22 February 2012

On Ignorance

Biblical ignorance is something of a pandemic, not only in the church, but in atheism as well. Whilst recently listening to a review of "50 Things You Didn't Know About Religion" by Skepticality. A few things struck me during that interview/dialogue and then I went to this site (Disclaimer: If you want to follow Alice down a contrived, fantastically warped rabbit hole go to the site; if not, stay away. Its liable to cause frustrative brain explosion (credit to Mr. Rosebrough for the "frustrative brain explosion" remark).

For now I will focus upon the interview. The first thing that is striking is that most often when someone refers to "religion" what is almost always implied is the Judeo-Christian religions. This is interesting in that,  the Jewish/Christian faith has made such an impact on the world, that immediately what is discussed is the Judeo-Christian claims of God and His nature when referring to "religion;" this was so in the aforementioned interview.

The next thing that came to light whilst listening to this 24+/- minute pontification on all things "relgious," mostly the Christian religion as aforementioned, is the Biblical ignorance of these "learned" skeptics. Recently, on an article's comments section, I engaged in a lengthy debate with numerous opponents. What amazed me was the fact that sites like those aforementioned, and the commenters that I engaged, either refuse to accept or patently ignore the greater context in which the texts that they cite as so abhorrent. It must be said that one need not be a Christian to apply the same rules of reason and context one uses in reading any text to the Bible.

For instance, one commonly cited verse is Isaiah 13:11-16, which says:

11 I will punish the world for its evil,
    and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
     and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people more rare than fine gold,
    and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
    and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the Lord of hosts
    in the day of his fierce anger.
14 And like a hunted gazelle,
    or like sheep with none to gather them,
each will turn to his own people,
    and each will flee to his own land.
15 Whoever is found will be thrust through,
    and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed in pieces
    before their eyes;
their houses will be plundered
    and their wives ravished.

Clearly, this is a difficult text, even for a believer, for the Prophet is quoting God as saying these things. Yet, as has been mentioned before, context is needed. Isaiah 13:1 says: "The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw." Thus, this prophecy is written to a specific people, at a particular time, namely that God is bringing His judgment upon the people of Babylon. Why? Because Babylon was an idolatrous, sinful nation who was being judged for said idolatry and sin; Israel, God's chosen people and nation, were judged no less harshly for the same sins (cf. Isaiah 3:1ff).

This passage is difficult in that it condemns "innocent" people, but as Scripture clearly teaches there are no innocent people (Romans 3:11ff). Therefore, God's condemnation comes upon them, and rightly so. How can a loving God do this? one may ask. The simple truth is that the reality of sin (see "sin" link above) is far greater than most in modernity ever care to acknowledge. It is the most abhorrent thing in God's eyes, in fact, He cannot look at it (Habbakuk 1:13). Furthermore, because of His holiness, He must punish sin. God does not leave the issue at, "Sinner, be damned, but instead He provides mercy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ whilst simultaneously punishing sin and remaining holy, just, and merciful.

Ignoring the direct context and the broad context of Scripture, does not make your claim valid, and ripping verses out of context does nothing but prove your ignorance. I would hope that those who claim to have "studied" religions such as Christianity would know that essential and fundamental truth. As Christians we can only pray and hope that those looking for answers actually look, and don't take these untruths at face value.

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