matthew 19 passage is that Christ is crushing this young man’s hopes that he can somehow earn his way into heaven by keeping the Law? Christ intends humble this guy who thinks he’s making the grade and has done a great job in this life on Earth. It’s not about excluding rich from the Kingdom of Heaven.

    @48 You use the term fundamentalist. Do you know the history and usage of that word? Or are you using it for shock value? Are you saying that tODD agrees with the fundamentals of Christianity, like the Princeton types at the start of the 20th century (BB Warfield)? Cause it sounds like he does, though he’d probably add a more sacrmental emphasis to them, being a Lutheran, than those old Presbyterian guys. Or are you using it as it was used to describe the Iranian muslim extremists during the Iranian Revolution and Hostage Crisis? Because I’m pretty sure tODD in no way, shape, or form desires to attempt to “spread” Christianity by force like that. Either way, I really don’t think the term fundamentalist describes anyone on this thread. As a common lurker on this blog, I have to say that of all the people to drop that word on, it’s amusing you drop it on tODD.

    Anyway, I do think tODD’s point stands. It’s very close minded of you to find data, like MedStudent and others, that don’t fit your idea of how a certain group should think, and then just to exclude it. There are also studies showing links between lack of education and lack of church attendance so I’m not sure what you are getting at. http://www.geneveith.com/2011/08/26/who-the-unchurched-actually-are/

    You should know full well the wide range of ideas and views represented on this blog.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I must agree with BW – dropping “fundamentalist” on Todd is quite funny. I mean, he is often counted among the “liberals” here.

    But what is really happening here is that Michael is giving us a nice illustration of what happened in the other post about anti-contraception folks being anti-science. If you don’t agree with someone, label them with some degrading label, and hey presto, you’ve won the argument. Whether it agrees with the facts or not.

    Not only did our Pullitzer-winning journalist do it, but it is a favourite rhetorical trick among demagogues. And it is beneath contempt.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I must agree with BW – dropping “fundamentalist” on Todd is quite funny. I mean, he is often counted among the “liberals” here.

    But what is really happening here is that Michael is giving us a nice illustration of what happened in the other post about anti-contraception folks being anti-science. If you don’t agree with someone, label them with some degrading label, and hey presto, you’ve won the argument. Whether it agrees with the facts or not.

    Not only did our Pullitzer-winning journalist do it, but it is a favourite rhetorical trick among demagogues. And it is beneath contempt.

  • Med Student

    Interesting, I had never checked back on that thread where I posted my views on paying for other people’s birth control/abortion…didn’t know Michael B. called me a liar. Well, if you check back here, Michael, I’m really must say I’m not sure how to respond to that, except so say that you seem to be the close-minded one here, not me. You were the one on that thread telling me how I should think as an educated woman (how chauvinist of you!) I don’t suppose there’s anyway to definitively prove to you that I’m not a liar, but I am in fact a medical student at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Sorry to upset your worldview so badly that you were forced to accuse me of making it up.

  • Med Student

    Interesting, I had never checked back on that thread where I posted my views on paying for other people’s birth control/abortion…didn’t know Michael B. called me a liar. Well, if you check back here, Michael, I’m really must say I’m not sure how to respond to that, except so say that you seem to be the close-minded one here, not me. You were the one on that thread telling me how I should think as an educated woman (how chauvinist of you!) I don’t suppose there’s anyway to definitively prove to you that I’m not a liar, but I am in fact a medical student at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Sorry to upset your worldview so badly that you were forced to accuse me of making it up.

  • JunkerGeorg

    I’ve found it quite easy to inform the young, impressionable minds of my confirmands regarding the juvenilization of Christianity in terms of “Contemporary Worship”. I just present a parallel to the youth, asking them to imagine their grandmother rapping to Snoop Doggy Dogg. Works like a charm.

    Now, their Boomer parents on the other hand….well, that is much more difficult.

  • JunkerGeorg

    I’ve found it quite easy to inform the young, impressionable minds of my confirmands regarding the juvenilization of Christianity in terms of “Contemporary Worship”. I just present a parallel to the youth, asking them to imagine their grandmother rapping to Snoop Doggy Dogg. Works like a charm.

    Now, their Boomer parents on the other hand….well, that is much more difficult.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@48) said:

    I forget where I heard this, but somebody once said that arguing with a fundamentalist is like playing chess with a pigeon.

    Criminy, Michael! Even your insults are shoddily sourced!

