Monthly Archives: November 2013

Religious Bondage – Mind Control

mindcontrolMy first part of this series, Religious Bondage – Behavior Control, touches on how behavior reform can cause people to act in abusive ways toward others that disagree or expose abuse within the religious setting. It also explains the tactics many religious followers use in order to silence someone that speaks out about or reports sexual assault, child molestation and rape, or other abuses. In part two, Religious Bondage – Information Control, we learned that one of the key areas of manipulating and controlling people is to control the flow of information within the group. Doing so, allows leadership to rally the group toward their goals, their preferences, their rules, etc. It also allows for abusers to hide their abuses. Behavior Control and Information control are two aspects of Religious Bondage. Religious Bondage is the product of Thought Reform, Information Control and Behavior Modification and, leads to abuse.

As I stated in part one and two, in order to explain this phenomenon that so few know anything about, I have taken Religious Bondage and put it into simple terms everyone can understand –  “Religious Freedom vs. Religious Bondage.” There are three parts to religious bondage as stated above. This will be the third part of this series and, once again, I will use Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two to show the Religious Bondage, I will compare this to my own model for Religious Freedom. At the end of this chart, I will then summarize.



  • Questioning doctrine and belief is permitted
  • Independent thinking encouraged
  • Questioning of leadership and their behaviors is permitted
  • Leadership is held accountable for actions
  • No fear of other religious groups
  • Secular education is encouraged to help in a better understanding of others, the world, and different beliefs
  • Ideas and feedback on improvement is accepted
  • Freedom of expression allowed
  • Freedom to decide one’s own goals and aspirations
Need to internalize the group’s doctrine as “Truth”

Map = Reality

Black and White thinking

Good vs. evil

Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

  • Adopt “loaded” language (characterized by “thought-terminating clichés”). Words are the tools we use to think with. These “special” words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous “buzz words”.
  • Only “good” and “proper” thoughts are encouraged.
  • Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down “reality testing” by stopping “negative” thoughts and allowing only “good” thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
  1. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
  2. Chanting
  3. Meditating
  4. Praying
  5. Speaking in “tongues”
  6. Singing or humming
  • No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate
  • No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
  • Emotional Control
  1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person’s feelings.
  2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader’s or the group’s.
  3. Feeling-stopping (with number 4, Excessive use of guilt). Like thought-stopping, this is the automatic suppression or blocking of feelings that are not acceptable by the cult identity- such as feeling ”homesick” or feeling ”depressed” or feeling ”resentful”.
  4. Excessive use of guilt
  • Identity guilt
  • Who you are (not living up to your potential)
  • Your family
  • Your past
  • Your affiliations
  • Your thoughts, feelings, actions
  • Social guilt
  • Historical guilt
  1. Excessive use of fear
  • Fear of thinking independently
  • Fear of the “outside” world
  • Fear of enemies
  • Fear of losing one’s “salvation”
  • Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
  • Fear of disapproval
  1. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.
  2. Ritual and often public confession of “sins”.
  3. Phobia indoctrination : programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader’s authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
  • No happiness or fulfillment “outside” of the group
  • Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: “hell”; “demon possession”; “incurable diseases”; “accidents”; “suicide”; “insanity”; “10,000 reincarnations”; etc.
  • Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
  • Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group’s perspective, people who leave are: “weak;” “undisciplined;” “unspiritual;” “worldly;” “brainwashed by family, counselors;” seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.

(Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two)

My thoughts on Thought Control (Mind Control):

Controlling a congregant’s time is paramount in controlling their mind (thought reform). It leads to the mind accepting negative and abusive responses and actions without thought to reality. By demanding that everyone in the group attend all functions of the group (time and behavior control), it allows for the inputting of beliefs, standards and opinions of leadership (indoctrination sessions). Leadership has mastered the art of manipulating scripture to cause interpretation of it to lean toward their way of thinking. Often, it will be taken out of context and used in forcing conformity to the many rules leadership puts in place. Scripture is also used to instill fear of going against “the man of God.” It is twisted to give the impression that doing so will bring God’s wrath and judgement upon the individual that disagrees with, goes against, prosecutes, or speaks out against, “the man of God.” There will be “consequences” or “punishments” for those that do not conform quickly to leadership’s rules.  This may involve destructive gossip, public humiliation and shunning until one conforms. Many will conform in order to avoid the “consequences” or out of fear of retaliation from other members and/or God.

