Newsweek has outdone itself in its pre-Christmas issue with a vitriolic assassination of the Bible, under the title "The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin," by Kurt Eichenwald.
This isn't, by any measure, a balanced piece. It doesn't approach fairness. Eichenwald doesn't even attempt to hide his bias, though he seems oblivious to how it compromises his own fairness and objectivity and how hypocritical he is in condemning Bible believers for allegedly allowing their biases to influence them.
It is an unusually long article, by which one might infer that Eichenwald and the magazine consider the subject a matter of major importance that must be addressed.
The piece contains far too many misguided assertions to attempt to refute in a short column. For the opposite viewpoint about the integrity and authority of the Bible, I shamelessly refer you to my book "Jesus on Trial," wherein I cover, in detail, a great percentage of the arguments he makes. My limited purpose here is to illustrate that Eichenwald is woefully guilty of that for which he condemns us Bible thumpers.
The thrust of Eichenwald's screed seems to be that many Christians are an evil and ignorant lot who distort the Bible to justify their alleged hatred and bigotry. He's bothered by Christians cherry-picking Scripture, yet his entire diatribe is a barely disguised clinic in cherry-picking.
Read the article for yourself and see whether you come away with the impression that Eichenwald has much firsthand familiarity with actual Christians — as opposed to the knuckle-dragging caricature he obviously envisions.
He tells us that Christians "wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals."
Let me ask you fellow Christians: How many Christians have you ever seen engaging in such behavior, other than, say, those in a rerun of an old television series, such as "Kojak" or "Starsky & Hutch," shot in New York City?
He says, "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."
I have attended many church services over the years, and I can attest that the more the church respects the Bible as the word of God the less it chooses passages selectively to support messages. Pastors at my church and countless others often preach on passages that might seem problematic at first glance. They don't cherry-pick Scripture. They tackle it and do their very best to explain it to their engaged congregations.
It seems Eichenwald's real beef is with political conservatives, who he apparently believes put too much stock in certain passages to justify their barbarian beliefs and practices. They are people who "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." Horrors! They believe "creationism should be taught in schools."
He insists that Newsweek's purpose is not to advance a certain theology but "to shine a light on a book that has been abused by people who claim to revere it but don't read it, in the process creating misery for others."
What does he mean by this, you ask?
He writes, "When the illiteracy of self-proclaimed Biblical literalists leads parents to banish children from their homes, when it sets neighbor against neighbor, when it engenders hate and condemnation, when it impedes science and undermines intellectual advancement, the topic has become too important for Americans to ignore."
Talk about unsubstantiated smears — the very kind Eichenwald seems to be indicting. Where do Christians banish children from their homes for any reason, much less based on Bible verses? How does so-called biblical illiteracy turn neighbors against each other? If people are following Scripture, they will behave precisely the opposite of this description, and I know of no serious Christian who will argue otherwise.
Neither the Bible nor any authentic Christians I know use Scripture to engender hate and condemnation. Christians are admonished to hate sins, not sinners — and we are all sinners. Every last one of us.
And the glib slander that we employ Scripture to impede science and undermine intellectual advancement is as fraudulent as it is outrageous.
Perhaps some Christians advocate that public schools teach biblical creationism. But it is obvious to me that Eichenwald is deliberately conflating them with those of us who believe that public schools should teach information about scientific discoveries that point to intelligent design and that we ought to let the science and facts speak for themselves, not selectively exclude scientific information if it happens to coincide with the biblical worldview.
Eichenwald really ought to get out more if he believes that Christians have a desire to undermine intellectual advancement. The Bible — the actual Bible, not the mythical one to which Eichenwald alludes — exhorts us to love the Lord with all of our minds. It emphasizes the importance of our acquiring wisdom. It teaches that we are created in the image of an infinitely intelligent God, whose wisdom we are to endeavor to plumb.
I hope that readers of this article will see through Eichenwald's bias and agenda and discover for themselves the abundant information that flatly contradicts or strongly refutes most of the assertions he makes and conclusions he draws.
It is most ironic that Eichenwald's own biases irredeemably blur the lens through which he seeks to expose the biases of others.