The Bible used to get a lot of things wrong

"You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you ..."

If those early Southern Baptists were wrong about slavery, then they were wrong about the Bible — wrong about how to read the Bible. They were wrong about slavery because they were wrong about how to read the Bible. Contemporary white evangelicals want to retain the same approach to reading the Bible, but not the same conclusions about slavery. That doesn’t work. [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things (12.13.14)

Randi Harper on online abuse; Chris Rock on the whiteness of Hollywood; Damaris Zehner on the “perspicuity of scripture;” Mark Fallon confirms that “Dick Cheney was lying about torture;” and David Brin on “Abortion and the ‘Jesus Effect.’” [Read more...]

Ignorant Christians need to STFU about ‘the poor you will always have with you’ until they can be bothered to understand what Jesus actually said

I took this picture in Bethany in 1990, not far from Martha and Mary's house. (Or, at least, not far from where Constantine's mom thought Martha and Mary lived.)

“Do not show ill will toward the needy and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.” Rick Perry didn’t mean to quote that passage from the Jubilee laws in Deuteronomy, but like far too many ignorant Christians, that’s just what he did. [Read more...]

Evangelical biblicism is a new(ish) thing

IllWind

The first-century disciples at Pentecost and in the generations that followed were not Bible Christians in anything like the way contemporary white evangelicals think of that term. They couldn’t have been for the very simple reason that the Bible did not yet exist. … I’m not talking about theology, but about technology. The Bible is a book. And in New Testament times, books hadn’t been invented yet. [Read more...]

Proverbs and fart jokes and other ancient wisdom literature

There's probably also a joke in here somewhere, which would push the oldest joke back another 20,000 years.

You have to read Proverbs with the other biblical “wisdom” books in mind. It’s part of a set and without the commentary and correction provided by those adjoining books, it can be misleading. Read Proverbs in isolation from them and you can wind up with exactly the sort of hollow Bildadism that the book of Job mocks, the Psalms mourn, and Ecclesiastes demolishes. [Read more...]

‘God hates shrimp’: Picking and choosing among abominations

PeterCraftJackson

The key thing to notice when asking this question of white evangelicals in America is that they don’t usually try to answer it. They don’t respond with a hermeneutical argument for how to approach the Bible, but rather with a defense of their affirmation of particular commandments. Such non-answers don’t provide an explanation of the principles by which we can determine whether or not a biblical teaching ought to be regarded as binding. They offer, instead, after-the-fact, ad hoc rationalizations — attempts to defend our current practice by creating some retroactive explanation for them. I want to look here at three popular variations on this non-answer. [Read more...]

‘God hates shrimp’: A case study

Screen shot 2014-11-08 at 5.20.22 PM

The function of that argument is purely internal. It’s not an attempt to persuade others. It’s not addressed to others. It’s a therapeutic, self-help affirmation addressed to themselves — a way of reassuring themselves that they’re not being as cruel and unfair as it sounds. This mantra of self-assurance always includes a denial of personal responsibility: “It’s not me. It’s the Bible. The Bible is making me say these cruel things.” [Read more...]

‘God hates shrimp’ is a question. That question needs an answer.

JackJesus

If we are to be “Bible-believing” Christians — people for whom that scripture is, in any real way, authoritative or meaningful — then we have to have some principle or set of principles that allows us to distinguish between the various passages we are picking and choosing to be authoritative and those we are picking and choosing not to be. Otherwise, we’re just projecting our own preferences and prejudices into the text and then gleaning them back out of it through our self-serving, arbitrary selection of some prooftexts and our self-serving, arbitrary disregard for others. [Read more...]


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