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Archive for the ‘Fundamentalism’ Category

Why BAR sells in America

Posted by NT Wrong on November 7, 2008


Spotted on Gideon Addington’s Groundofbeing.net, an interesting blog exploring various religious ideas in a ‘liberal’ fashion (if you’re ok with employing such a label).

And on a related note, David Ker, who ceased blogging a week ago, comes back from the dead with a new post asking Why [White] American Christians look so stupid and what you can do about it.

Posted in Fundamentalism, Historiography, Science | 2 Comments »

Homosexual Cartoon 2

Posted by NT Wrong on November 4, 2008


Posted in Fundamentalism, Humour | Comments Off on Homosexual Cartoon 2

Homosexual Cartoon

Posted by NT Wrong on November 4, 2008

In this cartoon, ‘Christian’ learns about ‘the latest scientific evidence’ on homosexuality. It’s taken from the movie For the Bible Tells Me So and is entitled, ‘Is It A Choice?’

Posted in Fundamentalism, Justice | 4 Comments »

Dispensationalists: Hyperbole and Metaphor are now legitimate Figures of Speech

Posted by NT Wrong on October 29, 2008

'Did you hear the joke about the Mid-Trib Pre-Millennialist, the Pre-Trib Post-Millennialist, and the Amillenialist?' Rob Lightner asks Chuck Ryrie.

'Did you hear the joke about the Mid-Trib Pre-Millennialist, the Pre-Trib Post-Millennialist, and the Amillenialist?' Rob Lightner asks Chuck Ryrie.

For those of you who were unable to attend, you will be relieved to know that the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics, which met last month in Clarks Summit, PA, declared each of hyperbole and metaphor as “a legitimate figure of speech”. The declaration was gratefully received internationally by anxiously awaiting linguists, who could breathe a collective sigh of relief that the dark shadow of possible illigitimacy, which for so long had hung over these language forms, has now been lifted.

“I’m so happy, I could leap over Noam Chomsky in a single bound,” exclaimed Semiotician Umberto Eco. “Well, not literally,” he added sheepishly.

Article 1
“We affirm that hyperbole is a legitimate figure of speech that uses exaggeration for the purpose of emphasis or impact.” …

Article 3
“We affirm that an extended metaphor is a legitimate figure of speech (used in multiple genres) when it can be determined contextually that the author intended it to be understood as such.”
Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics

The Council’s Statement also makes it clear that, just because they’re recognizing the existence of metaphor and hyperbole, this is no excuse to go all crazy and interpret everything in the Bible as though it has no real reference — like those licentious liberals do. I’m not quite sure who they mean by such liberals, and I guess they have some nineteenth-century ghosts in mind. For as everyone knows, liberals these days are even more scriptural than the conservatives.

… I’d comment further, but the statement reads as badly as a Tim LaHaye novel – and that’s no exaggeration.

Posted in Biblical interpretation, Fundamentalism, Metaphor | 8 Comments »

Anson Rainey, ‘East of the Jordan’ is not ‘The Rest of the Ancient Near East’

Posted by NT Wrong on October 23, 2008

Anson Rainey’s article in the latest BAR (34:06, Nov/Dec 2008 ) is a confused and misleading piece of popular apologetics. The best to be said for it is that, in trying to prove a Transjordanian origin for ‘Israel’, it has managed to undermine its broader thesis (which argues that the biblical account of Israel’s origins are historically true).

Inside, Outside: Where Did the Early Israelites Come From?

Here’s an outline of Rainey’s argument, which demonstrates how he is hoist by his own petard:

1. Rainey provides evidence to suggest that there are links between the Transjordan settlements on one hand and settlements in the Cisjordan which he identifies as ‘Israelite’ on the other.

Rainey points to similarities in the pottery and domestic house construction between Transjordan sites such as Tall al-‘Umayri and the Cisjordan sites where the ‘Israelites’ are said to have settled. He also claims that Hebrew has more affinities with Transjordanian languages (such as Aramaic [sic] and Moabite) than with Phoenician (that is, coastal Canaanite).

2. Rainey says that the Bible claims that the ‘Israelites’ came from the Transjordan, that is, “from east of the Jordan”.

“The Bible is very clear. They were pastoral nomads who came from east of the Jordan.”
“The famous hieroglyphic text known as the Merneptah Stele, which dates to about 1205 B.C.E., refers to “Israel” at this time as a people (not a country or nation) probably located in Transjordan.”
“There is no reason to doubt the principal assumption of the Biblical tradition that the ancient Israelites migrated as pastoralists from east of the Jordan.”

