Bible Proof-Texting Is An Unwinnable Game

Bible Proof-Texting Is An Unwinnable Game June 29, 2015

winning at Bible prooftexting

A couple of years ago, Fred Clark posted about the way playing Bible clobber verses resembles a card game. His point reminded me of the famous scene towards the end of the movie WarGames. And so I wrote, in a post entitled “How To Win At Bible”:

The only winning move in the clobber verse Bible game is not to play. For even to play the game concedes the rules for Bible reading to be what fundamentalists claim it is: a distortion which prefers select texts removed from their contexts to the deeper comprehension that can only come from treating texts as texts, as wholes, with sensitivity to genre, nuance, and other aspects of communication.

This topic seemed worth revisiting in relation to the current discussions about same-sex marriage. There are some who think that, if they can just find the right verses and the right interpretations of them, they can show the anti-gay Christians that they are wrong.

But their wrongness does not stem from their having fixated on the wrong verses, or the wrong interpretation of verses. Their wrongness stems from their having fixated on verses at all.

The defenders of slavery had a firm belief in an inerrant Bible. They had careful exegesis of the Bible on their side. They had specific passages lined up.

What they lacked was a prioritization of principles such as the Golden Rule.

If one is convinced that one should do to others as one would wish done to oneself, and one would not wish to be another’s property, then one cannot own another person.

No amount of exegesis should ever be allowed to trump empathy and compassion.

And so I encourage Christians who support marriage equality to take a stand not just for marriage equality but also against prooftexting. It is not just an unwinnable game, it is designed to be an unwinnable game, and one that serves as a bulwark against the implications of following Jesus and taking the core principles he taught seriously.


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  • sanctusivo

    And fundies won’t argue if they can’t play by their rules (and great fun to challenge them at that point). They get very mad, stomp their feet, weep, and gnash their teeth.

    • ccws

      Like playing chess with a pigeon…if it can’t win, it knocks over all the pieces, craps on them, and declares victory.

  • Cyprian PTS

    I’m afraid that this is a fairly naive hermeneutical position. Who determines the prioritization of principles, and on what basis? And isn’t an appeal to the “Golden Rule” also a prooftext? You might have a look at Wayne Meeks’s article on the use of the Bible in debates about slavery, since Meeks shows how appeal to “principles” failed as a means of arbitrating debates about slavery and the Bible. Both sides could appeal to “principles” like “justice” or “love.” Yet they differed on what the “key” principle was or what it meant, even if they could agree on one.

    And aren’t you “prooftexting” in order to arrive at Matt 7:12 as your key to the interpretation of the Bible? How would you respond to the traditional interpreter who played this game along with you on your terms but said, “Yes, if I were a gay Christian, I would hope that the church would support me in a calling of celibacy. That would be my application of the Golden Rule.” (And in fact many traditional interpreters who experience same-sex attraction are saying precisely this.)

    Prooftexting is indeed an unwinnable game, as your own prooftexting shows. But the problem with this particular issue is that the traditional Christian view regarding the sinfulness of same-sex eroticism is not rooted in prooftexting but in the unified witness of the canonical Scriptures. That’s why Christians who support same-sex marriage should, in all honesty, abandon the attempt to root their convictions in appeals to Scripture. They should just say, “The Bible says this, but we disagree. If you want to appeal to the Bible, you won’t convince me by your arguments, no matter what texts you highlight to prove your position, whether in support of or in opposition to same-sex marriage.”

    • John MacDonald

      I think Dr. McGrath is right. You said: “And aren’t you “prooftexting” in order to arrive at Matt 7:12 as your key to the interpretation of the Bible?” But this is what Jesus taught people to do. When asked what the greatest commandment was, we read: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).” So Jesus understood there were conflicting principles in the bible, but He said that “love of neighbor” was the light according to which all others were to be interpreted. Jesus said “love of neighbor” was the key to interpreting the bible. This seems to be Dr. McGrath’s point.

      • John, to say that there is a “greatest commandment” doesn’t mean that the Bible contains conflicting principles. Nor does it necessarily establish a principle of one-way interpretation (start with love, move from there). Jesus said that the Law and Prophets “hang” on the two great commandments, which could simply mean a derivation or basis. In other words, the commandment not to eat shrimp is a specific expression of the general commandment to love God, or a specific example of loving God that the Bible took the trouble to teach us.