    Anyhow, if you honestly believe I’m a “fundamentalist”, then I’m all the more convinced that you have a remarkably narrow understanding of the world, one with very simple pigeonholes (ha! See what I did there?) into which everything fits tidily.

    But hey, you wanna trade links to Google Books? Fine. Here’s one I found:

    He refers firstly to the classic work of Harris on literacy in the Graeco-Roman world, fromw hich he gets a figure of less than 10 per cent literacy. Harris however offered a minimalist reading of the Graeco-Roman evidence, and responses by other scholars provided solid evidence for a higher degree of literacy in the Graeco-Roman world. The application of this to Judaism is moreover a major cultural mistake. … One of the most important differences between Judaism and the Gentile world was that Judaism was centred on the Torah. … Moreover, Joesphus is quite specific in saying that the Law … orders children to learn ‘letters’. … Simeon ben Shetah is said to have laid down that children should attend beth ha-sepher, literally ‘the house of the book’. It does not follow that there was any such institution in Nazareth, but the tradition does fit with the view of children knowing the Torah as we have seen it in Josephus and Philo.

    So yeah, again, if you (or your source) are merely applying some Roman Empire statistic you read somewhere to the particular area of Palestine without taking into consideration the particular culture of the Jews, then I’m less inclined to believe that claim than one that, you know, shows some understanding of the particular culture in question.

    Then you doubt what the Bible says about the rich. “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

    You proof-text like a fundamentalist, Michael! Please read the full context of that quote. Does it say “No rich man shall enter the kingdom of God”? Or is the passage you quote followed immediately by this:

    When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    So, again, Jesus explicitly says “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,” but that is notably different from your claim, especially in light of what is possible with God.

    Finally, you completely change the topic, which people often do when they feel they are losing.

    Not changing the topic, just broadening it. You have repeatedly demonstrated on this blog your narrow liberal worldview. This discussion, with your saying “I can’t imagine that the message of early Christianity…”, is just one example. As was that absolutely farcical accusation you levied at Med Student. I mean, you literally cannot even imagine a world where educated people disagree with you!

    If I were so inclined (it’s late enough already; I am not so inclined), I could dig up more reactions from you in which you express shock or surprise at how Christians discuss things on this blog. You simply don’t sound like someone who has been exposed to a lot of other people’s thinking — notably, those who disagree with you, particularly Christians.

    For that reason, I’m not terribly interested in what you’re capable of imagining regarding factual claims, especially those involving Christianity.

    I mean, even now, you’re doubling down on your claim about “MedicalStudent [sic]“. I just want you to know what that does to your credibility, when you’re literally forced to call a person a liar because you foolishly attempt to argue that the results of a poll mean that there can be no exceptions to that poll in your presence.

    How often do you meet people who are vigorously against reproductive choice, but the women in the family are very well educated, and in this case actually going to medical school?

    Ignoring your line-toeing liberalese there, my wife has two master’s degrees (one from Berkeley) and is pro-life. So, I don’t know, I’d say I meet them at least once a day. It’s sad to see you attempt to defend this position of yours.

    You really do need to get out more.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@48) said:

    I forget where I heard this, but somebody once said that arguing with a fundamentalist is like playing chess with a pigeon.

    Criminy, Michael! Even your insults are shoddily sourced!

    Anyhow, if you honestly believe I’m a “fundamentalist”, then I’m all the more convinced that you have a remarkably narrow understanding of the world, one with very simple pigeonholes (ha! See what I did there?) into which everything fits tidily.

    But hey, you wanna trade links to Google Books? Fine. Here’s one I found:

    He refers firstly to the classic work of Harris on literacy in the Graeco-Roman world, fromw hich he gets a figure of less than 10 per cent literacy. Harris however offered a minimalist reading of the Graeco-Roman evidence, and responses by other scholars provided solid evidence for a higher degree of literacy in the Graeco-Roman world. The application of this to Judaism is moreover a major cultural mistake. … One of the most important differences between Judaism and the Gentile world was that Judaism was centred on the Torah. … Moreover, Joesphus is quite specific in saying that the Law … orders children to learn ‘letters’. … Simeon ben Shetah is said to have laid down that children should attend beth ha-sepher, literally ‘the house of the book’. It does not follow that there was any such institution in Nazareth, but the tradition does fit with the view of children knowing the Torah as we have seen it in Josephus and Philo.

    So yeah, again, if you (or your source) are merely applying some Roman Empire statistic you read somewhere to the particular area of Palestine without taking into consideration the particular culture of the Jews, then I’m less inclined to believe that claim than one that, you know, shows some understanding of the particular culture in question.

