THE EDITOR, Sir:
Catholic Deacon Peter Espeut writes in a recent Gleaner column: "One group of Christians called 'Fundamentalists'.... believe that the Bible is inspired by God in such a way that every word is literally, scientifically and historically true... Fundamentalists have their primary faith in a book, not the Lord of history who continues to reveal himself and his truth down to today." ["The religion of a book," Wed. Jan. 29, p. A4.]
This claim misrepresents the views of the vast majority of Evangelicals, Adventists, Pentecostals and other Christians who take seriously the Bible's claim that "men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." [2 Peter 1:21.] The article also fails to reckon with the direct link between Scripture and faith in the apostolic teaching: "you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise for salvation through Faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." [2 Tim. 3:15 - 17.] Further, poetic language, imagery, context and other relevant factors must be reckoned with before one can conclude as to what any text (biblical or otherwise) affirms or denies.
Consequently, what is at stake is whether the text of Scripture as we have it materially preserves what God said through prophets and apostles, so that it authentically and authoritatively records God's revelation: the truth, in love, to us all.
Mr Espeut goes on to claim that "The Bible contradicts itself... in so many places, that a sensible person could not honestly continue with Fundamentalism." He then provides as a prime example of "thousands of contradictions... within the Bible" the resurrection accounts in the Gospels. (NB: let us bear in mind what is required for a logical contradiction to exist. It requires that accounts affirm and deny the same thing, in the same sense - diversity of perspectives, gaps in information or even difficulties are not enough.)
First, let us note that the idea that Christ could have been raised theologically, but not historically or scientifically, fails the test of basic common sense. As Paul put it: "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith." [1 Cor 15:14.]
What the Apostle affirms instead, is that there were over five hundred eyewitnesses. And, despite the arguments of Hume and many others that miracles violate laws of nature based on firm experience and so are impossible, there are millions alive today who have personally experienced or witnessed the miraculous power of God.
Second, we can simply check the text of the Gospels. What they show is devastating:
The accounts do NOT "disagree on the time of day." Matt 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, & John 20:1 are all consistent with a group of women setting out for Jesus' tomb as the new day was dawning.
The names Deacon Espeut cites actually show that the Gospels collectively AGREE as to the members of the group of women.
Matt. 28 and John 20 do not STATE that any of the women saw the stone being rolled away, nor that an angel spoke to them while he was sitting on the stone that had blocked the entry to the cave-like tomb.
The accounts that speak of one angel do not deny that a second may have been present.
Mark 16:7 does NOT say the angel "told [the women] to tell no one," but instead "go, tell his disciples and Peter...."
Thus, the column reveals a lack of attention to the text, disregard for the inevitable diversity in eyewitness reports, and gaps in Deacon Espeut's logic - rather than "a mature Christianity born of deep understanding of the Scriptures." Perhaps, it is time for mutually respectful dialogue rather than contemptuous dismissal with an epithetical lance - "fundamentalist"-backed up by specious arguments.
I am, etc.,
GORDON E MULLINGS
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