Challenge to Fundamentalist Bible Readers

Challenge to Fundamentalist Bible Readers May 20, 2019

I was contacted recently by someone who was looking for a meme that illustrated how fundamentalist Christians, who claim to rely on “the Bible alone,” are thoroughly dependent on academic work on the Bible in ways that they either fail to notice or simply refuse to acknowledge. Two memes came to mind, which I had shared on my blog previously. But I also thought that perhaps I ought to turn something that I myself wrote back in 2010 into a meme.

Here’s the text of that excerpt from my earlier post:

Just read the Bible for yourself, without the aid of scholarship.

Sounds simple, right? Sounds like just what you wanted to do? Not so fast…

  • If you are going to do what I’ve challenged you to, then you cannot read an English translation of the Bible. Translations rely on all sorts of scholars and experts in both the original languages, the Biblical literature, and the theory of translation.
  • You cannot simply read a critical edition of the Greek or Hebrew text. Those critical editions are also produced by scholars, who painstakingly compile the readings in manuscripts so as to give translators and other scholars convenient access to the text.
  • You cannot use an original Greek or Hebrew manuscript that is held in a library or museum. Libraries and museums are likewise places of academic research and scholarship.

When you’ve done that, do get back to me. Or, alternatively, just acknowledge that you are entirely dependent on scholars for your access to the Bible throughout the process: study of original manuscripts, collation of readings in critical editions, translations into your native language, and the commentaries and other such helps that hopefully your pastor uses even if you do not.

See also the following posts I wrote previously which also address this topic:

5 Easy Steps to Reading the Bible Literally

Fundamentalists and Scholarship


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  • Nick G

    I think you would also need to read the text without an index or list of contents, division into chapters, running heads,
    most punctuation, word-spacing*, or the distinction between upper-case and lower-case letters. The last was an innovation of scholars around the time of Charlemagne, the rest IIRC were introduced by the medieval Schoolmen of the early universities.

    *At least for the NT, which I think (subject to correction!) would originally have been written in scripta continua, like most Koine Greek manuscripts. I don’t know about the Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic of the OT.

    • arcseconds

      Is a codex OK? Or must it be scrolls?

      • Most NT manuscripts seem to be codex “from the beginning”.

        • arcseconds

          huh. I knew there was an early adoption of codices in early Christianity, but I didn’t realise it was so dominant so early… ta!

          So maybe codices are uncontaminated by scholastic activities?

          Of course, one could argue that everyone involved in the production of texts up until printing presses became readily available were really scholars, they were certainly part of the literary elite and past a certain point they all knew dead languages, etc.

          (There are plenty of popular works prior to the printing press, of course, they might not count as scholastic, but the people involved in propagating scripture kind of seem pretty scholastic to me…)

  • You should probably add that you can’t even learn the “original” language, since the reconstruction of the meaning of words and the syntax is an ongoing, active area of study and research by scholars.

  • Timothy Weston

    It is fascinating hear the history behind the texts. It also removes a lot of power from the fundamentalists.

  • arcseconds

    So, I think the normal ‘biblical literalist’ response to this sort of thing is something along the lines of God intended his word to be understood by believers directly, so some combination of the meaning surviving translation in general plus appropriately faithful (= conservative) translators being guided by the Holy Spirit means that reading in translation is fine. How do you respond to that?

    (One version of this idea is that the KJV translation is in fact the God-authorized Word of God and other versions of the text are irrelevant, but I don’t mean to pick out the ‘KJV-only’ notion as the thing to respond to, although if you have any specific response to that too, I’d be happy to hear it!)

    • Gary Leach

      The English translations of the New Testament and the Pentateuch and Jonah by William Tyndale (1494-1536) out of Greek and Hebrew are a significant basis for the King James Version (published 1611). So significant, in fact, that God would have had to have authorized those translations prior to authorizing the KJV if the KJV was to have a sustainable claim to being divinely inspired. Tyndale, however, had made an enemy of Henry VIII by opposing his divorce from his first wife and ultimately did not escape that king’s wrath, otherwise he might have managed to complete his translation of the Old Testament.

