Too much secular influence in media and schools

Date: 5/10/2004 19:35:55 -0700
From: Michael M.
To: ed.babinski
Subject: Hello
Dear Sir:

It is a real place. I would suggest that you reconsider your positions. You can't intellectualize yourself to be God. doesn't work that way.

An Intellectual Christian who knows your viewpoints are complete bunk.

From: Ed Babinski
To: Micheal M.
Sent: Friday, May 14, 2004 2:52 PM
Subject: Intellectual Xtian knows your view r complete bunk-o

Hello Michael,

How did you hear about ?

If you disagree with what is on somebody else's website and have nothing to say to them except to email them a threat and an insult, why not simply go visit another website? I don't visit Christian sites just to leave insults.

Was there a particular Christian web-apologist whom you were trying to emulate in your email message to me?



From: Ed Babinski
To: Michael M.
Sent: Friday, May 14, 2004 6:07 PM
Subject: Re: Intellectual Xtian knows your view r complete bunk-o

ed babinski writes:
Michael M. writes:

Mr. Babinski:

There is too much of the secular ideas promoted in the media and collge campuses.

ED: There might also possibly be too much "know-nothing theology" preached in
1) churches across the country,
2) in church-schools,
3) on Christian radio and TV,
4) in Christian books sold in Christian bookstores and at Walmarts across the nation,
5) in Christian websites and emails,
6) on Evangelical Christian campuses,
7) in Christian campus groups on secular campuses,
8) in Christian home-schooling courses, etc.

But I don't get involved with arguing THAT point so much as explaining at my website why I personally left the fold. There are other websites like mine, as Steve Locks at "Leaving Christianity" proves with his list of links. (Just google, "Leaving Christianity")

In fact, Christianity is under constant attack from persons of the more liberal bent just because it evokes the concept of absolutes.

ED: Christianity is in constant martyr mode. "We're being attacked!" But in fact, we have a president who says Jesus is his favorite "philosopher" (sic). We have a fundamentalist Attorney General, Ashcroft.

We have Washington Prayer Groups galore, and influencial preachers meeting with Senators and Congressmen. The Bush Administration has spent hundreds of millions on faith related programs and on training churches how to apply for such programs. Christians have their own news (700 Club), radio, satellite networks (Catholic and Pentecostal), bookstores (Zondervan and others), Christian book and music kiosks in WalMarts.

Polls reveal that people with Evangelical Christian views number about a third of the U.S. population, that's enough votes to take over the country (since most of the eligible U.S. voting population doesn't even vote). If all Christians voted together, politically, they could take over.

As for absolutes, even Christians have not been able to demonstrate to fellow Christians exactly what those absolutes are across the board.

Christians who agree that the Bible is uniquely inspired, and/or without error -- and who agree that the Bible interprets itself ("Sola Scriptura") -- and who agree that the "Holy Spirit" guides them into "all truth" -- still find themselves disagreeing over what the Bible "really says." Protestant Reformers damned Biblical interpretations by fellow Reformers. Puritans split with Puritans. In our own day, America's single largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, fired missionaries and professors, split from the World Baptist Alliance, and incited the founding of the more moderate Baptist Cooperative Fellowship -- over differences in Biblical interpretation. Christian seminaries and universities have been founded in reaction to one anothers' differing Biblical interpretations. New translations of the Bible have been made to counter other translations.

Concerning differences in Biblical interpretation, the famed Scottish Christian, Thomas Erskine, said, "The most zealous defenders of the verbal inspiration of the Bible admit that there are parts of it of less importance than others. This is a great admission, because another is involved in it, namely that we ourselves must be judges of the comparative importance of these different parts."

At the very least, one must admit that disagreements and ambiguities exist among Christian interpretations of the Bible just as they do elsewhere in life and learning, so there is no evidence of the superiority of "revealled religion" when it comes to that.

Speaking of such disagreements and ambiguities, two Evangelical Christian presses, InterVarsity Press and Zondervan, began publishing books in the 1980s in which Evangelical Christian theologians explained their views and questioned each others' reasons for holding them. Keep in mind that the disagreements discussed in the books below are only between Evangelical Protestants (and E.P.'s do not constitute the biggest bulk of Christianity which remains Catholic). If the publishers began editing books that featured not only Protestant but also Catholic and Eastern Orthodox views, there would undoubtedly be more topics and more books required to discuss them. Moreover, there are disagreements between conservatives, moderates, and liberals within each major church division or denomination. The books below feature mostly the differing views of conservative Evangelical Protestants, while moderate and liberal views are under-represented (perhaps because moderates and liberals doubt that the Bible speaks perfectly clearly on as many matters as conservatives assume it does). Nor do the books below address many moderate/liberal questions concerning the historical development of Christian ideas and doctrines.

