Quoting the Bible is Useless.

At a recent Christian conference participants concluded quoting the Bible is not “enough” to bring people to a Christian’s political point of view.  I would go even further.  Quoting the Bible is detrimental to the Christian cause.

Ever so slowly, an idea has been gaining strength in our society.  It is the only source of credibility the Bible has came from itself.  Thus, the public is recognizing circular reasoning.

There are other things Christians can do to be persuasive.  They can simply be nice.  They can be generous to causes in addition to their own.

Even more importantly, they need to demonstrate their independence from any political party.  They could start by criticizing religious language in the two Parties’s platforms, especially the Republican.   The faith, they could say, is not available for exploitation by politicians.

But, this way of operating is foreign to many of the faithful.  Much of the Christian faith sees government in the way Islamic clergy see it,  “What is the government and its politics there for except to enhance the political power of the faith?”

It is also difficult to conduct it’s public affairs in this way because of Christian certainty.  Take the Pope’s Christmas Eve message.  He took that occasion to condemn, again, gay marriage.  It does not occur to the Pope there are cultural differences in how people see his faith.

Quoting the Bible sends a signal the speaker thinks he/she knows the ultimate truth.  Increasingly, the listener knows otherwise.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/for-evangelicals-in-politics-is-the-bible-a-good-enough-argument-90509/

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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55 Responses to Quoting the Bible is Useless.

  1. Mike Pfaff says:

    Hah. I usually try to stop them by telling them I am atheist and to save us both time. If they persist, I tell them I have no “soul” and to leave me alone. So, no.
    I do pretty much the same with anyone from the DFL with their thinly disguised Marxism.

  2. entech says:

    Not so much useless as pointless. Christians in general believe it is true or at least inspired. Atheists in general think it is simply bronze age failure of imagination. The public in general are not sure what you are talking about.

    So much would be counterproductive, stand outside the “wrong” denominations building and quote Malachi 2:1-4 at them, on their holy day; then the next week try and get together for some “interfaith hypocrisy”, but tell them to wash their faces first.

    • bill says:

      So laughable to listen to you whiners piss and man to each other. You’re preaching to your choir but none of us believers are listening. HA, HA, HA.

      • entech says:

        The general level of stupidity in your answers would indicate the truth of your statement.

        Although it would be worth pointing out that you are”not reading” rather than not “not listening”, but your total lack of comprehension does make that point irrelevant.

      • Brad says:

        I’d say there is a reason you don’t listen – you don’t want to hear anything other than what you believe because it might challenge what you believe and it might be something you are unable to disprove.

  3. Brad says:

    Quoting the Bible is often a right wing Christian’s way of trying to intimidate other people, because if it is coming from the Bible, which is the “unerrant word of God” then it cannot be argued with.

  4. .e says:

    I agree that we need to meet people where they are. Being nice as you say. You need to develop a relationship and trust before ideas can exchanged. Lobbing Bible quotes isn’t helpful.

  5. Bpk says:

    Jon,

    You claim pope Benedict condemned gay marriage in his Christmas Eve message…are you certain you are quoting from the right source?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Bpk 3:22 Thanks for the comment. I might be off on the Christmas Eve message. I know it was right around this past Christmastime because we had a discussion about here on the comment board. Stan complained I had written something uncomplimentary about the faith right at the time of the major religious day–I counted be linking to the Pope’s comments. It’s many pages back on this board, but it’s here.

  6. Bpk says:

    What years Christmas message are you referring to?

  7. entech says:

    I didn’t think Jon would be quite so wrong even by the strange standards of some of his opponents. Almost at the top of the list of Google hits was.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2251728/Pope-Benedict-XVI-denounces-gay-marriage-Christmas-message.html

    Of course this may not be reliable, being a conservative British paper.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 4:02 re: Pope’s Christmas message

      Thank you for confirming my memory is correct. Not only did the Pope choose the season of love and joy to denounce a minority population, it was in the headline of the conservative Dailymail. The Mail gushed over his remarks like it was a Christmas present.

  8. Dustin Metzger says:

    What’s useless is throwing out a quote from the Bible, without including context. Context come from understanding the Word. If more people understood the Word and the complete relaviance it will always have in human’s lives, this world would be a better place.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Dustin 11:36 Thanks for commenting, Dustin.

      Your observation is made here often, we need to look at context to understand scripture. That is helpful at times for sure. I would suggest we go further, and look at the motive of the author and the audience of that time he hoped to reach and how he wanted the audience to do as a result. We need to remember, too, the extraordinary errors in recopying writing of that time before we take any of it too seriously.