      • arcseconds

        I kind of vaguely knew about the dependency on the Tyndale bible (not sure I would have been able to come up with the name, think I’ve got it now, thanks!) but it hadn’t occurred to me to mention it to the KJV-only folk.

        The ‘KJV-only’ move is a cunning manoeuvre that insulates a ‘biblical literalist’ from having to worry about the history of the text and translation difficulties. It might help to illustrate that it didn’t just spring out of the ether but had a history the same as any other text, I suppose…

        But I suspect they’ll just say “divine providence! The Lord moves in mysterious ways…”… won’t they?

  • otrotierra

    Thank you Professor McGrath.

    This should be required reading for every Fundamentalist Evangelical everywhere.

  • There’s more to it than just this. People are presuming that GOD BECAME SILENT 2000 YEARS AGO. This is error. Since 2000 years ago, we have received and indited the Urantia Book, the Kolbrin Bible, the Oahspe, the Book of Enoch and Sumerian cuneiform tablets–ALL OF WHICH SUBSTANTIALLY CORROBORATE THE PLOT AND CHARACTERS in the Bible; itself. SO THERE IS NO REASON TO TURN THE BIBLE INTO A RIGID idol, A MATTER OF PURE DOGMA, irreconilable with reality and truth.

  • burton brunson

    Here’s a thought that might be a step in the right direction. Scholars disagree on the meanings of some Hebrew words. Probably the most significant is the Hebrew word Elohim. It has several different contradictory translations. Sometimes translated as “God”. Sometimes, as “gods”. In the Hebrew bible, Elohim is both the first and last word in Psalm 82:1. Usually translated as God standing to judge gods. It could as logically be translated as gods standing to judge God. And the Hebrew god El appears in the middle of the verse but is erased in translation. We should simply bring ambiguous words into English, untranslated, and let the reader decide. That’s what we did with words like Tango. We didn’t wait for scholars to decide whether a tango is a foxtrot or a waltz. We gave tango its own meaning.

    • Most Hebrew words are ambiguous, like Arabic. Writers often use the ambiguous words to make jokes or a point. Native speakers have little problem understanding each other because they can rely on context, as we should.

      • The idea that “most words” in any language are ambiguous is ridiculous. There are plenty of languages, including English, in which plays on words and puns are possible. But the notion that a whole system of communication developed in which most constitutive elements are ambiguous reflects a profound misunderstanding of language in general, and clearly also Hebrew and Arabic in particular.

        • I don’t think so. I studied Arabic for 20 years and Koine Greek longer. Arab poetry wouldn’t be impossible without double and triple meanings. Some consider ancient Greek to be a precise language but I am regularly surprised by the slack. And look at the confusion in theology due to the wide range of meaning in English.

          • KontraDiction

            Right? It’s not that “most” words are ambiguous – the real problem is that KEY words are ambiguous.

  • soter phile

    This is exhibit #974 of how you misrepresent those with whom you disagree… in meme form, no less…

    Case in point: here’s a prominent ‘conservative’ group on sola Scriptura

    NB: your caricature is an unrecognizable misrepresentation.
    if it’s truly not a purposeful misrepresentation (as you’ve claimed elsewhere), read & re-think your critique.

    • Regressive’s hobby is destroying straw men.

      • It is a common internet tactic to just say that the other person is creating a straw man, with no or few actual details about how one’s view differs from what is being critiqued. I’ve already said that if you don’t hold the view I’m critiquing, just ignore it since presumably it does not apply to you. Yet you keep up the same sorts of comments, confirming stereotypes and addressing no actual issues adequately. Perhaps a chance of approach might serve you better?

        • The burden of proof lies with the maker of the straw man. Its also a common technique to demand proof when you have offered none. Any honest person who knows both sides can see that the author has built an opponent purely of straw. I am a fundamentalist and have been for 40 years. I don’t recognize any of what he attributes to us.

