The Misunderstood Bible: Not News; Just Weak

By Jeff Laird

Misrepresentation of Christianity is rampant, especially in mass media. The claim “I am a Christian” isn’t self-verifying, nor does it imply any actual knowledge about that faith. Those who don’t actually read or study the Bible have little beyond rumor and pop culture to feed their perception of Biblical truth. As a result, it seems the most ignorant claims about the Bible are swallowed whole, by those who either don’t know better, or who’ll accept anything agreeing with their preconceived notions.

This past week, Newsweek’s cover story was an article by Kurt Eichenwald, titled The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin. Despite the title, his article does nothing to dispel general ignorance about the Bible. On the contrary, it’s chock full of ignorant, arrogant, uninformed and generally irrational nonsense. To the theist, atheist, journalist, or middle-school newsletter editor alike, this is an embarrassing publication.

A major part of my ministry work, and personal study, is taking in criticism of the Bible. Some attacks are legitimate, in that they’re grounded in a certain level of careful thought, and/or evidence. Not that I agree with the conclusions, but there are criticisms of the Bible and of Christianity that are respectable, if nothing else. There’s substance there, and intellectual and logical integrity. Those kinds of criticisms have taught me much, and refined my faith. Eichenwald’s article is nothing like that.

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While scolding Christians for being wrong and uneducated about the Bible, Eichenwald pours out arguments that aren’t merely misleading, or one-sided. They’re factually, hilariously, obnoxiously wrong. It reads like a transcript from an atheist chat room discussing the latest Dan Brown novel. I rarely laugh out loud when reading, but I can honestly say this piece inspired me to LOL more than once, in no small part because it’s passed off as high-level journalism.

In short, brutal honesty, Eichenwald’s effort is so aggressively shallow, it raises questions about his intentions, and those of his editors. If this is really how he approaches any issue, let alone the Bible, his opinion isn’t worth the pixels it’s carried on. I half wondered, half hoped it was some kind of bizarre reverse-trolling experiment; sending up a balloon full of nonsense to see how many people noticed.

As always, length is an issue when responding. The article itself is nearly 9,000 words long. Few people are willing to read a 500-word answer to a 10-word question, let alone a few dozen times over. Answering every error in decent detail would literally run to the length of a short novel. So, rather than swat every mosquito in the swarm, consider the following brief, but representative examples. There’s much more to be said for each issue, and the article itself, than I’ve taken time for here.

HURRICANE OF HYPOCRISY

First off, one can readily agree — in theory — with Eichenwald’s condemnation of those who don’t know the Bible, don’t read the Bible, don’t follow the Bible, yet attempt to leverage it for political or personal purposes. Likewise for those who feel the need to treat homosexuality as somehow “worse” than other sexual sins. Those of us who contend for Biblical truth are frustrated, to put it mildly, at the number of people who claim the name of Christ, yet abuse His words. Those who arrogantly claim to speak for God, via the Bible, in ignorance and shallowness, are rightly the targets of scorn.

Unfortunately, Eichenwald projects his own flaws onto others when he condemns those who…

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