Thought control (mind control) creates clones of the leadership and the abusive system.  All members think alike and act alike. They learn to like the same kinds of music, foods, restaurants, stores, etc. They are trained to go to leadership for input on making all major decisions in their lives. Members believe leadership knows what is best for them and that whatever leadership tells them to do is the right thing. Members will only believe what leadership says is truth and they allow leadership to control their homes and familial relationships. They will not believe former members or others that see abuse from the outside even if they are professionals or authorities that deal directly in this area of expertise where abuse is concerned.

Scripture is twisted and used against the women and children to force them into subservient roles to men and other adults.  Their minds are filled with scripture that has been manipulated and changed in order to instill abusive doctrines that are designed at getting them to submit and obey without questioning the many “rules.” All teachings are designed to stop women and children from thinking independently and questioning leadership’s, rules, actions, dogma and church policy. It is also designed to prevent them from questioning abusive actions of family members and spouses.  Inequality of the sexes is hammered home using twisted teachings and corrupted translations of scriptures.  Attitudes are instilled in the men that women are “lesser,” are not allowed to have positions of authority over them, must submit to all male authority. This inequality of the sexes leads to abuse of women emotionally and physically in the home. They either submit to the manipulation and control or they will find themselves being emotionally and physically abused (domestic abuse). This leads to eating disorders, physical ailments, emotional imbalances, mental illnesses and depression in many of the women that allow themselves to believe the lies and teachings of the group.

The children are forced to “shut up and put up.” They have no say so in anything. If they are falsely accused by adults of wrongdoing, parents and other members will believe the one telling the lies. The children are rarely believed. If they try to question the abuses, church authority and/or twisted teachings, they will be punished. They are isolated from the world and from authorities and those that have the legal power to help them when abuse does occur. They are rarely believed by those within the abusive or cult-like group when they speak out about their abuses.

Through the use of “congregant bashing” from the pulpit, leadership instills a negative self-image into members.  Many will feel that they cannot do anything right and that bad situations that arise in their life are their “fault” for not being good enough or following leadership’s advice.  Many will even believe that these situations are the result of God punishing them for disobeying leadership. To them, God is ever ready to punish those that cannot live up to the standards and many rules imposed upon them by leadership. Pleasing God means pleasing leadership and adhering to the many rules imposed.  In the minds of congregants, leadership’s rules become God’s rules. Therefore, any transgression of the rules deserves punishment not only from God, but from leadership.

The group as a whole becomes “spies.” They report every little thing that does not conform to group think, standards and rules to leadership so that “disciplinary” tactics can be employed against the non-conforming members.

Religious Bondage – Information Control

indoctrinationMy first part of this series, Religious Bondage – Behavior Control, touches on how behavior reform can cause people to act in abusive ways toward others that disagree or expose abuse within the religious setting. It also explains the tactics many religious followers use in order to silence someone that speaks out about or reports sexual assault, child molestation and rape, or other abuses. One of the key areas of manipulating and controlling people is to control the flow of information within the group. Doing so, allows leadership to rally the group toward their goals, their preferences, their rules, etc. It also allows for abusers to hide their abuses. Information control is one aspect of Religious Bondage. Religious Bondage is the product of Thought Reform, Information Control and Behavior Modification and, leads to abuse.

As I stated in part one, in order to explain this phenomenon that so few know anything about, I would like to break it down and keep it simple. I will call it, “Religious Freedom vs. Religious Bondage.” There are three parts to religious bondage as stated above. This will be the second part of this series and, once again, I will use Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two to show the Religious Bondage, I will compare this to my own model for Religious Freedom. At the end of this chart, I will then summarize.



 No deception:

  • Flow of information not monitored and controlled
  • Honest evaluations and input

Access to non-cult sources of information is encouraged

  • Allowed to read whatever they want to gain knowledge and truth.
  • Free access to internet, books, articles, social media
  • Association with former members
  • Free time to enjoy family and friends

Equality: Equal access to information by leadership and non-leadership

  • Information freely accessible
  • Everyone receives the same information

No spying on other members

  • No “buddy” system present
  • Outside professional counseling encouraged
  • Leadership is not “all knowing” and therefore encourages secular professionals where needed.

All information provided is from outside sources

  • Books, magazines, journals video tapes, CDs, etc.
  • Non-cult sources studied and discussed in order to understand proper context

No Shaming or Manipulation

  • No use of public confessions which is the same as public shaming. This is abuse.
  • Confidential information shared in counseling is kept confidential and not used to manipulate and control congregants.
  • No sharing confidential information between leadership of like churches.