        • soter phile

          I gave you a direct link to a Gospel Coalition article detailing the differences.
          How is that offering “few actual details”?

          And it is disingenuous to feign ignorance – as if you do not know that criticizing ‘Bible alone’ advocates is a direct (& misguided) shot at the English approximation of sola Scriptura, a rather prominent assertion of the Reformation.

          Never mind invoking a broad label, insulting that entire group, & then saying “well, if it doesn’t apply to you… it’s up to you not to be insulted.” How would you respond to that logic if it was used of ethnic, gender, or socio-economic groups? It’s progressive hypocrisy on full display.

    • KontraDiction

      That article doesn’t actually address any of the points made above.

      • soter phile

        So… you didn’t read under the sub-headings “Alone?” or “Scripture and Human Sources of Wisdom”?

        Or by “doesn’t actually address” you really mean “doesn’t confirm my pre-existing bias”?

        • KontraDiction

          I read the whole thing. And nowhere did it address the translational, cultural, and historical issues raised in this article.

          • soter phile

            For the Reformers, the Bible was the lens or grid or perspective which both taught God’s truth, and also enabled them to evaluate, discard, or accept the insights, assumptions, and ideas of Tradition, the Pope, Experience, or Reason. In doing this, they relativised the other sources, and claimed their fundamental inadequacy and potential damage in knowing God and his revealed truth. Their ‘sola scriptura’ position meant that they opposed the mighty Roman Catholic church, those who trusted in Reason as the superior source of truth, and the radical elements in the Reformation who elevated experience above the Bible.

            At the same time the Reformers’ appeal to ‘the Bible alone’ was similar to the view taken by contemporary Humanists, who wanted to get behind later commentators on ancient secular Greek and Roman texts, and study the original classical texts. Both wanted to return to the original fountains: ‘ad fontes’ was a common aim. This lead the Reformers to the study of Greek and Hebrew to understand the Old and New Testaments.

            So, you don’t see translational, cultural, & historical issues addressed, even in just the above few sentences from that article?

            That’s a basic reading comprehension issue, not something absent from the article.

          • KontraDiction

            Yes, it is touched on briefly, but hardly to the extent needed to understand why these critiques are so important, even critical to understanding the Bible’s origin and meaning. It’s not enough to mention reading the original Greek and Hebrew (though that is certainly a start). The vast difference in culture needs to be taken into account, growing ever wider as the centuries pass. This affects everything from a metaphorical reading vs a literal meaning (can you see the insanity of reading what’s meant as story as literal fact?), to cultural significance that utterly change the meaning of the stories, to the historical situations that the early followers of Jesus found themselves in, and how that shaped the beliefs of their communities. And of course how much has been lost, some of it intentionally and violently stifled. Language is just the tip of the iceberg.

          • soter phile

            I guess it was too much to assume you would actually notice the reference invites one deeper into the resources available at the site. Seeing as how the article itself was evidence directly to the contrary of what is so often claimed here – namely, that conservative scholars are pursuing and answering those very questions – I made the mistake of thinking you would see that theme and either a) find this false claim about conservatives refuted or b) dig deeper on that site to see precisely how they were answering these questions they had raised (rather than assuming they just raised it without ever speaking to such things).

            at some point the set of assumptions necessary to dismiss such voluminous scholarship become ridiculous in itself. just because you want to think conservatives don’t use their minds fails to make it so (e.g., reading stories/parables as fact vs. narrative history). you don’t have to agree with conservatives to acknowledge their presence and contribution in academic circles.

            as for your above comment, take for example:

            similarly, consider Richard Hays’ critique of modern scholarship’s preoccupation with method to the exclusion of engaging the message (as I’ve reminded this blog’s author repeatedly):

            The real work of interpretation is to hear the text. We must consider how to read and teach scripture in a way that opens up its message and both models and fosters trust in God. So much of the ideological critique that currently dominates the academy fails to foster these qualities. Scripture is critiqued but never interpreted. The critic exposes but never exposits. Thus the word itself recedes into the background, and we are left talking only about the politics of interpretation, having lost the capacity to perform interpretations.

