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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Did God lose ten tribes of Israel?

As my last post dealt with the question of God's perspective on refugees and immigrants, I thought that it would be a good time to talk about a book I've been reading. The Ten Lost Tribes: A World History (Published by Oxford University Press, 2009) by Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, is an interesting read for anyone who has been exposed to the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong relative to the modern identity of the ten "lost" tribes of Israel.

If there was ever any doubt, Benite makes it very clear that Mr. Armstrong was not the first person to embark on a quest to find out what happened to the tribes of Israel who were defeated and carried into captivity by the Assyrians. In fact, not only was he not the first person to "discover" their fate, this book places Mr. Armstrong's efforts in this regard into the context of a historical phenomenon that has spanned thousands of years, the entire globe and the work of many people!

Benite summarizes his book as being "about the messengers, visionaries, and dreamers who over the centuries have searched for the lost tribes - through scholarship and travel, through both scientific and religious means." He went on to say that his book "is particularly concerned with the speculation (emphasis mine) that has evolved over the past two millennia over the precise identity and location of the ten lost tribes."

Of course, from the perspective of archeologists and historians, the first question is: Were ten tribes of the Hebrews ever really lost? In answering that question, Benite and other scholars have examined the biblical accounts of Israel and its downfall, contemporaneous Assyrian accounts of what happened to them, the subsequent analysis of historians and other interested parties, archeological discoveries in the Middle East and other places, and the role that romance and legend have played in determining the fate of the Israelites. When one puts all of these seemingly disparate threads together, the answer that emerges is this: most of the people from the ten tribes who constituted the northern kingdom were never really lost.

Benite points out that the numbers listed in both the biblical and Assyrian accounts indicate that only a portion of the population of the northern kingdom was removed by the Assyrians. The archeological evidence available to us from that period confirms this conclusion. Moreover, the Bible itself confirms that not all of the people of Israel were removed from the Promised Land (see the account of King Josiah's reforms that included the Israelites who had survived the Assyrian deportation in II Chronicles 34:1-10).

Unfortunately, for Mr. Armstrong and his followers, the only source that mattered was the scriptural one - all others were considered to be irrelevant and/or so inferior as to be of no use or consequence in determining the fate of the Israelites. However, it is now the opinion of a large portion of modern scriptural critics that much of the "history" of the Ten Tribes was manufactured and/or modified by Jewish writers with an agenda many years after the actual events relating to those people had transpired (remember the Kingdom of Judah survived the Kingdom of Israel by well over one hundred years). Indeed, from the accounts of I/II Samuel, I/II Kings and I/II Chronicles, it is clear that the Jewish authors of these materials drew on older sources and interpreted them in the light of their own times and circumstances (notice that, at the end of each king's reign, we are told that "the rest" of their acts are recorded in other books).

Context is critical to properly evaluating and interpreting the scriptural accounts of this period. We must remember that the Jewish priests and religious scholars who authored these accounts were writing from the perspective of the post-Babylonian exile of their own people. As a consequence, they were motivated to explain/interpret history in a way that comported with their own reality. Hence, their stories about the origins of the Hebrew people and nations (and their decline, fall, captivity and exile) were made to conform to their view of God and their belief that their tragic and tortured history must represent Divine punishment for the sins of their ancestors. After all, the story of the Israelites is one of loss, separation and alienation.

Benite describes it thus: "The sense of loss is embedded in the historical core of the story. The ten tribes fleetingly appear in the biblical narrative only to disappear definitively from it thereafter. The story begins with the tearing apart of a whole people into two, vividly and viscerally echoed in the tearing of Jeroboam's robe, and continues with the deportation of one part to somewhere else. How are the pieces to be put back together? The sense of loss that pervades the story derives not so much from any termination of the tribes, but rather from their ongoing - but unreachable - existence. This, then, is the true and most wrenching loss of the story - the history of this unknown-but-known and missing people, which is unfolding in a distant-but-close and unfound place. As the history of the remaining children of Israel, the people of Judah, unfolds, unfolding silently alongside it is the ever-present if unknown history of the missing tribes."