      • Stanta says:

        Jon, you keep saying extra ordinary errors without ever informing us what they may be. Bible scholars who have actually looked at the errors from copying tell us that most are spelling or syntax errors and none of them affect what would be considerd the doctrine of the Bible. Since grammar and standardized spelling is actually a recent development of the age of the printing press, the errors you claim are petty.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Stan 6:22 “Bible scholars who have actually looked at the error from copying tell us that most are spelling or sytax errors and none of them affect what would be the considered doctrien of the Bible.”

          First, I’ll point out the little dust up between Michael and I a week or so ago, the difference between the word used recently, “homosexuality”, and the word used in the KJV 1611, “effeminate”. The entire obsessiond of your outgoing Pope is based on the use of a word that did not exist in English when the Bible was written. I would say from that along there is substantial disagreement.

          Then, there is New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman. He holds his own in saying the evidence is there are wide differences in copies, both over time and among those that existed at the same time. He has a website where you can read about that and several books.

          • Stanta says:

            And I can give you many scholars who disagree with him. The key is wither it changed the doctrine or not.

          • entech says:

            Like everyone with books to sell you will also find quite a bit on YouTube. Bart gives a good analysis of the errors, I think he would probably come out stronger than you in saying that a huge proportion of the “errors” are simple copying errors and quite often simple changes in word order or even words that can be interchangeable (just think of somethings in English that can be changed a lot without losing the meaning), other cases, cases where there cause for confusion come from expressing Greek in Aramaic or the other way around (a joke in English often gets lost in translation) the expression that makes no sense in Greek was probably never said in Aramaic.

            There is however a lot that is obviously changed, deleted or added over the decades, even centuries as the orthodoxy and dogma was formalised. The story of the woman caught in adultery and casting the first stone is an example of something that does not appear in the early copies, but is a good story and in keeping with the general narrative, probably a part of the verbal story that got incorporated.

          • entech says:

            Stan, as I tried to say in the first sentence/last paragraph @11:08 the point Erhman spends a lot of time on is not that the writings changed the doctrine but that the writings were adapted to reflect the changing doctrine.

  9. Michael Ross says:

    Jon: “quoting the Bible is not “enough” to bring people to a Christian’s political point of view. I would go even further. Quoting the Bible is detrimental to the Christian cause.”

    God: “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

    As always Jon is at odds with Almighty. As always I will go with Him and not the politician.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 3:33 “God:’ So my word be be…”

      Quoting the Bible to quote the Bible. You could not have provided a better example of circular reasoning. Actually, it was not ‘God’ who wrote that. It was a goat herder.

      • Brad says:

        Ha ha, no offense to goat herders!

      • Michael Ross says:

        Do you have something against goat herders? They were (are) common working people. They were not formally educated (brainwashed). That, I believe, is why God chose those whom He did. When Jesus called the twelve did He go to the temple or the synagogs, that is the religious establishment? No, He went down to the sea shore where ordinary men where working. Jesus was not an elitist as you show yourself to be when you demean “goat herders”.

        • entech says:

          Michael, forgive me for being something of a pedant here. As one who takes the Bible literally, going by your defence of the flood story and love of referring to creationist websites amongst other things. I do remember on one occasion you did say something about interpretation, but essentially you appear to believe in a special creation.
          If this is the case then wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the goat herders that wrote those words were not chosen by, but created by, God?
          While on my pretentious and pedantic kick I would like to say that it is equally likely that Jon is wrong when he says these words were written by goat herders, widespread literacy did not exist at the time the Bible was first written down, goat herding and scribing were probably not occupations that went together. The words were written by the clerical and priestly class and read to the goat herders, the writers told the goat herders that the words were quoted directly to them by God and that they were spreading the word of God.
          This is an idea that pops in and out of my mind and I have been as guilty as anyone of denigrating the goat herders and other bronze age artisans, they were being led astray by a religious hierarchy much the same as many honest farmers and working people are today.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Michael 5:58 “Do you have something against goat herders?”

          I enjoy calling the Bible’s authors “goat herders”, not as a class statement, but because I think it reflects the culture and intellect of that time. As entech points out, correctly, few were literate so to have time to learn reading and writing meant you were of considerable wealth.

          Nevertheless, the culture and economics of the time was based on animals. Humans could not eat grass, so the grass had to pass through animals to become something humans could digest, milk and meat. Clothes came from animals. This is why native cultures today find the divine in animals, not the heavens. I would guess some hundreds of thousands of years before the time of the Bible, the people who later became Jews thought the same thing. What was left of that could be seen in animal sacrifice, and perhaps human sacrifice as well.

