The Westar Wolves broke my irony meter

Wolf

The Westar Institute is home of the Jesus Seminar, the group of fake Christians who literally voted on which things Jesus “really” said in the New Testament and which He did not. Not surprisingly, the “Jesus” they ended up with looked remarkably like contemporary liberal culture — in other words, just like them.  They deny his divinity, his miracles, his resurrection and more in making him out to be an early Occupy Wall Street-type rebel.  In other words, no one holding their views should claim to be Christian.  They may have degrees but they speak nonsense, such as what Jesus Seminar member Marcus Borg said here.

Now here’s some news from their new employee Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” CurrieThe Bible Seminar Set To Increase Biblical Literacy – Just In Time.

It is hard to imagine a more ironic title.  These “Christians” can’t go three sentences without creating a god in their own image but they think they are going to increase biblical literacy?  Sure.  Just like their spokesman did a whole sermon explaining why Jesus isn’t the only way to salvation because he insisted that John 14:6 didn’t belong in the Bible but that the Gospel of Thomas did (yeah, what did the early church know, anyway?!).  And he didn’t even realize there were 100+ additional verses to rationalize away to make his point!  He insisted that the Gospel of John was written after 130 A.D., even though atheist textual critics like Bart Ehrman and others place it at 90-95 A.D.  (I think it was written before 70 A.D., but that is another topic.)

The Westar Institute – home of the Jesus Seminar and Polebridge Press – will be launching a new initiative called the Bible Seminar this month to promote Biblical literacy and the timing couldn’t be better.

I agree that biblical illiteracy is rampant.  But looking to the Westar Wolves for assistance is like asking Jerry Sandusky to fight pedophilia.  I mean, he appears to know a lot about it, but there is a difference between a cause and a cure.

You have to feel bad for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney who made the unfortunate mistake recently of attributing the phrase “the Lord helps those who help themselves” to the Bible.  It’s a common mistake.  In fact, pollster George Barna has found that 75% of Americans believe this phrase, most likely from Benjamin Franklin, comes from Scripture.

Again, let’s remember that Chuck distorts every verse he touches.  How can someone get a seminary degree and not know that the New Testament claims countless times that Jesus is the only way to salvation and that Jesus is divine?  That isn’t what makes those true, of course, but they are obviously positions every authentic Christian should hold.

Carney’s mistake isn’t very worrisome.  What is truly concerning are how many Americans, for example, would claim that Jesus is opposed to gay marriage.  Jesus never uttered a word about homosexuality as far as we know – for or against – but people will claim that he did.

Predictable.  Of course Chuck hasn’t read where Jesus reiterated who God made marriage for: One man and one woman (Mark 10).  And yes, that statement was in response to the issue of divorce, but it still indicates God’s plan for marriage.  You can’t get away from it.

And Chuck offers no evidence and uses the “what Jesus didn’t say” argument from silence, which fails on many levels: Arguing from silence is a logical fallacy, Jesus inspired all scripture, He supported the Old Testament law to the last letter, the “red letters” weren’t silent on this topic in the sense that they reiterated what marriage is, He emphasized many other important issues that these liberal theologians completely ignore (Hell, his divinity, his exclusivity, etc.), He was equally “silent” on issues that these folks treat as having the utmost importance (capital punishment, war, welfare, universal health care, etc.), His failure to mention bestiality, child abuse and other obvious sins wouldn’t justify them, and homosexual behavior simply wasn’t a hot topic for 1st century Jews.  Other than that, it is a great argument.

More importantly, note how this false teacher tips his hand by saying Jesus never addressed homosexuality.  Remember, the clear claim of scripture and an essential of the Christian faith is that Jesus is part of the Trinity.  Jesus is God, the Bible is the word of God, therefore the Bible is the word of Jesus.  The original writings turned out exactly the way He wanted them to.  Therefore, all the verses about human sexuality turned out exactly the way Jesus wanted:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.
Also, Chuck is implying that Romans and other writings addressing homosexuality aren’t the word of God.  That’s a peculiar thing for a Christian to say.
There are three types of pro-gay theologians, and Chuck and the Jesus Seminar are in the most explicitly anti-Christian group, the one that believes that the Bible is either not the Word of God, or that most parts of it aren’t.

Our level of Biblical literacy is low in the United States.

Twenty five years ago, The Westar Institute started the Jesus Seminar to bring Biblical scholars out of classrooms and into the public square to discuss the life and ministry of Jesus in new ways.  The project largely focused then on the historical Jesus and sought to set Jesus within his own historical context and to explore the meaning of his life and death free from dogmatic constraints that had for centuries limited our understanding of who Jesus was.  For many Christians the work of the Jesus Seminar was liberating – for the Religious Right is was blasphemous.

Not just the religious right thinks it is blasphemous.  Chuck & Co. are so comfortable in their little Western Liberal religious cocoon that they don’t know what real Christians have believed for 2,000 years and around the world.  I know lots of Christians outside the U.S., and I assure you that Chuck and Westar do not speak for them.

