Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The Jesus-wife source is dated to eight-century Egypt: could it be authentic?

J. Warner Wallace tweeted this post from Al Mohler, which talks about the scholarly review of a recent discovery.

Excerpt:

Last week, the Harvard Theological Review released a much-delayed series of articles on the fragment. After a series of investigations undertaken by diverse scholars, the general judgment claimed by Professor King is that the fragment probably is not a forgery — or at least that it dates back to ancient times. The analysis suggested that the fragment dated from about four centuries later than Professor King had first suggested. This would place the fragment, if authentic, in the context of eighth-century Egypt — hundreds of years after the New Testament was written and completed.

The language used by the national media in reporting the story this time reveals the lack of confidence now placed in the fragment. The Boston Globe reported that the tests “have turned up no evidence of modern forgery,” but the reporter had to acknowledge that at least one of the scholars writing in the Harvard Theological Review insisted that the fragment is not only a forgery, but an amateurish effort. The New York Times ran a story that featured a headline announcing that the fragment “is more likely ancient than fake.” Note the uncertainty evident even in the headline.

In her major article released last week, Professor King defended the fragment’s authenticity, but acknowledged that — all previous sensationalism aside — “It is not entirely clear, however, how many women are referred to [in the fragment], who they are, precisely what is being said about them, or what larger issues are under consideration.”

This is a very different message than was sent back in 2012. Professor King now acknowledges that all the references to females in the fragment might be “deployed metaphorically as figures of the Church, or heavenly Wisdom, or symbolically/typologically as brides of Christ or even mothers.” In other words, the fragment might not even conflict with Christian orthodoxy.

The most declarative article in the Harvard Theological Review, however, dismisses the entire fragment as a modern forgery. Professor Leo Depuydt of Brown University argues that the fragment’s authenticity is “out of the question.” He points to several factors, including the fact that a set of typographical errors in the fragment matches a set of errors in an online edition of the “Gospel of Thomas,” an ancient Gnostic text. Depuydt put the chances of coincidence with respect to these errors as one in a trillion. Depuydt states that he “has not the slightest doubt that the document is a forgery, and not a very good one at that.”

Taken as a whole, the issue of the Harvard Theological Review released last week includes some scholars who stalwartly defend the fragment as authentic, some who argue that there is no convincing proof that it is a forgery, and at least one who argues that the case for authenticity is laughable.

Previously when I blogged about this I noted that like sensational fiction writer Dan Brown, Karen King is a feminist, and anxious to insert women into more prominent roles in Christian history.

Mohler picked up on it too:

The larger background includes the fact that Professor King has devoted much of her scholarly career to making a case that the early church falsely constructed an orthodox understanding of Jesus that minimized the role of women. Back in 2003 she released The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle, in which she argued that at least some ancient texts pointed to Mary Magdalene as an apostle. In 2012 she told the writer for Smithsonian: “You’re talking to someone who’s trying to integrate a whole set of ‘heretical’ literature into the standard history.”

Professor King, along with others such as Professor Elaine Pagels of Princeton University, reject traditional Christianity and have turned time and again to ancient Gnostic documents, such as were found in 1945 in Nag Hammadi in Egypt, to argue that early Christianity marginalized some theological voices and standardized doctrinal orthodoxy in order to maintain doctrinal purity.

I think this is why media outlets, who are sympathetic with this goal, would trumpet an eighth century discovery over the 1st century gospels. Let me be clear. Nothing from the eight century can be considered authentic if it contradicts multiple, independent first century sources. The only thing driving the media frenzy on this discovery is feminism, pure and simple.

I just want to say that I don’t always agree with Al Mohler, especially on marriage and men’s rights issues, where I think his exegesis of the Bible is overly influenced by liberal feminism. So to have him agreeing with me on King’s “scholarship” is a good thing.

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FBI removes Southern Poverty Law Center from hate crime resource list

Breitbart reports.

Excerpt:

Christian groups are celebrating with the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation appears to have scrubbed the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) from its hate crimes webpage, where the controversial group was listed as a resource and referred to as a partner in public outreach.

[...]In the fall of 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins, armed with a loaded semi-automatic pistol and 100 rounds of ammunition, entered FRC headquarters not far from FBI headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. Corkins shot the front desk security guard and tried to gain entrance to the upper floors where he intended to kill FRC employees. Though wounded, the front desk security guard subdued Corkins, who became the first person ever convicted under the Washington, D.C., domestic terrorism law. Corkins said he got the idea of killing FRC employees from reading the SPLC hate list and made use of a map of the FRC office found on the SPLC website.

You’ll recall that Corkins was a gay activist who volunteered for gay causes.

More:

SPLC has come under severe criticism from the left and the right in recent years.

Writing in the left-wing website Counterpunch, Alexander Coburn called SPLC founder Morris Dees “king of the hate business.” Coburn wrote, “Ever since 1971, U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with Dees’ fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC.” In fact, so prolific is Dees at direct mail that he is in the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame.

