Bart likes to boast of his intellectual honesty. I have read multiple books by him and he seems to always put forth this story of an honest man searching for truth and letting it lead him anywhere even if he didn't like the destination. Now I don't know the man's heart but I guess we have to take him at his word on this much. He tells a story of being, what he claims, a fundamentalist. That is, a Bible believing Christian. But as he furthered his studies he came to realize all the contradictions in the Bible, how it has been changed and so forth. He learned all the "secret" things that preachers know but don't like to tell their congregations.
Then I came across a very candid paragraph in the latest book I am reading. I almost wonder if it was a Freudian Slip of sorts. He was distinguishing, wrongly in my opinion, between a "devotional" approach to the Bible (where you read it to learn how to live) and the "historical critical" method. Now there is much we can get into over this latter approach. It is useful in that we want to analyze the text with the knownledge we have of the world and its difference sciences BUT we don't go into it assuming it is strictly a human document. The point is that you don't have to choose between the two methods. You can analzye the Bible historically which actually helps your devotional approach. As Bart was putting up this false dichotomy he was speaking about going through grad school and learning this method and how it shook his faith but not those of his friends. Then he drops this hammer, “In my case, historical criticism led me to question my faith…Yet it was the problem of suffering, not a historical approach to the Bible, that led me to agnosticism.” (Jesus Interrupted, pg. 18).
This my friends is called an Emotional Rejection yet Bart constantly puts forth his agnosticism, as a respected opinion from a man after years of studying evidence, as an intellectual smoke screen. Yet what this quote tells us is that it wasn't looking at the evidence which caused his agnosticism, it was his emotional problem to "so much" suffering in the world. In later blogs I will get into what Philosophers call "The Problem of Evil" and show how it has been dealt with thoroughly. The problem of evil is not a reason to give up faith in God. At most all it says is that you don't like God's management skills. Furthermore, the problem of evil has shown to be inept in attacking the premise of God's existence.
We are like little children throwing a tantrum at the parental techniques of our father who says we can't have cookies and icecream for every meal. We throw ourselves on the floor and cry "injustice", "you are the worst parent ever", and "I hate you". All the while our father is simply looking out for our benefit. What is the child doing? Are they having an intellectual dialogue with the father as to the medicinal benefits of cookies and icecream? NO!!! They are throwing a tantrum because their emotions got the best of them. This is the same thing adults do to God. With our miniscule persepectives compared to eternity we cry "foul" everytime WE don't SEE a purpose for a specific evil in our life. Even though God has given us many reasons for evil in the Bible we still reject those. These skeptics will write their books so they can throw their adult tantrums. Then they drive home and spank their kids (ok liberals don't do that....they put them in timeout) for falling on the ground crying b/c they don't get their way. Hypocrisy at its finest.
At least now we don't have to wonder why our buddy Bart rejects God. Is the evidence overwhelming? No...but his emotions are. Don't let your emotions get the best of you. Be a filter not a sponge.