        We might say, it’s fine to eat shrimp, so long as we love God. But that would be to say that the Law and the Prophets don’t really “hang” on the commandment to love God unless we THINK they do … and that’s not what Jesus said.

        This is a lawyer’s perspective, I admit: when I want to understand a general principle, such as the right of free speech, I look to see how the principle is applied in specific cases. Doing so teaches me that “free speech” might mean any number of things, and that its meaning depends on how it is interpreted. The same goes for the commandment to love.

        Here’s an analogy: what if you asked me what is the most important principle in playing good chess? I might tell you, “control the center of the board.” Now that you know that, do you know HOW to control the center of the board? Are you now a great chess player? Do you even know how to play? Do you even know what I’m talking about? General principles can only be understood in specific application, and in this sense, “love of neighbor” is a principle interpreted just as surely as it is a principle used in interpretation.

        • John MacDonald

          I think the “playing card” analogy is more appropriate than the “chess” analogy. In Leviticus, the bible says, regarding homosexuality, that “Homosexual acts are an abomination to God. 18:22,” and “If a man has sex with another man, kill them both. 20:13.” But in the New Testament these prohibitions and punishments are “trumped” by the commandment to “Love one’s neighbor as oneself.”

          • Well …

            1. You’re talking Bridge, not cards in general.
            2. I don’t think the Greatest Commandment in Bridge is to play your trump cards.
            3. If all you know how to do is to play trump cards, you will be a miserable Bridge player. You’re going to lose every game of Bridge you play. In fact, you won’t be able to play at all, since you won’t know anything about bidding. I don’t know if we can derive a principle of Biblical hermeneutics based on bidding and playing trump cards, but this is your analogy, not mine! ;^) But I CAN tell you, you will never appreciate what the game is about, and you will quickly give up the game out of frustration. Perhaps there’s an analogy there. I don’t know.
            4. As you probably know, Rabbi Hillel said something nearly identical to Rabbi Jesus about the greatest commandment. But Jews have never understood the idea of a “greatest commandment” as “everything you need to know.” Just the opposite, in fact. It’s more like, the minimum you need to know if you want a general appreciation of what it means to be Jewish, without really knowing much at all.
            5. The Bible doesn’t say what you say it says. What Leviticus 20:13 actually says is something closer to:
            וְאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁכַּ֤ב אֶת־זָכָר֙ מִשְׁכְּבֵ֣י אִשָּׁ֔ה תּוֹעֵבָ֥ה עָשׂ֖וּ שְׁנֵיהֶ֑ם מ֥וֹת יוּמָ֖תוּ דְּמֵיהֶ֥ם בָּֽם.
            6. I don’t think your translation is particularly good either.
            7. As for the New Testament trumping the old … assuming that we’re OK with supersessionism … does the New Testament trump itself? What of Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Timothy 1:10? If you say that these passages should not be interpreted as anti-LGBTQ, then why do you assume that the OT passages SHOULD be interpreted as anti-LGBTQ? If you say that certain parts of the New Testament trump other parts of the New Testament, then couldn’t we use Leviticus 19:18 to trump Leviticus 20:13?
            8. Would I be a good Bridge partner is I argued that the NT is anti-LGBTQ, but thank God, Jude 7 is trumped by 2 Samuel 1:26? Isn’t this a silly game to play?

            I say, let’s not play Bridge.

          • John MacDonald

            The analogy I meant was “trump” in Euchre, not bridge. My analogy holds.

          • Laughing hard here! Evidently, the word “trump” is NOT self-interpreting.
            [Edit] By the way, I meant laughing with you, at your wit and cleverness.

      • Cyprian PTS

        Well, it was McGrath who wrote the post saying that people shouldn’t prooftext from the Bible and then supported that claim by prooftexting Matt 7:12!

        And to say that “love of neighbor” is “the key to interpreting the Bible is fine– although I’d say, along with Augustine (and Jesus), that it’s double love of God and neighbor. But the question then becomes, “What does love of God and neighbor look like?” And at precisely this point different sides of the debate will offer different perspectives. So, as the following comment helpfully observes, the principle “love your neighbor” is not self-interpreting.

        • John MacDonald

          I disagree. You said “What does love of God and neighbor look like?” The ideal that Christian love presents is “Agape,” the essence of which is “Self-Sacrifice.” So I would say this is self-interpreting.

