Friday, June 08, 2007

A Response to Brett Keane

Re: His conversation with a “Bible Teacher”

First let me tell you a bit about
Brett Keane. He is or was an atheist on YouTube that I recently discovered. Controversy led him to switch over to LiveVideo but that's not the point. He claims to have been a Christian for fifteen years and I do believe that he was a member of a Christian church for that long. I am left to wonder if he ever actually accepted Christ as his Savior and established a relationship with Jesus (which is the true definition of a Christian) but I digress. It is not for me to judge…just a curiosity. The point is that he had quite a bit of exposure to the Christian faith presumably through the Catholic and Pentecostal denominations. Unlike many atheists you might encounter, Brett knows his stuff. Possibly even more than you do. So I do not recommend challenging him to any kind of debate unless you really know your stuff as well. An awesome Christian brother named ChristopherL takes on that very burden and responds to many of Brett’s questions and challenges. I am not sure that I have any right to get involved with debating Brett either but I feel like I may know a thing or two myself. You also need to know that Brett is a good and honorable man. He has ethics and a sense of conscious that I only wish most Christians would strive for. You need to know that he attacks the idea of Christianity and various other religions but not necessarily the people. For instance, he and Christopher are very kind to one another and are as good of friends as the internet will allow.

So with that out of the way, I want to address a video that he recently put up. I cannot tell if it is one of his older videos that he reposted to LiveVideo or something new. I am also tempted to respond to many of his videos but just want to start this little exercise with the one listed above. Before reading further, please
watch his video and then come back here for my response.

As you can see, Brett is a master manipulator. He calls a church and gets a nursery worker on the phone who is not even qualified to answer deeply theological questions nor teach pupils of any age over one or two. He might argue that any Christian should know their Bible backwards and forwards and I would have to concede that he is right. But we don’t and that is not his fault. However, I think he might have had a completely different conversation if the Pastor had been available to him. Or at least I hope he would have.

He then refers to two different verses in the Bible…one being Psalms 137:8-9 and the other Hosea 13:16. Both describe Israel’s enemies (including women and children or more specifically babies) being killed in violent ways. Not very politically correct in today’s society is it? Of course not...oh wait a minute, it just might be. It seems just a generation or two ago we dropped an atomic bomb on our enemies without regard to the women and children that would suffer from it. While we still share some similar tendencies these days, I do find that it is very difficult for a modern day society to judge ones from the past. They lived in a very different time. And under the Old Covenant, punishments were brutal. Eye for an eye was standard practice. But above and beyond that, this was a Psalm or better put a Hymn that the Jews sang. Most Psalms were written by David, a very sinful man that still seemed to have favor with God because of his desperate desire to always seek Him out. In this Hymn the Jews are just asking God to return the horror that they suffered by the hands of Edomites and Babylonians. They were not assembling armies or even marching toward their lands. They were singing to God in agony and thusly asking for justice (which back then was to repay exactly what was paid to them). Jewish babies were bashed against stones and Jewish women were ripped open when the soldiers of their enemies attacked. So…they sang to God and asked for Him to act accordingly.

But Brett knows all of that. He is counting on us to “not know”. And really, there is no challenge in finding verses in the Bible that fail to be politically correct. Jesus himself bucked the system to such a degree that His enemies felt it necessary to kill him. The Bible is often poorly portrayed as this dainty little book that teaches only peace, harmony, and love. Well folks, its not. Some of that is in there but mostly it is the account of the Old and New Covenants and the people that surround these events of time. There is murder, destruction, death, disease, adultery, betrayal, sex, war, and all kinds of mayhem. We live in a fallen world. For the Bible to only reflect the flowers and roses is for our Scriptures to tell half truths and lies.

The next point of contention I have is Brett’s statement about this lady being a Bible Teacher. She’s not. Most Christians can tell Bible stories to children with little training. Do we tell the kids about Goliaths head being cut off? No. That would be something for a more mature pallet. I dare say that Brett does not share all of the world’s atrocities with his two kids. I dare say that Brett probably allows his kids to expect Santa Claus in December or the Tooth Fairy when teeth fall out (pardon me if I am wrong about that). But Brett knows that there is an appropriate time to let children discover the meat of these stories in full detail. To show the graphic nature of David and Goliath to one year olds is preposterous and it also fails to demonstrate the lessons from that story. The lesson was that a faithful Jewish boy with astounding faith in God met up against a ten foot giant warrior. And with God on David’s side, he was able to take the giant down with a mere slingshot. The lesson is…with God, all things are possible. Teaching the meaning of Scripture to kids is much more important than the gory details. They have the rest of their lives to stare reality dead in the face and come to grips with it.

To recap:

1. Brett got in touch with a Christian nursery worker who was not qualified to answer deeply theological questions about the Bible.
2. And even if she could, she would need to have access to the Scripture he quoted and have the opportunity to see it in context. We don't all have Brett's photographic memory.
3. He claimed that this lady was a Bible teacher because she shares Bible stories with kids…quite the stretch.
4. He implies that the verses are inappropriate without giving the back story about the Jews suffering atrocities at the hand of their enemies.
5. He implies that we are not being honest with our kids if we do not share the entire Word of God with them rather than just the meaning behind it. Age appropriate details are taught. There will come a time for little ones to learn what Paul Harvey calls...the rest of the story.

Let me end on a Bible reading tip. Do not read the Bible cold. What I mean by that is don’t just read Scripture and hope to discern it properly without help. There are numerous references, study notes, and commentaries by scholars that spent their entire lives pouring over manuscripts, various versions and languages that came to conclusions about meanings, historical records, and explanations of verses. These are available to you at book stores, online, and even in study Bibles in many cases. Dive deeper into seemingly controversial texts like the one Brett quotes before letting yourself be deceived and disappointed.

I personally am encouraged that our Bible does not censor History. I am encouraged that the Scriptures of filled with sinful people and real world examples. That is what keeps it from being just another fairy tale! That is what gives me hope even knowing that I too am a wretch. Christ himself chose sinful men to be His Apostles. He ate with tax collectors, associated with prostitutes, and touched the lepers. He didn’t just hang out with the prim and proper crowd. He came to heal the sick and take care of the needy. I think I qualify as both sick and needy.

I appreciate any commentary you may have…albeit supportive or contradictory.