Tag Archives: Westar Institute

False teachers and dating the Gospels

Via Evidence for Early Dating the Gospels:

But this new research shows that the Gospel writers were “spot on” in regard to the popularity, frequency, proportion and usage of personal names in the text of Scripture, indicating very deep familiarity with life in the exact area and timeframe of Jesus and his earliest followers. British New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham did some exhaustive work correlating New Testament names (see chapters 3 and 4 of his Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Eerdmans, 2006) with the list of 3,000 names compiled by Ilan and concluded the following:

  • The Gospels were nearly perfect in how they captured the frequency of names among Palestinian Jews of the time. For instance, Ilan’s list of the 10 most popular names matched rank for rank the list of the most frequent names in the Gospels and Acts. This is an extraordinary confirmatory correlation.

  • By contrast, if you examine the most popular Jewish names in a different region (such as Egypt) at the time, the list is dramatically different. The pattern of names does not match what we know the pattern to be in Palestine.

  • Also by contrast, if you examine the names that appear in the Apocryphal Gospels (such as the Gospels of Thomas, Mary, Judas), you discover that the frequency and proportion of names in these writings do not match what we know to be true of names from the land and time of Jesus. Hence the Apocryphal Gospels do not have the ring of authenticity with regard to personal names and are rightly called into question.

 

Things like are important when you have false teachers such as Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie from the Westar Institute (home of the anti-Christian “Jesus Seminar”) who insist that the Gospel of John was written 100 years after the fact and should not be in the Bible and that the Gospel of Thomas was written early and should be in it.

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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.  

False teacher Chuck Currie named Associate Director of False Teacher (Westar) Institute

It is only fitting.  Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie apparently could never land a full-time gig as a real pastor, even though he was a wildly liberal (read: fake) pastor in a highly liberal denomination in a highly liberal city.  But the Jesus Seminar false teachers like him!  See “Rev. Chuck Currie Named Associate Director Of The Westar Institute”:

I’m excited to share the news that I’ve been named the new Associate Director of The Westar Institute, one of our nation’s most important academic bodies focusing on the critical study of religion.  For many, the work undertaken by the Westar Institute is a is a beacon of hope to anyone wishing to embrace a spiritual life that has more intellectual integrity.  The Westar Institute is best known as the home of the Jesus Seminar.

Oh, Chuck is all about intellectual integrity!  Except when he’s being a serial, unrepentant liar.  Or taking his 6 yr. old girls to gay pride parades as props to show how tolerant and inclusive he is (I wonder if Portland’s celebrations are as diverse as San Francisco’s?).  Or when he accuses those who disagree with him of being racist, including  a black pastor (who Chuck didn’t know was black).  (It reminds of when he dismissed Stand To Reason for the racist reason that they are white guys.  Besides it being an example of the genetic fallacy, Chuck didn’t realize that by his own logic we should ignore him.  After all, Chuck is a white guy.  You can’t make this stuff up!)

“Rev. Currie will help us to become better equipped to bring into the public forum the considered views of biblical scholars whenever the Bible is invoked on behalf of this or that cause.”

That is so comical.  Remember, Chuck is the heretic who thinks that the Gospel of John was written in AD 130 and that the “gospel” of Thomas is more authoritative.  He taught an entire sermon on John 14:6 yet concluded that Jesus was not the only way to salvation.  Chuck, the “scholar” and PhD candidate, didn’t know there were at least 100 other passages pointing to Jesus’ exclusivity for salvation.  He says that Christians have as much to learn from other religions as they do from us, but what do they have to teach us about Jesus?  And you can’t even skim the Old Testament without seeing that the Israelites #1 problem was worshiping other gods.

Chuck quotes Matthew 25 over and over, taking it out of context, of course, but always refers to the “least of these.”  Yet he is pro-legalized abortion and pro-taxpayer funded abortion.  Apparently killing 3,000 innocent but unwanted human beings — who surely meet the definition of “least of these” — isn’t enough for Chuck.  He wants there to be more abortions.

Chuck holds those false views and more, yet they named him Associate Director?!  Of course, because they are as transparently false as he is.

This will be fun! I say without exaggeration that I have yet to see Chuck get a Bible verse right.  He’ll grab one from Isaiah, or wherever, because he thinks it makes his point, but if you examine the passage it is easy to see how wildly off the mark he is.  I am looking forward to analyzing his “critical studies.”