On October 8, 2017 D. James Kennedy Ministries aired their regular program “Truths That Transform”. I watch this and other religious programs regularly in order to have exposure to what the general trends may be among TV evangelists and others so that I may better understand the current trajectory of Christianity. This particular program focused on the new Museum of the Bible, opening in Washington D.C. in November and on the history of the Bible itself and why it should be taken as the word of God.
The narrator, Frank Wright, Ph.D., toward the beginning openly stated that it was quite appropriate for this museum to be opened in our capital, providing no direct explanation for exactly why this was the appropriate place for it to have been built. But, as one watched the program, the tacit answer became clear – America is a Christian nation, founded upon the Bible (mainly the King James Version) and our mission as a nation is to bring Christ to the world. At least that is the way they see it.
Well, Ok, many people believe this and I do not wish to belabor the point here as to whether we are a Christian nation or not since this has already been done by many others already. Certainly, so-called “Judeo-Christian” values have indeed played a major role in our nation from the beginning, so I will forfeit that argument for the time being. That the Bible also, as Wright stated, “. . . shaped the entire western world” is a given. It has indeed influenced practically every aspect of western civilization since ancient, or at least medieval, times. Of course, in making such a blanket statement those who do so ignore, deliberately, all other factors from history, including influences from more ancient times.
The first guest on the program was Cary Summers, President of the Museum of the Bible. He stumbled a bit, in my opinion, as he explained that although the Protestant Reformation has been generally attributed to Martin Luther for its beginnings, it somehow should not be since “there were many forerunners of Luther who were almost saying the same thing as he was. . . .” Well, that is just not quite accurate. Any student of this period in history knows that there were a handful of forerunners prior to Luther, but that they had little overall impact. Luther is the one who actually made it happen! This would be an easy mistake for most, but for the President of such a museum, I should think that he should have his facts a little better in order. That said, this is not a terrible mistake; it’s just a mistake.
But the greater point here is that, for this program, they focused on the Protestant Reformation and the aftermath of that event. They completely ignore any previous history. Thus, he added that “As you got closer to Luther you had more distribution of the Bible”. That is certainly true as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press made this possible. So, in so many words, the invention of the printing press allowed for the spread of the Bible all over Europe so that the folk were able to read it for the very first time, the Church having kept them in the dark up until that time. And that is true.
Wright later stated “But the key to the transformative power of the Bible is that we believe it. There are many good reasons to believe the Bible.” Really? The Bible’s transformative power resides in the fact that people believe it. Actually, I agree with that statement. It does not lie in the facts that the Bible presents nor in the historical accuracy of it nor in the truths that supposedly reside within its text. Its power resides in the fact that people simply BELIEVE it, regardless of the many mistakes, misrepresentations, and outright errors contained within it. Sadly, this is indeed true.
After this a clip was shown of Dr. James Kennedy explaining why the Bible should be believed; how he “knew” that the Bible is the “word of God”. In this clip Kennedy mainly stated that it should be believed because the men who wrote it repeatedly stated “thus sayeth the Lord” some 2,600 times. So he believed the Bible because the men who wrote it stated that God had told them to write it. Not a very convincing argument at all.
Adding statements he attributed to Charles Wesley, Kennedy added that Wesley had said that bad men would not write such a good book. Again, not very convincing.
Finally, Kennedy stated that in the Bible (no actual reference provided, but it is found in Deuteronomy 18:22) God provides the answer as to why one should believe the writers of the Bible. The passage reads (KJV) “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” In so many words, if prophecies from a so-called prophet don’t come true, then the prophet is false and not to be accepted.
Then Kennedy stated that “well over 2,000 specific prophecies . . . have been fulfilled”, without actually citing a single one specifically.
Then Wright takes over the narration again adding that Kennedy continued in this clip to state that “one of the proofs that the Bible is God’s word is its “ability to transform nations and people. This has proved (sic.) true in numerous areas of American life, including its influence on our constitutional government, the scientific enterprise, and perhaps above all, education”.
Well, if the ability to transform nations and peoples is any standard as a “proof” then the Quran would also have to be accepted as true in addition to the Bible since it has certainly transformed nations and peoples all over the world! In addition, attributing the concept of our constitutional government to the Bible is a clear logical fallacy since nothing in the Bible even hints at such a government other than the fact that the Apostles (Acts 1:26) are shown as utilizing the democratic process in selecting someone to replace Judas. But they didn’t get this idea from their scriptures! They got it from the Greco-Roman world which surrounded them! Otherwise, the only examples the Bible illustrates for us are kings and tyrants. I would like to know how we got our democratic/republican ideals from such examples as this! Short answer; we didn’t!
But this wasn’t even the worst. If it had only gone this far, I would not have felt the need to write this because it is, frankly, standard Christamerican gobbledygook. But then they had to air clips of various others making their absurd statements. The first to be shown was Vishal Mangalwadi, author of “The Book That Made Your World”. He stated that “The Bible created the rise of languages – oral dialects such as English, literature, universities, science, technology, music, western confidence in rationality, the idea that human beings have unique dignity and unique rights which are inalienable; rights which gave birth to moral democracy, free market economy – all of these things came from the Bible.”