Books by InterVarsity Press:

Two Views of Hell: A Biblical and Theological Dialog
Four Views on Divine sovereignty and Human Freedom
Four Christian Views of Economics
Four Theologians Debate the Major Millennial Views
Women in Ministry: Four Views
Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views
Theologians and Philosophers Examine Four Approaches to War

Books by Zondervan Press, part of their Counterpoints Series:

Two Views on Women in Ministry
Three Views on the Rapture
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
Three Views on Creation and Evolution
Are Miraculous Gifts for Today: Four Views
Show Them No Mercy: Four Views on God and Canaanite Genocide
Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World
Four Views on the Book of Revelation
Four Views on Eternal Security
Four Views on Hell
Five Views of Law and Gospel
Five Views on Sanctification
Five Views on Apologetics

The Society of Christian Philosophers has also gotten into the act and published a debate book: Contemporary Debate in the Philosophy of Religion (Section III. features debates between Christian philosophers on questions such as "Can Only One Religion Be True?" "Does God Take Risks in Governing the World?" "Does God Respond to Petitionary Prayer?" "Is Eternal Damnation Compatible with the Christian Concept of God?" "Is Morality Based on God's Commands?" "Should a Christian Be a Mind-Body Dualist?" Concerning such questions, none of the Christian/theistic philosophers were convinced by the others' arguments.)

Or take the disagreements within Protestantism between conservatives and moderates concerning Biblical inerrancy. One such debate took place in the pages of The Churchman (published in Great Britain): The moderate Protestant Christian theologian, James D.G. Dunn, argued for a less than inerrant view of the Bible in his article, "The Authority of Scripture According to Scripture" (in two parts that appeared in The Churchman 96.2 & 96.3, 1982) Dunn's article was challenged in that same journal by Roger Nicole (a founder and charter member of the Evangelical Theological Society). Dunn was not swayed by Nicole's lengthy three-part rebuttal, and answered Nicole briefly and with equanimity, seeking to widen the circle of Christianity that they may both inhabit it, even though Nicole filled pages of his reply with what can only be called "preaching" -- or quotations from past theologians who sounded more like preachers than anything else -- to try and rouse Dunn to convert back to Nicole's view of inerrancy.

James D.G. Dunn is a major theological figure among moderate Protestant Christians. His latest work, Jesus Remembered, is the first of a planned trilogy on the first 120 years of Christianity. Dunn argues that The Gospel of John's narrative is not reliable, nor the claims it makes for Jesus' quasi-divine status. (In his earlier work, Evidence for Jesus, Dunn didn't imagine that Jesus spoke even one word reported in John.) Dunn admits there is little to support the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke, and little evidence that Jesus supported a mission to the gentiles, and no evidence that Jesus saw himself as any kind of messiah. (The term does not even appear in Q.) Nor is there much left of the "Son of Man," except for a few uncertain eschatological allusions. Dunn argues that Jesus did not claim any title for himself. Jesus may have believed that he was going to die, but he did not believe he was dying to redeem the sins of the world. "If Jesus hoped for resurrection it was presumably to share in the general and final resurrection of the dead." There is astonishingly little support for what Jesus' last words were. There is a certain squirming as Dunn admits that Jesus believed in an imminent eschatological climax that, of course, did not happen. "Putting it bluntly, Jesus was proved wrong by the course of events." Then he goes on for four pages trying to argue that we shouldn't be too concerned about this. Dunn's account of the resurrection notes all of the weaknesses of the tradition: The link of Jesus' resurrection to a falsely imminent general resurrection, confusion as to what sort of Jesus the witnesses were seeing, a persistent theme of failure of the witnesses to recognize Jesus (in Matthew 28:17 the disciples are seeing him in Galilee yet "some doubted," not just Thomas), confusion as to where they were seeing Jesus (in Jerusalem and Galilee? On earth or in heaven?). Which is not to say that Dunn does not affirm the resurrection -- he does, which is what still puts him in the Christian camp (though somewhat doubtfully in the eyes of conservative Evangelical inerrantists like Roger Nicole).