 Use of deception:

  • Deliberately holding back information
  • Distorting information to make it acceptable
  • Outright lying

Access to non-cult sources of information is discouraged

  • Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, internet, social media
  • Critical information
  • Former members
  • Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think

Compartmentalize information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines

  • Information is not freely accessible
  • Information varies at different levels and missions within the hierarchy
  • Leadership decides who “needs to know” what

Spying on other members is encouraged

  • Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
  • Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership

Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda

  • Newsletters, magazines, journals, video tapes, CDs, etc.
  • Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources

Unethical use of confession

  • Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
  • Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution

(Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two)

My thoughts on Information Control:

Information Control allows for leadership to rally congregants to THEIR cause instead of a victim of abuse or an outsider. Congregants readily believe what leadership tells them and, believe that all victims of abuse are liars that are trying to “take down the man of God” or, “destroy God’s works.” Because leadership limits information, twists truth, and/or outright lies about abuses, congregants have no way of knowing what truth IS due to lack of correct information. But, when in doubt, the congregants will naturally lean toward leadership’s views because all information points to that view as “correct” due to information control.

As shown above, information control is paramount in controlling “perception” in the minds of others. Those who control information, control thoughts. Those who control information, control behavior. Abusive leadership will ALWAYS encourage shunning to stifle the truth.  Shunning is very important because it prevents current members from listening to and believing those that have been abused or, have witnessed abuse, from being heard and believed. This is why shunning all former members is mandatory in an abusive religion or cult-like church. Those that continue to speak out after being shunned, will then be stalked and harassed either emotionally or financially by existing leadership and members for not remaining silent. Many different techniques are employed in taking down someone that won’t stop talking to authorities, but the number one technique used time and time again is getting them fired from their job.

Information control also keeps congregants dependent on leadership for “correct” information. Only leadership has the “real truth” regarding every situation; not those falsely accused by leadership or targeted by leadership in order to silence them. Congregants:

  • Will not believe media reports.
  • Will disregard facts if those facts go against what leadership has told them.
  • Will disregard witness testimony as lies meant to destroy their leadership or work of God.

Congregants become secondary abusers to victims of sexual assault, rape, incest and physical abuse who report crimes within the church.

  • They will stalk those that go to the authorities to report crimes (psychological abuse).
  • They will harass privately and publicly those that go to authorities to report crimes.
  • They will use their influence to get them fired from their jobs if they work with members of the same abusive church.
  • They will alter important documents to make it look like the victim is dishonest, using those documents against the victim to destroy them professionally.
  • They will outright lie about victims to others.
  • They will make fraudulent claims against victims to state boards in order to cause victims to lose their professional licenses.
  • They will use the legal system to attack victims that step forward to report by placing frivolous lawsuits on them.
  • It will affect victims socially – they will have no friends.
  • They will pit spouses against spouses and children against parents.
  • They will use the internet to write articles about them to discredit them and their testimony.
  • They will use social media to harass a victim.
  • They will slash tires or break in to the homes or offices of those that expose the abuses, sometimes killing beloved pets in a heinous manner in order to scare and intimidate into silence.
  • They will commit murder to ultimately silence a victim.
  • They will rally other family members against those who report crimes. Thus destroying familial relationships.
  • They will character assassinate any who dare to speak out about their abuses.

Any information told in “counseling” sessions with a pastor is used to spread gossip and slander against anyone who dares to speak out about abuses they have endured or expose them, within the church. This information is also used to blackmail congregants into conforming to leadership’s agendas, demands, desires. This information is then shared between pastors of various churches of the same sect in order to control members that leave to go to another church within the same sect. Pastors across the country work together in applying the same pressures and abuses on a congregant that tries to flee the abuse by attending another church within the same sect.

Information Control allows for abuses to continue, hidden. It allows for abusers and rapists to move on to new victims. It ensures that a victim will remain silent. Silence stops the secondary abuse.

The best way for victims to combat and stop these secondary abuses is to report all instances of it to law enforcement and victim advocate attorneys assigned to the case of a victim. Press charges against every person that threatens, harasses or slanders. By using the legal system to show a definitive pattern of harassment and abuse from the abusive church or group, it allows the authorities to either prosecute and/or stop the secondary abuse. If you have pressed criminal charges against a person in leadership within a religious organization, you must understand that witness tampering and harassment is against the law. Reporting every instance to the police ensures that every individual that is involved is held accountable legally. Don’t be afraid to press charges. Don’t be afraid to speak out. By speaking out about abuse and exposing criminals within the religious system, you save lives – lives of children that won’t be molested and raped, trafficked, physically abused and emotionally abused. You will save lives of teenagers from the same abuses. You will prevent rapes and untold trauma to others.