As Benite goes on to point out, this sense of loss has engendered a great deal of interest within the Judeo-Christian communities down through the centuries in finding their missing brethren. He talks about how the search for the "Lost Tribes" became global in nature, and how the Greek and Roman notions of ecumene (oecumene/oikoumene - the known or inhabited world) influenced that search. The Israelites were always just beyond reach - just out of sight, constantly wandering around the globe.

As Benite points out, this has generated all kinds of speculation regarding the fate of the Israelites. He talks at some length about the rabbinic traditions which placed the missing tribes in or just beyond "Sambayton." Likewise, as I have already noted, he talks about the influence of the Greek and Roman notions of the known world in placing the Israelites at the ends of that map (in Spain, China and Ethiopia). He also talks at great length about the roles that certain myth-makers, story-tellers and explorers have played through the centuries in expanding the number of places across the globe where the Israelites might be found. Benite also recounts the story of how the speculation concerning the origins of the Native Americans led to the conclusion by many that they were the descendants of the Lost Tribes (included in this section is some of the story of Mormonism).

Finally, Benite arrives at a discussion of the development of Anglo-Israelism (the belief that the peoples of the English-Speaking world are the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh). He talked about how Richard Brothers (1757-1823) was one of the first modern proponents of the notion, and how he eventually ended up in an insane asylum (which, oddly enough, did not impede his writing on the subject or the growth of his following). Benite wrote: "Thus originated Anglo, or British, Israelism - the belief that the Anglo-Saxons (and related Europeans) are the descendants of the ten lost tribes, a superior chosen race, destined to rule the world. The movements proponents and opponents - in the United States and in England - focus on Anglo racial supremacy. The pamphlets, sermons, and books that this movement generates to this day are numerous and in most cases repetitive."

He continued: "As we have seen, invisibility has been one of the markers of the ten tribes' exile, and it was often contrasted with the visibility of the Jews. In different contexts, this idea was expressed or implied in varying ways. Brothers took the idea to a new height: the invisibility of the ten tribes was caused by their 'loss of Israelite memory' and by the fact that other traditions or 'genealogical manuscripts' - false pedigrees - covered their real identity...Finding the ten tribes now meant revealing the true identity of the Britons/Anglo-Saxons. This notion supplemented that of a British 'return' to Jerusalem." Benite went on to discuss just how popular these notions became in the second half of the Nineteenth Century. Thus, although he mentions Herbert Armstrong's The United States and Britain in Prophecy in his bibliography, it is clear that Mr. Armstrong's contribution came rather late in the story of the search for what became of the ten lost tribes of Israel.

Benite concluded his work by returning to the overarching theme of his story: "The loss of the tribes, this 'huge tear that does not heal,' has spoken to and mobilized thousands of people across different times, places, and contexts, animating them to create different worlds - temporal, human, and physical. It is loss, then, that has, more than any other of its features, made the story of the ten tribes a truly global story and its history truly a world history. But ever nested within this profound loss and absence has been its mobilizing corollary: the idea of restitution, redemption, and wholeness." Perhaps Benite has at last captured the ultimate truth of the story: that God has (or someday will) redeemed that which was lost.

At any rate, the story continues to be relevant to the modern world. After all, God's instructions to the Israelites about their treatment of "strangers" was based on their own experiences as refugees/immigrants/aliens/strangers in a foreign land. Thus, the story of this dispersed people, and the hope for their being found and returned to their original home, continues to resonate in our world.

For believers, it is implicit in Benite's thesis that God never LOST the Israelites. We may continue to speculate about what happened to them, but God has always had them right before "His" eyes! Which, in the final analysis, makes our speculation a bit superfluous doesn't it?

Friday, November 27, 2015

God, Refugees and Immigrants

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last several months, you've probably seen at least a few of the many stories that have dominated the news about the Syrian refugee crisis. Most of us have seen the images of the wretched folks attempting to flee to Europe (many of them with just the clothes on their backs). Most of us have heard about the number of governors in these United States who have refused to take in any of these refugees, and about the actions of our Congress to stop the President's meager (the words insufficient and token come to mind) efforts to offer asylum to a few of them. Also, many of the candidates wishing to succeed President Obama have weighed in on the topics of immigration and refugees (most of them trying to outdo each other in being "tough" on immigration policy or hard-nosed about the acceptance of any refugees. The politicians pontificate about wanting to protect American lives, jobs and property from the ravenous and unruly hordes attempting to rush over our borders.