          • John MacDonald

            soter phile said

            We must consider how to read and teach scripture in a way that opens up its message and both models and fosters trust in God

            And you don’t see how this bias/prejudice taints your hermeneutic construction? How would this approach help you to interpret passages such as where God lies by putting lying spirits in the mouths of his prophets. (see 1 Kings 22:21-22)

          • arcseconds

            I think your problem with the post is based on a misinterpretation.

            McGrath doesn’t mention conservative scholars at all. This post is about ‘fundamentalist Christians’, with no mention of scholars. The way these terms are used by informed people usually pick out very different groups of people, so I’m not sure how you’ve come to think he’s talking about conservative scholars.

            The very site you’re linking to has a page indicating they see a similar problem to the one McGrath is talking about:


          • soter phile

            If you read much of his blog, McGrath means to impugn both with this same critique.

            But thank you for making my very point to him. Yes, conservative scholars not only see the problem, they pose an answer to that problem (unlike the author’s repeated claims here).

            Never mind the fact that I have yet to meet the ‘fundamentalist scholar’ who matches this straw man.

          • John MacDonald

            You could see why (i) fundamentalist “scholars,” due to their agenda/biases/prejudices, would be hesitant to adopt the interpretations of critical scholars, but there is nothing stopping (ii) critical scholars from adopting the “insights” of fundamentalists, except perhaps that there is nothing particularly “insightful” about what fundamentalists are producing.

          • soter phile

            you’re dodging the point.

            a) name a fundamentalist scholar who holds this position – as articulated in this article.
            i know of none (much less 5 or more, warranting his memes).
            i’ve been in and around this field for over 2 decades. this is a straw man.

            b) “Bible alone”, on the other hand, is widespread language for the English equivalent of sola Scriptura – a major thesis of the Reformation, with a much more robust history, especially among conservatives than the author of this blog admits.

            legitimate critique necessarily must represent another’s arguments accurately.
            so, either i am missing his arguments… or he is (purposefully?) making a straw man. or both.

          • John MacDonald

            Name a fundamentalist scholar whose interpretation has been adopted by the majority of critical scholars, keeping in mind critical scholars want the best interpretation, not simply one the best exemplifies an agenda.

            You said above an interpretation needs to

            “We must consider how to read and teach scripture in a way that … fosters trust in God.

            By analogy, would you not be suspicious if a Mormon scholar said the best approach to critically understanding the book of Mormon is to read and teach it in such a way that it fosters a trust in God? What about a Scientologist’s approach to their literature? Wouldn’t a disinterested approach be a more reliable way to approach any text, especially a supposedly sacred one?

          • soter phile

            a) you’re still not hearing the point. what McGrath (and apparently now, you too) means by ‘fundamentalist scholar’ does not exist.

            b) your second remark is in response to my quote from Richard Hays, NT professor at Duke.
            He is not a fundamentalist, nor is he advocating for such a shallow version of ‘bible alone.’
            Hopefully you consider his peer-reviewed work in a different category…

            as for his remark, you should check out his work – which in no way detracts from critical scholarship. he does, however, criticize historical-critical approaches that bring to the text a ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’. that’s not an indictment of all suspicion as much as a reminder that often we fail to be equally suspicious of ourselves as readers.

            check it out for yourself here:

            While the hermeneutics of suspicion—rightly employed—occupies a proper place in any attempt to interpret the Bible for our time, I want to argue that a hermeneutics of trust is also both necessary and primary.

          • John MacDonald

            This is bizarrely amateurish. Do we need a hermeneutics of trust in interpreting and evaluating Plato?

          • soter phile

            yes, yes – Duke is such a bastion of amateurish scholarship.

            again: this is a peer-reviewed NT scholar. that doesn’t guarantee he’s correct – but it does guarantee your snap response (esp. since you didn’t even have time to glance at his article since i posted this) fails to take anything he has said into account. that is not a judgment of him as much as it is of the one making the critique.