          • No language is or has ever been self-interpreting. If the Bible was self-interpreting, we wouldn’t be here discussing what it means.

          • John MacDonald

            I fail to see why you think “Agape” is somehow cryptic or taciturn.

          • I don’t think that any word is self-interpreting.

            Here’s the discussion I found on BibleHub of “agape”:

            Cognate: 25 agapáō – properly, to prefer, to love; for the believer, preferring to “live through Christ” (1 Jn 4:9,10), i.e. embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power. 25 (agapáō) preeminently refers to what God prefers as He “is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). See 26 (agapē). With the believer, 25 /agapáō (“to love”) means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction). True 25 /agapáō (“loving”) is always defined by God – a “discriminating affection which involves choice and selection” (WS, 477). 1 Jn 4:8,16,17 for example convey how loving (“preferring,” 25 /agapáō) is Christ living His life through the believer.

            So from this definition, I might understand “agape” as doing what God tells me to do. I don’t see anything here explicitly referring to “self-sacrifice.” Granted, this may be a TERRIBLE discussion of agape … but if agape is self-interpreting, doesn’t that mean that we shouldn’t have to argue about what it means?

          • John MacDonald

            I think that although there are many permutations and combinations of Christian love, the ideal type of love is to love in a self-sacrificing way, the way God loved the world: “16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:16-17).” Paul makes the same point when he writes: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32).”

          • John MacDonald

            One last thought: I think the ideal type of Christian love is self-sacrificing love. The essence of this seems to be “thinking of others before thinking of yourself.” This is why Paul says love “does not seek its own (1 Corinthians 13:5).”

          • John MacDonald

            One more – lol. The Cross: I think the idea is that just as God gave the best part of Himself for humanity, so too should we give the best parts of ourselves to benefit humanity. We should act toward others out of a spirit of compassion, good will, and charity.

        • Jesus Himself said what “love your neighbor” looks like. “Do to others as you would want them to do to you.” I think if we examine what we really would want done to us if we were in another’s shoes, we will do the loving thing to the person actually standing in those shoes.

          • Cyprian PTS

            @Kristen But this is precisely the issue I raised in my first comment. Some think that the loving thing for Christians with same-sex attraction– the thing they would hope people would do for them, if they were in those shoes– is to call them to live in chastity in singleness in the midst of a community of believers. Others think that the living thing for Christians with same-sex attraction is to allow bless them as they pursue marriage with partners of the same sex. Who decides what the loving thing is? On what basis? This is exactly way an appeal to a principle like “love your neighbor” is not self-interpreting. The appeal to general principles is really quite naive, not only because there will be no clarity about how the principle is lived out but also because there will be not clarity about what the primary principle should be. (You might want to read Richard Hays’s Moral Vision of the NT on why appeals to “love” are so problematic in ethical discourse.)

          • Michael Wilson

            I agree that how to follow this command is not self evident, but I don’t think we should get to caught up in this. It does not seem that Jesus and his followers intended to establish the definitive book of proper responses to all situations. It cannot correct, nor could any law, for false information about a situation. So long as one operates with a clean conscience they are blameless. People that really think opposing gay lifestyles is the loving thing to do still follow the command.

          • Andrew Dowling

            “who decides what the loving thing is? On what basis?”

            This isn’t some unknowable trick like you’re trying to make it out. Looking at the result of social science and letting empathy command personal interactions should lead one to the right choice 95% of the time

          • Empathy is the key to the meaning of the Golden Rule, I think. You may recall a discussion inspired by an SMBC cartoon on whether there is a perfect ethical principle. Obviously if it is understood to be doing to others precisely what you want done to you, even if their desires are different than yours, then it breaks down. But few seriously suggest applying it in that rigid manner.

            Here is a link to that earlier blog post I mentioned:

          • I wonder how many people, if any, genuinely hope to be told that they have no choice but to be chaste and single their whole lives.

    • Andrew Dowling

      “Both sides could appeal to “principles” like “justice” or “love.” ”

      Not in recognition of the now accepted fact that blacks are not inferior ape people who would simply be unable to fend for themselves if given freedom.