Religious Bondage – Behavior Control

Religious Bondage – Behavior Control

Religious Abuse (Narrated Powerpoint) is the foundation upon which many religious leaders and organizations build their empires. Yet, many people do not understand what Religious Abuse involves. Members of cults and cult-like organizations will use their influence and power to ruin any victim that speaks out about the religious abuses that they have endured. As a cult survivor that spent more than 18 years in an abusive fundamentalist Baptist cult, I will summarize  the chart below based on the experiences I have had to deal with personally while in the cult and, while helping other victims of religious abuse. Though it is very difficult to wrap one’s mind around these facts, it is vital that everyone understand that RELIGIOUS ABUSE ( Link to “Religious Abuse: What Exactly Is It?”) is real, it’s dangerous and, it can be deadly. Religious bondage is the product of  Thought Reform, Information Control and Behavior Modification and, leads to abuse.

To explain this phenomenon that so few know anything about, I would like to break it down and keep it simple. I will call it, “Religious Freedom vs. Religious Bondage.” There are three parts to religious bondage as stated above. I will cover each part separately in three different articles.


Religious Freedom allows an individual to be who they are meant to be as an autonomous human being. They are free to develop their own beliefs, standards, likes, dislikes, hairstyles, clothing styles, ways of doing things, etc. They are allowed the freedom to choose their education and career field. Religious freedom allows for equality between men and women. It also allows them to be the best that they can be for themselves, their families, others and God. But, Religious Bondage leads to inequality; which in turn, leads to emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, incest, rape, mind control and manipulation, hatred and fear for those trapped in it.

Sounds a bit shocking to contrast the two, doesn’t it? These two types of “religion” are diametrically opposed and lead to very different results. One leads to freedom in Christ, balance, happiness and joy; the other leads to imbalances, fear, control, thought reform, behavior modification, abuse and destruction. What many do not realize is that they may be in religious bondage instead of enjoying religious freedom. This happens when bondage is all that a person has ever known (raised in it); or, when a person succumbs to being spoon-fed their beliefs, doctrines and standards. Some, having never experienced true freedom in Christ due to isolationism and extreme control within the system, fight within themselves against the transformation into that mirror image of the system. These are usually the ones that escape it later on – but not after suffering much abuse and trauma. Many others passively accept the rules, doctrines and standards and then become abusive toward those that do not accept them wholeheartedly. This can lead to hate crimes, stalking, harassment, character assassination, rape, sexual assault and/or trafficking, incest, physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse and death for those that do not conform.

Let me break the first characteristic down into two different categories. Using Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two to show the Religious Bondage, I will compare this to my own model for Religious Freedom. At the end of this chart, I will then summarize.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM                                                      RELIGIOUS BONDAGE



 No regulation of individual’s physical reality:

  • Choose one’s beliefs
  • Choose one’s friends
  • Choose clothing styles, hairstyles, etc.
  • Choose what to eat
  • Choose one’s career
  • Choose where to spend one’s money
  • Freedom to travel
  • Freedom to make own personal decisions
  • Freedom to set one’s own personal boundaries and standards
  • Critical reasoning skills can be exercised
  • No FEAR of retaliation for expressing opinions, thoughts and concerns
  • Autonomy allowed
  • No spoken or unspoken rules to be followed
  • Independence
 Regulation of individual’s physical reality:

  • Where, how and with whom the members live and associate with.
  • What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
  • What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
  • How much sleep the person is able to have
  • Financial dependence
  • Little or no time for leisure, entertainment or vacations.
  • Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
  • Need to ask permission for major decisions
  • Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors.
  • Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative)
  • Individualism is discouraged; group think prevails
  • Rigid rules and regulations
  • Need for obedience and dependency

(Steven Hassan’s B.I.T.E. model from his book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, chapter two)

My thoughts on Behavior Control:

Controlling a congregant’s time is key in controlling their behavior and modifying it (behavior modification).  Excessive demands on time “in the ministry” or “attendance to every meeting, service and event,” leads to passivity and the ignoring of abuses and reality. Peer pressure plays a HUGE part in behavior modification and is used to influence congregants toward group “rules” and “group think.” Those that fight against the rules will find themselves on the receiving end of punishment from the group. This could entail such things as shunning, public humiliation, gossip and slander,  until the person conforms.

