I was a little disappointed with Chris’ two videos on other Christians. He spent most of his time on the opinions of non-Christians, one professor in particular. I was expecting him to show how other Christians failed him, but this didn’t happen. While he does mention one particular author upon whom he leaned heavily for support of his Christian worldview, he didn’t show how this author failed him until a later video. Chris did mention that he already believed in the Big Bang Theory and in the Theory of Evolution, so whatever he believed about God had to be married to these scientific theories, if it was going to influence his thinking.
In his next two video’s—Deconversion, Other Christians (part 1 & part 2)—Chris introduced the non-Christian’s or the very liberal Christian’s point of view about how we got the Bible. Yet, neither Chris, nor the professor in whom he began to place his trust more and more, ever mentioned that the JEDP or Documentary method of understanding the Bible has been rejected by many respected authorities. From my own point of view the Documentary approach to understanding the Bible seems anti-Semitic. Rather than permitting the Jews to report their own history and simply accept it or reject it as myth, the Jews are singled out by others in an effort to show they, alone among the ancient nations, have absolutely no real history until the end of the Babylonian captivity. Everything that is reported before that time must be taken with a grain of salt and a heavy dose of myth. Their entire history, according to this theory, had been edited and rearranged to give the false impression that Jews were essentially a monotheistic people who had been greatly influenced by the polytheistic nations around them, and judged by God for their errors.
Chris’s professor seemed content to assign authorship of the Old Testament to a bunch of superstitious Bedouin shepherds, despite the claims of the Biblical writers that such was not the case. According to the scriptures, the Bible was written by shepherds, kings, priests, lawyers, poets, historians and others. Nevertheless, the efforts of the architects of the Documentary method of understanding Jewish history were spent in order to reject the Biblical claim, so that their predetermined and subjective ideas about the rise of monotheism might be seen and believed. The whole argument is not quite as simple as I am making out, but in essence JEDP is not an unbiased or thoroughly objective approach to understanding the Bible.
Chris’s professor also brought up Robert Ingersoll’s book: Some Mistakes of Moses. The professor pointed out the absurdity of the Tower of Babel which is implied that it was addressed in detail in Ingersoll’s book. I also found the professor’s perception of believers as “deluded automatons” a bit condescending, and such comments may have been used to draw Chris further into their correspondence. Everyone enjoys being thought of as intelligent and wise, but I have yet to find the person who perceives deluded automaton as a compliment or a kind commentary. So, though I may be wrong, I think the “professor” was setting Chris up. The statement got Chris thinking about his brethren, and he finally concluded that he, more than they, was interested in the truth and willing to take the risks involved in attaining that knowledge.
What Chris failed to see was that the Bible warns us about comparing ourselves with one another—i.e. seeing others as more important in the Body of Christ than we are, or conversely that we are more important. There are those more intellectually inclined than others within the Body of Christ; I believe Paul was an example of this kind of believer. There are also those who are more inclined to simple faith; I put Mother Teresa and Jim Elliot in this category. Each would excel in the matters gifted them, and such an arrangement is intended to compliment the Body of Christ as a whole (2Corinthians 10:12)—because we learn from one another (1Corinthians 12:20-24). Paul was a visionary intellectual in his day, interpreting many things in the Jewish faith and pointing to Christ. Mother Teresa spent her life serving the poor and teaching the basics of the Christian faith to the Indian people of Calcutta. Beginning with only 12 members, the organization she began has, today, over 4,500 members worldwide serving the poor and unwanted. Jim Elliot and four friends were murdered by the Auca people of Ecuador whom they came to serve and teach the Gospel. Jim’s wife was among those who returned and the chief of the tribe who had killed the missionaries turned to the Christian faith.
Doctrinal truth can be wonderful in its place, but how does one pick the services of an intellectually inclined Christian over that of Mother Teresa or Jim Elliot and his missionary friends? Put another way, how can anyone label Mother Teresa or Jim Elliot a deluded automaton, seemingly because they are not as intellectually inclined as the one judging them? In the end, Chris’ decision that “other Christians” failed him is a false premise, or at least he doesn’t show in the videos how they failed him. Rather, he judges them in the words of the professor as ‘deluded automatons’ and who wants to be socially associated with an automaton? ‘Deconversion—other Christians’ had come to mean becoming ashamed to be associated with those one once viewed as friends!