Colbert on Religion

Comedy Central is not the place to find the best news reports and its certainly not the authority on religion, but this past week The Colbert Report had two segments on religion worth noting:

Bart Ehrman, author of the book Misquoting Jesus, appeared on the show and subjected himself to Stephen Colbert’s routine as outlandish “double devil’s advocate.” Colbert essentially takes the stance of conservative evangelicals, but does it in a tongue-in-cheeck manner, so that no side is favored over another. He simply takes shots at Ehrman, but also subtly plays with conservatives. It’s a very fun interview to watch, especially the part where he actually forces Ehrman to concede his error at one point.

As far as the book is concerned, Ehrman writes as a former conservative if not fundamentalist Christian who is disallusioned and now agnostic. After holding to a completely inerrant Bible, studying the history of textual transmission, and finding many errors in the process, he essentially concluded that the Bible is not reliable. This is a prime example of how an extreme doctrine of inerrancy can shipwreck our faith. The Bible is certainly reliable, true, and trustworthy, but the language of inerrancy can sometimes put too much emphasis on the Bible for our faith and not on God himself and the Christian community who have given us the Bible. Inerrancy taken to extremes can lay a trap for our faith that may be hard to escape.

I think that Ehrman is a scholar struggling to fit his research into his faith. Unfortunately his faith was too narrow to hold what he found.

Stephen Makes It Simple
Colbert jumps into the realm of religion and politics by tossing in this handgrenade of a statement,
“Little government mentions Jesus in a speech. Big government does what Jesus said.” Controversial, eh?

4 thoughts on “Colbert on Religion

  1. Jamie Davidson

    Intead of deciding to challenge the inerrancy of the Scriptures, why can’t we humble ourselves and realize that just because we don’t have the capability of understanding it all and that we may never until it is revealed to us by the Spirit even maybe after we die…doesn’t mean that God’s Word given to us isn’t perfect.
    Unless His Word is studied with a heart that is dead to itself and His Holy Spirit is leading, Satan will use it to bind you. There’s a lot that talks in the Bible about faith as a child and to counter that what knowledge can do without love and humility. Becoming academic with the Word and our relationship to God can really through us back for years…

  2. Jamie Davidson

    If faith is determined by your human understanding and you need to lessen the inerrancy of the Word so that when it doesn’t make sense to you, you won’t lose it, that isn’t faithful by definition.
    Don’t you think God knew that there would be different translations through the years? He’s perfect and all knowing. He wouldn’t create a stumbling block fory our faith.

  3. Ed Post author

    I think that the problem is we create our own stumbling blocks for our faith. My point is that Ehrman’s extreme form of inerrancy put himself in an untenable position that made it impossible for faith and the Spirit of God to work. Discovering some copying errors and changes to the text due to scribal bias should not be enough to shipwreck our faith in God and the trustworthiness of the Bible.

    Evidently it was enough for Ehrman. I think we agree more than not, but it’s crucial to recognize that we create doctrines in an attempt to be faithful. Recognizing that some of our doctrines may not be on the mark is not unfaithful. In fact, I think it is very faithful to honestly admit that our faith does not rest on our Bible being perfect, but on the perfection of our Lord and Savior.

    I hope we’re not talking past each other here. I think we both agree at the centrality and trustworthiness of the Bible and the danger of departing from the leading of the Spirit. Whereas you have seen many benefits of inerrancy, and there are benefits, I am bringing up the dark side, the side that demands the absolute perfection of the Bible or all is lost to our faith. This is Ehrman’s “ehrror.” That doctrine is a fairly recent development and can be harmful because it doesn’t put God and his Spirit at front and center, but rather a particular understanding of the Bible that makes it more into a precise, modern historic/scientific text: something that it was not intended to be.

  4. Jamie Davidson

    I’m frustrated with why the human heart is so drawn to coming up with something that feels right, such as the Pharisees with legalism, trying to "master" theology, being extremely philanthropic etc. Instead we should desire knowing Him, through a Spirit He gave that doesn’t destort things but lives in truth.

Comments are closed.