  • richardruhling

    The Bible is the #1 best-seller, partly because it often has a deeper meaning than is seen on the surface. For example, in Christ’s wedding parable, the “midnight cry” of Matthew 25:6 goes back to the first midnight cry in Exodus 12:29,30 because Christ is “Alpha & Omega, the First and the Last” (Rev 1:11)

    A new book, The Alpha & Omega Bible Code offers help to understand the wedding parables that offer us the highest destiny. More information at

    • ccws

      Spam, and nonsense into the bargain. The book of Daniel refers to events surrounding the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and Revelation is talking about Rome in the 70s. Furthermore, the “end of the Age” in the scriptures never referred to the destruction of the earth, and at any rate the eschatological Kingdom of God/Heaven started 2000 years ago with the first coming of Jesus. World Without End, Amen.

  • James, I don’t think we can choose up sides based on who is reading verses and who is prioritizing principles. Much of the “wrongness” you speak of seems (to me at least) to derive from wrong principles, or from right principles wrongly understood or wrongly applied.

    How many “principles” can we assign to the thinking of those opposing marriage equality? The idea that “marriage is between one man and one woman” is not verse-based. Neither is the idea that same-sex sex is somehow unnatural.

    There are certain “principles” adopted by both sides, such as the importance of sexual morality. We’ve made considerable progress by addressing and debunking many “principles” held by marriage equality opponents, such as that same-sex orientation is an illness, and that it’s possible to change someone’s sexual orientation with counseling and therapy.

    It seems to me that it IS possible to change someone’s homophobia and heteronormativity. This is what happened to me (and is still happening to me). But I think the process is complicated, and for some of us, proof-texting is part of the process.

  • Michael Wilson

    Regarding the proof texting of Matthew 7:12, I think one has to consider that ideologies have ideas that are central and ideas that are peripheral or tangential. The how Jesus answers the question of the greatest commandments is a good distillation of how he approaches human duty throughout the early portrayals of his life and teaching. It’s pointless to discuss following Jesus and ditching this ideal. Jesus’s thoughts on homosexuality, tattoos, proper dental care and so forth matter much less. Of course if one believes that homosexuality is harmful to its participants or society I suppose you could argue that your opposition is an act of love, but if know one can reasonably explain the harm, then making people suffer because you think God is arbitrarily gratified by it doesn’t make sense from the point of view of Jesus’s teaching, even if Jesus himself thought homosexuals were immoral.

    • Andrew Dowling

      Somehow the common sense views of your post evade the conservative mind.

  • Jerry Lynch

    What you say would be true but for the fact that my higher power is higher than your higher power, so there. Na-na-nahnah-na! (Thumbs on each temple and hands wiggling fingers, tongue hyper-extended.) This is what I hear and see between the lines of rant coming from supposed Christians on same-sex marriage. Sadly amusing.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Fred Clark did an amazing post earlier this year about how the Bible isn’t clear on many things, but it IS really clear about usury. You know, the foundation of our modern economic system, which churches profit from daily.

  • Michael Larkin

    The heart of the problem here is this: Mankind can read a verse and make what he wants of it. 2nd Peter 1:20-21, tells us “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation, For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” The first thing which is required in order to understand the scriptures is the Spirit of God, See First Corinthians 2:10-16, This passage will be of benefit. With regards to interpretation of holy scripture it is the practice of those who hold to proper interpretation to use the reglative principle, the scripture interprets the scripture. the priests of Rome have only a spirit of deception and therefore are those whom Jesus spoke of when He quoted Matthew 23.

    • This view, namely that it takes the Spirit to correctly understand the Scriptures, is an attempt to bypass the need to take into account the fact that the Bible is written in human languages and thus requires expertise in – or dependence on those with expertise in – relevant languages and lexicology. It is often justified by appeal to a mistaken understanding of Paul’s reference to Moses’ veil.

      • Michael Larkin

        Thank you or your reply, however I think a close look at first Corinthians 2:10-14, might be of some benefit to you. I shall quote a verse for you. Verse 14, “The natural man does not except the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them because he is spiritually discerned” You see unless one has been born of the Spirit of God, until then he is still in his natural state that is what Paul is explaining here.

        • He is saying that the natural man does not accept (note the spelling) those things. He then goes on to suggest that they do not comprehend them. He is clearly not suggesting that the words and their surface-level meaning are unintelligible, as though they are written in something other than a human language, and it requires a gift like interpretation of tongues to make sense of them.