In an Introductory Note to the Geneva Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 "recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries." The United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) defines a refugee as "someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion." The Introductory Note further explains that "The Convention further stipulates that, subject to specific exceptions, refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay. This recognizes that the seeking of asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules." Finally, they go on to point out that the Convention stipulates that these folks be treated humanely within the countries which they have fled to. Sounds like compassionate, common sense doesn't it?

What does God think about aliens, foreigners, refugees and immigrants? Well, if God truly is the epitome of LOVE, then I think that most of us can imagine what "He" must think about these unfortunate folks (many of whom find themselves in circumstances which they had no part in creating and/or have discovered that they have no power to mitigate or improve).

Likewise, if we claim the Judeo-Christian Scriptures as our guide in discerning God's mind on the subject, then we are left with one inescapable conclusion: God cares about these folks and demands that "His" people treat them with compassion and generosity. Notice that the Mosaic Law demanded that the Israelites not vex or oppress strangers (Hebrew "ger" - guest, foreigner, alien, sojourner, stranger, see https://www.blueletterbible.org) [Exodus 22:21, 23:9, Leviticus 19:33]. The same law commanded the Israelites to love the strangers living among them [Leviticus 19:34 & Deuteronomy 10:18-19], and to provide for their physical needs [Leviticus 19:10, 23:22, Deuteronomy 14:29, 24:19-21 & 26:12]. Not to mention the numerous demands that they be subjected to the same legal standards that applied to the Israelites. Indeed, Christ and his disciples said that the entire law can be summarized by adhering to the principles of love for God and our fellow man, and that the best way to demonstrate our love for God is to demonstrate it for the brothers and sisters whom we live among on this earth! And let's not forget Christ's parable about the sheep and the goats [Matthew 25:31-46], and his statement that "I was a stranger, and ye took me in."

So, if we really care about what God thinks about the refugee crisis and what "He" might expect from us, it is clear that the UGLY actions and language that we hear about on the news are not consistent with God's thinking and expectations. When we see the folks behind the fences and the hunger in their eyes, we should all be saying "My God, what are we doing? Somebody let them in!"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Is God in control?

Most Christians would immediately answer that question with a firm "YES!" However, if we would take the time to consider all of the evidence available to us on the subject, we might want to qualify our response or give an entirely different answer to the question! In fact, both Scripture and the world around us argue for a more nuanced view of the degree to which God is currently in control of things.

This is an issue which agnostics and atheists have taken Christians to task for on numerous occasions in the recent past, and most Christians have either ignored the challenge or failed miserably in trying to respond to it. After all, the question: "If God is in control, why is there so much sorrow, suffering and pain extant in the world?" seems to pose a legitimate challenge to either the existence of God, or the degree to which "He" is in control.

And, if that isn't enough to deal with, Scripture offers a number of different perspectives on the issue. Nevertheless, I think that most Christians would begin their attempt to answer this question in the pages of the Bible.

The first two chapters of Genesis reveal God as the Source or First Cause of everything we see around us (including us). Hence, it is reasonable for Christians who give credence to what the Bible relates about creation to conclude that God set everything in motion. However, the third chapter of that book indicates that mankind rejected God as the source of their moral code and decided to formulate one of their own. We are also told there that God, as a consequence of this choice, decided to cut off direct access to "Himself" and the "Tree of Life." Does that imply that mankind was on its own after that event? At the very least, I would say that Christian theology demands some kind of alienation/separation/remoteness from God after the events described there. Isn't reconciliation/atonement the very thing that Christ's sacrifice was supposed to accomplish?

There is also the concept of free will to grapple with in properly addressing this question. Doesn't the ability to decide or choose the course which one will pursue in life (good or bad) imply/demand a certain amount of nonintervention by God? After all, if God is really in control, there is no such thing as free will is there?