          So, the authors were not goat herders, but the society and its values were that of goat herders (sheep and camels etc.).

    • Jeffrey Eide says:

      Thanks, Mr. Ross for demonstrating how annoying that can be. I am sure that was written in sarcasm, right?

      Only someone with a taste of the ironic could respond to a “Quoting the Bible is useless” article with a quote from the Bible.

      Besides, anyone with knowledge of the bible such as yourself would find it too easy to find a random Bible quote fitting the topic at hand. Not to mention the book of Isaiah was referring to the restoration of the kingdom of Israel.

    • entech says:

      Agreement is not necessary, even the quoting quoter has to allow a difference.
      “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” … Isaiah 55:8

  10. Stanta says:

    As someone who has read the Bible several times. I find little in the New testament that cannot be applied to how people should act in society. Where is the problem with quotes like “help the widow, feed the orphan, visit the prisoner”? Or “that which you did for the least of these you did for me”. An awful lot of throwing the baby out with the bath water amongst the atheist community.

    • Jeffrey Eide says:

      Hello again Stanta, good to hear from you . You bring up an interesting point.

      On the surface, of course I have no objection to those verses. But I have to ask… Do you need to read from the Bible to understand those are good things? How to people who have never read the Bible know to care for orphans?

      Also, it is because those verses come in a much larger context. Although many people cherry pick the bible to suit their own morality, I think you have seen here that many people can also pick the bible for bit which agree with their own prejudices.

      To discount the Old Testament would be to go against the wishes of Jesus.

      Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

      And so on…Lastly, we would not have to deal with sickening ideas, such as hell, exorcisms, scapegoating, vicarious redemption, mandatory love(Love thy enemy), and many other concepts which do not and can not work in today’s society.

      The Bible: You don’t need it because you are already a good person.

      • entech says:

        Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. A good quote Jeffrey, one that is often used to justify selecting bits from the old that are convenient and still say the new supersedes the old.
        Strange really because from the time the Jesus Movement left Palestine and started trying to attract Greeks and Romans they started changing the old laws, genital mutilation was an abomination to the Greeks, “well that is not important, that was only a covenant between God and Abraham”, and on it goes to this day ignore what is inconvenient and impose the bits that appeal to you on the rest of society.
        Three sources are found for the quotes, The Jewish Bible, The Jesus movement writings (Mathew, Mark etc.) and the Christian Bible as adapted to his own needs by Paul. All used as convenient.

      • Stanta says:

        Good question! You do not know that I work in jail ministry. Seems if knowing this is intrinsict within us, there are an awful lot of people who just ignore any good traits we are supposed to be born with.

        As far as the relationship with the Old and New for me. I am not a Jewish follower of Christ. My ancestors worship Odin and Thor so I am considered a gentile. Unlike Entech I do not presume to know what Paul’s motivations were when writhing his letters, Entech must have some knowledge that I haven’t been privy to. He is so much smarter then everyone who vfollows Christ, why he isn’t a world leader surprises me. If Entech would tell me what riches fame and power Paul was able to accumulate it would be interesting to see the evidence. Beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and beheaded doesn’t sound like a good way to provide for your retirement. He didn’t even have anyone to leave all that power to when he died.

        In my readings over the years I have found few mentions of orphanages, hospitals or caring for those who may not have families to providing for them outside of Christianity. I am sure the evil popes were able to surpress all mention of them and then be able to keep them secret for the last 2000 years.

        There were abuses, murder and other atrocities committed over the years. But evil men have always abused power. If you do some reading on the men who performed these acts you will find that in the end few profited from them. Most were murdered in turn or broken in other ways.

        • entech says:

          Now that is cruel, I often say that I do not presume to know everything, or sometimes even anything. I read a lot and speculate a lot, given the two thousand years that have passed and the different “scholars” that have had different things to say I think any motivation Paul may have had or even the truth of what he said is all speculation. The story of Paul as a Christian begins with some “event” in the desert, speculation is rife on this too, divine vision or grand mal seizure – his motivations were certainly not power and pelf, insanity, ego, divine inspiration; who can say.
          I am not smarter than everyone that follows Christ, not even as smart as many, just a little old man amusing himself in retirement, still searching for a truth that has eluded him since early youth – won’t bore you with anymore of my tentmaker.

      • Stanta says:

        Love thy enemy, so difficult to do, but even the heathen loves his family. I was blindsided by a divorce 8 years ago. For the first 4 years I hated my ex-wife (my enemy). It affected how I lived my life, how I acted and reacted with other people and even brought me to the brink of suicide more then once. I didn’t want to kill her, but if she died some horrible death it wouldn’t have concerned me too much.