    Then you doubt what the Bible says about the rich. “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

    You proof-text like a fundamentalist, Michael! Please read the full context of that quote. Does it say “No rich man shall enter the kingdom of God”? Or is the passage you quote followed immediately by this:

    When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    So, again, Jesus explicitly says “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,” but that is notably different from your claim, especially in light of what is possible with God.

    Finally, you completely change the topic, which people often do when they feel they are losing.

    Not changing the topic, just broadening it. You have repeatedly demonstrated on this blog your narrow liberal worldview. This discussion, with your saying “I can’t imagine that the message of early Christianity…”, is just one example. As was that absolutely farcical accusation you levied at Med Student. I mean, you literally cannot even imagine a world where educated people disagree with you!

    If I were so inclined (it’s late enough already; I am not so inclined), I could dig up more reactions from you in which you express shock or surprise at how Christians discuss things on this blog. You simply don’t sound like someone who has been exposed to a lot of other people’s thinking — notably, those who disagree with you, particularly Christians.

    For that reason, I’m not terribly interested in what you’re capable of imagining regarding factual claims, especially those involving Christianity.

    I mean, even now, you’re doubling down on your claim about “MedicalStudent [sic]“. I just want you to know what that does to your credibility, when you’re literally forced to call a person a liar because you foolishly attempt to argue that the results of a poll mean that there can be no exceptions to that poll in your presence.

    How often do you meet people who are vigorously against reproductive choice, but the women in the family are very well educated, and in this case actually going to medical school?

    Ignoring your line-toeing liberalese there, my wife has two master’s degrees (one from Berkeley) and is pro-life. So, I don’t know, I’d say I meet them at least once a day. It’s sad to see you attempt to defend this position of yours.

    You really do need to get out more.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, Michael is an extreme pigeonholer. If you believe this one thing, it implies that you are thus and thus and thus.

    I would like to see Michael put forward a set of parameters for conservative and liberal, and see how many of the people here actually measure up to his ideas…..

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd, Michael is an extreme pigeonholer. If you believe this one thing, it implies that you are thus and thus and thus.

    I would like to see Michael put forward a set of parameters for conservative and liberal, and see how many of the people here actually measure up to his ideas…..

  • JunkerGeorg

    KK@57,

    Should lock Michael in a room with certain other poster here (i.e., whose name rhymes with “brace”.) Now THAT would be a humorous altercation to listen to. ;)

  • JunkerGeorg

    KK@57,

    Should lock Michael in a room with certain other poster here (i.e., whose name rhymes with “brace”.) Now THAT would be a humorous altercation to listen to. ;)

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    “You proof-text like a fundamentalist, Michael! ”

    Sometimes it’s the fundamentalists who do better textual criticism. The classic is a fundamentalist will read a verse like “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”, and the liberal will respond “I don’t like your interpretation of that verse”. To which the fundamentalist replies, “I didn’t interpret that verse. I read it”.

    It seems you found a scholar who disagrees. What does he suggest the literacy rate was?

    When we talk of history and trends, I’m speaking in terms of probability. We simply can’t know for sure. I’m also speaking in terms of probabilities about beliefs. Your wife has a masters from Berkeley. Imagine she goes online and reads a post from someone also claiming to have a masters from Berkeley, but it contains a diatribe against “sodomites”. Is she being close-minded if she raises an eyebrow at this person’s claim? Sure it’s not impossible — in fact, statistically it’d be very unlikely there weren’t at least a few people with this view from Berkeley.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd

    “You proof-text like a fundamentalist, Michael! ”

    Sometimes it’s the fundamentalists who do better textual criticism. The classic is a fundamentalist will read a verse like “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”, and the liberal will respond “I don’t like your interpretation of that verse”. To which the fundamentalist replies, “I didn’t interpret that verse. I read it”.

    It seems you found a scholar who disagrees. What does he suggest the literacy rate was?

    When we talk of history and trends, I’m speaking in terms of probability. We simply can’t know for sure. I’m also speaking in terms of probabilities about beliefs. Your wife has a masters from Berkeley. Imagine she goes online and reads a post from someone also claiming to have a masters from Berkeley, but it contains a diatribe against “sodomites”. Is she being close-minded if she raises an eyebrow at this person’s claim? Sure it’s not impossible — in fact, statistically it’d be very unlikely there weren’t at least a few people with this view from Berkeley.


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