Dr. Stephen Patterson, director of The Westar Institute and George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., notes that the mission of Westar is to “facilitate collaborative, critical scholarship and bring it before the public for the common good.  Lately, however, we have not been heard.  Our evangelical friends are well-organized and well-funded and consequently can raise their voice above all others.  Our new project, The Bible Seminar, is our attempt to re-ignite the fires of the Jesus Seminar and raise once again the voice of critical scholarship in a conversation that has veered far to the right.”

I can’t wait to see their content!

Groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council and figures like Albert Mohler use Scripture to justify all kinds of conservative causes:  oppression of women, opposition to environmental protections, support for U.S. military intervention in places like Iraq, opposition to marriage equality, etc.  But are these Biblical positions? Plenty of scholars who study the Bible would say no and argue that these are political position cloaked in religious language.

Eek!  Bible-believing Christians!  Wait . . . what do they mean by “oppression of women?”  Oh, if you are opposed to crushing and dismembering innocent but unwanted human beings in the womb then you want to oppress women . . . even though gender selection abortions are used almost exclusively to kill females for the sole reason that they are female.

“Marriage equality” = tired sound bite.  “Same-sex marriage” is not, and never will be, equal to real marriage as outlined in the Bible.

The Bible Seminar will help equip those scholars to better engage in public debate and enter into discussion and dialogue with clergy and lay Christians (and non-believers as well) to liberate the Bible from those who would misuse it for their own partisan political purposes.

Yeah, because people would never misuse the Bible to rationalize the government taking by force from neighbor A to “give” to neighbor B and calling it “Christianity,” and they would never use it to justify abortion and teaching 5 yr. olds how “normal” LGBTQ behavior is.

Like the Jesus Seminar before it, the Bible Seminar won’t answer all the questions.  What this project will do, however, is allow the questions to be asked and in the process solicit diverse voices that often aren’t even invited to the table to be part of the discussion.  We can expect the work to be controversial but always exciting.

I used to feel sorry for people taken in by fakes like Chuck Currie and the Jesus Seminar.  Now I tend to think that they get what they deserve: a false god to worship.

Westar is a poster child for Leopard Theology, where they claim that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots, as well as Advanced Leopard Theology, where God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling Western theological liberals and progressives.

Jesus warned us many times of false teachers, and He was right.  My guess is that those passages were the first ones jettisoned by the Westar Wolves.

Please note how their “biblical literacy” campaign immediately self-destructs with respect to their anti-Christ mission. Their main point in the past has been dismissing the verses they don’t like as not being of Jesus, or dismissing whole books of the Bible as not belonging.  But they can’t deny what is actually in the Bible.

For example, Chuck can try and deny that Jesus spoke the words of John 14:6, but he can’t deny that it is in the book.  So if they want to debate what the Bible really says — whether they think Jesus said it or not — they are going to lose badly.  They used to cheat by pulling out verses that opposed their made up religion, but if they are going to point to what is in the whole book then they can’t play that game any longer.  

This will be fun.  

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8 thoughts on “The Westar Wolves broke my irony meter”

  1. Gosh. I wonder what they’ll have to say about all those issues. Do you think it will be something new, or the same tired and exhaustively, expertly refuted crapola? How desperate they must be to turn Christians into apostates! What could possibly be their agenda I wonder?

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    1. There is evidence, facts and data. There is also interpretation, punditry and opinion. Jesus was a man: statement of FACT. Jesus was the Messiah, Son of God and Born of a Virgin: statements of FAITH. The lines seem pretty well drawn and accepted in my view.

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      1. No, we have many more facts to point to. http://tinyurl.com/ykzpu42

        Summary of the “minimal facts” approach: Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements:

        Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
        Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
        Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
        The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others. He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.
        75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

        None of the alternative theories can be true in light of these facts. The physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.

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      2. Caesar was also called the Son of God, Savior of the World, and born of a virgin.These are facts as well–historical facts. Paul says nothing about an empty tomb. I understand your determination to preserve theology of the first century, but the fact is that not many people today find those formulations either compelling or persuasive. The point where believers and atheists can come together is in meaning. The temple veil was ripped in two after Jesus died on the cross. This powerful metaphor tells us that the priesthood is no longer a mediator to God: After Jesus, the divinity of God is now available to all. No priest, temple or church. One can certainly literalize the metaphor but there is a divine consistency in the universe and curtains do not (and did not) tear by themselves.

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      3. Hi James,

        Please don’t bother commenting further. If you came here conceding that you don’t know anything about Christianity but that you were interested in learning that would be fine. But you make up things and pretend they are facts. Even your Caesar bit is a bad falsehood. I am familiar with the bogus “copycat” claim about Christianity — copycat religions http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/copycats/ — but even those falsehoods don’t mention Caesar.

        Paul couldn’t be more clear about the tomb being empty. See 1 Corinthians 15 and more.

        “but the fact is that not many people today find those formulations either compelling or persuasive”

        As if that had anything to do with the veracity of the claims! Jesus called it a narrow road for a reason.

        Yes, the curtain was torn. And Jesus rose from the dead. Repent and believe in him and you will have eternal life and more. If you don’t, you’ll spend an eternity in Hell. I hope you consider that carefully.

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  2. “They may have degrees but they speak nonsense, such as what Jesus Seminar member Marcus Borg said here.”

    We are the Borg. Truth is irrelevant. Scripture is irrelevant. Understanding is irrelevant.

    You will be assimilated.

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