        Then I found Christ, to live as He I had to resolve that hate. It has taken me 4 long years and several backslides and I am still not totally sure I have succeeded, but this summer my son is getting married and I can look forward to celebrating the marriage and sitting at the head table with her and her new husband. I may not be friends with her, I may not even like her all the time, but I do pray for them and for their life together to be a happy one.

        That to me is a miracle and one of the reasons I consider myself a Christian and a believer.

        • Jeffrey Eide says:

          Stanta, I am claiming that you would be able to do such a mature and adult thing regardless of being brought up in a Christian community or a Hindu one.

          Very simply, I am not religious and I have been able to get over such emotions. We do this purely out of interest of keeping the peace, as well as the benefits mutual cooperation can bring. No one like the stress of dealing with these issues. Now, as to prison, I did not know that about you, but I think it must be an extraordinary opportunity.

          Those in prison might feel guilty about what they have done, implying they are aware of the moral implications, or perhaps they do not feel guilty, in this case it would be that they consider what they did not to be unethical. Certainly if I was arrested for carrying marijuana, I would not feel guilty, but perhaps bitter.

          Then you have psychopaths, unable to experience emotions in the same way we do, including the inability to develop a moral compass.

          Such aberrations are expected in the evolution of the mind.

          What is not expected is the certain knowledge of an ancient book written by a god which informed the peoples that some actions and deeds were good or bad, and that they previously were ignorant about these things.

          Can you imagine the delivery of the ten commandments to a group of people who were murdering, stealing, committing perjury, and others, all who suddenly stopped it and started to follow the rules?

          No, our species would not have lasted this long. In fact, our morality is the ideal tool to develop cooperative societies to the point where we can share such abstract ideas.

          With the exception of tradition and cultural biases, our morality has shown to be universal, developed around the world, independent of religion. And we are not the only species. Without getting into it, if you can’t see the forest for the trees, personal experiences and anecdotes might work to form your beliefs, but the world is so much grander than that.

          Lastly, if our morality is inspired by the Bible, and the Bible is written by this god fellow, then why would we need prisons anyway?

          • Stanta says:

            Goodness, you seem like an kntellegent fellow, you answered your own question when talking about why the people are in prison. I really don’t have to tell you about free will do I?

            I have heard that ethics are what you do when people are not watching. Most people will stretch or bend rules to get something they MUST have. Wither it’s using money that should go to a need instead of a want, over extending on credit or out right theft and will justify the actions they take. I am not perfect now for sure, but that could be a pretty good discription of what I was. I have been learning to take into consideration more and more wha my assets can do to help others. Not easy at 22K a year so one of the things I can do is donate my time. That is why the prison ministry is so rewarding.

            We have people come to them fitting all the types you mention and more up to murder one. All are affected to some extent, some hold on to the teaching better then others, what they are in for is not a good indication on how each reacts. I am still waiting to see the atheists forming a group to help the prisoners in Minnesota, although I am not sure what the message they could provide that would help.

        • Jeffrey Eide says:

          And…if I may drone on…. to answer your point about works of goodwill, I knew this would come up.

          It is so often heard of the volunteers and the charities…and of handing out bibles, and proselytizing. Ulterior Motives, in other words.

          On the other hand the world is FULL of secular organizations which are set to help people simply for the sake of helping people. Doctors Without Borders, ACLU, Amnesty International, Goodwill Industries, Rotary International…..I could go on. They do not require you to do or ask you believe something beforehand.

          http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2010/01/13/this-is-why-i-prefer-secular-a/

          • Stanta says:

            Have you ever been admitted to a Catholic hospital? Did they ask you what faith you were? Were you thrown out if you weren’t a practicing Christian? Did they demand an insurance number in the ER before treatment?

            Jon here regularly treats the church as the reason for all wrong in the world. You seem to be a little more balanced. I have never claimed that the church is the only way to help people, bug it is the only group with a pretty continuos 2000 year track record. Even when the leaders were screwing up the orphanages stayed open, the hospitals served people and the poor were cared for. Those people who did that eventually forces out the corruption and brings it back on track.

            I know good secular people and some who are also atheists. Some even work with in the frame work of our missions to help people because we have the structure and track record. They also LIKE working with us.

            Ask the Somalias who brought the refugees to Minnesota. Catholic Charities and the Lutheran Church. I am not so sure they did them a favor doing that, but it’s done and we have to work out a lot of cultural differences.

            Jon’s continued campaign to bring down Christianity is amusing, I will stick around to make sure both sides are represented.

        • Jeffrey Eide says:

          There are rights groups which deal with prisoner rights, and as far as helping people, I prefer the Scandinavian method of imprisonment, which is a form of treatment more than punishment.