          • Michael Larkin

            James if you have to highlight the fact that I made a mistake in spelling Accept, then there really is no point in continuing this conversation, or do you get your buzz from checking other people’s writings. that said, I do not suggest anything, I simply quote the word of God, This James is what God has to say on the matter, your response is prove of it’s truth. Hope this response, including correct spellings are to you liking. Read them again James, that’s exactly what God doe’s say. The man without the Spirit of God doe’s not understand the things of God, because he (The natural man) is spiritually dead.

          • You are free to use any excuse you like to get out of a conversation that you cannot handle. But before you depart, I would point out that you were quoting what Paul wrote on this subject. If you think that Paul is God, and thus that God wrote the letters which Paul composed, then according to the Bible that is idolatry, and I can even direct you to a story in Acts in which Paul is dismayed at being mistaken for a deity. And so if you are confused about something as basic as who wrote these letters, then understanding them is going to be an even greater challenge. And so it is no wonder that you choose to shield yourself and your untenable views from criticism but declaring in advance that you have the Spirit, and so your understanding is correct no matter how nonsensical or at odds with what the texts say, and those who disagree with you are by definition wrong. This self-serving approach to the Bible is incompatible with the core teachings of Christianity, which require that one be open to learning and, when necessary, repenting and changing one’s mind.

          • Michael Larkin

            Paul did indeed pen not just first & second Corinthians but many more of the new testament epistles, Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, 1st & 2nd Timothy, Titus and then some. but as Peter has already told us, No prophesy of holy scripture has it’s origin with man, Paul makes this a little clearer for us when he wrote to young Timothy, All scripture is breathed out by God, See 2nd Tim 3:16, over 40 men wrote the scriptures, these men were holy men who were writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Man may well have been the instruments which God chose to use to pen His word, but He Almighty God is the author.

          • So when Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that he is speaking as a fool, and not according to the Lord, in your view it is God who is saying that he is speaking as a fool, and not according to the Lord?

          • Michael Larkin

            This James is where you lack spiritual discernment, check 1st Cor where Paul speaks on the issue of marriage. you argument is so that it only continues to show your lack of spiritual knowledge. like I said, you sir are lacking the very same thing which Nicodemus lacked and he been one of the finest teachers in all of Israel, see what Jesus had to say to him and you will see that your need is that which was Nicodemus’s problem.

          • In other words, you don’t want to answer what I asked you, so you’ll try to change the subject.

            Perhaps it would have been less embarrassing to leave the conversation when you said you were going to?

          • Michael Larkin

            James the scripture which I have shared with you answers your comment, far from been embarrassed, I am concerned for your spiritual welfare, James rather than exchanging a view verses and trying to score points lets get to the heart of the matter. Have you James ever had the experience of the new birth which Christ spoke of to Nicodemus? in other words James are you a saved soul? my intention is not to indulge you in textual passages, but to lead you to a saving faith in the Son of God. that James is where the rubber hits the road.

          • I am a born again Christian. So hopefully you can stop trying to use that as yet another way to avoid answering my question about 2 Corinthians 11:17.

          • Michael Larkin

            If as you say James you are one of the Lords, why do you appear so against scripture? Paul is making the point that boasting in the flesh is of no value, Paul was dealing with the false teachers who were always boasting in the flesh. James do you believe that the scriptures are without error and are the final authority in all maters of faith and life? James do not feel rushed to answer, I am at present preparing to eat dinner with family and may be busy for a little while, but I shall endeavour to stay for as long as possible.

          • I am not claiming to be a “Lord” – or did you accidentally leave out an apostrophe?

            It is in no way, shape, or form “against Scripture” to follow its teaching about idolatry, and to try to prevent someone from committing idolatry with this very collection of human writings that warns against it.

            In answer to your question, no, of course I do not disobey the Bible and attribute inerrancy to human writings, because to do so would idolatrously transfer an attribute that is God’s alone to the work of human hands.

          • Michael Larkin

            James I find that you are somewhat like a jello, difficult to nail to a tree. I have looked at the universities details, I see provision for Romanism, campus crusade, muslim association, united Methodist, meditation groups so I can see where your coming from, a very mixed bag. I as a true Christian will not part take in any of these groups, they are not based solely on the word of God. you sir would be well advised to depart from human philosophy and stick with the word of the living God. perhaps then God in His mercy may grant you real repentance onto salvation.