normWhat any normal person would view as abuse becomes “normal” with each instance of it in an abusive environment.  For example: In the cult I came out of preachers used the pulpit to publicly attack, chastise and humiliate congregants that disagreed, believed differently or, questioned leadership and their doctrines. This IS emotional and psychological abuse; and, it instills fear of speaking out further against leadership.  The first time this is done, it is shocking, but as each occurrence of it happens, the gradualism of these attacks becomes normal and even okay in the mind of the congregants.  It is seen as “right” and necessary to keep the flock in line with God’s rules; which are usually nothing more than leadership’s rules and preferences.  Through this gradualism, the abuse becomes “normal” and congregants become blind to it. Because this abuse is seen as “normal” and “right,” it then is duplicated by congregants against others that disagree as they transition into positions of leadership.

Another example of abuse is toward victims that speak out about their abuse at the hands of leadership and others within the organization. Leadership, because it controls the congregation’s behavior, can rally their members together to:

  • Use their power and influence to affect a termination of employment, crippling a person financially.
  • Use local authorities to file bogus complaints and law suits against those that speak out in order to cause them emotional trauma and financial trauma.
  • Stalk victims that speak out or file criminal charges.
  • Harass victims that speak out via email, phone, social media and, through personal threats.
  • Influence other family members to shun the one speaking out.
  • Influence a spouse to divorce the one speaking out.
  • Influence children against the parent that speaks out.
  • Spread gossip and slander about the one speaking out.
  • Influence family members and others to do bodily harm to the one speaking out.

Those that allow their time to be controlled are the ones that are easily duped into believing the lies and twisted theologies taught from leadership. They are also the ones that rally to the side of the abusers in any given church instead of listening to and supporting sexual assault victims and other abuse victims.  Staying busy constantly interferes with critical reasoning skills, stunts spiritual growth and, results in thought and behavior reform. It leads to congregants being obedient, unthinking, “do as they are told” followers of leadership. Because of this, it also leads to blind loyalty to the system and its leadership instead of supporting those that step forward to report the abuse. Followers lose their ability to discern reality and truth; thus, believing the lies they are spoon fed by leadership. They will interpret scripture in light of what they are told by leadership; judging others as leadership dictates. They will be the pawns used in order to mete out attacks against those leadership tell them have falsely accused them or their church.  Facts of a situation then become irrelevant in the mind of the congregants and they will fight against those facts and the ones that present them. This leads to abuse as listed above and, even death to anyone that dares to go against the system or its leadership.

Behavior Control is dangerous. It leads to abuse of others. This facet of Religious Abuse must be recognized for what it is and members must flee those religious organizations that practice this in order to control and manipulate them.

Is Bart Ehrman Anti-Christian?

did jesus existThe discovery of Bart Erhman’s books has made a major impact on my life. I only wish that I had discovered and read them all sooner. As a former fundamentalist, I find his evidences compelling and his assertions solidly based on those evidences.  While I am still a believer, Erhman is Agnostic. As a result, there are many conservative Christians that discount his works on the basis of his belief instead of trying to refute his facts and sources that provide evidence to what he affirms about the inerrancy and inspiration of scripture.  However, it does not take scholarship to find the discrepancies, errors and mistranslations that the Bible contains. It only takes study – as many of these errors are obvious – and a concordance.

This said, I do quote Erhman a lot on my blog and in my articles. I consider him one of my top two favorite scholars of all time. Because of this, there are fundamentalists that discount my articles and the evidences I quote because they discount Erhman’s expertise and scholarship based on his beliefs. To me, this makes about as much sense as discounting a person’s works based on their gender; which many fundamentalists also do!

Since there are fundamentalists that believe that Erhman is anti-Christian by assumption, I wanted to let everyone hear directly from Erhman regarding what he believes about himself and his view of Christianity and the Bible.

I don’t consider myself anti-Christian. When I tell people this, I often get a disbelieving response: of course you’re anti-Christian. Look at all the ways you attack Christianity!

In my view, the only thing I attack in my writings (and not even directly) is a fundamentalist and conservative evangelical understanding of Christianity. But to say for that reason that I attack Christianity is like saying that if you don’t like raspberry sherbet you don’t like any kind of ice cream. . .