3. But the Bible does not claim that the Israelites came from the Transjordan. To the contrary, the Bible claims that they came from the north, in Aram-Naharaim in Syria, and the distant north-east in Mesopotamian Ur. And again, to the contrary, the Bible claims that the Israelites just passed through the Transjordan in a quick conquest of that region (allowing Gad, Reuben, and half-Manasseh to settle after they dispossessed the locals).

These are completely different areas, separated by a vast distance:

4. For Anson Rainey, ‘the Transjordan’ has metamorphosised into the rest of the ancient Near East. In order to harmonize the Transjordanian archaeological and linguistic evidence with the Bible, he has had to speciously refer to the whole of the rest of the ancient Near East as ‘East of the Jordan’. But, the term ‘East of the Jordan’ is confined to the Transjordan in the Bible’s own story.

When Rainey refers to Abraham’s origin in Ur, he bends the decription of Ur to make it sound like he is talking about the Transjordan:

“Abram (later Abraham), the first Hebrew, was born in Ur, a city far east of the Jordan.”

Yeah, Ur is “far east of the Jordan”, in the same way that that you’d describe China as being “far east of the Jordan”.

And yet, Rainey has the gall to summarise the origins of Abraham in Aramean/Mesopotamian Ur, Paddan-Aram, and Aram-Naharaim as “east of the Jordan” (Note that Anson Rainey is co-editor of a biblical atlas, The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World):

“The Biblical narrative is very clear as to where the first Israelites came from: outside Canaan, east of the Jordan.”

When the Bible talked about the land “over the Jordan”, it meant just that – the land which was across the other side of the Jordan from where ‘Israel’ was in the Cisjordan. But Rainey has disingenuously blurred this area (the Transjordan) with much of the rest of the ancient Near East, purely in order to try to defend the historicity of the Bible.

While on one hand Rainey produces ‘linguistic evidence’ which links Hebrew to legitimate Transjordanian sites such as Ammon and Moab, he also attempts to slip in Arameans from the distant north and north-east:

“this provides a nearly airtight case that the speakers of ancient Hebrew came from the same area as the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Arameans.”

What “same area”? The land of the Arameans is a distinct area from that of the Transjordan!

5. In conclusion, if Rainey is right about the Transjordanian origins of Israel, the Bible itself must be wrong about the Aramean origins. Hoist by your own petard, Anson Rainey!

This is probably not what Anson Rainey had intended. But, that is the effect of his article. And because Anson Rainey is very familiar with the geography of the two distinct areas, his constant attempts to conflate the Transjordan with Mesopotamia can only be viewed as disingenuous.

Update – see these other criticisms:
– Douglas Mangum, at Biblia Hebraica, looks at a number of other problems in Rainey’s article;
– Duane Smith, at Abnormal Interests, made an initial comment about the historical complexity of the topic, and now provides counter-examples which suggest Rainey’s use of comparative linguistic data is selective.

Posted in Fundamentalism, Historical Books, Historiography, Pentateuch | 13 Comments »

Heresy Hunting in the New Millennium

Posted by NT Wrong on October 13, 2008

In a new article on the SBL Forum, Tony Burke looks at modern conservative Christian writers who attempt to ‘refute’ ‘enemies’ such as liberal scholars, the Jesus Seminar, Bart Ehrman, and non-canonical Christian Apocrypha. He compares them to the heresy hunters of old, such as Irenaeus and Hippolytus.

As Tony Burke shows, there seem to be a number of specious and misleading techniques which are shared not only by ancient heresiologists, but also by apologists such as Ben Witherington III, Darrell Bock, Timothy Paul Jones, J. Ed Komoszewski, Philip Jenkins, Stanley Porter, Gordon L. Heath, Craig Evans, and N.T. Wright.

“A cottage industry of books has emerged in the past few years responding to apparent “attacks” on the Christian faith by such perceived enemies as the Jesus Seminar, Bart Ehrman, Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, and the discoverers of the so-called Jesus Tomb. Targeted also in these books are the texts of the Christian Apocrypha (CA). The books are transparently apologetic with the aim of disparaging the CA and the Gnostics who (they say) wrote them so that their readers will cease being troubled by thei[r] texts’ claims. The problem with such books, at least from the perspective of those who value the CA, is that they often misrepresent the texts, their authors, and the scholars who study them. Proper research and sober argument take a back seat to the apologists’ goal of buttressing the faith.”

