All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
A while back I had the displeasure of reading an opinion article posted on CNN.com (reposted on Face Book). The editorial was titled ‘Bible has some shocking family values,’ and was penned by Michael Coogan, who CNN informs is a lecturer on Hebrew Bible-Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School, a professor of religious studies at Stonehill College, the director of publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum, and the editor of “The New Oxford Annotated Bible. An impressive pedigree. Sadly, Mr. Coogan had missed the mark with his opinions and in an attempt to avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law (Titus 3:8-10), I will extend an admonition concerning Coogan’s article, issue by issue.
Michael Coogan: “When talking about so-called family values, pastors, popes, and politicians routinely quote the Bible as if it were an unassailable divine authority — after all, they assume, God wrote the Bible, and therefore it is absolutely and literally true. But that is a misconception.”
God: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
God: 1 — Coogan: 0
Michael Coogan: “The Bible itself makes clear, its authors were human beings…(they) wrote over the course of more than a thousand years, and their writings reflect their own views and the values they shared with their contemporaries.”
Me: Referring back to 2 Timothy, the word inspired is theopneustos in the original Greek and literally means ‘God-breathed.’
God: If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:37), Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. (Jeremiah 1:9)
God: 2 — Coogan: 0
Michael Coogan: ”So it’s not surprising that inconsistencies are frequent in the Bible.”
Me: There most certainly are inconsistencies in the Bible, however, there are no contradictions. More often what we see are eye-witness accounts from diverse peoples and it is there versions of the events that vary. Much in the same way if Coogan and I attended a party and were later asked about who was in attendance. I might say, “Man, the place was packed out; everybody was there!” while my friend might say, “What a boring party; there was nobody there.” Having been a police officer I can assure you that having inconsistent witnesses is an indication that the combined story is not contrived or rehearsed.
Many have complied lists of supposed contradictions in the Bible and Instead of trying to address each, I stumbled across a website where the host lists 143 of them and offers clear and concise and Biblical explanations for every one. You can visit that site HERE.
Michael Coogan: “Although Jews and Christians, individually and collectively, have for the last 2,000 years accepted the Bible as authoritative in principle, in practice many of its values have been rejected.”
Me: He’s right: many have rejected the Bibles values, but not because of the reason he would have us believe! Here’s the truth:
God: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Romans 1:20-25
Me: In other words (we) are blinded by our selfish pursuits. Those who desire to maintain a form of godliness endeavor to establish that their sin is not a sin at all.
God: 3 — Coogan: 0
Michael Coogan: “On issues such as slavery, no one today would maintain that slavery is acceptable, even though, according to the Bible, it was a divinely sanctioned institution.”
Me: Slavery is not an institution sanctioned by God. It was (and is) a reality and God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy set about to regulate an enduring practice. If slave owners practiced consistently what God had prescribed, slavery could have become an equitable and humane arrangement for the impoverished. It sounds an absurd notion to us, but slavery had the divine potential to become a brilliant redemptive tool for the indigent.
God: If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever. Exodus 21:2-6
God: 4 — Coogan: 0
Michael Coogan: “In current debates about family values, most of which have to do with sex, opponents of abortion and advocates of a woman’s right to choose both cite the Bible in support of their conflicting views, even though the Bible in fact says nothing specifically about the issue.”
God on Abortion: ‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person. Deuteronomy 27:25a
God on Adultery: You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14
God on Fornication: The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body” – but the immoral person sins against his own body. 1 Corinthians 6:17b-18
God on Homosexuality: You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. Leviticus 18:22-23
Me: Perversion doesn’t change.
God: 8 — Coogan: 0
Michael Coogan: “…Many contemporary believers would argue that, as with slavery and the status of women, it is time to recognize that the values of the biblical writers are no longer necessarily our own.”
Me: The term contemporary believers (in the context with which Coogan employs it) is merely a cipher regarding those who would desire to preserve an appearance of faithfulness while simultaneously maintaining an immoral lifestyle. The reality is that these folks no longer recognize the values of the Bible because they conflict with their aberrant ones.
God: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5
God: 9 — Coogan: 0
Michael Coogan: “Individual biblical texts should not be appealed to selectively: Such cherry-picking is all too easy because of the nature of the Bible as a multi-authored book.”
Me: I agree…and so does God; which is why we need to accept God at His word.
Michael Coogan: “What did its words mean when they were written…Only in this sense can the Bible be considered to have timeless relevance that transcends the historical particularities of its authors.”
Me: Nonsense. Godly values do not change. They can’t.
God: For I am the Lord, I do not change (Malachi 3:6a), God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19), Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
God: 10 — Coogan: 0
Michael Coogan: (regarding our moral freedom) “Whatever you wish people to do to you, so you should do to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Jesus in Matthew 7:12)
Me: I’m actually appalled that an alleged biblical scholar would take these words of Christ to falsely affirm that Christians can do whatever they please. That’s ridiculous and entirely out of context. Coogan, you should be ashamed of yourself. Sensing our tendency to loop-hole our way through life, it doesn’t surprise me that the very next words out of our Lord’s mouth were these:
God: Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
God: 11 — Coogan: 0
Michael Coogan: “I suggest, the essence of the Bible — its ultimate authority — is not in its individual pronouncements, but in its underlying message: equal, even loving, treatment of all persons, regardless of their age, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.”
Me: The essence of the Bible Mr. Coogan is salvation through Jesus Christ and the underlying message is love. The fact is that the Lord places a greater significance upon the lost and therefore, so should I. It might be a stretch to put it this way, but God thinks less of me than those who lifestyles He and I oppose. Why? Because He desires to save them, and well, I’m already saved. God‘s love abounds towards everyone and He blesses the saved and the unsaved, but make no mistake about it, God does not approve of sin and never will.
God: Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7
God: 12 — Coogan: 0
Me: Mr. Coogan. Assuming that we both get to Heaven, one of two things might occur. God is either go to say to me, “Dave, I cannot believe that you believed everything that was written in the Bibles,” or He is going to say to you, “Michael, I cannot believe that you didn’t believe everything that was written in the Bible.” Frankly, I’d very much prefer to hear the first remark over the latter.
These articles may or may not be related:
- Gateway Houses Feed (gateway-homes.co.uk)
- Mud Fight! Mud Fight! (theg3churchblog.com)
- Gateway Houses Feed (gateway-homes.co.uk)
- What the Bible Really Says about Sex (str.typepad.com)
- Remortgaging dips in April (gateway-homes.co.uk)
- Four Purposes of All Scripture (jamespoitras.com)
- Analyzing The Axioms Part 1 (excluded-middle.com)
- Biblical Archaeology Society Week in Review: September 22, 2012 (gingerjar2.wordpress.com)
- Why Read Your Bible? Eight Reasons from J.C. Ryle (2cherish2commend.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Think: Blame It On God (voicesofthevalleys.wordpress.com)