Re: [asa] Gospel in the Stars WAS Star of Bethlehem presentation?

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Thu Nov 26 2009 - 13:32:29 EST


I agree with your point about the varied intentions of the Gospel writers,
and also with your point about Ehrman. I would add that the pendulum swing
from fundamentalism to atheism is not restricted to Bart and Bernie. I've
noticed it over and over again. In secular Religious Studies departments,
student after student, coming from a very conservative background (ranging
from Pentecostal through Baptist and everywhere in between) comes in and
after a few years of study "throws the baby out with the bathwater". It
happens less often with traditions which place less emphasis on Biblical
literalism (Anglican, Catholic, etc.). Ironically, then, fundamentalism is
a great breeding-ground for future atheists.

I always recommend to former fundamentalists who are losing their faith that
they read more widely and deeply in the Christian tradition, so that they
can see that there are more options than fundamentalism and atheism. But it
rarely works. The fundamentalism has generally so shaped their souls that
they cannot envision any other form of spirituality, and it seems they have
to "bottom out" as atheists before they can begin a long climb upward to
recover a warmer and more balanced form of spirituality. But unfortunately,
many of them never make the climb.

Thus, my biggest beef against fundamentalism is not its hostility to science
or its terrible grasp of history. It is its stifling spirituality, which
drives so many toward atheism, as the only escape route. Rigid intellectual
assent to the bare words of a book, taken literally, is not what
Christianity or any religion is about. Yet people like Bart Ehrman (and a
good number of Ph.D.s in Biblical studies, especially New Testament studies)
appear to have been permanently spiritually damaged by this conception of
Christianity, and this conception of religion. And when people in Bernie's
position look up to people like Ehrman, they just repeat the mistake,
instead of learning from it. An atheism that is built upon railing against
the religion one used to hold is not liberating, but imprisoning. It keeps
one within the thrall of the religion that one is seeking to escape.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Pete Enns" <>
To: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
Cc: "AmericanScientificAffiliation" <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 6:01 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Gospel in the Stars WAS Star of Bethlehem presentation?

> From what I have heard from everyone who knows him (Ii.e., works with him,
> was a student), Ehrman is a genuinely nice guy. I've only heard him speak
> and it is clear that his fundamentalist background is still a burden he
> carries.
> I am aware of a debate between BE and Richard Hays of Duke. Throughout his
> presentations and Q&A, Ehrman would preface many of his comments by
> recounting his time at Moody, etc. FInally, Hays got tired of it and
> walked over to Ehrman, looked him in the eye and said, "Bart, you need to
> get over that."
> That is my advice to you, Bernie.
> Although I am comfortable with contradiction as a function of varied
> historical settings, I do not think that differences between the Gospels
> should be equated with contradiction since they are often driven by
> theological and and other issues. So, the differences between the four re:
> the cleansing of the temple reflects the desire on the part of John to
> write, very intentionally, a different Gospel.
> Pete

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Received on Thu Nov 26 13:33:13 2009

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