However, we also have the phenomenon of Divine intervention described in the Bible. The book of Exodus describes God's intervention to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Likewise, we are also told there (and in Leviticus) that God gave "His" laws and judgments for the Israelites to Moses. In Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, we read about God's intervention in battle on behalf of the Israelites. Hence, we must grapple with the fact that Scripture insists that God has the ability to intervene in human affairs when "He" chooses to do so. Nevertheless, for those of us who do not subscribe to the doctrine of inerrancy, I would say that a healthy dose of skepticism is in order regarding Divine intervention in human wars or using God as a justification for humans killing humans.

The book of Job introduces yet another concept concerning the degree to which God is in control. In the opening pages of that book, we read that God allowed Satan to afflict Job. This is a theme that will be employed many more times throughout Scripture: God is not the source of evil or bad things, but "He" does allow or permit them to exist/happen. So here we have the concept of God sometimes choosing not to be in control.

The Psalms, on the other hand, tend to present God as being in control of everything. The psalmists often refer to God as the active sustainer of creation. They even present God as the source of wind and rain, and the one who feeds the wild animals. To be sure, the language of these poems/songs is highly symbolic and metaphorical; but the image of an active God (one who is in control) is undeniable.

Likewise, we have the instance of what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon recorded in the book of Daniel. We are informed there that God was determined to show the king that "He" was the one who was truly in charge. The occasion was yet another dream that the king had had about a great tree that was chopped down. In the dream, a "watcher and a holy one" descended from heaven (Daniel 4:13) and said that everything that was about to happen to the tree was for the purpose of demonstrating "that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men." (verse 17) Moreover, when Daniel interprets the dream for the king and it's subsequently fulfilled, God's control is reiterated. (see verses 25 and 32, and 5:21)

The Apostle Paul seems to echo these sentiments in the New Testament. He wrote to the saints at Rome: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers . For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Romans 13:1) Likewise, a passage in the first epistle of Peter seems to imply that the civil authorities are God's agents. (I Peter 2:13-14) Nevertheless, a word of caution is in order here for Christians - many of whom have interpreted these Scriptures to say things that they do not say.

The Bible makes clear in a number of places that God's laws trump those issued by the civil authorities. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to obey King Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 3) We are informed in the book of Acts that the apostles believed that God's laws superseded those issued by the civil and religious authorities. (see Acts 4:19-20 and 5:27-29)

Further caution is in order when we consider history. In times past, these verses about God setting up rulers were used to support the notion of the "Divine Right of Kings." In other words, the view that the king/ruler was God's chosen instrument and was therefore never to be opposed or deposed. Unfortunately, many Christians have extended this notion to the President of the United States. Many have used this as a justification for not participating in the political process. They reason: "I don't want to inadvertently oppose God's candidate."

In addressing the Biblical offerings on the subject of God's control, we would be remiss not to mention one of the sayings of Jesus recorded in the gospel of Luke. We read there that his disciples told him about Pilate killing a group of Galileans. (Luke 13:1) Christ responded: "Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (verses 2-5) Jesus seemed to be hearkening back to something recorded in the Old Testament here - about "time and chance" happening to all men. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) In other words, everything that happens does not originate with God.

In response to Pilate's assertion that he had the power of life and death in his hands (John 19:10), we are told that Christ responded: "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above..." (verse 11). In another gospel account, when he was before the Jewish Council, we are told that Christ informed them that he had the ability to summon twelve legions of angels to his defense. (Matthew 26:53) Hence, it is reasonable to conclude from these two passages that Christ subscribed to the view that God had given Pilate the authority that he possessed, and that (although "He" has the power to do so) God doesn't always choose to intervene in or control human affairs (that "He" sometimes allows things to happen to further "His" purpose(s).

Then there are those pesky scriptures that would seem to indicate that Satan is in control of events here. Paul tells us that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of his world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12) In this same epistle, he had previously informed his audience that Satan was the "prince of the power of the air." John tells us that Satan has deceived the entire earth. (Revelation 12:9) Moreover, in the gospel accounts of his temptation of Jesus, it is apparent that Satan believed "he" had the authority to offer the kingdoms of this world to Christ. (see the fourth chapters of Matthew and Luke)

Finally, relative to Scripture, there is a sense throughout the Bible that God is directing events in a more general way. While "He" may not be in day to day control of events, God is certainly orchestrating events in the direction of fulfilling "His" overall designs and purposes for creation and mankind. (see Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Revelation)

What about science and history? What do they suggest about the degree to which anyone is in control of what's happening on this planet or in the universe beyond it?

