They always said that “God is an English gentleman”. Now it seems that an English gentleman is God–at least he’s set himself up to write his own Bible. English philosopher A.C.Grayling almost looks the part. He has a lofty expression and long flowing hair. Couldn’t he be persuaded to don a white robe and grow a long white beard as well? Lean out over some clouds perhaps, with a look of severe mercy on his face? You can read about A.C.Grayling’s big adventure here.
What I find so ludicrous about Grayling and his pals–fellow ‘new atheists Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens–is their continued attacks on Christianity on such sadly ignorant terms. They dish out shallow, sophomoric complaints about little bits of the Bible and so rubbish the whole thing. This is combined with flaming red herrings and non sequiturs.
There are too many too enumerate, but here’s a corker. Grayling complains that the Bible (which Christians say is there to teach morality) doesn’t really teach morality because it supports slavery, child sacrifice, polygamy and genocide. Err. First of all, most Sunday School children who have gone beyond sixth grade should be able to tell Professor Grayling that Christians don’t believe the Bible is simply a ‘Book of Morality’ to start with. What does Grayling think the Bible is–some sort of ancient Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard Almanac? Does he really think Christians believe the Bible is essentially a book of aphorisms and rules for a good life?
We don’t. We believe it is the record of God’s interaction with the human race–particularly through the history of the Hebrew people and culminating in his self revelation through his Son Jesus Christ. It’s the record of God’s revelation. Not a book of do gooder quotable quotes. It’s the record of mankind’s horrors, misunderstandings, sin, foolishness, violence and rebellion, so no wonder it has some horrible bits.
So this funny old Englishman first of all totally misunderstands what the Bible is in the first place, then he sets himself up to write the sequel. It would be a bit like believing that Dante’s Divine Comedy was really about medieval table manners, and then setting yourself to put together a collection of Dear Abby letters as a sequel. Bless his heart, he’ll come up with something more like the Readers’ Digest than anything else–and then the ‘intelligentsia’ will take it all very seriously.
Another glaring mistake these poor fellows make is to believe that Christianity is all about ‘being good’ and that Christians believe there can be no morality without the Christian religion. Once again, this shows a deep ignorance of Christian theology and ethical theory. From the beginning Christians have agreed that people can know right from wrong without special revelation from God. In the first chapter of Romans St Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” He goes on to point out that this natural revelation is also linked in with a natural knowledge of what is good and evil.
Why don’t these guys stop and listen to even the most basic of Christian theologians? We admit that people can know right from wrong without special revelation. We also admit that they are responsible to live according to the natural light that God has given them. We never said that Christianity was about ‘being good’ to start with. In fact we’ve said just the opposite: that nobody can be good enough to please God on their own. All of us need salvation. Even the ‘good’ people.
Natural goodness is there not to save us, but to bring us to Christ, for the really good person will become humble and realize he is not good, and is still in need of something else, and that something else is a someone else–God.
I just worry that these guys pretend to be so smart, but they haven’t stopped and listened to what Christians really believe before attacking the whole thing? Ah well, let them rage on. It has always been so, and ever shall be world without end.
If you want to see the whole thing clearly and how moral depravity and atheism and the rage against religion all fits together read the whole of Romans chapter 1.
Then write a letter to A.C.Grayling and recommend he read it too.