Monday, December 13, 2004

A Response to Jon Meacham's Newsweek Article (Part 2 of 2)

Okay, let's have a quick recap then get right into it. So far we've determined that Jon Meacham's article lacks any objectivity and makes several assertions without offering any support for them. The next issue I would like to address is Meacham’s selection of expert Scholars. Meacham knew that he would have to use experts to verify his point. However, instead of selecting from a wide range of Scholars, he conveniently stacks the deck with the most liberal Scholars around. Let’s take a closer look at his selections.

Meacham first quotes Robert Miller, a member of the Jesus Seminar and a professor of religion at Juniata College located in whoknowswhere. Meacham states “The Jesus Seminar, a group of Scholars devoted to recovering the Jesus of history, is a battalion in this long-running culture war.” Now if you know anything about the Jesus Seminar, this quote alone would prove how inaccurate the report is. These self-appointed scholars are virtually a laughing stock among Scholars of textual criticism. I’ll save an analysis of them for another time but basically they went through everything Jesus said in the Bible and voted as to whether or not they thought he really did say it by throwing colored beads onto a table. Pretty advanced stuff eh? These guys are an embarrassment to a truly intellectual investigation of historical Christianity.

Meacham then quotes Raymond E. Brown. Now opinions of Brown vary depending on whom you ask. But basically he is a deceased Catholic Priest who caused quite a ruckus when he openly began advocating that “Scripture very well may contain errors in areas not essential to salvation.” Of course there are some logical problems with this which he couldn’t answer such as: “How can it have errors in non-essential areas but not essential ones?” and “How would you be able to tell?” Without meaning to disrespect Brown, it is fair to say that he is looking at the issue through biased lenses.

Meacham then quotes Elaine Pagels. Pagels has written several books promoting texts that have long been deemed heretical by mainstream Christianity (i.e. The Gospel of Thomas). Pagels herself stated “I’m advocating, on some level, the inclusion of [religious texts] that were considered blasphemous. I suggest that there are ways of embracing a far wider spectrum of religious diversity within Christianity and quite beyond Christianity.” Inclusion of texts that are considered blasphemous? Oh here is a Scholar who I'm sure would be able to offer us a neutral opinion. Unbelieveable.

The final Scholar that Meacham quotes is the Reverend H.B. London. London is a Vice President at Focus on the Family. London is the lone conservative among these liberal wolves. Instead of allowing him to provide an opposing view, Meacham decides to twist London’s words around to make conservative Christians look foolish. He quotes London as saying “…our faith is somewhat childlike.” Now I wasn’t there for the interview, but I have a feeling London was alluding to the fact that just as a child genuinely trusts and loves their parents, so too must we trust and love God’s word. However, that is not how the quote comes across in Meacham’s passage. Instead we are made too look like foolish children believing in something as obviously false as Santa Clause.

I hope you can see that of the four Scholars interviewed, two of them are to the very far left of the spectrum, one of them is just to the left of the middle, and the lone right-wing is made to look like a fool. Folks, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, anyone can make the Bible say anything they want if they take it out of context. This is exactly what Meacham has done here; he has intentionally selected Scholars that will agree with his views without adequately representing any opposing viewpoints.

The last part of the article I want to address is an issue that has been circulating for quite some time. Hopefully this is the last time it will need to be addressed. This issue is in regards to Isaiah 7:14. This verse states “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” The issue is whether or not the prophet Isaiah is actually stating that the Messiah will be born of a virgin. As is his style, Meacham decides to quote Ray Brown as truth and offers no opposing viewpoint. Brown is part of a very small group of people that argue the word “virgin” is a mistranslation of the original Hebrew. He believes the word is better translated as “young girl” which would effectively make the prophecy meaningless.

Okay, time for a quick Hebrew lesson. The Hebrew word used for virgin is “almah” The word almah is translated in the Septuagint (the Greek version of what we know as the Old Testament. This document was very popular and well known in Jesus’ day) as “virgin.” Wouldn’t it seem logical that if the word was translated wrong, someone, maybe even Jesus or Mary, would see to it that it was corrected? Also considering how old the document is, isn’t it reasonable to assume they translated it correctly? Secondly, many other places in Scripture that use the word almah clearly imply the woman is a virgin. The word never once refers to a married woman, a child, or a mature woman. It is absolutely reasonable to translate this word as “virgin.” Lastly, if the virgin birth wasn’t true, wouldn’t it seem logical that Jesus’ half brothers, James and Jude, would have either used their position of influence to correct the error, or refuted it in the books of the Bible they wrote? After all, they were with him long before his public ministry began; they would know better than anyone. Yet, oddly enough, they did nothing of the sort. As I’ve previously stated, this controversy has been around for a while but there is absolutely no truth to the claim.

I’d like to thank you for staying with me through this response to Meacham's article. I know it has been lengthy but I hope you learned a thing or two. This article is just one more example of someone who absolutely refuses believe the Bible and will develop any kind of argument to oppose it regardless of its accuracy. Just because we don’t know how something could have happened doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. A miracle, by its definition, is rare and without explanation. Doesn’t it seem logical that not being able to explain the virgin birth is consistent with this? 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” Notice that it doesn’t refer to just the parts we understand. I’ve looked at the evidence from both sides. I believe that if God could create the universe, a virgin birth shouldn’t be too tough. After thoroughly comparing this article to the Biblical account, I think it takes more faith to believe the article than in the real story.

If you’d like more information as to the historical evidence of the Bible, life of Jesus or His resurrection, I suggest you buy “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. This is an excellent entry level book written in a clear, understandable way.

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