          • John MacDonald

            If anyone is not answering the arguments, it’s you:

            (1) Is the best way to interpret the book of Mormon or the Scientology texts with a hermeneutics of trust that fosters trust in God?

            (2)If we wouldn’t interpret and evaluate Plato with a hermeneutics of trust, why are we doing so in the case of the bible?

            (3) For that matter, why do we speak of the bible as a single entity with a single mission when it is a compilation of different texts written over a long period of time by different authors for different purposes?

          • soter phile

            you – much like McGrath here – have yet to engage the primary source(s).
            you haven’t even read what Hays said, yet you want to levy a critique of his position?

          • John MacDonald

            Since I have repeatedly offered my critique of the need for a “hermeneutics of trust (since such a position is childish, for example see 1-3 above),” I can only conclude you are a troll, so I’ll step aside and let you have the last word.

          • John MacDonald

            You want me to read about a ‘hermeneutics of trust?’ “Read?” What need do I have for eyes? Can I not smell? Is that not the scent of gangrene coming from such a model? Would you have me read the volumes of YECs before I dismiss them, or lose myself in the volumes of NT Wright when anyone knows demonstrating the resurrection to be probable requires more evidence than we have.

            All I glean by your repeated pointing to Richard Hays is that you have not understood him well enough to summarize his position here. Give a synopsis of what you think his core arguments are, and answer my 1-3 above.

          • arcseconds

            I have read much of McGrath’s blog, and I think he shows himself to be pretty aware of distinctions between groups of people whom others might, out of ignorance, laziness, or antipathy, paint with a single brush.

            If every time he says ‘fundamentalist’ you think he’s talking about conservative scholars, obviously you can ‘find’ him making this conflation everywhere, but is there anything actually that justifies you in thinking he is actually making this conflation?

            It’s pretty obvious that people like Michael Bird do care about original languages and think biblical scholarship is something that takes considerable expertise to do well. McGrath knows this, and I’ve never seen him suggest otherwise. He has different criticisms of Bird.

            Your point was that McGrath is cruelly maligning conservative scholars by saying they don’t care about scholarship or original langanguages, so no, I’m not making your point for you by pointing out that he isn’t talking about conservative scholars, he’s talking about a group of people conservative scholars also criticise.

            You make the point that he doesn’t offer a constructive solution to KJV-only people who reject the need for scholarship. OK, that seems reasonable, but there’s two things to point out here:

            1) this is a new point, never been mentioned until now, so it’s pretty strange for you to suggest this was your point all along. (Particularly as it’s not actually logically compatible with your criticism to date).

            2) for this to be a valid criticism you’d have to accept that this is who he is talking about… aren’t you trying to have your cake and eat it too?

          • soter phile

            a) no, i am still waiting to hear someone name such a fundy scholar (much less 5).
            this is a straw man.

            b) once that much is clear, who exactly is the ‘bible alone’ critique targeting? and again, that is the English equivalent of sola Scriptura – a much more widely held belief.

            c) what is the ‘new point’? your antecedent is unclear.

          • John MacDonald

            I’m trying to understand your position. Are you an inerrantist? Critical scholars, for instance, argue Matthew invents material about Jesus to recapitulate the story of Moses and present Jesus as the New and Greater Moses. Dr. McGrath and Dr. Amy Jill Levine, for instance, explore this. Would you agree that Matthew relates things about Jesus that never happened for thematic reasons? Dr. McGrath has an essay about this issue regarding Matthew on the web, but I can’t find it to provide a link.

          • KontraDiction

            John, I love this stuff! Absolutely fascinating to learn the reasons behind various inclusions and variations, especially in the very earliest stages. Can you recommend specific books of theirs, or websites?

