Right. Until the New Atheists stop lumping us all with the crazies, and failing to apply any sort of interpretive nous to the Bible, I’m going to dismiss everything they say as ridiculous. Seriously. Their cause is so incredibly weakened by their bizarro fundamentalist hermeneutic when it comes to the Bible that I don’t know how anybody finds anything they say about Christianity convincing.
From: Atheist Cartoons
And said “I’d love to hear the Christian response to this”…
Well, here is a Christian response to this.
That cartoon is stupid. Have you ever wondered why the billions of people calling themselves Christians who have lived on this planet have not run around stoning people – and only a very small minority who everybody thinks is crazy (both within the Christian camp and outside it) are pushing for that sort of behaviour? No? Well it’s because those people are crazy. You have your crazy atheists, we have our crazy Christians. You guys implement genocidal political regimes, ours run around picketing with “God hates …” signs.1
You can push your case that these loonies are “embracing Biblical ethics” all you like. But most Christians have figured out that that’s not the case simply by reading the New Testament. And reading the Old Testament too. The overwhelming narrative thrust of the Old Testament, and its own summary of the law, has nothing to do with stoning disobedient children, or homosexuals, and everything to do with God making promises, and fulfilling them, which includes calling a chosen people out from the immoral nations and seeking to establish clear markers around those people (where the purity laws fit).
The rest of this post can be found in the comments at the Friendly Atheist too…
If the so called “new atheists,” and some fundamentalists, could just get a grasp of two things, the world would be a nicer place.
a) Christianity is about Jesus Christ. That’s why the “Christ” bit is in “Christian”…
b) The Old Testament national purity laws are not binding on Christians, and they had a particular function in forging Jewish national identity as “set apart.” If you wanted to be a homosexual in the Ancient Near East, and you were born Jewish, you could always jump on donkey and head to the neighbouring nations where it was OK. Jewish identity was both ethnic and religious.
Choosing what commands to follow and what to ignore is not arbitrary, the New Testament is pretty clear about the role of the Old. So the Jesus bit, which is by definition, the Christian bit, makes the New Testament pretty relevant in interpretation of the Old.
This atheist notion that Christians are being inconsistent if they fail to stone their disobedient children is a theological fallacy dreamed up by some disillusioned teenagers in their bedrooms who watch some crazy people who happen to be Christians. Why do you persist in taking the crazy person’s word for what Christianity is? It makes your arguments much easier to dismiss.
There’s a bit of a fallacy in the initial statement in the post too – humanist values are not a rejection of Biblical ethics, but an adoption of Biblical ethics. The whole “love your neighbour as yourself” and, it is in the Bible, despite being in other sources as well. Just to pre-empt that little objection…) thing being the summary of the law both in the Old Testament and the New Testament… and the whole point in both cases was that if your application of the law failed to be loving you were failing at applying the law. And I know you’re going to say “it’s not loving to stop people loving each other if they’re gay” and I’ll say “it’s not loving to let people disobey God and end up in hell”, I don’t make the rules.
Perhaps the answer to the question posed by the comic can be found in the Bible, in James 1:27:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. “
Tell me how that’s not humanistic?
1Nerds, fags, atheists, take your pick – but when you can refute that sort of action with the most famous Bible verse of all time it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or clinical psychologist, to figure out that these guys have wandered off the reservation.