          • Bones

            You forgot to add “and believe like I do” because that’s what it’s about isn’t it?

          • Your views are not based solely on the word of God, and you prefer to try to nail me to a tree than to answer questions. Your self-righteous smugness is at odds with Christian teaching. You need to repent.

          • John Hancock

            Just an FYI. The whole “god” and “jesus” things are myths, fables and fairy tales for the young, uneducated, willfully stupid and intellectually challenged.

            1. The earth is approximately 4.5 BILLION YEARS OLD. Radiometric dating proves this.

            2. “god” and “jesus” are no more relevant than the Greek or Roman Gods and are just as real/true.

            3. The whole parting of the red sea, noahs ark, adam/eve, rising from the dead, walking on water, just like “miracles”, are all myths. Just an FYI.

            4. There is absolutely no legitimate, academically accepted peer reviewed proof that “jesus” ever existed. None whatsoever.

            5. Evolution is a scientific fact. Get over it. Our ancestors are over 6 Million years old.

            6. How can anyone “hate” a myth? It’s like me proclaiming I hate “Batman”. Batman is just as real as “jesus”.


            8. The bible was written by men to control/manipulate and profit from man. It’s that simple.

            9. Roe vs. Wade is the law of land.

            10. I suggest you read/watch:

            I don’t care what myths or fables you believe in provided you keep them to yourself and don’t inflict them on others. Keep them out of public schools, science/math, public policy, foreign policy, law and jurisprudence. If you want to raise your children to flip burgers, dig ditches and believe in myths, bully for you. We don’t care as long as you don’t inflict them on others.

          • This comment must be a joke. You think that radiometric dating and Roe vs. Wade prove there was no historical Jesus?! You have never met someone that simly hated Batman?!

            But one claim I simply cannot let slide without comment. Anyone can access a database of peer-reviewed scholarship and survey what has been written about the historical figure of Jesus.

            Jokes are welcome here. Lies are not. If you are not a troll, I expect you to demonstrate it in any subsequent comment.

          • John Hancock

            In regards to your “god”: That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. You’ve asserted something absent any proof. There is no proof, whatsoever, of “god” or “jesus”. As such they don’t teach “jesus” in any history class at any legitimate University, anywhere, as there is no proof. Please cite 1 University in the US or Europe (that isn’t Liberty University) that teaches “jesus” as an actual proven historical figure, post links to the curriculum and syllabus and then we’ll have something to talk about.

          • We are not talking about a god, we are talking about the historical Jesus.

            Since you asked me to cite one, and this happened to be on the first page of resilts for the particular keywords I typed in, I presume it will do?


            But if you want someplace a bit better known:


          • John Hancock

            Newsflash: They’re not teaching “jesus” as a real person in these classes or didn’t you actually read them. Neither did you follow their actual sources or you in willful denial. The fact remains that “jesus” isn’t taught as a real, living person in legitimate historical classes as there is no proof of life, no evidence of existence. Period. End of story. Full stop.

            Clearly, you don’t understand the requirements that establish an event or a “person” as a historical fact otherwise you wouldn’t make such ridiculous assertions based upon collective delusion.
            UPS is a CHRISTIAN (Methodist to be specific) university which is below average on a very good day. Professor Eric Orlin is in the “Classics” Department, NOT THE HISTORY department. His focus is on religious studies. Perhaps you can locate a LEGITIMATE history professor, a syllabus, etc. from: UC Berkeley, Stanford, Oxford, NYU, Harvard, etc. that actually teaches “jesus” as a real person, but you can’t. Your assertions are fallacious, erroneous and self-serving with no substantiation, support or empirical data whatsoever. And we both know it.

          • What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissd without evidence. What is your evidence for the religious affiliation of University of Peuget Sound? What about Butler University, a non-sectarian university in Indianapolis – does it not count, and if not, why not? And why does Harvard not count? And why do you have such strongly-held opinions on this topic when you don’t know what Classics covers?

            If you cannot be honest about these matters, you would do better not to comment. When you are making false assertions about academia to an academic, you are unlikely to get away with lying.

          • John Hancock

            So, you have nothing. That comes as no surprise to me and the irony is not lost upon me. But it’s, obviously, lost upon you. I suggest you rely upon science, math and empirical data rather the delusion of the myth, fable, fairy tale you call “jesus”.