As I have previously related on this blog, scientists inform us that the earth on which we reside has undergone dramatic changes through the ages. The evidence tells us that the earth has been subject to great volcanic eruptions, floods, meteor strikes and the like. The fossil record demonstrates that life on this planet has changed and evolved over time. We know that there have been several mass extinction events since life was first introduced to this planet. What does all of that suggest about the degree to which anyone was in control? It seems to me that a reasonable person might conclude that the traditional conception of a hands-on God (at least in terms of how that has traditionally been understood) is suspect.

Likewise, history presents some problems for those who have imagined a God who always has "His" hands on the levers. Do we really want to make God responsible for all of the violence and wars of the past? When Abraham Lincoln pondered God's involvement in the American Civil War, he concluded that it was a distinct possibility that neither side represented God's interest(s). In fact, he went on to speculate that maybe God had "His" own purposes in allowing it.

Having discoursed on the subject at some length, I ask again: Is God in control? What do you think?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is Bill Watson doing God's work?

The men who constitute the hierarchy of the Living Church of God aren't the only ACOG ministers obsessed with the subject of homosexuality. It is obvious that the Church of God International's Bill Watson also has a fascination with the subject. In his most recent offering on their Armor of God program, he discourses on the subject under the title "What is Marriage?" If you have the stomach, you can listen to it here: http://cgi.org/armor-of-god

He opens with: "In today's world, there is an outright attack on the traditional definition of marriage and family." Really? I was under the impression that there was a rather eclectic group of folks who were seeking to promote tolerance and the availability of the blessings of marriage and family for more people. How does that change (or infringe upon) Mr. Watson's definition of marriage and family? He goes on to decry the fact that this has somehow perverted what was previously considered to be "normal and right" (although, he never does quite get around to explaining exactly how that perverts the understanding of those who still adhere to those principles).

Mr. Watson then proceeds to launch into a diatribe against the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on gay marriage. He says that the justices were acting outside of the constitutionally prescribed limits on their authority by legislating from the bench. "Can marriage be redefined?" he asks. "Yes," Mr. Watson. The marriages recognized by the government of these United States can be defined in any way that government deems appropriate. The Supreme Court ruled on the definition of the secular institution of marriage by applying the constitutional standard that every citizen should have access to the same rights and privileges that every other citizen enjoys. The Court was not interested in the Biblical definition of marriage and did not seek to change/amend it in any way.

Mr. Watson goes on to ask: "Is there a true definition of marriage?" and "Is there a standard we can appeal to?" If he's implying that we appeal to Scripture for our definition/standard, then I have a few questions for him: If the ideal marriage is one man and one woman, why is there so much polygamy tolerated among God's servants? Why are there numerous laws regulating the practice of plural marriage? Does Scripture allow for any man to marry any woman? And, if we are to understand that polygamy should be confined to the Old Testament, then why did Jesus tell a parable about a bridegroom and ten virgins preparing for a marriage (although only five of them were ready)? Why are there different provisions in the Law for divorce and remarriage? Mr. Watson claims his intelligence is being insulted. What is he doing to his audience when he directs them to such a diverse body of commentary on the subject of marriage for their standard?

After a brief digression to lambaste President Clinton and Obama, he decries the failure of the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 that sought to define secular marriage as only being between one man and one woman. Then he launches into a bit of self-promotion by offering his audience a one hour presentation on the "Sacred Meaning of Marriage" (hosted by none other than the aforementioned Mr. Watson). He also informs us that he is quite sure that our forefathers would be "rotisserating" in their graves if they could be made aware of this fact (I'm not sure how he knows this). Mr. Watson went on to say that it's "bad enough that we're even talking about it." In other words, no discussion would be preferable to the democratic debate that is currently ongoing. After all, as Mr. Watson puts it, this is a "no brainer" - "It's common sense!"

