Opening the Faith to Examination

by Phil Steiger

Much has been written in response to the recent Newsweek article by Kurt Eichenwald, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” So much so, that the various and obvious mistakes and oversimplifications by the author have been revealed and the article itself shown to be, fundamentally, a screed. But if the article is useless in actually understanding the ins and outs of biblical interpretation and translation, it may be ironically useful in highlighting a virtue of the Christian faith.

It is often argued that Christianity is believed on faith (faith defined as ‘against good reasons’), and is thus fundamentally anti-intellectual. It is said that if Christian would only open their minds to reason, skepticism, and science they will see the error of their ways. The Christian, in short, does not think and their faith is ripe for the shredding. When push comes to shove, however, it turns out that Christianity is open to rational investigation and the current trend of anti-Christian skepticism and New Atheism is a closed loop of fundamentalism.

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In his Vital Magazine article, “Who’s Misunderstood,Newsweek?”, George P. Wood makes this point, “Yes, I want to take Eichenwald to task for some of the unfounded things he wrote in this article. But I also want to listen to him. My friend Craig S. Keener once said, ‘When we fail at self-critique, God sometimes raises up outsiders to help us (gently or not).’ Might Eichenwald—despite the many errors of fact and judgment in his piece—nonetheless be raising some important questions?” George follows this up with a set of questions worth asking and answering as well as we can.

He is right to note both things: Eichenwald’s article is an intellectual embarrassment, and the Christian faith still takes the challenge and the questions seriously. As a matter of theology and history – principle and practice – the Christian faith is an open book. Quite literally our book has been open to scrutiny and study since day one…

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