22 Feb 2017

Documentary on Biblical Literalism

Religious 40 Comments

I am relaying a comment from my last Sunday post:

Bob – I sent you an email about this, but it didn’t occur to me until now to mention it on your site. There is a special showing tomorrow only (Thursday, 23rd) of Is Genesis History? at theaters around the country. It’s a documentary arguing for the six literal 24 hour days of creation in the Genesis account.

Website here in case anyone can still get tickets (some theaters added a second showing) http://isgenesishistory.com/

40 Responses to “Documentary on Biblical Literalism”

  1. E. Harding says:

    This is honestly as pathetic as Scott Alexander calling on all of us to support refugee resettlement to the U.S.:


  2. Mark says:

    non sequitur much?

  3. Mark says:

    btw, the response was overwhelming – theaters sold out all over the US. Special Encore on March 2. As Tom Woods might say, all the cool kids are going.

    • Harold says:

      Is that true, that there was a massive response? If so, what do you think is the reason behind it?

      I find it fascinating if this sort of thing is becoming more popular.

      • Mark says:

        Not really sure – maybe the producers of the film will take some kind of poll. I assume the vast majority of the people attending were Christians. What I would like to know is how many of them already believed what Genesis 1 -11 says, and were looking for additional information to buttress their belief in the Bible, and how many don’t believe Genesis 1 – 11, and were just curious.

  4. Matt says:

    Anyone know when the sequel covering John 6:53-6:58 comes out?

    • Mark says:

      You might check Galatians 6:7.

      • Matt says:

        You misread me Mark. Evangelicals believe in literal interpretations of the bible only until they don’t. Moreover they have no way of knowing when to do one or the other. So Genesis is literal but the words of Christ in John 6 aren’t. But why? To point this out is not atheist mocking, but rather to highlight a point of contention between Catholics and most protestants/evangelicals.

        • Mark says:

          Oops. Apologies. But, as you know, there are several different types of literature in the Bible – historical narrative (Genesis, e.g., which is why the days of Genesis are literal days), poetry, allegory, letters, proverbs, prophecy, etc. And we *do* have a way of knowing how to interpret the Bible: context. Also, the Bible itself will frequently interpret itself. For example, passages in the NT often tell us how to interpret passages in the Old.

          So context, and Jesus’ words and Paul’s writing in the NT all tell us the days of Genesis are literal 24 hour days (approximately – I’m not adamant on the exact number of minutes), not long periods of time like millions or billions of years. One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from E J Young, who said, “…the man who says “I believe that Genesis purports to be a historical account, but I do not believe that account” is a far better interpreter of the Bible than the man who says, “I believe that Genesis is profoundly true, but it is poetry.””

          So going back to your original comments, we know quite easily that Genesis chapters 1 – 11 are literal history, and Christ’s command that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood was literally said, but He was using symbolism. He explains that at what we call The Lord’s Supper in the gospels. The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is not biblical.

          • Craw says:

            In other words, because it’s icky the exhortation to cannibalism must be symbolic.
            A more consistent approach is to believe what God says, even when he says icky things. And if you reject transubstantiation, so that only that bread on that occasion was real flesh, then it seems only the 12 guys at that supper got a real crack at immortality.

            • Mark says:

              You’re just being silly, aren’t you? There is so much error in just a few sentences, it’s amazing.

              First, there is no exhortation to cannibalism. And while there is no specific verse in the Bible that says, “You shall not eat another person,” you don’t have to go past Genesis 9 to see what God thinks of cannibalism.

              Second, if I am to believe your approach is “to believe what God says, even when he says icky things,” no matter the context, style of language, etc., then I guess you are one of those people that believes Jesus is made of wood and hinges (He is a door – John 10:7,9), He has a sword for a tongue (Rev. 1:7), God has wings and feathers (Psalm 91:4), a face, eyes, hands and feet, etc. Since the earth is His footstool, I suppose any day now some explorer will find the spot where we can really see God’s real feet really resting on the earth. Don’t be absurd.

              Third, the bread at the Last Supper was not real flesh – it was (drum roll, please) …bread. And the gospel has nothing to do with eating bread or flesh, real or imagined. It is simply, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” And that applies to us all, not just the 12 in the room. Rocket science this is not.

              Lastly, no one gets a “crack at immortality” – we all live forever. It’s just a question of where.

              • Craw says:

                Of course everything you just said contradicts John 6:53-58, the passage we are discussing. Which proves my point. Genesis you say is literally true. But John is not. No-one could think he really meant what he said! That God, such a kidder!

  5. Mark says:

    Wow. Yer hilarious. I’ll leave it to anyone that might be reading this exchange to decide what the truth is.

    • Craw says:

      Well you and I agree it’s not to be found in John.

  6. Mark says:

    No, you and I didn’t agree on anything. It appears you are an anti-Christian troll, so please don’t be offended – unless/until you come to Christ, I will have no further discussion with you. I may comment on things you say in the future, but I won’t be engaging you directly in dialogue. Just to be clear, that’s not because you aren’t a Christian, it’s because of your a jerk. Feel free to make your last snarky comment.

