Mark barely accepts any modern translations of the Bible, yet he quotes very little original Hebrew or Greek. So, today’s independent Christian interpretations of scripture do not mean much to him. In fact, he mocks the need for so many translations. They lead to too many inconsistent human interpretations. I, too, feel like hundreds of interpretations over thousands of years may have watered down the original intents of God’s Word so I rely on studying the cultures of the eras.
Mark professes to read the Bible literally and he demands Christians do the same. He will quote the version that best makes his case and that’s usually the King James Version (KJV). While there are many passages in the Bible that are intended to be open to interpretation, atheists do not place much emphasis on them. For example, Mark rarely mentions interpretative books such as Revelation but prefers to focus on Old Testament books like Deuteronomy where the Laws of Moses are laid out for the literal use in an ancient world and many of them are not reader-friendly. When a reader attempts to apply modern rationales to these ancient customs, they will rarely ever make any sense.
Cherry-picking and personal interpretations go together according to Mark, even if atheists don’t play by their own declared rules of engagement. When Christians attempt to reference specific scripture to validate that certain viewpoints are more relevant than other less-popular (or atheist) interpretations, he will call it out. Christians need to consider his point, though, and make an effort to learn how to relate the feel-good verses to those that make us squirm. When studied carefully, it’s not hard to connect the dots.
As an example, he calls out, “You are once again claiming that someone is not a true christian because they do not cherry pick the same meaning that you do.” He argues that Christians who preach hate are merely carrying out actions of a villainous and intolerant Old Testament God. About a preacher who once posted something he disagreed with on Facebook, Mark wrote, “…he is cherry picking the parts he wants to promote and pushing back the parts he doesn’t like. He is one of the reasons why I am so outspoken against religion. It really upsets me that he promotes intolerance.” It has been said that Christianity is a leading cause of atheism because so many of our mouthpieces lack the compassion of Jesus. Mark admits to being proof of that effect. We need to think of how Jesus responded before we do.
If scripture does not insinuate a vile God, then it is ignored or discredited by atheists. If a passage of scripture does not literally read the way they interpret, then they ignore it. If their interpretation is easily debunked, then they simply discredit the interpretation and move on to another passage. In part, this book will point out specific instances of logical explanations that are ignored when using literal readings while avoiding cherry-picking and interpreting as much as possible, just as Mark demands.
What may happen in these atheistic challenges is that Christians will find uniformity in the Bible despite there being some really tough scripture to explain. The allegations in this book reflect mainly on the atheists’ general focus on the Old Testament laws and violent Hebrew military actions. Frankly, some of the Old Testament accounts are very tough to explain if simply read and not studied. Many Christians not biblically well-versed may shy away from them and simply push them to the side out of intimidation. Atheists write them on the backs of their hands and on their foreheads, so to speak. The best way to explain these accounts, though, is to simply do what an atheist asks: Read scripture in its entirety and literally. God provides amazing revelations to an open heart.
More to come…