The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

Rick Warren’s Illiteracy Problem


English: PressKit photo of Rick Warren

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The Christian Post reported recently that megapastor Rick Warren has discerned a significant problem among American Christians: Biblical illiteracy. In the face of this, he’s launching a new Bible study called “40 Days in the Word.” In a year-end webcast he plugged the new study, insisting that “Americans are biblically illiterate. They just don’t know the Word of God… Our parents’ generation knew the Word of God pretty well. My generation knew a little bit. The next generation knows none of it.”

He may be right. Over the last several years it has become clear that American Christians know little about the Bible, and in 2010 Pew study atheists and agnostics performed better on a test of basic biblical knowledge than did Christians. It’s a problem. Christians should know more about the book they profess to love. They should not be biblically illiterate.

But there are other kinds of illiteracy. There is, for example, scientific illiteracy. It too is a problem in America. And there is evidence that it is related to religious beliefs. This is hardly surprising. When one is raised to see science as the enemy of faith; when churches actively work against science education; when a literal understanding of Genesis is a requirement for faculty at major seminaries, scientific literacy suffers.

It is easy to blame extreme anti-science people like Albert Mohler and Ken Ham for this problem, and some responsibility does fall on them.

But I suspect more moderate leaders like Warren have a lot to do with it.

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I agree with Jim Reed’s comment in response.

To be biblically literate do you also have to understand the problems with the Bible such as questions about authorship, unresolved contradictions, and things that are shown by science to be wrong? I would think you do. Without that understanding your biblical literacy is really only Christian propaganda. This might be the case with Rick Warren. His biblical literacy might depend on one accepting the conservative Christian perspective is divinely inspired.

And DanVoj’s comment.

Warren wants people to know more about what the Bible literally says than what we should know about it.

It all comes down to control: memorizing the Bible is one thing, while analyzing it is another. Control can always be had from illiteracy. Now, Warren’s statement is the same as many other “pastors” around the country, but you don’t see them recommending a scholar like Bart Ehrman for follow-up analysis. THEY are the true analysts, and they will ultimately tell you what to think.

Warren wants people to be Bible-savants, not analytical Christians.

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January 5, 2012 Posted by | Biblical Criticism, Christian Education, Current Events, Science | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Crystal Cathedral Bankruptcy: Megachurch Files For Chapter 11


The Hour of Power

Amy Taxin (The Huffington Post)

Crystal Cathedral, the megachurch birthplace of the televangelist show “Hour of Power,” filed for bankruptcy Monday in Southern California after struggling to emerge from debt that exceeds $43 million. In addition to a $36 million mortgage, the Orange County-based church owes $7.5 million to several hundred vendors for services ranging from advertising to the use of live animals in Easter and Christmas services.

The church had been negotiating a repayment plan with vendors, but several filed lawsuits seeking quicker payment, which prompted a coalition formed by creditors to fall apart, church officials said.

“Tough times never last, every storm comes to an end. Right now, people need to hear that message more than ever,” Sheila Schuller Coleman, the Cathedral’s senior pastor and daughter of the founder, told reporters outside the worship hall.

“Everybody is hurting today. We are no exception,” she said.

The church, founded in the mid-1950s by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller Sr., has already ordered major layoffs, cut the number of stations airing the “Hour of Power” and sold property to stay afloat. In addition, the 10,000-member church canceled this year’s “Glory of Easter” pageant, which attracts thousands of visitors and is a regional holiday staple.

Vendors owed money by the church formed a committee in April and agreed to a moratorium to negotiate a repayment plan with the Crystal Cathedral.

Kristina Oliver, whose Hemet-based company provided live animals for the church’s “Glory of Christmas” manger scene, said she doubts she will recover in full the $57,000 she is owed.

“The church never made any kind of advancement that they wanted to pay their debt, that they were willing to try to make it happen and every time we tried they told us, ‘You can’t tell us how to run our business,'” Oliver said.

