Full credit to Adam Ford for his creative, cutting edge work. Click here to go to Adam’s site – enjoy the random button.
Re-blogging Dr. Michael J. Kruger’s second half of his rebuttal and exploration of the Eichenwald Newsweek article on the Bible.
The comments thread over there is extensive with Dr. Eichenwald contributing frequently, which is good to see. I recommend the comments section with a number of the links to other works and counter-arguments, for example Steve Hays.
Here’s the beginning of Dr. Kruger’s work
On Christmas Eve, I wrote part one of my review of Kurt Eichenwald’s piece (see here), and highlighted not only the substantive and inexcusable litany of historical mistakes, but also the overly pejorative and one-sided portrait of Bible-believing Christians. The review was shared by a number of other evangelical sites and thinkers—including the Gospel Coalition, Tim Challies, Denny Burk, Michael Brown, and others—and ever since I have been digging out from under the pile of comments. I appreciate that even Kurt Eichenwald joined the discussion in the comments section.
But the problems in the original Newsweek article were so extensive that I could not cover them in a single post. So, now I offer a second (and hopefully final) installment.
False Claims about Christians Killing Christians
In an effort to portray early Christianity as divided and chaotic (not to mention morally corrupt), Eichenwald repeatedly claims that Christians went around murdering each other in droves. He states:
Those who believed in the Trinity butchered Christians who didn’t. Groups who believed Jesus was two entities—God and man—killed those who thought Jesus was merely flesh and blood…Indeed, for hundreds of years after the death of Jesus, groups adopted radically conflicting writings about the details of his life and the meaning of his ministry, and murdered those who disagreed. For many centuries, Christianity was first a battle of books and then a battle of blood.
Notice that Eichenwald offers no historical evidence about the mass killing of Christians by Christians within the first few centuries (we are talking about the pre-Constantine time period). And there is a reason he doesn’t offer any. There is none.
Sure, one can point to instances in the medieval period, such as the Inquisition, where Christians killed other Christians. But, Eichenwald claims that Christianity began this way: “for hundreds of years after the death of Jesus.” This is another serious historical mistake that needs correcting.
When it comes to who-killed-who in the earliest centuries of the faith, it wasn’t Christians killing Christians. It was the Roman government killing Christians.
I previously mentioned (here) this valuable book Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosopy at Denver Seminary, USA. Here’s a piece from the introduction (p16)
We are all citizens of the universe – anxious travelers, much of the time, passing through our days and nights in uncertainty and confusion concerning what matters most. In one sense, we are alone. No one else will live our life or die our death. Each self is unique, responsible and indissoluble. Yet our fate is bound up with our world and our fellow travelers, each of whom has a particular way of coping with – or avoiding – these insistent immensities. We are alone – together.
What if the millenia of human cries echo only into the empty sky and no further? That possibility must be faced if the quest itself is to have any meaning. In the end, hope without truth is pointless. Illusions and delusions, no matter how comforting or grandiose, are the enemies of those who strive for integrity in their knowing and being. Statements such as “I’d like to think of the universe as having a purpose” or “The thought of an afterlife gives me peace” reflect mere wishes. These notions do not address the truth or falsity of there being purpose in the world or of our postmortem survival, because there is no genuine claim to knowledge; a warranted awareness of reality as it really is. A hearty, sturdy and insatiable appetite for reality – whatever it might be – is the only engine for testing and discerning truth. Truth is what matters most, particularly truth concerning our human condition in the world – its origin, its nature, its purpose (if any) and its destiny. Knowing the truth and living according to its requirements should be the hope and aspiration of the reflective person. Only our knowledge of truth – our awareness of reality, no matter how sketchy or partial – can help resolve the inner bickering between the claims of hope and the fears of despair.
In many ways, my own journey to faith in Jesus, has been through the question ‘What is truth?’. What is the truely true and the really real? The Father in drawing me into the truth of the Son by the Spirit practically destroyed me – literally. But on the battlefield between life and death I arrived at a precipice thought – If God is really there, I do want to know him. This was beyond wishful thinking, comforting ideas, childhood reminiscences. I had already visited those shrines and found them desolate. Life and the prospect of death had stripped me bare to my most real and now I was asking a question not solely as an intellectual exercise but I had positioned myself or been positioned to surrender to the answer. If God was not there – then futility would be explored to the maximum. If God was there – then I would live in the reality, beauty, suffering and life of that reality. Again to the maximum. For the first time ever I was falling without a parachute. When you are at your most real, your most true, when everything is stripped away – then the one who lives in unapproachable light just may approach you.
1 Timothy 6:11-16 *
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
So my prayer to the triune God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) for you is:
- That you will strive for integrity in your knowing and your being
- That you will pursue the meaning of life beyond your mere wishes
- That you will have a hearty, sturdy and insatiable appetite for the really real
- That this insatiable engine will test and discern the truely true
- That through reflection and aspiration you then live according to the truth
- That hope grounded on the reality of truth will aid you to live in a despairing world
- and I ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen (so let it be).
All this puts me in the mood for the serious and beautiful song Skin by Vigilantes of Love from their album Blister Soul (1995). Let the reflective beware this song rewards the repeat button.
* Scripture sourced electronically from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%206&version=NIV