Had some short chat time with Joel Richardson today and yesterday. Joel sent me a brief audio link to some comments of Hugh Ross that a good number of people who promote the flat earth idea are actually atheists posing at Christians to make the faith look stupid (listen below):
Ross’s suggestion actually makes a lot of sense, though I don’t think Hugh’s thought is more than an impression at this point (perhaps based on some personal situations or observations). It makes sense because of the endgame — to make Scripture vulnerable to debunking and make the faith look irrational. It’s a coherent strategy and, frankly, an effective one.
I wish Christian Middle Earth (CME) would wake up. I’ve said a number of times that I have a fondness for it because it’s filled with people who have not quit the faith when they didn’t get answers to questions — they tenaciously seek to teach themselves. But CME is bloated with ignorance and deeply flawed thinking. It is doubly cursed by über-literalism and contextual ignorance. To be blunt, most of what CME “researchers” think is truth was said 150 years ago and has been repeatedly debunked ever since.
Without the intellectual crises that snowballed after the age of exploration (16th century), the decipherment of the Sanskrit Vedas (17th-18th centuries), the decipherment of ancient Near Eastern languages in the 19th centuries, and Darwin’s Origin of Species (19th century), CME would be a ghost town. What crises? The discovery of other human beings in lands not mentioned in the Bible . . . The discovery that Sanskrit was actually related to Latin and Greek . . . The discovery of alternative world chronologies that rivaled those of the OT . . . The discovery of stories of human origins and a great flood that were quite similar to those in the OT. These discoveries collectively led to, on one hand, bizarre Bible interpretations about racial origins and diversity, pre- or co-Adamic humans, the nonsensical gap theory with its imaginary pre-Fall Fall, aligning dinosaur fossils with a pre-Eden Eden, etc. People predisposed to despising the creation stories and pre-flood history of “Jews” (OT) found in these other texts alternatives (especially the Sanskrit Vedas). They developed their own theories about earth’s history — for example a series of “roots races” and habitation of earth, first by disembodied spirit-beings from space, on to Atlantean giants, whose knowledge was preserved in human lines peripheral or antecedent to Adam’s — a master race whose ancestry came from superior races (in some versions, white and Nordic). This in turn fed the fires of anti-Semitism and the non-Jewish Jesus, descended of course from the master race. (I fictionalize some of this in The Portent, my sequel to The Facade).
CME folks have actually built a theology ON this sort of material to (they think) combat the occultic versions of the same material (that gets peddled on Ancient Aliens). It’s like fighting cancer with the bubonic plague. Folks — ALL these ideas have discernible intellectual histories that are well-documented. This is why I have said that a lot of CME (and non-Christian Middle Earth — stuff like ancient astronaut theory) are neither biblical viable, nor historically defensible, nor arguable from serious study of the primary texts. People (Christian and otherwise) *used* what they could from non-biblical primary texts and then bent the Bible to their will to bolster their agendas (either “the Bible said this all along” or “the Bible is trash”). Bad hermeneutics, ignorance of the ancient languages, dismissal of the context of primary sources, and just plain flawed thinking (the non sequitur is the sacrament of middle earth in all its denominations) has produced untrue truth. It’s madness. And the spirit of the age — where the death of expertise is glorified since “we have the internet now” — compounds the problem.
The solution is simple: Let the Bible be what it is. God picked the writers and let them be who they were in their own context. Put another way, don’t make the Bible be what it isn’t. It’s not a science book. It’s not a repository of exhaustive knowledge covering everything that’s ever happened. It’s selective. It has its own (God’s) agenda in mind. It’s targeted to certain truth propositions. And, like any other piece of communication, its writers did NOT intend to be understood literally all the time. (See the last question and my answer on my FAQ for more).
So, please, can we just let the Bible be what it is, interpreting it in its own context, doing exegesis of its original language in that ancient context? Without imposing our own modern ideas and questions on it, making it “answer” questions that its writers never raised or addressed? Can we do that?
Maybe I need a faith infusion today, but I’m thinking the answer is just going to be more madness. Dig the trenches deeper and “defend the faith” that at some point popped into our imaginations while we visited Christian Middle Earth.