Having been raised relatively conservative Catholic - i.e., altar boy, daily mass for many years, Knight of Columbus, etc. - one of the big hurdles in my coming out journey was escaping the brainwashing inflicted on me by my religious upbringing.
Two authors in particular helped in the transition. One was John Shelby Spong, a now retired Episcopal bishop, and the other was biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Erhman has written a number of books on the Bible and its true history (as well as Gospels rejected by the early Catholic Church leadership) that I highly recommend.
Both authors make a strong, scholarly case for why only a cretin or deliberately ignorant fundamentalist would continue to cling to the Bible as "inerrant."
That said, I'm not anti-Christian. Merely anti-ignorance and offended by those who choose to interpret the Bible to harm others and in the process stroke their own sick egos. Yes, Maggie Gallagher, Robert Knight, Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins, I do mean you.
Erhman's latest book is Forged: Writing in the Name of God: Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, which is now available from HarperOne. Erhman has a post on the Huffington Post that addresses some of the subject matter of his newest book that provides a wonderful basis for bursting the Christianists' inerrant balloon. Here are some highlights:
Apart from the most rabid fundamentalists among us, nearly everyone admits that the Bible might contain errors-- a faulty creation story here, a historical mistake there, a contradiction or two in some other place. But is it possible that the problem is worse than that -- that the Bible actually contains lies?
Most people wouldn't put it that way, since the Bible is, after all, sacred Scripture for millions on our planet. But good Christian scholars of the Bible, including the top Protestant and Catholic scholars of America, will tell you that the Bible is full of lies, even if they refuse to use the term. And here is the truth: Many of the books of the New Testament were written by people who lied about their identity, claiming to be a famous apostle -- Peter, Paul or James -- knowing full well they were someone else. In modern parlance, that is a lie, and a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a liar.
Teaching in Christian seminaries, or to largely Christian undergraduate populations, who wants to denigrate the cherished texts of Scripture by calling them forgeries built on lies? And so scholars use a different term for this phenomenon and call such books "pseudepigrapha" . . . What the people who use the term do not tell you is that it literally means "writing that is inscribed with a lie." And that's what such writings are. Whoever wrote the New Testament book of 2 Peter claimed to be Peter. But scholars everywhere -- except for our friends among the fundamentalists -- will tell you that there is no way on God's green earth that Peter wrote the book. Someone else wrote it claiming to be Peter.
The same is true of many of the letters allegedly written by Paul. Most scholars will tell you that whereas seven of the 13 letters that go under Paul's name are his, the other six are not. Their authors merely claimed to be Paul. In the ancient world, books like that were labeled as pseudoi -- lies.
It appears that some of the New Testament writers, such as the authors of 2 Peter, 1 Timothy and Ephesians, felt they were perfectly justified to lie in order to tell the truth. But we today can at least evaluate their claims and realize just how human, and fallible, they were. They were creatures of their time and place. And so too were their teachings, lies and all.