In part 1, I started a point-by-point rebuttal of Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek article entitled The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin. I dealt with his misunderstanding of both the transmission and translation of the Biblical text, and I’ll start out part 2 with his rather lengthy assertion that many of the core doctrines of the faith are not found in the Bible.
Eichenwald starts out this section of his article by stating that both the deity of the Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity are not found in the Bible. He does so by postulating that the passages identifying Jesus as God are all mistranslated, and that since there is no verse explicitly stating, “God is a Triune God” or “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all the same” that therefore the Trinity is non-Biblical.
Eichenwald once again makes another basic common to the majority of skeptics pontificating in the popular press. He ignores both context and reason.
HIs objection to the deity of Jesus, judging from the article, seems to be based solely on the fact that the Greek word for ‘worship’ can also be translated as ‘to prostrate oneself’ and that the Greek word translated by many as ‘form’ in Philippians 2:6 can be translated in a number of different ways.
He seems to be unaware of the fact that Greek, like many other languages (including English) derives the meaning of words from context. Much like the English words “like”, “treat”, and “bored” can mean very different things based on the context in which they are used, so it is with many Greek words. The word used in Philippians, for example, can legitimately be translated ‘form’, ‘shape’, ‘image’ or even ‘nature’.
The important thing in this case, though, is that within the context of the passage, any of the above words would still carry the sense of Jesus being the Deity who humbled Himself to the point of not only becoming a physical human being, but dying as such in order to give us the possibility of a restored relationship with God through His subsequent resurrection.
Eichenwald is also apparently oblivious to the fact that there are a multitude of other passages that both explicitly and implicitly declare the deity of Christ. The (erroneous) discounting of a couple of passages does not a compelling argument make.
His discounting of the doctrine of the Trinity likewise shows not only sloppy scholarship in the way it is presented, but again, shows a total disregard for context. Let me elaborate with three quick points:
1. He starts with the statement, “So where does the clear declaration of God and Jesus as part of a triumvirate appear in the Greek manuscripts? Nowhere” and then launches into a lengthy red herring about ‘holy wars’ and the Council of Nicea, which is portrayed as nothing more than Constantine’s effort to solidify his power. That portrayal, by the way is both popular and unwarranted. I can write more about that in another post if I get enough requests. Again, there are a multitude of passages that declare the deity of Jesus.
2. His assertion that there is no ‘clear declaration’ is quite problematic as well. I’ll leave you with these questions to consider: “What constitutes a ‘clear declaration’, and who gets to decide?” and “If there is no clear declaration of the Triunity of God, why has it been considered orthodox doctrine since the 1st century?”
3. The Triune nature of God is the only logical explanation for the recurring threads that weave throughout Scripture that present both monotheism (“Hear, O Israel, the Lord, the Lord is One and above Him is no other) and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as both God and distinct. I will explore the doctrine of the Trinity in more detail in my next post.
Most of the rest of Eichenwald’s screed against Christianity is nothing more than a comic-book rendition of church history (with about as much accuracy), and series of pot-shots at supposed contradictions and attempts at trying to redefine, reinterpret, or discount passages that don’t conform to the current politically correct morals of the present day.
I won’t bother to deal with each individually here; but if you see something in his article that you would like to address in detail, either leave a comment or send me an email, and I’ll write about it in the future.
For now I’ll just say that every one of his points has a reasonable refutation, and most of his objections amount to nothing more than dust in the wind.