Why doesn’t the Church own up?

Earlier generations were unwilling to challenge the Bible from a scientific or historical point of view, but now we are willing, and, moreover, we can.

Biblical scholarship has reached a new high in recent decades. New and better evidence has become available for historians, theologians, archaeologists and linguists to scrutinize for factual accuracy and new meanings. They have a better understanding of 1st Century Palestinian society than ever before.

Scholars go back to the earliest possible sources to uncover the influence of the numerous editors and translators. They can discern with a high degree of certainty where sections have been added or where original material has been altered. They examine the style and language of different passages to identify where several authors were at work. They study the context in which the manuscripts were written so they can piece together clues and fill in the gaps.

And yet many Christians continue to insist that the gospels were written by eye witnesses and are 100% reliable testimonies.

Much of what I included in my book, 201 Things About Christianity You Probably Don’t Know (But Ought To) has been known for at least a couple of centuries and taught in seminaries and theological colleges around the world. Some has found a wider platform in the broadcast media and literature, but is rarely communicated to the people in the pews.

It’s about time it was!

 

Copyright David Lawrence Preston, 23.8.2016

Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston

Front cover 201 things

Balboa Press, 2015

The clergy know, but the faithful don’t want to hear it!

I’ve had many conversations with churchmen and women and discovered that many of them continue to teach the same old things about the Bible without really believing it themselves. They dare not say, though, so for fear of confusing their congregations and losing their employment.

One Anglican vicar told me that, like all trainee clergy, she had studied the Bible from a factual-historical point of view at university. I asked her why, then, vicars continued to peddle the same old line in their Sunday sermons as if nothing had moved on from the 17th or 18th Centuries. Her reply astounded me. ‘Because they (the congregation) don’t want to hear it!’

‘Because they don’t want to hear it!’ Why not? Psychologists tell us that once people have made up their minds about something they don’t want to change. Previously I had believed that the church itself (that is, the ruling bodies that dictate doctrine, policy and procedure and the clergy who preach it) was the sticking point. Indeed, it has a long history of being suspicious of any verifiable facts that could threaten the foundations of its faith. Once an idea has been labelled ‘the word of the Almighty and people have convinced themselves that this is so, all discretion, all criticism, all scrutiny goes out of the window.

JC

For example, if you believe that the gospels were written by contemporaries of  Yeshua (‘Jesus’) who knew him personally and wrote down what they observed at the time, then no amount of evidence and reason can shake your faith in them. Your mind closes and so do your ears; common sense flies out of the window. But surely any belief system that cannot survive factual scrutiny is of little value!

My book ‘201 Things About Christianity You Probably Don’t Know (But Ought To)’ offers a selection of facts which I hope you will find interesting and significant. It may change your viewpoint on certain things, or not – your choice. I’m confident that few independent experts on the history and practice of Christianity would disagree with the information presented there, although some may differ with my interpretation. All I can do is set out the facts in good faith according to my understanding.

And that’s exactly what I will continue to do!

 

Copyright David Lawrence Preston, 23.8.2016

Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston

Front cover 201 things

Balboa Press, 2015. Available from Amazon and other booksellers.