"What is marriage?" he asks. Mr. Watson defines marriage as: "the seed of the family" (whatever that means). He says that marriage "creates an environment for teaching" and "for sharing activities and time with each other." He goes on to say that marriage provides us with opportunities to educate our children (things like "learning how to shoot a gun"), and share in their successes (as in when they participate in peer sporting events). Finally, he says that marriage can be instrumental in imparting the right characteristics to our children's personalities (things like honesty, caring and sacrifice). The obvious question is: Couldn't two dads or two mothers be just as effective in performing those functions as a "traditional" couple?

Mr. Watson claims that those nasty "liberal progressives" are encroaching on our educational system and indoctrinating our innocent little six year olds with things like tolerance and kindness for people who are different from themselves. Horror of horrors, they are exposed to books about alternative families and descriptions of the real world!

After decrying the fact that our society has drifted away from absolutes, Mr. Watson declares: "I'm not homophobic at all. I'm not narrow-minded at all! I'm just rooted and grounded in what I know to be right because of revealed knowledge from my Bible." Sounds mighty suspicious Mr. Watson. If you don't want to be labeled as homophobic, you may want to reconsider some of the verbiage you employee in your sermons and articles!

He quotes Paul's letter to the saints at Rome to make his case. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Romans 8:5-7) So, those that are not subject to God's law of love (love for God as expressed in our love for our neighbor) are carnally minded and headed for death? Better watch out Mr. Watson!

He finishes up with a discourse on the meaning of what he considers to be a couple of key verses in the first two chapters of Genesis. He informs us that Genesis 1:27-28 reveals that God intended for one man and one woman to marry and reproduce (it says that both male and females were created in God's image and are a reflection of "Him," and that God blessed them and told them to replenish and subdue the earth). According to Mr. Watson, "If you would read it for what it says, and then read into what you've just read, you would see that it says a lot more than what it actually says." WHAT? So the problem is that we're not reading into The Bible what Mr. Watson is reading into The Bible?

To make matters worse, he then proceeds to discourse on Genesis 2:18-22. Mr. Watson informs us that "males do not reproduce, and nor do females reproduce." Really? He might want to rethink that one - especially in light of the fact that he is talking about a story where God makes a woman out of one of Adam's ribs! He concludes with "God could not find, OUT OF ALL THE ANIMALS , you get my drift?, a help meet, so He creates this woman." Let me get this straight (no pun intended), God couldn't find any animals that would be a suitable "help meet" for Adam so "He" decided to create a woman? The woman was an afterthought? Yeah, I think I'm starting to understand the "traditional" definition of marriage. How about you?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Is the doctrine of inerrancy an affront to God?

Fundamentalists and Literalists would do well to give some consideration to the following statement:
"Inerrancy is only ever used to defend sin, whether that sin happens to be the enslavement of other human beings or the inappropriate exaltation of one’s own thinking." --James McGrath at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2015/11/inerrancy-is-used-to-defend-sin.html#disqus_thread

Think about it. Most Fundamentalists consider the Bible to be their FINAL AUTHORITY in things spiritual/religious. The foundation of this belief is the doctrine of biblical inerrancy - that Divine inspiration means that Scripture is without error or inconsistency. They claim to get all of their beliefs from the Bible, but have you ever noticed the HUMAN REASONING that this belief launches when you challenge one of them about the slavery, misogyny, racism, homophobia or genocide apparent in Scripture? They REASON around why all of those things are not inconsistent with the image of a LOVING, FAIR and MERCIFUL God. Moreover, by adhering to Scripture as their FINAL AUTHORITY, many of them are perfectly comfortable with asserting the superiority of their thinking and interpretations to those who do not adhere to the doctrine of inerrancy.

Is Dr. McGrath the only one who sees the irony in this position? Aren't Fundamentalists being just a little hypocritical and disingenuous when they accuse their critics of employing HUMAN REASONING? What about those of us who acknowledge God as our FINAL AUTHORITY in matters of faith? Hmmmm, Aren't there a couple of scriptures about placing ANYTHING before or in place of Almighty God? Don't see the irony yet? Ask a Fundamentalist minister about why Abraham marrying his sister Sarah was not a sin, then sit back and enjoy the explanation that follows!