Friday, February 20, 2009

Sound Off 02-21-09

Calling all Bible Scholars!

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a Bible quiz. If you get time this weekend, I'd ask you to take a couple of minutes to answer their 50 question. Here's the link: I scored 38 (not bad for an ex-Catholic, right?).

How'd you score? And, how jaded or out-of-context do you feel the correct answers were?


  1. Feel free to share which questions you feel are open to interpretation and which you disagree with.

    for example, number 45 is about Christian hospitality toward non-Christians. The answer looked for is "no, Christians should not show hospitality toward non-christians" and a verse is misused about false teachers from II John. Other passages suggest that Christians did eat with non-Christians (I Corinthians 8 and 10).

  2. If I take the quiz drunk can I take it again when I'm sober?

  3. Many - MANY of those answers are completely out of context. It is a shame too. If you want to slam Christianity, there are plenty of legitimate angles. You should not need to twist the truth and misuse Bible versus to do so.

  4. I would say about 20 of the questions are "twisted." Actually, many of the more off-the-wall questions are more grounded in the Bible than many would like to accept (even though modern theologies distance Christians form the Pentateuch and it ethical implications).

  5. Twenty is still too many. And I would bet that of the other 30, at least half of those have other verses that show the situation in a better light.

    The world was a different place when the Bible was written. Ethics were different. Thousands of years from now, many of our actions and punishments will be deemed barbaric and unethical. Times change and better punishments for wrongdoings arise.

  6. Hello Lion,

    Then what role does the Bible play in the formation of ethics? Is it irrelevant?

  7. Christians look to the Bible to see how people of similar faith made decisions in that faith, under God’s guidance, in ethical matters. They should realize at the same time that those decisions have often been revised or expanded with time, and that our experience, the growth in human knowledge, and cultural contexts must be taken into consideration when attempting to apply the Bible to our time.

  8. Hello Zee,

    One of the more common exegetical blunders of Bible believers is to assume that the Bible texts were written for them, today. Your answer jumps the hurtle of that fallacy.

    Your understanding recognizes the contingency of biblical ethics, and I respect this position. This leads me to ask whether the Bible ever extends its ethical vision beyond its contemporary compositional cultural context? That is, is the Bible so steeped in its context that it only speaks to this context? Would it not be expected that a transcendent God would legislate universals? Why is God always so mundane?

    Obviously, the legal context of Torah laws is quite different than today; however, the Bible elsewhere lauds the Torah as an expression of God's character. I for one, just can't grasp why the Bible can be so ethically regressive and why so few people realize how much reliance on culture Christians make use of in constructing ethics.

  9. "is the Bible so steeped in its context that it only speaks to this context?"

    I think context should be taken into consideration with everything. Knowing the context enables those out of that context to learn from it.

    "Would it not be expected that a transcendent God would legislate universals?"

    Based on my knowledge of the Bible, with my best attempts at looking at the appropriate contexts, I think there are universals. Matthew 22:36-40.

    "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

    "Why is God always so mundane?"

    That may be how you view God buts its not my place to make assumptions on why.

  10. "at least half of those have other verses that show the situation in a better light."

    Even so, doesn't this still suggest contradictions? Maybe that's not a problem for you, and it's certainly no problem for me, but there are those for whom it's unthinkable.

  11. Philosobot,

    The Bible contradicting the Bible or the Bible contridictiong what people think is in the Bible? The second is what I saw the quiz making an attempt at pointing out both when it was taking verses in context and out of context. I didn't care enough to take the quiz but I did hit submit so that I could read the questions/answers.

  12. Zee,

    Well, you're right, that was the main thrust of the quiz, to call into question what the reader thinks she knows about what's in the Bible. I was referring to contradictions one finds within the Bible itself, to the "other verses that show the situation in a better light."

  13. I took "other verses that show the situation in a better light" to mean other verses that are clearer about the spirit of ethics in the Bible. I now see what you are saying though and since I don't know the intention of the statement I'm curious as well.

  14. I am Biblically literate enough to know the answers to this quiz (I got 46 out of 50 despite the guile and trickery in attempting to solicit wrong answers). The answer page says that the average score is 15! This means the organization is preying on the Biblically illiterate in an attempt to turn them into atheists, using the flattering title “free-thinker” and offering free literature. Dan Barker, former Assembly of God pastor, is either willfully and woefully ignorant of the Bible or duplicitous in his diabolical atheist recruitment. Beware blog readers. You may be targeted for deconversion. See Dan Barker’s article, Evangelistic Atheism: Leading Believers Astray.

    I did not wish to defile my spirit by absorbing the blasphemous, warped, erroneous slant on the Scriptures on the Answers page that many will take as true without reading the Bible through in context, prayerfully, for themselves. I saved a printout so that I can deal with these questions one at a time. Briefly scanning the pages, most of them are easily refuted.

    I can tell you that God is good, not evil, and that this quiz and blog have challenged and motivated me to search the Scriptures and the Internet for insightful apologetics to refute these lies and distortions. I will start with a series on defending the Bible’s position on slavery since this was brought up recently. This will serve as an example of how careful researching of all relevant texts can clear up accusations of “discrepancies,” “absurdities”, and “evil ethics.” God is NOT mundane, and His reliable Word provides ethical and moral guidance for every generation of believers.

    Okay, now I am really taking a hiatus from posting at this blog. I had to speak up about this outrage before going silent and posting on my own blog in defense of the integrity of Scripture. Without my polarization here, others can comment with greater comfort, and I look forward to considering their views.

  15. Polarization schmolarization. Tandi, without dissenting opinions, there is no possibility for conversation. You are always welcome to post here without concern for what others are comfortable with. Just, please, no profanities. :)

  16. I did something similar to what Zee did . . . After about going through half the quiz, I just hit submit to see my answers.

    I think I would have scored in the mid to high 30's.

    I admit, I had never heard of some of the claims made-- like the 10 commandments being somewhat different in Protestant circles. And some of the laws and penalties were unfamiliar to me. Some penalties were not, however.

    I wonder how the Bible would read if it were written during our time today as opposed to thousands of years ago. And I wonder how this hypothetical Bible would sound to future generations.

    I understand the argument of applying context and culture to the scriptures. But, certain universals do seem like they should transcend the culture of the past and still fit in with culture and context for today.

  17. Hello Uruk,

    You state:
    "I wonder how the Bible would read if it were written during our time today as opposed to thousands of years ago. And I wonder how this hypothetical Bible would sound to future generations."

    I think that this is a very good question. There are enormous cultural gaps between the Bible's varied compositional situations and today. I wonder, for example, how the slavery alowances would look if written in the post-Civil Rights era, you know? Would slavery be outlawed because it's not the "Christian thing to do."

  18. I have a really hard time with the focus on the Bible as a book for ethical guidelines as you often refer to it. For me personally the purpose of the Bible is to reveal God me and get me to come to God through Jesus Christ, so I can know Him.

    John 20:31 (New International Version)
    But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

    I imagine it would be discouraging to look at the Bible purely for ethics no matter when it was written. People suck and the Bible is clear about that. People have been studying ethics and debating ethics for centuries and yet people have continued to suck.