          • John MacDonald

            Hi Kontra,

            There’s an article online by Bob Price which originally appeared in the “Encyclopedia of Midrash,” ed Jacob Neusner and Alan Avery Peck. It’s basically about how NT authors sometimes wrote by using literary imitation (mimesis) of older literary models, like how the portrayal of John the Baptist in Mark is clothed in the literary dressing of Elijah. I don’t agree with all the examples Price gives, but it is a place to start. Dr. Peck once told me in an Email that he agrees with most of the examples Price gives, and that The Jewish Annotated New Testament (which Peck was a contributor to) carries the discussion forward in a fruitful manner. Here is Price’s article:

  • The whole article is an attach on a straw man. No fundamentalist reads the Bible and absolutely nothing else. We’re all reading commentaries by our favorite preachers and we know they have studied the church fathers and other experts. We hold that the Bible is the only authority, meaning we don’t accept the Pope and have no popes. We’re not slaves to authorities even “scholars.” But we follow sound hermeneutic principles, which include studying the culture of the writer and the original language.

    • What did I attach, and to what?

    • Completely agree. Most who criticize the bible on Progressive sites are only concerned with the parts that limit thier ability to be lawless. The Atheists are concerned with “authenticity” because the must disparage the origins.

      • What does this post have to do with anyone trying to be “lawless”?!

        • My reply was to another’s comment not your blog per se.

      • arcseconds

        You don’t seem to know anything about either progressive Christians or atheists, if you honestly think that the first is solely motivated by a will to be ‘lawless’ and the second by antipathy towards Christianity.

        I think you may have been misled by straw-man misrepresentations yourself.

        (Obviously, if you don’t honestly think this, there’s a bigger problem…)

        There are plenty of progressive Christians and atheists on this channel, who I’m sure will be willing to engage in dialogue with you about it, if you’re prepared to make a minimal effort to find out these things.

        • I have had dialogue with many Progressives and Atheists on Patheos.

          Progressives all end at the same place; I will do what I want to do and I will show you how the bible supports my conduct.

          Atheists are just hopeless. They have no reason to live so they criticise Christians who believe and trust in God and do have a reason to live.

  • John MacDonald

    You bolded:

    “But criticism it is of a sort—the sort that stems from the sense that one is morally superior to the writers that one is supposedly describing … It is impossible, this much is clear, to exaggerate the heroic self-inflation of academic literary criticism.”

    Is this what you think of Dr. McGrath, or were you just randomly citing passages?

    • soter phile

      And he’s not alone.
      Hence the need for Richard Hays to make this point.
      (And – in broader scholarship – Lentricchia, for that matter.)

      As for “randomly citing passages,” did you read – or even skim – the link i gave?
      you seem to want to do the minimum amount of reading so you can dismiss those with whom you disagree. and progressives want to claim it is conservatives who sacrifice the intellect…

  • arcseconds

    There seems to be considerable confusion here, and I’m not sure if it’s you or me.

    Let’s just deal with one point to try to reduce the confusion rather than add more.


    i never brought up the King James Version.

    That’s true, it was me that bought this up in my first reply to you. But this is obvious, and I’m unclear what the significance of you mentioning this now is.

    You seem to think it’s a problem that I’ve mentioned KJV-only people, have I got this right? If that’s the case, could you tell me why?


    this is my first time mentioning it on this page

    By name, yes, but don’t you refer to the KJV-only people as a problem here?

    But thank you for making my very point to him. Yes, conservative scholars not only see the problem, they pose an answer to that problem (unlike the author’s repeated claims here).


    If the problem you’re referring to here is not KJV-only people then I have no idea what this paragraph means, and I’d appreciate it if you could clarify. Who are you talking about, and what exactly is the problem, and how does it relate to my initial post to you?

    You are the one making assumptions here.

    Again, I have no idea what you are talking about.

    What assumptions do you think I am making?

