DISHARMONY OF THE GOSPELS? Prelude to the New Testament

So great news! The Bible Controversy is now officially a podcast.  You can now find it on your favorite podcast app by just searching for the “The Bible Controversy.”  Apologies on the second recording as the volume dips near the end.  This will all be improved for future podcasts.  The next episode should be published soon . . .

What is a “through the Bible” podcast?  I consider this to be a podcast where you start with Genesis 1:1 and just move forward from there.  This is in contrast to a thematic approach where you pick out different verses scattered throughout the bible to deal with a particular issue. I am going to modify this somewhat by starting with the New Testament and doing a “harmony” of the Gospels, what this means is that Instead of starting with Matthew, and then just reading straight through from beginning to end, and then Mark, followed by Luke and John, I will instead be comparing how the different gospel writers deal with the same stories and events as we proceed through the ancestry, birth, childhood, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Before we can even get to Jesus, however, we have an entire Old Testament to contend with, the history of the Ancient Near East, and the Greco-Roman world of the first century. So a lot to chew on there . . .

The focus though for all of this is dealing with three voices. The three voices as I see them is the Skeptical Critic (SC”) who looks for contradiction, absurdity, and moral nonsense wherever she can find it. The SC has rejected Christianity and loves to talk about Christianity’s short comings.  The next voice is the Evangelical Defender (“ED”)  who will courageously defend  the bible against the attacks of the SC and Bible scholarship in general. The ED acknowledges that there are apparent contradictions and supposed moral failings in the Bible but he will show how no such contradiction actually exists and that the Bible remains inerrant and infallible. The ED is a great escape artist who always finds impressive and inventive means to defend the Bible whenever it is in danger. The final voice in this contest is the Bible Academic (“BA”), the BA does not have any passionate dislike for the Bible like the SC does but he has his theory on what the bible is.  The BA knows how the bible was constructed, when, and by whom.  Verses (that he reads) will always fit the theory of the Bible that he has adopted. These theories have different names you may have heard of, like the “documentary hypothesis,” “deuteronomic historian” or “Markan priority.”

So we have three voices and the final voice is that of the bewildered reader. How does the reader find coherence? Or more simply what is the meaning?

Atheists Love the Bible and Apologists Love Science?

 

Have you ever noticed that Atheists tend to get most excited when discussing the Bible?  They can quote scripture better than the average Christian.  They love the Old Testament.  Their eyes light up as they talk about how ridiculous Noah and his flood and his animals are, they love Leviticus and cite chapter and verse on the carnage in Joshua. They excitedly proclaim that the best way to turn a Christian into an Atheist is to make them read the Bible!

Apologists on the other hand bring up Science.  Their God is the omnipotent, omniscient, and timeless being who is the first cause.  He is the one who fine tunes the mass of the electron.  (Is the electron mentioned in the Bible?) He sets the strength of the strong force.  (Is that Genesis 1:3?)  Several billion years later God puts all the incredibly unlikely protein chains together, adds in the mysteriously information rich nucleic acids, and further supplies the lipids and carbohydrates to form the amazing living cell. Later still, God spectacularly expands the diversity of life in the Cambrian explosion. (Is this day five?) Finally, he creates the most complex object in the universe: the human brain. (At least that is what the human brain wants you to think.)

But when it comes to the bible … Apologists quickly run to their “minimal facts.”  They take a couple of events that they insist are accepted by almost all New Testament scholars (not just the Christians) and state that the best explanation of those facts is the resurrection.  And then they are … done! Case closed, now that you are a Christian you can come to our bible study while we figure out how to deal with all those difficult passages those crazy Atheists keep citing.

Atheists, when confronted with these “scientific” arguments seem to be a bit defensive, a bit unsure, always saying that “well that may be true but that doesn’t prove God.” The rhetoric gets weaker and the attitude a bit more humble. Where before they were confidently expounding on the evils of the Bible they now simply shrug their shoulders and say with the faith of a mustard seed (the smallest seed?) that Science will eventually figure it out.

What is going on here?

 

What controversy?

Genocide! Murder! Incest! The accusations go on and on. The treatment of women. Condoning, supporting and encouraging slavery. Denial of science. Denial of other religions and other cultures. Beyond these moral questions, we face difficulties in dealing with contradictions and unclear doctrines. There are a lot of other questions as well. But the big question remains.

Does a coherent and worthy to follow message remain after we’ve used every tool to dismantle, interrogate and analyze the bible? That’s the journey this blog (potential podcast) is on. What do you think?