John Paine and I have reported before on Newsweek‘s now infamous Christmas front page article written by journalist Kurt Eichenwald entitled, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.”As a way of following up on the continuing saga of the blunder made by such an influential mainstream publication, after Newsweek invited messianic Bible scholar Dr. Michael Brown to write a response essay in their magazine, Brown then invited the journalist, Kurt Eichenwald, to appear on Brown’s Line of Fire radio show recently. I listened to the program available online and simply felt compelled to make some commentary.
On the bright side, it is apparent that Eichenwald and Newsweek hope that evangelical Christians will engage in creative and respectful dialogue with others without resorting to vitriol and name calling. I could not agree more. Furthermore, Eichenwald believes that there are many Christians who say that they “believe the Bible” but they simply have not read and studied what the Bible really says. Again, Eichenwald is 100% correct about the problem of biblical illiteracy and lack of understanding concerning theological doctrine and church history within our churches today. The hypocrisy of those who say that they “know the Bible” yet who do not take the time or energy to dig into the study of God’s Word and its history is truly appalling. But is Eichenwald correct is his understanding of the Bible, and its history? Continue reading
My Veracity blogging colleague, John Paine, recently referenced New Testament scholar Dan Wallace’s response to Newsweek author Kurt Eichenwald’s Christmas tirade against Christian “misunderstandings” of the Bible. Sadly, despite some of the genuine substance Mr. Eichenwald displays to the reader, it is the Newsweek piece itself, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” that bears most of the misunderstanding.
The article has generated A LOT of responses, so many that I think it would be best to list out some of the more prominent ones. The original Newsweek article is extremely long, but it is worth taking some time to go through it as it adequately illustrates many of the most common objections and confusions regarding Christianity and the Bible that you will encounter today among secularly-minded thinkers, or those thinkers who wish to reshape Christian faith to look more “modern.” But you should also read a few of the responses as an aid to help you develop an informed response to Eichenwald’s many complaints. It is great way to get an education on some critical issues in doing Christian apologetics in a skeptical world. Some of what Eichenwald says presents challenging difficulties for the Christian, while much of what he says, if not the bulk of it, can be answered in a manner that effectively communicates an honorable confidence in God’s Word:
- Michael Kruger (Reformed Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.) has two articles (#1 and #2 ), but what is most valuable is that Mr. Eichenwald offers some rejoinders to Kruger’s critique in the comments section.
- Ben Witherington (Asbury Seminary, Kentucky) offers a response from an evangelical Wesleyan perspective.
- For a response from the more conservative wing of mainstream Protestantism, this detailed response from Robert Gagnon (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) fills in some of the gaps left by others in their critiques.
- Kurt Eichenwald has repeatedly said that some of the responses to his Christmas essay from Christians were loaded with “vitriol” and “name calling.” Perhaps Eichenwald has this series of video responses in mind ( you have to scroll past much of the unedited chatter in places, but you can look here: #1 and #2)by Reformed apologist James A. White (Alpha-Omega Ministries), but I will let the viewer be the judge of that.
- In addition to the well-known agnostic Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Mr. Eichenwald leans heavily on the critical views of Jason David BeDuhn, professor of Comparative Study of Religions, at Northern Arizona University. BeDuhn, in this essay, responds to a critique of the Newsweek article by Southern Baptist Seminary head, Al Mohler.
- If you want to know what the more progressive end of Christianity is thinking about this, read this by blogger Rachel Held Evans, or this from Old Testament scholar Pete Enns.
- In my view, the best and most thorough response is from Darrell Bock (Dallas Seminary). If you only have time to read one of these, pick either the Dan Wallace one linked above or this one by Bock.
- The latest response from Newsweek itself is that they agreed to publish the following rejoinder by messianic scholar Michael Brown. In Newsweek’s introduction to Dr. Brown’s essay, they still stand by Eichenwald’s original story, in an effort to promote discussion. Furthermore, they announced that Dr. Brown has invited Mr. Eichenwald to be on his Line of Fire radio program the week of January 19.