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October 19, 2010 Posted by | Current Events | , , , | Leave a comment

How Spiritual Leaders Get Through What They’re Going Through: Lie or Leave


Iyanla Vanzant (The Huffington Post)

True or false, right or wrong, good or bad, the average human being will at some point live some degree of inauthenticity. Whether at work, at home or in public, we have been trained to believe that who we are at the core of our being is often unacceptable. As a result, we work diligently to live up to – and sometimes down to – what others have made us out to be, whether or not it is an accurate reflection of who we are. Should we be bold enough to attempt to tell them that we are not, we cannot and we have no desire to be who they require, they get mad and threaten to withdraw or withhold their love. That’s when we panic! Once panic sets in, our choices seem limited: knuckle under to the expectations or walk away. Misery results when we knuckle under. It is difficult to live being someone you are not. It is even more difficult to tell the truth when you are taught that who you really are is unacceptable. Heartache and anger are often the outgrowth of walking away. If we can’t be authentic with you, we can choose to be authentic without you. This approach almost always leads to spending a great deal of time in anger. There are other choices; however, once fear, panic or anger sets in, they become difficult to identify.

I have been in deep contemplation about the allegations hurled at Bishop Eddie Long. I am not at first concerned with whether or not he has done what he is accused of doing. That is his business and his Creator’s business. My job is to love, in good times and in bad. I have learned the hard way to mind my business, without judging who people are and what they do. I am more troubled by the lack of space being provided for the truth to unfold. Humans cannot seem to wait for or honor the truth. Instead, we make it up based on who we believe people should or should not be. My heart goes out to the young men who have lodged the allegations of inauthentic living against the bishop. If they are telling the truth, they are being demonized for it. Their motives are being questioned, and their humanness is being put on trial in the court of public opinion. As it relates to them, there doesn’t seem to be any space for the probability of truth. Should we allow it to be so, it would mean that the bishop has betrayed us and we must judge and attack him.

My heart is also tender for Bishop Long. Having been in a position of leadership, I know the sting of the arrows that are thrown at you. I know what it feels like to be judged while having your connection to, and admiration of, a community threatened. But, what if? What if this bishop or any bishop, cardinal, priest or pastor has a truth that has been withheld? What if the natural human fear of being rejected, abandoned and unloved motivated him to live within the confines of external expectations? What if this bishop or any other person within a church community is a good human being whose human needs and desires are considered unacceptable in the eyes of other human beings, specifically those in the church? Where does that person go to tell the truth? Is there space in the minds and hearts of his peers, or community to hear, accept and release judgment about what his truth may be? Could be. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows?

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October 12, 2010 Posted by | Commentary, Current Events | , , | Leave a comment

Faith, Hope And Love: Ending LGBT Teen Suicide


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) pri...

Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D.

I have been simultaneously horrified, saddened, and enraged at the spate of suicides in the last month by teenagers and young adults who were bullied for being, or being perceived to be, gay. Billy Lucas, 15, hung himself on September 9 from the rafters of a barn. Seth Walsh, 13, hung himself on September 19 from a tree in his backyard. Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped off the George Washington bridge on September 22. Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head on September 23.

As an openly gay minister, theologian, and seminary professor, these suicides have brought back vivid memories of being bullied myself in junior high school. I remember being taunted so badly at the bus stop on Helen Drive that I no longer wanted to go to school. I remember being kicked out of my tent at Cutter Scout Reservation, with my possessions thrown in the dirt, and spending the rest of the night under a picnic table. I remember spending my recesses and lunch breaks in the Taylor Intermediate School library, which was a place of refuge for me, thanks to Mr. Rand, the kind-hearted librarian.

I believe this recent string of suicides by LGBT young people is, at root, a religious problem. For me, there is a clear and indisputable link between these horrible deaths and the rhetoric espoused by anti-gay Christians who continually condemn lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as sinners worthy of divine punishment. Where else do you think the bullies learn their behavior? No matter how well intentioned, anti-gay Christians need to understand that their nonstop rhetoric of sin and punishment creates a toxic environment that views LGBT people as less than fully human and thus deserving of socially or religiously sanctioned violence — including self-inflicted violence.

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October 8, 2010 Posted by | Commentary, Current Events, Societal Concerns | , , , , , | Leave a comment