Christian Leader Weighs In on Newsweek's Take on the Bible

Newsweek made its way back into print with a bang, ringing in 2015 with a lengthy cover article about the Bible. In the 8,500 word piece, business writer Kurt Eichenwald barely hides his disdain for evangelicals and those who interpret the Bible through a theologically conservative lens:

They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.

They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.

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The Bible is not the book many American fundamentalists and political opportunists think it is, or more precisely, what they want it to be. Their lack of knowledge about the Bible is well established.

Eichenwald sets out to rip apart just about every mainstream belief about the Word of God, relying almost exclusively on liberal scholarship to prove his points.

The article probably ticked off plenty of theological conservatives, but one evangelical leader found himself angry enough to refute Eichenwald. Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, mounted his missive in a post on his website.

When it comes to Newsweek‘s cover story, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” Eichenwald appears to be far outside his area of expertise and knowledge. More to the point, he really does not address the subject of the Bible like a reporter at all. His article is a hit-piece that lacks any journalistic balance or credibility. His only sources cited within the article are from severe critics of evangelical Christianity, and he does not even represent some of them accurately.

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Eichenwald demonstrates absolutely no attempt to understand traditional Christian understandings of the Bible, nor ever to have spoken with the people he asserts “claim to revere [the Bible] but don’t read it.” What follows is a reckless rant against the Bible and Christians who claim to base their faith upon its teachings.

In a predictable move, Eichenwald claims to base his research on “works of scores of theologians and scholars, some of which dates back centuries.” But the sources he cites are from the far, far left of biblical studies and the most significant living source appears to be University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman, who is post-Christian. Even so, he makes claims that go far beyond even what Bart Ehrman has claimed in print.

Mohler muses aloud whether "some fundamentalist preacher [ran] over young Kurt Eichenwald’s pet hamster when the reporter was just a boy" and accuses the journalist of raising arguments "that could only impress a ten year old."

Yet, most impressively, Mohler refutes nearly all of Eichenwald's points and blows holes in the writer's logic before concluding that Eichenwald "has an axe to grind, and grind he does."

Anyone who has read the Newsweek screed would do themselves a favor to read Mohler's response. It's nice to see him stand up to the flimsy scholarship and agenda-driven writing Eichenwald puts on display.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock / Natykach Nataliia