          To be concise though, our bodies are carriers for genes. Our genes non-random experiment through evolution to provide the plentiful people you see in this world. Many Psychopaths, for example, learn to live with their disability, and many people would never know they were born that way. Others end up killing.

          The point it, we do what we can for the survival of our genes, and thankfully, most of the time it means working together. Nature needs aberration though. Is that not sufficient?

          • Stanta says:

            The human race almost died out, to much I and not enough we. Working with kids it is the rules that make them civilized, not human nature. Do they even have young kids read “Lord of the Flies” anymore! Found out that “1984″ is just a year to the twenty something’s at work. Pity, Iearned a lot about human nature from both.

          • Jeffrey Eide says:

            For my final comment here, Stanta, I assure you Mr. Lindgren is a meek and mild peace keeper next to the animosity I feel for organized religion. I have absolutely no respect for your beliefs, but I do respect you.

            I, like Mr. Lindgren, do not aim to bring down Christianity, I feel I am safe to assume… But I personally would like to see all religions end their public tirade, and retreat into the individualist mysticisms they started as.

            I must say, though, I do sincerely appreciate your literary tastes… Orwell is one of my favorites. I am sure we stand together in this fight at least: to encourage the passion of reading…

          • Henry says:

            JE: “I assure you Mr. Lindgren is a meek and mild peace keeper”

            Sure. Very well mannered.

            Genesis 3:1
            Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.

          • Stanta says:

            I neither expect or want your respect. Obviously you have little knowledge of the Christian faith. It is not an individual faith, it is a community faith. People helping people when it is done right. If man has subverted the message into hate, that is what man does for power. I have no power of my. Own, any helping provide others is borrowed from Him. I wish I could introduce you to the several hundred community members I have met over the last ten years. You may not come to accept the beliefs and works but it is hard to disrespect the time and treasure we have given in helping others.

          • entech says:

            Welcome back Henry, everything all right at home ? You may be surprised to know you were missed. Like Jon you are polite and well mannered. A couple have been having things to say and they are neither well mannered nor subtile.

          • Henry says:

            All is well.

            If I am well-mannered, it only be from either the work of Jesus Christ or due to being a former ironworker. Understanding your worldview, I must assume it to be my ironworking background from your perspective.

          • Henry says:

            it [can] only

          • entech says:

            You would be correct, Henry, I think there is often something humbling about dirty, honest work, consider the arrogance and supercilious look of people of such as Pat Robertson who claim direct contact with JC and his daddy.

            So I would say you owe everything to being a decent, honest ironworker and little to the other.

          • Henry says:

            PR does not have any influence on me. It amazes me how many atheists sit around watching Robertson on the boob tube.

          • entech says:

            Robertson happens to be the only name I know and I don’t see him at all on my local television channels, thinking about it I have seen someone called Benny Hinn advertised as being on early mornings. One charlatan is the same as another.

          • Henry says:

            I haven’t seen BH either. It as well surprises me that his images are displayed by your electron gun.

          • entech says:

            Pure commerce, makes anything happen if there is a dollar in it.

  11. Brad says:

    The Bible says whatever people want it to say to fit whatever agenda they are trying to push. And of course it relies on the Bible being considered the ultimate authority on everything. Once the smallest crack is made in that armor, however, the whole house of cards comes falling down.

    Honestly, I find quite a bit of spiritual wisdom in the Bible, but I also find a lot of outlandish nonsense. It’s just a reflection of mankind, and given that the entire thing was written by mankind, it’s no surprise at all.

    • Jeffrey Eide says:

      Spiritual wisdom?? Can you please define spiritual wisdom?

      • Brad says:

        Well, it might mean different things to different people, but to me it means principles that are universally accepted as good or right no matter what your faith is (or lack of faith). For example, the ideas contained in the 10 commandments like not killing or stealing seem like good principles that I would consider spiritual wisdom.

        I tend to get good results from following what I see as spiritual wisdom, and by the way I find spiritual wisdom in many other places besides the Bible. For example, scientists and environmentalists are concerned about the abuse of our planet by mankind and advocate living “green”. I find that to be a form of spiritual wisdom. Also common sense, and also scientifically proven facts, and I try to adopt that in my life by recycling, driving a fuel efficient vehicle, etc, etc.

  12. Dustin Metzger says:

    This was quite an interesting thread!

    Bottom line: our history and our world will always provide “non-believers” reasonable explanations to support their beliefs or lack there of. FAITH is the foundation of the “believer.” True FAITH is without explanation. God would clearly have it no other way.

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