How to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

P.OSTOST

22 Jun 2022

Matthew Hartke posted a couple of pages from Robert Carroll’s book When Prophecy Failed: Cognitive Dissonance in the Prophetic Traditions of the Old Testament on Twitter last week. It got me fretting. The argument of the book is that there is evidence in the Old Testament of how Israel sought to mitigate the failure of prophecy either by revising prophecy or by revising history, and that cognitive dissonance theory helps us to understand the psychological or sociological processes underlying the accommodation. The thesis gets at the heart of Hartke’s own rejection of Christianity, which he states very well:

I couldn’t help reaching the conclusion that Christianity itself, in all its various iterations, was the product of our widely attested tendency to cling to our deeply held beliefs when they come into conflict with reality, rationalizing away the conflict instead of letting go.

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I read Roger Olson’s blog from time to time. He has recently written a couple of posts asking, “What is the Essence of Christianity?” We need to address these simple but fundamental questions from time to time. I know, it’s been a while, what with Covid and a major writing project to … (12 Oct 2021 | 9 comments)
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This really is a bit of a puzzle. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says concerning the hour and day of God’s judgment of Israel and the concomitant vindication of the Son of Man that it will be as in the days of Noah. In the midst of life catastrophe will come (Matt. 24:36-39). At the parousia of… (2 Sep 2021 | 2 comments)
The early apostolic testimony was that Jesus was “raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). So the standard belief has been that the resurrection of the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament—somewhere, it’s never quite clear where, probably in the prophets… (28 Aug 2021 | 0 comments)
Thom Stark’s book The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When it Gets God Wrong is an attack on the doctrine of inerrancy—or perhaps better, an attempt to reframe the problem of biblical errancy. In chapter 8, which is the only chapter I’ve read so far, he argues that Jesus… (16 Aug 2021 | 9 comments)
I have addressed the troubling longer term historical implications of my reading of the New Testament in a number of posts, some of which are listed below. But the question has come up again, so here’s another go at outlining a response to the charge that Constantine and Christendom were a very… (5 Aug 2021 | 15 comments)