Really? What history have you been reading, Mr. Mangalwadi? This statement is a blatant untruth at best! How do we know this? Because we have history outside of the Bible to consult. For one, the Bible did not “create the rise of languages” culminating in “dialects” such as English. The absurdity of this statement doesn’t even deserve rebuttal! The Bible did not “create literature”, it is part of a literary genre. Universities were NOT created because of the Bible! The very first university (the Academy) in known history was established by Platon (Plato) in ancient Greece, well before the Bible came into existence! And universities that were established during the Middle Ages were more the result of the Enlightenment in which ancient Greco-Roman literature was rediscovered than anything else. The Bible did not establish science, nor the scientific method. That was developed by ancient Greek philosophers. Technology? That’s not in the Bible either. Music? The absurdity of the idea that the Bible originated music is beyond my ability to even deal with! “Western confidence in rationality”? THAT also comes from ancient Greek and Roman philosophy with, really, no input from the Bible. In fact, the Bible is one of the most irrational books ever written! The unique dignity of the human being? Ever heard of “Humanism”? The fanatics claim to hate humanism exactly because they don’t understand this, again, ancient GREEK concept. The birth of moral democracy? Sorry, wrong again! That was developed by ancient Greeks who worshipped their many deities – Pagans whom the fanatics label as immoral! Free market economy? Well, at least this is more or less a modern invention, but it also did not come from the Bible.
Oh, but even this wasn’t the worst. They had to double-down! Dr. Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., continued by stating “Take the example of the modern scientific enterprise. Virtually every major branch of science was created by Christians at the end of the Middle Ages and in the wake of the Reformation.”
No, the various branches of science were not “created” by Christians, for the most part. Scientific enquiry started at least as far back as ancient Greece. Christians have certainly, perhaps, improved the enquiry, but that is really a result of the fact that Christianity had taken over the western world, not a result of the influence of the Bible. Newcombe’s absurd and biased statement is a deliberate effort to make it seem as if all of the contributions of the western world originated with Christians!
Sir Alan Cook added “Almost all early scientists were Christians”. Really? I guess it depends upon how one defines “early”, doesn’t it? Enough said here except that his statement is equally absurd.
Then (you could just see this coming all along) Katherine Dang, Educator, added “America is the result of Christ’s gospel liberty to permit him [man] to be free from the control of sin in him, have dominion over it and then to be self-governed by his word and to create a nation by that idea”. More gobbledygook! “America” is actually the result of those who sought freedom from tyrannical European governments which, by the way, happened to be based on Christianity and the concept of kingship! Absolute rule combined with monotheism, including Christianity, always results in tyranny and the curtailment of individual freedoms. Check the historical record. That is why our founders elected to create a governmental system modeled upon ancient Roma which at the same time excluded the use of religion as a governmental tool to control the masses. THAT is what produced our wonderful freedoms, not some blueprint found in the Bible!
Mangalwadi added “But if there is no God; but if God does not come to this earth to establish his kingdom, then being a pessimist, being a cynic, uh, resigning to fatalism, is a logical, uh, state of mind. You give up the Bible and the West loses its hope”. No, Mr. Mangdalwadi, resignation and fatalism are NOT logical if Jesus does not return to save us from our own ineptitude! Indeed, I submit that you are actually correct that if the Bible were taken away from the western world then many would lose hope because they have been provided no other foundation upon which to stand. But that is exactly the danger here. You cite “logic”, which is an ancient Greek philosophical system, yet fail to utilize it properly. The logical remedy is to provide the western world with something more than the Bible to rely on, not to descend into a puddle of hopelessness if “God” doesn’t establish his kingdom upon this earth!
Finally, Wright repeated that the Bible is true because it is “transformative”. . . . “But the fact remains; no one can consider themselves literate and certainly not learned without having some knowledge of the Bible. . . . D. James Kennedy Ministries is standing for truth and defending your freedom”. Really, Mr. Wright? You think that one is illiterate if they have read everything else but never read the Bible? That has to be the most absurd statements of the entire program!
The frank fact of the matter is that, although the Bible has indeed been a major factor in the development of present western society, it has by no means been the only factor. In fact, the influence of Greco-Roman culture, which preceded the Bible, still exacts great influence no matter how much effort you exert to bury that fact. You Christians seek to take credit for all that has been done – falsely. This is what you have done from the beginning. You have stolen all that was good from the ancient world and wrapped it in Christian guise.
The above was not written to counter DJK Ministries specifically or alone since much of that which is presented here is pretty common thought in Christian circles. The fact of the matter is that Christians, in general, really have no idea what the history of the Bible is and have no real idea how history went since ancient times. Those on this program lamented the lack of knowledge among Christians concerning the Bible and its history. I agree, there is indeed a serious lack of such knowledge and understanding. But this program was filled with so many inaccuracies
and misrepresentations that it hardly serves as a remedy for this problem. My greatest wish would have been to have enjoyed a program that actually told the TRUTH without the all too common historical distortions that always seem to follow. In a word – actually a question – why can’t you just tell the truth for a change? Just be honest about your history. It would make a great difference for someone like me, who already knows your history all too well.