In the Gospel of John, we read a story where a group of Jewish Torah teachers and Pharisees (members of a legalistic sect of Judaism) bring to Jesus a woman whom they caught in adultery, asking Him what punishment He thinks the woman deserves. Masterfully — as He always did — Jesus answers the scholars with a simple, yet profound statement: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NIV).
Recently, Newsweek featured a cover article on the Bible in which author Kurt Eichenwald — not a Biblical scholar but a business writer with a clear agenda — lets forth on how Christians misinterpret the Bible. In his piece, Eichenwald throws the first stone, not even pretending to mask an agenda against conservative Biblical scholarship:
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.
Eichenwald goes on for another roughly 8,400 words, relying on leftist Biblical scholars to refute what he finds wrong with the Bible. However, Christian leaders like Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, poked holes in Eichenwald’s salvo against evangelical Christianity.
For example, Eichenwald cites the very Biblical account I referenced to open this post, attempting to deem it manufactured:
It’s a powerful story, known even by those with just a passing knowledge of the Bible. It was depicted in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ and is often used to point out the hypocrisy of Christians who denounce what they perceive to be the sins of others. Unfortunately, John didn’t write it. Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages. It does not appear in any of the three other Gospels or in any of the early Greek versions of John. Even if the Gospel of John is an infallible telling of the history of Jesus’s ministry, the event simply never happened.
Furthermore, with reference to the woman caught in adultery, Eichenwald states: “Unfortunately, John didn’t write it. Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages.” But the fact that the account is not found in the older manuscripts of the Gospel of John does not mean, in any credible sense, that scribes simply made it up in the Middle Ages. Eichenwald seems unaware of the very category of oral tradition.
Eichenwald goes on to deny the divinity of Jesus, as well as the doctrine of the Trinity, and then manages to refute the entire idea that God created the universe. It’s all pretty heady stuff, and it’s clear that Eichenwald is ready to point his finger as generations of Christians – and Jews (because he has daggers for both the Old and New Testaments) and tell them that their most cherished and deeply held beliefs are wrong because a handful of scholars agree with him, as opposed to the centuries of scholarship that point to the veracity of the scriptures.
Yes, it’s abundantly clear that Eichenwald wrote his piece with a clear agenda, despite the fact that he claimed that the article was “not intended to advance a particular theology…” It’s just too bad his agenda relies on such faulty scholarship.
Another thing Eichenwald gets wrong, or simply ignores, is the fact that leftists have cherry picked and misinterpreted verses plenty of times over the years. I wrote a post for NewsReal Blog a few years back that pointed out some of the most egregious examples of the Left getting the Bible just plan wrong. In it, I cited examples such as Al Gore completely botching Jesus’ admonition that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” to advocate extreme environmentalism, radical pastor Jim Wallis using a prophecy about heaven to claim that God supports a higher minimum wage, and entire movements built around using government to fulfull Jesus’ mandate to care for “the least of these.”
I also noted:
One of the most insidious and troubling areas in which politicians have co-opted scripture is the “social justice” movement. Since the 19th century, Leftists have attempted to use particular passages from the Bible to achieve progressive and often radical or statist ends. From communitarians to eugenicists toearly 20th century progressives to New Dealers, evangelists of various strains of the Social Gospel have attempted to utilize the Bible to justify their views.
[T]he Left often stretches Biblical passages or takes them out of context to fit an agenda of “social justice.” Often, Leftists do so by inaccurately applying personal scriptural truths to governments and societies.
Indeed, the Bible is a guidebook for our personal lives, and society only changes for the better when individuals apply its principles in their own everyday living — not when governments mandate “social justice” reforms from on high. Alas, in the eyes of Kurt Eichenwald, the only people who get the Bible wrong are the ones who disagree with Kurt Eichenwald.
It’s unclear what beef Eichenwald has with evangelical Christianity — in fact, Mohler wonders:
What is really going on here? Did some fundamentalist preacher run over young Kurt Eichenwald’s pet hamster when the reporter was just a boy?
What is abundantly clear is that Eichenwald approached his study of Biblical scholarship with some sort of anti-evangelical bent, and he didn’t care how one-sided his writing looked or how much he relied on flimsy scholarship to make his point. What a shame, because a truly thoughtful examination of the Bible could have been much more interesting.