Englishman Writes his Own Bible

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.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00191650157563093323 Susan L

    How do these guys get such a reputation for being so smart if they don't do their homework to begin with?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01678341854029479678 Old Bob

    Just like in any other class: they cheat.They need prayers, even though we may be disinclined.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01562223528124361389 Craig

    Man…he looks so smug in that picture. "There but for the grace…"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06405021835510775527 Mike Cliffson

    Write Grayling?I suppose that God's providence might be that one letter of 20,000 be the saving of the man's soul, tho he give no outward evidence thereto, or, failing that, make him refrain from a remark that should lead to the damning of another's soul,and how should we ever know, yet hence all the 20,000 be worth it…but how to word the letter without casting pearls before swine? Pray first, I suppose.Moan : I thought priestbloggers had given us enough ideas already for mortifcation of the flesh (flesh includes our this worldly brainbox) during lent, but there you are.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    speaking of Romans….Romans 1:21-22Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,(King James)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01306017321460701751 Paul Rodden

    ‘Why don't these guys stop and listen to even the most basic of Christian theologians…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’They have listened to them. Because the most basic is someone like Fred Phelps or the JW on the doorstep, and so they do listen to what ‘Christians’ really believe. For, they use the Protestant lens: anyone who calls themselves a Christian – especially a ‘bible-believing’ one – is Christian, and that the godsend to the atheist.There’s recently been a second BBC ‘documentary’ by Louis Theroux on the Phelps family: four years on from his last one. He comes across as warm, friendly and reasonable, yet every question is loaded and, of course, he winds them up and they make Christianity look just like a moral crusade: the Phelps family are bigoted and nasty, whilst Theroux, genial and reasonable. In fact, they embody the atheist perception of what ‘Christians really believe’, and not the key to the gospel – acknowledging one’s sin and need of redemption – just as you suggest.Of course, Theroux is actually a highly skilled bigot. He hides behind a cool and apparently genial, reasonableness. He’s an expert at deflecting people’s attention away from the crap in his own garden. But that’s why I think he’s more dangerous than Dawkins, et al.. Who would be so stupid to accuse such a ‘nice man’ of hubris and hypocrisy?Watch it here on BBC i-Player http://tinyurl.com/3db37vuThe rejection of Tradition, and belief in the formal sufficiency of Scripture, has laid ‘Christianity’ wide open, and so the paradox we arrive at a problem: Protestantism is merely the mirror image of Secularism – it’s a dictatorship of theological relativism – and people never like people who are like themselves! ‘Motes and beams…’ as they put it in one of the ‘Beyond the Fringe’ sketches…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    brillian observations , amazing analysis, superb

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07592851515207841008 Christina

    I think Paul has it right in that these atheists are actually talking to "real Christians". I've heard plenty of people refer to Christianity as simply a moral code, I know I've done so myself at times (or alluded to it).Can the devil plan? If so he did a good job, establishing a religion severed from theology, a "moralistic, therapeutic deism" that has no defense for even ill-thought atheistic arguments.Kind of like how our contraception culture has little defense against other sexual disorders.Truly Catholicism is the answer, because it's God's answer. It isn't from us, if it was we would have destroyed it a long time ago.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07932665331766567610 jedesto

    "The God I Don't Believe In" by Juan Arias has always made sense to me. His thesis is that, for believers, atheists' conceptions of God are as mistaken as they are false.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09192266454479639329 Ismael

    He's late to the race The 'secular bible' already exists, more or less. It's the famous satanic bible (whic deals more with secularism than the king of darkness) of Anton LaVey, who indeed wrote several "holy books" (if you call them that) in the 70s-80s…Most of LaVey message is indeed 'secular humanism' in the style of 'live and let live'.—I think that LaVey is not even the only one who has teaken similar actions in the past. The idea to copy the bible is hardly innovative (one might point even the finger at Joseph Smith w. his Book of Mormon or to Mohammad w. the Coran… although that is regarded not P.C.)So Dr. Clifford hardly has not come with a new idea. —-The point also is that the bible is no mere 'book of ethical rules', but a whole ensemble of books that contains cosmogony, history, poetry, ethics, theology, etc…Human Secularism and Atheism in general can hardly match that. At best they can write a 'book of ethics' … but would it be better?Well it will be better in their eyes only, since it is the product of their own deviant minds.After all there are people who look at Das Kapitaal or Mein Kamps as 'bibles' as well… ugh!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17015601189341663387 Felix

    Thanks, Father, a useful refutation. Perhaps some of the trouble is that many protestants (ie the Christians with whom these guys are familiar) in practice do tend to treat the Bible as a collection of verses to be memorized and quoted, not as a story/history.I'd suggest that these guys are quite bright and good scientists. The problem is that they don't realize that other subjects – such as real Christianity – have got a background that needs some study.And, to take up Old Bob's point, the more we find them insufferably and stupidly arrogant, the more we should pray for them.