    • Mark says:

      Sorry – should be: it’s because of you being a jerk.

    • Matt says:

      Don’t worry Mark. Craw is giving you a hard time but I understand that this is a hard teaching, and that you are having considerable difficulty listening to it. It probably even offends you.

      Rest assured, you aren’t the first.

      • Dan says:

        What lesson did you teach him, exactly? You said evangelicals had no way to determine how to intrepret different parts of the bible, he disagreed and explained why, and you gave no retort. It seems ignorant to argue that they have no way to make those determinations on a post about a movie doing just that. I mean, you can argue that their reasoning is off, but clearly they give reasons for how they intrepret different parts of the bible.

        • Matt says:

          Read John 6:60-66, Dan. Then consider Mark’s earlier comment about using context as a guide to interpretation.

          • Craw says:

            This is hilarious, since I caught the allusion. Are we the only Bible readers here?

            No Dan, Mark has given no coherent answer why Jesus at the last supper (according to John) should not be taken at his word, but Jesus in other places should. I think arguing the Bible is literally true is silly, but it’s better than saying “I get to pick and choose which parts are literally true.” That is sub-silly.

            • Mark says:

              Anyone can read the Bible – it’s what it means that is important. So far that’s eluded Craw.

              “No Dan, Mark has given no coherent answer why Jesus at the last supper (according to John) should not be taken at his word”

              I think I’ve made it very clear that at the Last Supper explained the symbolism of the bread and wine – we should take Him at His word. But Craw doesn’t.

              “I think arguing the Bible is literally true is silly”

              But then he argues Jesus is endorsing cannibalism.

      • Mark says:

        You guys sure like to make things up thinking no one will catch on, don’t you? It’s not a hard teaching, it’s just error. And I had no difficulty listening to it – I’ve heard all kinds of nonsense about the Bible before. No offense at all, because I know the difference between truth and error. So you made three incorrect statements about me. You’re not too honest, either, are you?

        • Matt says:

          Take it easy man. You’re assuming me to be much more antagonistic than I really am. It’s no fun to constantly have to explain my jokes but in my previous comment I was alluding to 1) your comment on context as an interpretive aid; as well as 2) John 6:60-66:

          60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

          66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.

          There is no reason to impugn anyone’s character here Mark. My comment was generally lighthearted with a barb at the end and I merely made an incorrect assumption that you’d recognize the words of the deserters and then Christ in it. That’s my fault, not yours, but it does not speak to my lack of honesty. I wish you no ill will and will drop this comment thread.

          • Mark says:

            I’ll reply to this tomorrow when I have more time.

            • Craw says:

              See what I mean. Jesus calls it a hard teaching but Mark calls it error. And he insults me when I point out he doesn’t believe Jesus! Too funny.

          • Mark says:

            I know the passage, and I suppose you may have been joking (I gave you the benefit of the doubt the first time and apologized), but coupled with some of your other subtle insults, I took it as snarky. And, as I mentioned, context is not the only way to determine the meaning of a passage. The Bible frequently interprets itself. I used the example of the NT frequently shedding light on the Old, but in this case, while some of His followers had trouble with what He said at that point, we don’t have to, because He explained it at the Last Supper.

            • Mark says:

              This was pasted in the wrong place – it was meant for Matt.

          • Mark says:

            The following was accidentally pasted as a reply to Craw – it was intended for Matt. Here it is again:

            I know the passage, and I suppose you may have been joking (I gave you the benefit of the doubt the first time and apologized), but coupled with some of your other subtle insults, I took it as snarky. And, as I mentioned, context is not the only way to determine the meaning of a passage. The Bible frequently interprets itself. I used the example of the NT frequently shedding light on the Old, but in this case, while some of His followers had trouble with what He said at that point, we don’t have to, because He explained it at the Last Supper.

            • Mark says:

              I thought it was me, but the website is not working properly – the reply buttons are posting my response somewhere other than where I clicked. I’m sure you can all figure out where they go. Since it’s not working properly, I’ll post my last response here. Craw said,

              “See what I mean. Jesus calls it a hard teaching but Mark calls it error.”

              I may have poorly phrased that, but I’m pretty sure most people were able to figure out, based on what I had already written, that Craw’s belief that Jesus is promoting cannibalism is the error, not what Jesus said.

            • Craw says:

              This is just like the Bible: Matthew and Mark contradicting each other about Jesus!

            • Matt says:

              I’ve started a new thread. See below.

  7. cavalier973 says:

    The only reason to stop trading at verse 58 is to purposely misunderstand the passage. In verse 63, Jesus says He is speaking allegorically.

    Also, this: http://www.tektonics.org/af/cannib.php

    • cavalier973 says:

      “Reading”, not “trading”.

      • Craw says:

        Wow. You think people cannot look it up? Jesus’s words end in 58. Right? Is that true, I cited his entire speech? What’s in 59? A comment about where he taught this, in Capernaum! That’s Jesus saying it’s a metaphor? If he had taught it in Nazareth would he have meant it?