Another leading moderate whose views conservatives find unsettling is William G. Dever, the son of a fundamentalist preacher. After starting his education at a small Christian liberal arts college in Tennessee he went to a Protestant theological seminary that exposed him to critical study of the Bible, a study that at first he resisted. In 1960 it was on to Harvard and a doctorate in Biblical theology. For thirty-five years he worked as an archaeologist, excavating in the Near East, and he is now professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona. In his book, What Did the Bible Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, he writes, "While the Hebrew Bible in its present, heavily edited form cannot be taken at face value as history in the modern sense, it nevertheless contains much history." He adds: "After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible 'historical figures.'" He writes of archaeological investigations of Moses and the Exodus as having been "discarded as a fruitless pursuit." He is not saying that the Biblical Moses was entirely mythical, though he does admit that ".the overwhelming archaeological evidence today of largely indigenous origins for early Israel leaves no room for an exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness. A Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in southern Transjordan in the mid-late13th century B.C., where many scholars think the Biblical traditions concerning the god Yahweh arose. But archaeology can do nothing to confirm such a figure as a historical personage, much less prove that he was the founder of later Israelite region." About Leviticus and Numbers he writes that these are "clearly additions to the 'pre-history' by very late Priestly editorial hands, preoccupied with notions of ritual purity, themes of the 'promised land,' and other literary motifs that most modern readers will scarcely find edifying much less historical." Dever writes that "the whole 'Exodus-Conquest' cycle of stories must now be set aside as largely mythical, but in the proper sense of the term 'myth': perhaps 'historical fiction,' but tales told primarily to validate religious beliefs."

Dever's conclusions about what archaeology tells us about the Bible are not very pleasing to fundamentalists or conservative Evangelicals, and I gather that Dever and his colleagues of high standing likewise dismiss fundamentalists and hard-core conservative Evangelicals who want to consider themselves scholars without accepting that which good scholars must do: engage in extensive critical analysis. Those testifying for Dever's book (on the back cover) are: Paul D. Hanson, Professor of Divinity and Old Testament at Harvard University; David Noel Freedman, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the University of Michigan; Philip M. King, Professor at Boston College and author of Jeremiah; William W. Hallo, Professor of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature at Yale University; and Bernhard W. Anderson, Professor of Old Testament, Boston University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary. Like Dever, these are not a bunch of radical revisionists, but moderates in the field of Christian archeology. Dever's latest book is, Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? Conservative and fundamentalist Christians who interpret the Bible literally will gain no encouragement after reading it.

Like Dever and Dunn, Bart D. Ehrman apparently started out as a conservative Christian, graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. from Wheaton College, Illinois (an Evangelical Christian institution) before attending Princeton Seminary and obtaining his doctorate. His highly successful introduction to the New Testament, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (published by Oxford University Press) is now in its third edition -- "It approaches the New Testament from a consistently historical and comparative perspective, emphasizing the rich diversity of the earliest Christian literature. Rather than shying away from the critical problems presented by these books, Ehrman addresses the historical and literary challenges they pose and shows why scholars continue to argue over such significant issues as how the books of the New Testament came into being, what they mean, how they relate to contemporary Christian and non-Christian literature, and how they came to be collected into a canon of Scripture." Dr. Ehrman's university lectures are also sold by The Teaching Company which features tapes and CDs by leading educators

My apologies if you were offended. However, I often believe it is necessary to stand up for faith that makes sense in a world where "right" and "wrong" is an invention of man.

ED: I fear that in your original email you may have confused "standing up for your faith" with "sending out a hell-threatening insulting email void of content, except for a threat and an insult."

I don't believe that concept in the interests of our survival.

ED: I try to think in terms of here and now. Here's an interesting fact, you know all the killing going on in the Middle East? Most of the people there don't have problems with believing in life after death. To believe in life before death -- a life which is worth living -- that's the difficulty.

Speaking of a connection between belief in the afterlife and a less than noble regard for the lives of those in this world, I once read about a Catholic ruler and leader in war who apparently commanded his troops to "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out."

On the other hand, there's also fanatical atheists and people imbued with a superstition-based egoism, who have killed en masse, from Attila the Hun to Ghengiz Khan (Ghengiz was superstitious and believed he was chosen at birth to conquer the world); to Hitler (again, not an atheist, but a man of superstition who also had a sense of having been chosen); to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot (communistic atheists three, though it must be admitted, communism echoed the religious mentality since it promised paradise, a "worker's paradise" following an "apocalyptic" overturning of the feared and hated "bourgouisie"--it seems that every religion needs its promise of a new jerusalem rising out of the ashes and also needs "demons" upon which to project the in-group's fears, failures and insecurities).

But the main thing that kills in all cases, either in cases of religion or atheism or egoistic superstition, is applying one's beliefs "fanatically."

As a satirical t-shirt suggest, "Death to All Fanatics!" --or at least death to the bloodthirsty fanatics who fire bullets rather than aphorisms at each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment