60 Second Review:
The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible

In Review — By on November 2, 2007 at 1:31 am

The Book: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible by Robert J. Hutchinson
PIG_Bible.jpg
:10 — The Gist: Religious writer Robert Hutchinson defends the Bible against ” mockers, skeptics, and deniers” and argues that it is “the source for the Western ideas of justice, science, and democracy.”
:20 — The Quote: “The notion that you can read an encyclopedia of ancient wisdom like the Bible–written over the course of 1,000 years, in the three difficult ancient languages, by many different human authors spread across the breadth of the Middle East–the same way you read a newspaper article only reveals an astonishing comic book (for lack of a better term) understanding of the ancient world.” (p. 6)
:30 — The Good: Provides a useful introduction to the reliability and influence of the Bible…
:40 — The Not-So Good: …but does so–not always but too often–in a manner that is politically strident and off-putting.
:50 — The Verdict: The latest entry in Regnery’s popular P.I.G. series probably won’t convince hardcore skeptics or atheists that the Bible is the Word of God. But Hutchinson, who holds an M.A. in biblical studies, from Fuller Theological seminary, ably defends the Scriptures against typical lame attacks (i.e., it’s full of discrepancies; there is more than one Gospel account) and shows how the book has impacted and influenced Western civilization. The breadth of scholarship that is covered is surprisingly broad for such a general level book, though most of the material will be familiar to students of the Bible. Regrettably, the P.I.G. format requires that the subject be framed in the language of the culture war, which grows tiresome after a few chapters.
:60 — The Recommendation: A handy book for Christians who listen to a lot of conservative talk radio and need an introductory-level defense of the Bible.



  • Ludwig

    “Religious writer Robert Hutchinson defends the Bible against ” mockers, skeptics, and deniers” and argues that it is “the source for the Western ideas of justice, science, and democracy.”
    How can a book whose proposed system of ultimate governance is an autocracy where the supreme celestial dictator is not answerable to and of his “subjects” where even the slightest form of dissent is punished with maximum prejudice…i really do wonder if the bible thumpers ever really read their bible…the entire concept of a “kingdom” is absolutely anti democratic. Onto the biblical concent of Justice with its numerous exemple of children as far as 3 or 4 generation down being punished for the misdeeds of their parents…where the entire human race is condemned to the default state of being “cursed” because of the actions taken by 2 individuals and which occured at a time when no one was there to stop them,even if it had been our responsibility to do so,whihc it was not anyway because the definition of justice,the only one that matters,is each individuals answerable to their individual actions. I doubt the christian cultists would really want to see biblical justice in our courtrooms and if they do then they are traitors to everything we hold dear in this nation and should be dealt with accordingly. As for the arguments that science is a product of christianity,that is a faslehood that has been debunked soo often on this blog that doing it again would simply be needlessly repetitious. Suffice it to say that even though many christians are behind some of the grestest scientific finds of our race,they attained those finding regardless of their chistianity,not because of it.

  • U.P. Man

    Ludwig,
    Have you ever done anything immoral? If so stop blaming Adam and Eve.
    Do you have a problem with doing what is good ? If everybody chooses to do what is good and we have a definitive yard stick to measure what good is, would there be dissent? Or do you belong to the school of 1 apple+1 apple does not alway have to equal 2 apples?

  • Ludwig

    “Have you ever done anything immoral? If so stop blaming Adam and Eve.”
    I m not blaming anyone for anything…but according the bible,God is blaming ME was Adam and Eve supposadly did…thats the whole ideology behind the concept of “original sin”…it essentially means the whole human race has been rendered guilty for the alledged actions of these 2…as such,this sort of twisted philosophy cannot be at the root of our system of Justice,where every one is either guilty or innocent according to their individual actions,not the actions taken by others.
    “Do you have a problem with doing what is good ? If everybody chooses to do what is good and we have a definitive yard stick to measure what good is, would there be dissent? Or do you belong to the school of 1 apple+1 apple does not alway have to equal 2 apples?”
    I have a problem with someone else deciding for me what is good and what is evil and then tell me i have to adhere to their definition upon pain of death…especially when my own conscience tells me otherwise.

  • WebMonk

    Ludwig, you are the quintessential example to what the book refers when it speak of people reading the Bible in the same way as a comic book.
    You probably think yourself fairly knowledgeable Christian ideas and such just because you’ve heard them a lot here. That typifies the “comic-book” understanding of the Bible which comes from never truly studying it. Reading a bunch of comments on a blog is not anywhere near studying the Bible.

  • Ludwig

    I ve discovered over the years that whenever people talk about “studying” the bible,what they actually mean is agreeing with THEIR personal interpretations of its various passages. And sometimes,those interpretations are really out there…for my own part,i read the passages and assume that it says what it means right there on the page…so when the bible talk about a kingdom,i assume it means a means of governance in which i would be answerable to the ruling autocrat and not the other way around,making its proposed form of governance an anathema to democracy…you can call that “comoc book reading” all you like and i will simply answer by calling your doing so “attempting to change the subject”…

  • http://thechristiancynic.wordpress.com The Christian Cynic

    I agree with Ludwig (oh heart, be not faint) about the Bible and democracy. I would ask this question of that, however: So what? Yes, the Bible talks about a heavenly kingdom where God is supremely in control (of course, the Bible assumes this about God throughout all ages, but we expect it to be in a different sense here), but is that a bad thing? Only if one supposes God to be a tyrant, and of course that is precisely the thing the Christian will dispute. What one of us would say no to a form of government where one person had complete power and would rule in perpetuity but it could be assured beyond a shadow of a doubt that this particular person would make only the fairest and most just decisions possible? I doubt any of us except perhaps in stubborn principle, simply because such a form of rule would certainly be an improvement to any current form of government. This, says the Christian, is precisely what we have to look forward to in the final kingdom.
    Of course, in the meantime, democracy is a fairly effective way of dealing with the fact that absolute power does corrupt (humans – even Christians) absolutely, and so Christians are not being inconsistent in the least (pace Ludwig) by advocating democracy despite the monarchist overtones of Scripture.

  • U.P. Man

    Ludwig,
    Adam and Eve where the original sinners, Jesus did not sin. Do you claim that you have not sinned? Do you claim that you have never done anything wrong on purpose? Taken two pieces of candy instead of just one?
    Do you feel that you have to obey the laws of the country you live in? Do you agree with all these laws? If not why do you obey them? Aren’t laws just somebody else’s view of what is right and wrong?
    If you are unwilling to acceptGod’s morale authority on what is good, what do base your authority on? Why should I agree to your morality?

  • Winsome

    Oh, a lamp, for the darkness!

  • Ludwig

    The Christian Cynic
    Even if you could give iron clad assurances that your “kingdom of heaven” would be the nicest gilded cage that could ever be, it would still be a CAGE and i want no part of it. our democratic system of governance maybe be flawed and inept in comparaison to how your God would run things but it has the merit of being OURS and that is by far its best quality which makes it worth more than a thousand perfect kingdoms of God.

  • Ludwig

    “Adam and Eve where the original sinners, Jesus did not sin. Do you claim that you have not sinned? Do you claim that you have never done anything wrong on purpose? Taken two pieces of candy instead of just one?”
    Thats not what sin is…sin is an act of rebellion against God…the trouble is…its not humanly possile to rebel against God. There is nothing you can do,no action you can take,no though you can have that can exist contrary to the will of God. There is no judgement…or rather there was one…at the instant of creation…whatever God judged “good” came into being…whatever he did not judge “good”, DID NOT come into being.
    “Do you feel that you have to obey the laws of the country you live in? Do you agree with all these laws? If not why do you obey them? Aren’t laws just somebody else’s view of what is right and wrong? ”
    actually there are many laws in this country i dont feel i have to obey…and there are some i dont obey at all…my conscience in all things is guided by the golden rule…do onto others as you would have them do onto you…some of the laws in our country unfortunately violate that wise principle but they still exist because enough people feel they can take advantage of them and dont really care who gets hurt by them.
    “If you are unwilling to acceptGod’s morale authority on what is good, what do base your authority on? Why should I agree to your morality?”
    well first off,i dont know what God’s moral autority would be like and whats more,neither do you or anyone else as far as i know. Autority is unfortunately most often based on strenght…you dont necessarely have to be “right” to have autority…all you need is enough power to force others to do what you want. But if you were refering to biblical morals,i could hardly find a better exemple of what NOT to do….thou shalt not murder…kill all the cannanite babies…these commands came from the same “lips”…bublical “morals” are every bit as subjective and situational as any other morals…except the golden rule which i believe to be the best possible exemple of morality we have available to us…as for weather or not you should follow that moral principle,well thats a question you have to ask yourself.

  • U.P. Man

    Ludwig,
    “There is nothing you can do,no action you can take,no though you can have that can exist contrary to the will of God.”
    So, you have never sinned, you have just done the will of God?
    You also avoid the question, you set up your morale authority to be the “golden rule” but never state why I should follow that authority?
    “i dont know what God’s moral autority would be like and whats more,neither do you or anyone else as far as i know”
    Would Jesus have known God’s morale authority? We can know about Jesus, and what he taught, and we also have the Bible as a source.
    You on the other hand only have “do unto others” and nothing else.

  • Giovanni

    It is hard to disagree with the fact that the Bible “has impacted and influenced Western civilization.” This is easily done – forgive my poor English – for a book which is with us since 2000 years or more (depending on the chapters).
    But I do wonder: for the idea itself of democracy, should we go back to ancient Greece and its polis, or the teocrats Mose and David? For the origin of the idea of justice and right, should we read Cicero and the Roman writers, or only consider the stories about a vengeful God?
    About the origin of science, where is in the Bible a single teaching about the way to explore the laws of Nature, i.e. the scientific method?
    I am quite surprised by this naive attempt to attribute to the Bible not due merits. With even no mention to the fact that in man history, the ideas of science, justice and democracy had to fight hard against religious powers based on the Bible in order to survive and, eventually, shape our culture.
    All the best.

  • Ludwig

    “So, you have never sinned, you have just done the will of God?”
    if God is the creator of all things and God is all powerfull,tell me how you can act in a way that is not exactly in keeping with what God wants…And if your answer is the same as everyone else i ve asked that question to…free will…then you would be every bit as wrong as everyone else who answered that because we are only free to choose between the options that are made available to us BY GOD. Of course you are free to argue that God created “bad” choices on purpose just to see if we would make them so he could then punish us for it but thats about as logical as claiming that God created all colors but actually hates every color except purple and maybe green on sundays at 2h45 pm eastern time. so in essence,yes to answer your question…everything i ve ever done and will ever do in my life is in keeping with the will of God…it simply cant be otherwise…like saying you can do anything on earth without being affected by gravity.
    “You also avoid the question, you set up your morale authority to be the “golden rule” but never state why I should follow that authority?”
    i did answer your question…i said its something you need to ask yourself. I cannt tell you why you should…i could only perhaps tell you why i m hoping you would…would that be good enough?
    “Would Jesus have known God’s morale authority? We can know about Jesus, and what he taught, and we also have the Bible as a source.”
    As far as i know , neither Jesus,if he even existed, nor the Bible Authors and any special insight into the mind of God…at least not more so than you or I…so my guess is as good as yours or theirs until shown otherwise.
    “You on the other hand only have “do unto others” and nothing else.”
    and as far as i m concerned,thats all I or anyone ever would need.

  • Drew I.

    Ludwig, did you grow up in the church? Just curious.
    You have the absolute strangest concept of free will I’ve ever heard. How is it intrinsically absurd for a Creator to give his Creation free will? It makes sense to me.
    What does NOT makes sense to me is that a universe of infinite matter and energy would inexplicably be formed by a big bang and over an extraordinary amount of time produce beings that were self-aware enough to question how they came to be at all. Why should matter and energy produce something that can think and reason? Why aren’t we as a tree or stone simply living as the physical laws of the universe dictate?
    Returning to free will, even if God knows the actions we will take, it does not mean we did not ultimately make the choice. God being omniscient does not invalidate the fact that God gave us choice.
    This is not a personal attack, just a genuine observation: you sound like a person with such serious authority issues that the concept of an all-powerful God disgusts you.
    Finally, you say Jesus had no insight into the mind of God? Are you serious? Paul wrote that the fullness of God (presumably the Father) dwelt in him. Jesus claimed, “I and my Father are one.”

  • U.P. Man

    Ludwig,
    You have my sympathy if you honestly believe that there is no such thing as free will.
    Adam and Eve lived the life you described, the golden rule and God walked with them. The used their free will to sin, God no longer walked with them.
    They continued to walk the “do unto others” and Cane killed Abel.
    There was no law, only the “do unto others” and where did that lead?
    Do you believe a man named Homer existed and wrote those ancients texts? If so then why would you doubt the existance of Jesus?

  • Ludwig

    “Ludwig, did you grow up in the church? Just curious.”
    I grew up in a very catholic background,went to nun school for 6 years until highschool…no catholic priest molested me though…i guess i was not to their liking and thats just their loss…:P
    “You have the absolute strangest concept of free will I’ve ever heard. How is it intrinsically absurd for a Creator to give his Creation free will? It makes sense to me.”
    I never said we dont have free will….we do obviously…or at least it appears that we do anyway. I said that we are only free to choose between the options that are made available to us by God. Choices are the direct result of an intricate combination of external environement and internal brain impulses. Now,since god crated every thought that can ever traverse your brain as well as every environement you will occupy when those thoughts materialise in your head,then obviously God meant for you to do whatever it is that you do,whenever you do it. So as i said ,you have free will…but whatever you choose to do,whatever action you take,God specifically decided you could do that. Now every action has its consequences we all agree on that but i certainly dont agree that there are extra-universal consequences for actions that are taken IN the physical universe…there simply is no rational reason to believe that God created all the choices but went ahead and devised special (read eternal and absolute) punishements or rewards for this or that choice that awaits us once we croak.
    “What does NOT makes sense to me is that a universe of infinite matter and energy would inexplicably be formed by a big bang and over an extraordinary amount of time produce beings that were self-aware enough to question how they came to be at all. Why should matter and energy produce something that can think and reason? Why aren’t we as a tree or stone simply living as the physical laws of the universe dictate?”
    First of all,what makes you think that a tree exists solely as dictated by the laws governing the universe? Cant you picture the possibility of a tree sprouting branchs at specific angles in response to its own will but maybe in a manor that occurs so slowly we dont notice it? Remember that trees often livwe to be hundreds if not thousands of years old so whatever a tree would want to do,if it could indeed want to do anything,it would be in no rush to do it. Now onto the other point you are making…I happen to agree with you that the Big Bang theory leaves much unsanwered questions. That being said,explain to me why the specific of the universe’s origin…or creation would have any bearing on the concept of morality. What if God did create the universe…and then decided to leave it be. What if the Big Bang is the visual representation of God creating the universe. Or what if the truth is something that no human being has ever fathomed? what if everyone on earth,you me him her,everybody…are completely wrong about everything…what if Evil and cold blooded savagery are the prefered states of minds of God? The fact that those are so readily available and abundant throughout the world could sugget that. The point i m making is that theocrats have a tendecy of approaching just about everything from a binary perspective….its either this or that when in fact the discussion actually involves this,that,those,these,theirs and countless others permutations…if you want to suggest a given explanation,you have to eliminate all other possible explanations…and you most certainly have not done that…rather you cherry picked the one you like the most weather or not it was rational or appropriate to do so,thus making your argument an exercise in self defeatism.
    “Returning to free will, even if God knows the actions we will take, it does not mean we did not ultimately make the choice. God being omniscient does not invalidate the fact that God gave us choice.”
    You re right…but it does invalidate the claim that “he” would be pleased or pissed at any given choice we make. Furthermore,i have yet another curveball to throw your way: your argument suggest that God is a part of linear time,which,if God created everything, time included, cannot be the case. Time like space is a measure and for a being that is both infinite and timeless,an irrelevent one. From our perspective it may appear that God created the world 6000 years or 15 billions years ago or whatever variation of this you re confortable with. But from God’s perspective,he would be creating the universe fromt top to bottom,side to side,begening ot end RIGHT NOW. Here,there,10 minutes ago,a thousand years from now…all of it the same instant and the same place to God. So from God’s perspective,eveyrthing that you do,ever did or ever will do…is happening NOW…that certainly throw a very different spin of God’s “reaction” to any of our choices if there was any reaction to be had in the first place,which i dont believe thereis anyway.
    “This is not a personal attack, just a genuine observation: you sound like a person with such serious authority issues that the concept of an all-powerful God disgusts you.”
    Not at all…God being all powerfull does not make God an autority figure…at least not in the sense of a being that sits in judgement of our every actions…i could hardly imagine a bigger waste of omnipotence and timelessness than spending it on legislating the behaviour of a bunch of barely sentient hairless apes on some tiny speck of dust hurtling about through the cosmos. The universe is enormous…we are small and insignificant. If our planet exploded tomorrow,i suspect the universe would be compleely unnafected. It maybe that the universe has seen the rise and fall of countless groups of puny creatures like us over the enormous span of its existance…so given that,i dont really see anything that would make us the cornerstone of creation…other than our enormous ego that is…created in God’s image? maybe…or maybe we just wish it was so. maybe the universe itself is what was creatdd in God’s image and we re just one tiny part of it. In any case,i see nothing there to be disgusted about.
    “Finally, you say Jesus had no insight into the mind of God? Are you serious? Paul wrote that the fullness of God (presumably the Father) dwelt in him. Jesus claimed, “I and my Father are one.””
    all i see there are claims being made…not claims being demonstrated.

  • Ludwig

    “You have my sympathy if you honestly believe that there is no such thing as free will.”
    your sympathy is appreciated but very misplaced…i never said any such thing
    “Adam and Eve lived the life you described, the golden rule and God walked with them. The used their free will to sin, God no longer walked with them.”
    actually thats not true. The golden rule requires knowledge of right and wrong. But neither Adam nor Eve came equiped withn that knowledge…until they ate the forbiden fruit that is. In essense,God gave Adam a command he had no hope of following,since Adam had no idea it would be “wrong” to disobey God’s command…plus the punishement for trangressing that command was not even know to Adam since death supposadly did not exist at hat point in time. In other words,Adam had to eat the fruit in order to understand he was not supposed to eat it…the ultimate catch 22. After that,weather or not they lived according to the golden rule is unknown…there really not much more information on what became of Adam and Eve after their expulsion from paradise.
    “They continued to walk the “do unto others” and Cane killed Abel. ”
    obviously,Cain did not obey the golden rule,since he killed Abel.
    “There was no law, only the “do unto others” and where did that lead?”
    Just because the Golden rule exists doesnt mean that everyone lives by it…but we all did,there would probably be no need for laws.
    “Do you believe a man named Homer existed and wrote those ancients texts? If so then why would you doubt the existance of Jesus? ”
    Well i know of human being existing now who write texts…we ourselves are two such beings so it is conceivable that someone like Homer once existed and wrote texts which we can read today. But does that mean that becasue Homer may have lived to write His Iliad,that there ued to be such thing as greek Gods,cyclops,sirens,sea witches or hydras? Same thing with Jesus…just because people once wrote about a man who could do supernatural feats of healing and resurection doesnt mean that he really existed or that if he really did,he could do any of these things. Thats the problem with claims about the supernatural…you cant really say “this claim is true but that one is not” with any credibility.

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (gryph)

    “A handy book for Christians who listen to a lot of conservative talk radio and need an introductory-level defense of the Bible.”
    I would think you would say “listen to a lot of liberal” talk radio.
    Otherwise you are for the most part listening to people who’s views mirror your own. Then what do you need the Bible for?

  • http://thechristiancynic.wordpress.com The Christian Cynic

    Ludwig, thanks for the cordial reply (I hope it wasn’t just because I partially agreed with you):
    Even if you could give iron clad assurances that your “kingdom of heaven” would be the nicest gilded cage that could ever be, it would still be a CAGE and i want no part of it. our democratic system of governance maybe be flawed and inept in comparaison to how your God would run things but it has the merit of being OURS and that is by far its best quality which makes it worth more than a thousand perfect kingdoms of God.
    Now you’ve stepped into the realm of mischaracterization (although I’ll be charitable and assume you weren’t describing my own view). I certainly wouldn’t call it a “cage” or anything of the sort, and I don’t see why you characterize it as such (from the way Christians describe it, that is). Really, this seems to betray the possibility of a problematic view of freewill, especially as it is concerned with good vs. bad actions (e.g. is freewill intrinsically concerned with being able to choose bad things?). I’d prefer not to jump into that sort of argument here because it’s even more off-topic, but let me just say that your assertion falls on that point alone – for it is quite debatable that a system where humans collectively have control would be better than any other type of system aside from freewill considerations (humans, after all, do have a tendency of manipulating others to fit their own capricious desires), and that is essentially the only point that could make any system better than…well, following your cue, a “perfect” system.

  • Ludwig

    The Christian Cynic
    Let me make something clear to you…i m not the least bit worried about God or Jesus or whoever coming here to establish a Kingdom of anything…i am however concerned that some people may decide to go ahead and do it themselves in the misguided belief that its what God would want. If thers one thing i ve learned about christianity (as well as most other missionary religious cults) its that they have no end of supplies of people who all “know” exactly what God wants…although its interesting to note i ve never encountered a single religionist who can explain intelligently why an all powerfull,all knowing being would or even COULD want anything to begin with…and for the most part,none of these people seem even willing to acknoledge the possibility they may be (and in my humble opinion,most likely are) completely wrong. So you see,i m not afraid of a Kingdom of God because contrary to the bible,i dont see God as a powerfull human male with a short fuse. I dont believe that God has ANY attributes aside from omnipotence,omniscience and timelessness. And since no human comes equipped with any of these, it stands to reason that no human CAN KNOW what God does or doesnt want. For all these reasons,i dont believe God bothers with Kingdoms or children or servants or morals or human behaviour, good or bad…i fail to see why any of these would be more important to God then say the movements of stars and planets or how many blades of grass a cow consumes before it dies…in front of omnipotence,omniscience and timelessness,all of these things which we prize so much really amount to nothing more than irrelevant banter.
    The point i m making here is that the Bible does not contain the “moral teachings” of God becasue God has no moral teaching to give anyone on anything. The morals of the bible are HUMAN MORALS born of human minds,same as every other moral teachings in existance and whats more ,they are antiquated and often barbaric morals,utterly unfit for any modern societies so the claim that the Bible is the source of our morals in todays world is a disgusting and insulting falsehood.

  • http://thechristiancynic.wordpress.com The Christian Cynic

    Ludwig, I don’t think any of what you just said had to be “made clear” in the slightest. Not only did your last reply have no connection to what I said, it was also worthless in the context of this argument. If you didn’t have anything substantial to say about my last comment, then you should have said so in a civil manner rather than going off on a rant about Christianity.
    I will say this to your reply, however: I find it startling that anyone claims that Christian morals as a whole are “barbaric” or even obviously wrong. I can see some considerable room for hesitation as far as the Old Testament; there are a fair amount of actions in there that seem to offend modern sensibilities, and perhaps rightly so. But when I hear people like Christopher Hitchens says that what Jesus taught – things like loving your enemies – were immoral, that just flabbergasts me (especially when it is argued, as with Hitchens, thusly: it is wrong to love our enemies because to do so conflicts with our greatest moral purpose as material creatures, survival). I almost don’t know how to respond other than to say that we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • Ludwig

    The Christian Cynic
    what i find barbaric in christianity as a whole is that it rests on the concept of original sin and that God’s love is conditional to one’s submission…christianity teaches that there is something fundamentally “wrong” with us…that we are somehow not what we are supposed to be and that as a result of this we must beg forgiveness for having been born “wrong”. It teaches that people who accept this farce are “good” servants while those who reject it are “evil” or “misguided” rebels against God’s law…at the very core of Christianity is therefore a teaching that brands those who reject christian beliefs as “lesser” people…and we all know what humans tend to do to those they deem “lesser” people. It even states in the bible in the book of revelation that non christians are ultimately meant for destruction…even if there is some mild attempt at sugar coating here and there about loving one’s “enemies” and forgiving the offense of others agaisnt ourselves, those are clearly meant as guidelines for interactions WITHIN the christian community…non-christians are not meant to be made the beneficiaries of those teachings anyway and history demonstrates that quite convincingly. Christianity is barbaric and whats more,its barbarism based on what is at best an unsubstanciated belief that was born in primitive minds at a time when catastrophism was considered an undisputed fact. Suger coated or not,it has no place in modern society as anything but an exibit in museums of ancient history along with all the other fossils…certainly not as a guide as to how people should act towards their fellow man.

  • http://thechristiancynic.wordpress.com The Christian Cynic

    Ludwig, there are so many problems with what you just wrote (overgeneralization being the most obvious) that I don’t even have the desire to break it down. Have fun in your own personal delusion.