          • OK, I do not have time nor interest to deal with a troll. You said there was nothing. I gave you a few examples. You then decided that Classics (where ancient history is covered in many universities) does not count. If you are ever willing to deal honestly with the evidence, let me know.

          • John MacDonald

            There’s no evidence of the resurrection anyway. Carrier has an interesting point about ancient tales of miracles. In his essay “Why The Resurrection Is Unbelievable,” Carrier writes “Fifty years after the Persian Wars ended in 479 BC Herodotus the Halicarnassian asked numerous eyewitnesses and their children about the things that happened in those years and then wrote a book about it. Though he often shows a critical and skeptical mind, sometimes naming his sources or even questioning their reliability when he has suspicious or conflicting accounts, he nevertheless reports without a hint of doubt that the temple of Delphi magically defended itself with animated armaments, lightning bolts, and collapsing cliffs; the sacred olive tree of Athens, though burned by the Persians, grew a new shoot an arm’s length in a single day; a miraculous flood-tide wiped out an entire Persian contingent after they desecrated an image of Poseidon; a horse gave birth to a rabbit; and a whole town witnessed a mass resurrection of cooked fish (Why The Resurrection Is Unbelievable, in The Christian Delusion ed. John W. Loftus, pp 291-292)!” When it comes to miracle stories, the ancients were gullible and superstitious and believed all kinds of things that never happened. The miracle stories in The Old and New Testaments testify to just how gullible and superstitious the ancients actually were. Carrier’s point is that if you don’t believe the miracle stories of Herodotus, why would you believe the miracle stories of Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John?

          • Jim

            Interesting that you bring up the John 3 conversation with Nicodemus. Why? Because the pericope revolves around Nicodemus’ confusion about a second “physical” birth This confusion (birth from above/physical birth play on words) is possible in Greek but not in Aramaic. So this would imply that Jesus probably never said any of this at all. How about that for spiritual discernment.

          • ccws

            Paul didn’t write the Timothys or Titus, and likely didn’t write Ephesians (or Colossians or 2 Thessalonians) either. They were written in his name long after his death. They’re unlike the writings of the “first Paul” in style and vocabulary, and many of the ideas in them are positively ANTI-Pauline in their attempts to pull back from the radical equality of Jesus and the authentic Pauline writings and restore the cultural status quo.

    • SJ

      You might want to read this….It is inspiration not interpretation….That’s a passage that people misinterpret a lot.

      That verse refers to who wrote it not to who reads it.

      Inspiration, Not Interpretation

  • Steven Waling

    You know in the end, someone’s going to have to say it: the bible isn’t God. It can be wrong about stuff. While there may well be stuff in it that’s useful, insightful and even wise, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be right about everything however much you interpret it to fit your own theology. And even if the bible were anti-homosexuality that doesn’t make it right.

  • Timothy Weston

    Prooftexting the Bible is something I gave up years ago. Inerrancy is something I gave up a couple of years ago.

  • ccws

    ” For even to play the game concedes the
    rules for Bible reading to be what fundamentalists claim it is: a
    distortion which prefers select texts removed from their contexts to the
    deeper comprehension that can only come from treating texts as texts,
    as wholes, with sensitivity to genre, nuance, and other aspects of

    Awwwwwww, but making Fundies swallow their own tails & chew off their own paws trying to escape can be so much FUN!!!!! I used to LOVE watching my dad engage with them & get them to prooftext themselves into corners they couldn’t get out of! Hee hee…

  • Bill Itzel

    Of course it’s an unwinnable game…what you believe is contrary to what the Bible clearly teaches. Telling those who disagree with God’s morality to not look at the verses that clearly show that God has nothing good to say about homosexuality and instead look to passages that can be twisted to allow for sin IS prooftexting…

    • And I suppose one can say that Jesus was prooftexting when he appealed to David’s disobedience to the Law regarding the bread that only priests were supposed to eat.
      But “prooftexting” doesn’t seem to fit the story of the Good Samaritan. A priest was required by Torah to avoid corpse impurity, and so there was a clear passage that justified the priest in the story giving the seemingly dead body a wide berth. Jesus seems to have been of the view that compassion would justify breaking the commandment in Leviticus 21. And it seems that the priest in the story could have responded with a comment much like the one you wrote here. And so, since you don’t mention Jesus, can I assume that you disagree with Jesus’ approach to Scripture?