Before getting to the New Testament though, I will take a moment to answer what was said on my treatment of Dawkins’s treatment of the OT. A reader pointed out that the Bible says Lot was a righteous man.
Seriously. Because he was a righteous man, everything he did was perfect? Not so. Even the great saints had their failures. The father of the faithful is shown to not be so faithful at times. David, the man after God’s own heart, is one of the most notorious sinners in the Bible. What made them saints though? It’s how they lived their lives overall.
Now though, we need to get to the NT.
Dawkins begins by stating that he does like Jesus. I think it’s hard for someone to come out and say they don’t like the figure presented in the gospels. Even if you think the gospels are made up and nonsense, there is something appealing about the persona of Jesus Christ.
However, Jesus has poor family values apparently, such as telling us we must hate our own parents to be his disciple. Um. Not so Dawkins. Jesus saw for the care of his own mother in John’s gospel on the cross. Peter traveled with his wife. Jesus told us to honor our father and mother. What’s going on?
This is a typical way of speaking in Jewish circles. He speaks in hyperbole to show the level of devotion that must exist in order to be a disciple of Christ. Christ has to come before your family. They are important, but must be secondary. I also think of the definition of Barclay as hatred being to set something at a distance. Your ultimately loyalty must lie to Christ.
Of course, I wasn’t surprised to see Dawkins complain next about original sin and the atonement. McGrath rightly points out in “The Dawkins Delusion” that original sin is not at the heart of Christianity. It is a true doctrine I believe and an important one, but it is not the cornerstone of Christianity.
This blogger is a Traducian who believes that the soul was corrupted in the first sin and that when our parents came together to make us, that their souls somehow formed ours. As one of my professors once said, and I quote, “Your parents didn’t just do it and a soul dropped into your body from Heaven like a gumball machine.”
Now did the atonement involve blood? Yep. Got a problem with it? God takes sin seriously. He takes it so seriously that justice has to be paid. If he just overlooks a violation of his holy standard, he’s not treating himself seriously. He’s denying his nature in order to bring about a good for another, which is not treating himself as the greatest good. Justice and holiness must be satisfied, and the way to do that is the doctrine of the atonement.
That’s why God just can’t forgive as Dawkins ask. (Also, generations of Jews were not to be condemned as Christ-killers. Only that generation killed Christ. If some others want to claim otherwise, let them, but rest assured I will not join them in their condemnation.) I also believe that generation was judged.
Interestingly, Dawkins brings up the Gospel of Judas and treats it as if it has any credibility. There’s a simple way to see why it wasn’t canonical. Read it. I wish more people would do this with these gnostic gospels instead of hearing about these new gospels and thinking there was some conspiracy. Just read them.
Dawkins then says that the idea of “Love your neighbor” meant only to love another Jew. Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that I granted that that’s what the Jewish mindset was. Does this mean that Jesus was of the same mindset. I’m hoping most readers have their minds going where mine went when I first heard this, and that would be to where Jesus answered the question himself. That would be the parable of the Good Samaritan.
In all of the backing of this idea of Dawkins, he never touches that passage. He also never touches where Jesus said to love your enemies. He ends it by speaking about the Jewish prayer that a man would recite thanking God that he was not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman. He was nice enough to leave out Galatians 3:28 where Paul has a statement denouncing that very prayer.
Dawkins then points to modern violence and blames it on religion. I urge the reader to read Dinesh D’Souza’s work “What’s So Great About Christianity?” I found it amazing to hear Dawkins talk about how if you found any place in the world today with intractable enmity and violence, religion would be there. Hmmm. Would that include anti-religious Communists persecuting Christians in China? Who does Dawkins blame for that? Is it the fault of the Christians when they’re being persecuted as well as when they’re supposedly persecuting?
Dawkins again has terrible eisegesis and his sources are far from the best. It would have been good to have seen some citations of orthodox scholars, but one will look in vain. Again though, this is why Christians need to know their Bibles. The ones who don’t know them might find the case convincing.
The ultimate answer to Dawkins on the Bible then is biblical literacy. Let’s make sure we all have it.