Writing at the Harper’s Magazine blog in 2007, Ken Silverstein said, “What [the SPLC] does best… is to raise obscene amounts of money by hyping fears about the power of [right-wing fringe] groups; hence the SPLC has become the nation’s richest ‘civil rights’ organization.”

A critical analysis published recently by Professor George Yancey of North Texas University concluded that SPLC targets only those groups its leaders disagree with politically while leaving liberal groups who use extreme language alone.

A 2013 article in Foreign Policy concluded that SPLC exaggerates the hate crimes threat, saying SPLC is not an “objective purveyor of data,” instead calling them “anti-hate activists” and suggesting that their reports need to be “weighed more carefully by news outlets that cover their pronouncements.”

I think that the Democrats are doing this because it is an election year, and they don’t want people to know that their government department (the FBI) was connected to the SPLC. Especially in light of the domestic terrorism conviction of Floyd Corkins. The U.S. Army is still partnering with SPLC, so there is still work for us to do in publicizing the issue.

It would be nice if we could get to the point where gay activists accept that others disagree with them on sexual morality and the nature of marriage, and stop calling it “hate” when it’s disagreement. It would also be nice if gay activists didn’t try to break into think tanks and shoot people. I think the word for refraining from doing that is “tolerance”.

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Court rules university violated conservative professor’s freedom of speech

From Campus Reform.

Excerpt:

A jury has concluded that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington retaliated against one of its professors for his outspoken conservative views.

The battle for his First Amendment rights is finally over for Mike Adams, a criminology professor who asserted the university denied him a promotion to full professor in 2006 because of his conversion to Christianity and subsequent vocal conservatism.

Today, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Greenville, N.C., agreed.

“We are just grateful that the jury saw what we’ve long known what was the case, that Dr. Adams was an incredible scholar,” Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF) attorney Travis Barham, who represents Adams, told Campus Reform.

“This is an incredibly important victory for the First Amendment,” Barham said. “To be able to speak freely without retaliation is a principle that should be a reality on campus and the jurors reassured that.”

The university hired Adams in 1993; at the time, he was a self-described atheist. After his conversion to Christianity in 2000, Adams adjusted his political and social views and spoke publicly on conservatism, including through his column at Townhall.com. From then on, Adams was subjected to “intrusive investigations” and “baseless accusations” according to an ADF press release.

“They retaliated against me for exercising my First Amendment rights in my column and other outlets,” Adams told Campus Reform after the trial. “I’m unbelievably thrilled [at the verdict].”

The case was originally filed in April 2007 and the trial was granted by a federal court last year.

Well done, Alliance Defending Freedom! And congratulations, Mike Adams, for the win! There’s probably no conservative professor in the United States who is more hated than Mike Adams.

However, there is definitely a warning for conservatives here. If you are thinking that the university campus is fair to Christians and conservatives, you really need to re-think that. On the modern secular leftist campus, you can expect to have your views ridiculed and attacked, not just by the professors, but by the students, too. After a little indoctrination, the students are just as likely to ridicule and attack you as the professors are. It’s not a place for free speech and rational discussion, especially outside the sciences. Young Christians and conservatives headed to the university – BEWARE.

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New study: methodology used by Southern Poverty Law Center to detect “hate groups” is flawed

An article from the Christian Post reports on a new study published by Dr. George Yancey, a professor of sociology at the University of North Texas.

Excerpt:

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” fails to use objective criteria in determining which organizations should be labeled a “hate group,” George Yancey, professor of sociology at the University of North Texas, finds in a new study, “Watching the Watchers: The Neglect of Academic Analysis of Progressive Groups,” published in the January issue of the journal Academic Questions.

SPLC’s list dubiously lists Family Research Council as a hate group while ignoring anti-Christian groups that use similar rhetoric, which demonstrates that the list is more about mobilizing liberals than providing an objective source for hate groups, Yancey argues. SPLC has escaped critical analysis of its work in academia because of a liberal bias among academicians, the study additionally claims.

SPLC’s Hatewatch has become the definitive guide among some scholars, authors and media organizations to what is, or is not, a “hate group.” Conservatives have long criticized the list for labeling social conservative organizations, such as Family Research Council, as hate groups.

[...]According to SPLC, Yancey explains, FRC is a hate group because it intentionally makes hateful and untrue statements about the LGBT community, which can lead to violence even though FRC does not engage in violent actions. (Yancey noted the irony that while SPLC does not cite any examples of FRC-inspired violence, SPLC’s Hatewatch actually did incite violence in the case of Floyd Corkins.) To support this contention, SPLC notes that FRC reports on studies showing that the child molestation rate is higher among gays and same-sex parenting harms children, and quotes FRC President Tony Perkins saying that LGBT activists seek to “persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that lifestyle.”

If this is the standard for labeling an organization a hate group, Yancey says, then the anti-Christian MRFF should also be on the list.

In a Huffington Post blog, Michael Weinstein, founder of MRFF, claimed that Christians will be responsible for ushering in “a blood-drenched, draconian era of persecutions, naturalistic militarism and superstitious theocracy.” And Weinstein has written books claiming that Christians are willing to use mass murder to bring about their goals.