    • soter phile

      again, you raised KJV-only people, not me.
      you seem to have confused yourself in that regard.
      NB: that is a tiny subset of the explicitly-stated target McGrath has in mind:
      fundamentalist Christians, who claim to rely on “the Bible alone…”

      you are moving in the opposite direction from McGrath – who here (as well as on other pages) purposefully cites all evangelicals in such a monolithic way. you want to reduce the sample-size to “KJV-only” – which I’d still point out: you will find great difficulty naming scholars in that group. meanwhile, McGrath is stretching his critique to a much broader target group while you are shrinking yours (in defense of him?). and in his explicitly-stated target demographic, there are scholars with whom he could interact, who notably would readily disabuse him of his inaccurate portrayal of their beliefs.

      and to answer your earlier plea:
      the repeated, constructive criticism I have given McGrath is to go talk to some of these people he thinks he is criticizing. do they find his representation of their arguments recognizable? he knows the answer is NO. that is why i keep pressing that very point. and to that degree, he is purposefully misrepresenting them.

      you don’t have to agree with someone to criticize them. but if you cannot reproduce their supposed positions in a form recognizable to them… you are probably criticizing your own straw man – not their actual beliefs. that is McGrath’s problem.

      • arcseconds

        again, you raised KJV-only people, not me.
        you seem to have confused yourself in that regard.

        No, I’m not confused about this. I know perfectly well I raised this, not you.

        And I told you this In the very comment to which you’re replying:


        That’s true, it was me that bought this up in my first reply to you.

        What I am confused as to how you can continue to think I’ve forgotten what I wrote when I’ve already agreed I was the one that mentioned them in the first place. It seems to me that you simply aren’t paying attention, which perhaps explains quite a lot about this conversation.

        Under such circumstances I think I had better stick to one point per comment.

        I’ll put it in in caps, as simply as I can, to try to forestall any further confusion on this point:




        Hopefully now we can move on from this particular piece of confusion.

        • soter phile

          do you only read the first paragraph? it’s not just that you were the one who raised the topic; your preoccupation with KJV-only is a red herring in this conversation.

          as i said before: meanwhile, McGrath is stretching his critique to a much broader target group while you are shrinking yours (in defense of him?).

          i also bolded my main points.
          i guess i should have used ALL CAPS, since that appears to be your preferred mode to get through to people who you think aren’t listening to you.

          here are the bolded points again… though admittedly not in the first paragraph, nor in ALL CAPS, but hopefully inviting you to get beyond your KJV pre-occupation:

          a) the repeated, constructive criticism I have given McGrath is to go talk to some of these people he thinks he is criticizing. do they find his representation of their arguments recognizable? he knows the answer is NO.
          b) you are probably criticizing your own straw man – not their actual beliefs. that is McGrath’s problem.

          • arcseconds

            It’s very clear that you’re not listening to me, because you keep telling me that I’m the one that raised KJV-only people first, even in reply to posts where I agree that that’s what I’ve done!

            I did read your entire posst.

            But I am only responding to the first paragraph because you get confused so easily, so I am sticking to one point at a time.

            This may look like obsession to you, but I can’t see any other way of making progress.

            Perhaps you should reflect on the level of care you’re taking in this conversation before you accuse me of being careless. I mean, it’s taken three interchanges just to get you to stop telling me that I mentioned KJV-only people first.

            But you seem to have stopped now, so constant repetition does seem to be effective. Maybe the capitals helped too…

          • arcseconds

            Anyway, as I said I was hoping we could move on from that particular confusion. You at least seem to have stopped telling me that I mentioned KJV-only first now, so hopefully you now know that I know that I mentioned it first.

            My position is that McGrath is referring to KJV-only people. So obviously I don’t think it’s a red herring. I also don’t think I’m ‘shrinking’ the referent of his comments, I think I’m getting it right.

            I’m not sure you’ve entirely recognised that this is what is at stake in this entire discussion.

            I think your ‘fundamentalist scholars’ are a red herring, and that you’ve broadened whom he is talking about in order to attack him.

            By telling you this, does it convince you that I’m right?

            If it doesn’t, maybe you can see why I don’t find being told that my interpretation is a red herring and that I’ve narrowed the target group convincing.