        Now let’s talk about your cite. 63 is part of a speech, right? Not the whole speech, true? I cite the entire speech, you don’t cite an entire speech. We agree on that? But you accuse me of cherry picking where to stop. Incredible.

        • cavalier973 says:

          Allow me to help you out:

          Everything you say is wrong.

          Everything you believe is wrong.

          You are not fit for rational discourse.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Let’s show the world we’re His disciples through our love…

          • Craw says:

            In other words, Yes Craw, you did cite the whole speech and did not cherry pick as I wrongly accused you of doing.

  8. Matt says:

    All right Mark, I’ve changed my mind with respect to my continued participation in this thread. You’ve put together an impressive string of posts and I want to be sure I have all of this straight.

    Crowd: “Gosh Jesus, that sure was some good bread the other day. Hint, hint.”

    Jesus: “Yeah, it’s great that you ate your fill of loaves, but you should really be after the kind of bread that gives eternal life.”

    Crowd: “That sounds excellent! Where do we get it?”

    Jesus: “I am the bread of eternal life.”

    Crowd: “What.”

    Jesus: “Your ancestors ate (greek: phagein) manna and died, but I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. Eat of it and you will have eternal life.”

    Crowd: “Wait, you’re saying that we need to eat *you*? Like, your actual flesh? How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

    Jesus: “Seriously: unless you gnaw (greek: trogein) on my flesh and drink my blood you do not have life within you.”

    Crowd: “This is crazy. Who can believe such a thing? Thanks but no thanks Jesus. We’re out.”

    (Much of the crowd leaves)

    Jesus, turning to the twelve: “And how about you? Do you also want to leave?”

    Peter: “Well, we’ve come this far, and uh, where else would we go at this point? So, no, we’ll stay.”

    Later at the Last Supper…

    Jesus: “Oh, and about all that ‘gnaw on my flesh’ and ‘drink my blood’ stuff, just kidding! Mere symbolism guys! So what do you all say: dinner rolls, all around, on me!”

    So, Mark, I have a couple of takeaways:

    1. In order for the above to be even approximately correct then Christ must *purposely mislead* his followers. His words in John 6:48-67 cause them to believe something which not only turns out to be manifestly false, but that also leads certain of them to turn away from him and so imperil their own eternal life. And Jesus is well aware of this. This seems to be in deep tension with literally every single other thing Christ does and says in the gospels, but especially throughout the rest of the book of John:

    Jn 4:23: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.”

    Jn 8:32: “..and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

    Jn 18:37: “Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’”

    If Christ misleads his followers in John 6 then why should I or anyone else take him at his word elsewhere? The deserters would have been not merely correct but also better off to simply ignore Jesus’s words in John 6.

    2. At least with respect to John 6 you’ve wisely backed away from your “context” claim but in so doing have doubled down on the “scripture interprets scripture” assertion. Unfortunately this doesn’t get you where you want to go either and in fact works against you.

    Your claim is that we know the words of Christ in John 6 are symbolic because at the Last Supper Christ holds up the bread and says “this is my body” and then the wine as he says “this is my blood.” However, this just begs the question. Are Christ’s words at the Last Supper symbolic, as you say, or literally true (the “Words of Institution”) as taught by the Catholic and several other churches? You’ve claimed that we can interpret scripture passage A in the light of scripture passage B, but 1) how do we know it shouldn’t be the other way around (B in light of A); and 2) how do we know you’ve interpreted B properly? As I correctly asserted earlier, you give us no way of knowing. Far from establishing that Christ’s words in John 6 are symbolic, your attempted refuge in Christ’s words at the Last Supper merely highlight the circular poverty of your hermeneutics. All you’ve done here is send us into a gigantic, question-begging circle and consequently your problem of interpretation still remains, as large as ever.

    In closing, you’ve given no reason for me to believe that Craw, who says “I believe that John 6 purports to be a literal account, but I do not believe that account” is not a far better interpreter of the Bible than yourself who says, “I believe that John 6 is profoundly true, but it is symbolism.”

    • Craw says:

      Waiter! Bring that man a beer, on me.

    • Craw says:

      But how, Mark asks how can you seriously believe Jesus makes bread into real flesh?
      Well I can’t, but I don’t take these fables as truth. Mark does. And if you take it the rest of it as true you need to explain why,
      when it gets icky (like flesh-gnawing), you suddenly don’t.
      We have just read, assuming that we read the gospel in sequence rather than just proof-texting snippets here and there,
      about Jesus performing another miracle with bread. Jesus seems pretty good with bread tricks, and the Catholics take him at his word.
      The Catholic answer to how can you seriously believe he makes bread into real flesh? is “it’s a miracle.”
      Mark says it’s symbolic, that there is no miracle here, the miracles are over there, not here, absolutely not here,
      but he gives no sensible criteria by which we can decide which miracles are real, which are just Jesus joshing the disciples.
      Other than icky; Marks balks at icky.

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