“In these few comments Weinstein has violated some of the same norms SPLC used to designate FRC as a hate group. Weinstein is promoting a myth of Christian violence not substantiated by previous research and has attributed motives to conservative Christians that he cannot document,” Yancey contends.

Yancey does not argue that MRFF should be on Hatewatch, or that FRC should be off Hatewatch. Rather, he argues that if Hatewatch is to be an objective source for labeling hate groups, both groups should either be on the list or off the list.

One possible explanation for why SPLC does not include anti-Christian groups on Hatewatch, Yancey speculates, is that Hatewatch is a tool for mobilizing liberals, rather than an objective source of hate groups.

“As our society became more politically partisan, SPLC cemented its position as speaking for those with progressive political and social attitudes. Rather than developing into an objective clearinghouse for the identification of hatred – no matter where the source of that hatred may develop – SPLC has become a useful organization for progressives to legitimate their battle against conservatives. Since conservative Christians are categorized as opponents there is little, if any, incentive for SPLC to recognize hateful expressions against Christians, because doing so actually works against the social vested interest of the group,” he wrote.

Yancey’s analysis of SPLC, though, is in service of a larger point. There is not enough critical analysis of liberal groups in academia, he argues, because too many in academia share the viewpoint of liberal groups.

“This is a critique of the social biases within academia that preclude critical analysis of progressive social groups,” Yancey wrote. “Such neglect serves academics with progressive, secular perspectives by allowing progressive, secular social groups to make claims of truth and objectivity. Such claims enhance the social power of these progressives. But this neglect damages any real scientific attempt to assess social and political factors in our society. Scrutiny directed at conservative and religious groups – and they should be scrutinized – while progressive organizations are given a pass creates a distorted understanding of reality. In doing this, social science scholars replace an objective examination of our society with a biased approach serving progressive social and political interests.”

Keep in mind that the SPLC materials are being used by government agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Army.

You might remember that I blogged before about George Yancey’s work on liberal bias in academia.

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Dr. George Yancey lectures on anti-Christian bias in academia, and beyond

My good friend Wes posted this 28-minute lecture.

If you watch 5 minutes, then you’ll definitely stay and watch the whole thing. It’s fascinating.

Details:

Join Dr. George Yancey in an in depth discussion of the bias taking place within academia against religion in general, but more specifically Christianity. Within the discussion Dr.Yancey uses brief explanations of his previous book, Compromising Scholarship and many other excerpts of his past research as well as his forthcoming research to give us a new viewpoint on academia and religion.

I found a quick description of Dr. Yancey’s work in this New York Times article from July 2011.

It says:

Republican scholars are more likely than Democrats to end up working outside academia,as documented by Daniel Klein, an economist at George Mason University. Dr. Klein, who calls himself a classical liberal (a k a libertarian), says that the university promotes groupthink because its system of “departmental majoritarianism” empowers the dominant faction to keep hiring like-minded colleagues. And when a faculty committee is looking to hire or award tenure, political ideology seems to make a difference, according to a “collegiality survey” conducted by George Yancey.

Dr. Yancey, a professor of sociology at the University of North Texas, asked more than 400 sociologists which nonacademic factors might influence their willingness to vote for hiring a new colleague. You might expect professors to at least claim to be immune to bias in academic hiring decisions.

But as Dr. Yancey reports in his new book, “Compromising Scholarship: Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education,” more than a quarter of the sociologists said they would be swayed favorably toward a Democrat or an A.C.L.U. member and unfavorably toward a Republican. About 40 percent said they would be less inclined to vote for hiring someone who belonged to the National Rifle Association or who was an evangelical. Similar results were obtained in a subsequent survey of professors in other social sciences and the humanities.

Dr. Yancey, who describes himself as a political independent with traditional Christian beliefs and progressive social values, advises nonliberal graduate students to be discreet during job interviews. “The information in this research,” he wrote, “indicates that revealing one’s political and religious conservatism will, on average, negatively influence about half of the search committee one is attempting to impress.”

Dr. Yancey’s research was a survey, not a field experiment, so it’s impossible to know how many of those academics who confessed to hypothetical bias would let it sway an actual decision. Perhaps they’d try to behave as impartially as the directors of graduate studies in Dr. Gross’s experiment.

The lecture is a real eye-opener. It turns out that in academia, you are likely to be viewed the same way as blacks were viewed by slave-owners, and Jews were viewed by Nazis. Stereotypes, ignorance and hatred abound.

We have a lot of work to do to correct these perceptions, and unfortunately nothing that Christians see and hear in church is likely to change this. Until we get serious about prodding our young people to think and achieve, this is what people on the secular left will think of us. Not because they really are smarter, but because we are not capable of pointing out the nonsense on their side of the aisle, e.g. – eternal universes, aliens seeding the Earth with life, fatherlessness is good for children, and so on. If we don’t study the evidence, then their stupidity will rule the day, and they are the ones who are entrenched in academia.

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