Full article from Tony Burke, ‘Heresy Hunting in the New Millennium’, here.

Mind you, the folk that Tony Burke exposes are perhaps just the most blatant offenders in a ‘discipline’ which is riddled with the type of apologetic reasoning which would just be laughed at in other branches of the Humanities.

See now: Tony Burke’s Secret Scriptures Revealed

Posted in Biblical interpretation, Early Christian literature, Fundamentalism | 8 Comments »

Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid Declares Micky Mouse Must Die!

Posted by NT Wrong on September 17, 2008

Posted in Fundamentalism, Islam, Video | 2 Comments »

Pray for Rain upon Obama – And Pray for Diarrhea inside McCain

Posted by NT Wrong on September 8, 2008

About a week before the Democratic Convention began in Denver, rightwing nutjob Stuart Shepard, director of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, issued a video call for prayer in which he asked people to pray for “rain of biblical proportions” during Obama’s acceptance speech:

“Not just rain, abundant rain … urban and small streams advisory rain … umbrella ain’t gonna help ya … swamp the intersections … network cameras can’t see the podium rain.”

The call for rain was subsequently picked up by former Southern Baptist Convention official, Wiley Drake. Said Pastor Drake, “Other prayer warriors are welcome not only to pray for rain but repentance in America as well.”

Stuart Shepard’s prayers weren’t answered by the Almighty; it was a perfect day weather wise. But it must be acknowledged that he was on good scriptural grounds:

    “So Samuel called unto Yahweh; and Yahweh sent thunder and rain that day” (1 Samuel 12.18).

    “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive” (Matthew 21.22).

However, as has often been noted, there’s ‘good scriptural grounds’ in the Bible for almost anything, including praying that your enemies are cursed with diarrhea:

    “As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.”
    – Psalm 109.18

… which is why we’re encouraging people to pray for diarrhea during John McCain’s speeches… in the name of Jesus.

“Not just diarrhea, abundant diarrhea … urban and small streams advisory diarrhea … swamp the intersections diarrhea … network cameras can’t see the podium diarrhea.”

Posted in Fundamentalism, Humour, Politics | 2 Comments »

How do Prosperity Preachers Get Their Cash?

Posted by NT Wrong on September 7, 2008

Bernard Grant is the author of Roadblocks To Prosperity. Read Bernard’s book, and you too can learn how to be rich for Jeeeeeeezus. Now that his God, ‘God of the Great Mammories’ has given him loads of cash, he has moved up in society. He’s a man of discretion and taste. To prove it, just check out how he dresses in the picture to the right:

When you dress like that, and you’re living a heterosexual lifestyle, it’s no wonder you want to emphasise on MySpace that you’re ‘straight’.

But MySpace teaches us something else, as well. How does a man like Bernard Grant get all his cash? I know it’s ultimately from his God Of The Many Breasts, but what’s the more mundane source of his wealth?

… Ah yes – he gets his money by fleecing his flock. Now, that’s admirable. Bernie, you might be on top of an easy pyramid at the moment, but it’s the Eighth Circle of Hell for you in the end.

Posted in Fundamentalism | 5 Comments »

The Prosperity Gospel: The Argument from God’s Tits

Posted by NT Wrong on September 6, 2008

One of the more amusing (and at the same time appalling) rationales used to support the Prosperity Gospel is an argument derived from God’s breasts.

“The Hebrew Shaddai comes from the Hebrew root shad, which refers to a woman’s breast, the part of her body that provides nourishment for and to the baby. With this etymology in mind, El Shaddai can literally be translated: The Breasted One, or God the Breasted. This name indicates a very important aspect of his nature — that he is the source of all substance [sic], the one who supplies all our needs (Ph 4:19). For this reason, many people translate El Shaddai simply as: God Who Is More Than Enough. The name, El Shaddai, speaks volumes about God’s intentions to prosper us. How could God, whose very name (one of many) means ‘more than enough’, not want his children to have more than enough?”
– R. D. Weekly, Financial Prosperity Unveiled (2008): 26.

There’s really no need to satirize fundies… they do such a good job of it themselves.

“His name is El Shaddai, not El Cheapo. Our God is described as the all-breasted one… We serve the God who created and owns everything… Ask yourself, does it glorify or insult God when we insist on living in poverty?”
– Bernard Grant, Roadblocks To Prosperity. Armour of Light Publishing, 2006.

It all goes to prove — these people really are complete tits.

Posted in Fundamentalism | 10 Comments »