I certainly do not mean to say that I consider myself either a Christian or an apologist for Christian causes. I am neither. But in my writings I have never attacked Christianity itself. I have attacked a particular flavor of it. It is true that in my part of the world, the American South, the flavor I have attacked happens to be the flavor preferred by the majority of practicing Christians. But in a historical and worldwide perspective, highly conservative Protestant Christianity, whether fundamentalism or hard-core evangelicalism, is a minority voice. It is the voice that says that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, with no contradictions, discrepancies, or mistakes of any kind. I simply don’t think this is true. And neither have most Christians over the course of history. . .

But I personally love the Bible. I read it all the time, in the original Greek and Hebrew; I study it; I teach it. I have done so for over thirty-five years. And I don’t plan to stop any time soon. But I don’t think the Bible is perfect. Far from it. The Bible is filled with a multitude of voices, and these voices are often at odds with one another, contradicting one another in minute details and in major issues involving such basic views as what God is like, who the people of God are, why there is suffering in the world, how we are to behave, and on and on. And I heartily disagree with the views of most of the biblical authors on one point or another.

Still, in my judgment all of these voices are valuable and they should all be listened to. Some of the writers of the Bible were religious geniuses, and just as we listen to other geniuses of our tradition—Mozart and Beethoven, Shakespeare and Dickens—so we ought to listen to the authors of the Bible. But they were not inspired by God, in my opinion, any more than any other genius is. And they contradict each other all over the map.

Even though there are innumerable historical problems in the New Testament, they are not of the scope or character to call seriously into doubt the existence of Jesus. He certainly lived, and in my view he too was a kind of religious genius, even more than the later authors who wrote about him. At the same time, he probably was not well educated. He may have been only semiliterate. But he certainly lived, and his teachings have impacted the world ever since. Surely that is one gauge of genius.

Since that is the view I am sketching in this book, I can imagine readers who think me anti-Christian taking umbrage at my refusal to tow their line. And Christian readers may well be pleased to see that even someone like me agrees with them on key points (although they certainly won’t like other things I have to say in the book). My goal, however, is neither to please nor to offend. It is to pursue a historical question with all the rigor that it deserves and requires and in doing so to show that there really was a historical Jesus and that we can say certain things about him. – Bart D. Erhman, Did Jesus Exist?, pgs. 36-37.

So, here we have it. Erhman is not anti-Christian! So, let’s lay that excuse for disregarding his research aside and make it a point to read what he says, evaluate his evidence and, make informed decisions based on those evidences; instead of believing the biased religious teachings of those who provide no evidences, historically or scholarly.   But, some have said that his work is trying to persuade people over to his way of believing! Erhman is out to win everyone over to agnosticism through his books. Therefore, don’t read his books!  Well, let’s let Erhman, in his own words from his book, Misquoting Jesus, dispel that assumption:

Maybe I should point out that I do not see it as my mission in life to convince other people to agree with me on this issue. I’m always happy to talk with people about their beliefs, honestly and openly, and to share with them why I no longer can believe. I don’t think they are lacking in intelligence for believing (my wife is far more intelligent than I, and she’s a believer), and I don’t think that I’m evil for not believing. What we need in religious discussion is a frank and brutally honest sharing of views, not simply an insistence that everyone comes to believe, or disbelieve, what we do.—Erhman, Misquoting Jesus, pgs. 248-249.

Once again, Erhman is not like the fundamentalist Christians that I have associated with for the last 20 years. He is not interested in converting others to agnosticism; while, most Christians that I know ARE interested in converting others to Christianity. This may be the reason that many Christians are unable to be brutally honest and share differing views without getting angry and attacking. If they weren’t so interested in converting people, it would be easier to discuss differing views. On the other hand, it could just be a lack of real education in the area of biblical literacy and history that leads to this anger.  Today, because I no longer hold to the fundamentalist views, I can discuss differing views and beliefs rationally and intelligently, oftentimes, learning new information that has been helpful in the process of the discussion. I have come to realize that an opposing view can be a good thing; especially if that view is rooted in facts as well! I have not had one single person that has opposed my views that I have not learned something insightful from. I am of the mindset that I will discuss, listen and learn. It would be nice if others would have that same mindset. Instead, there are certain groups of Christians that do not want to hear, or put up with, a different belief or view. Anyone opposed to what they believe is labeled as a “heretic,” “dissenter” or “of the devil.”

Now, let me throw out some seeds for thought on inerrancy and inspiration of scripture. First of all, I would think that what God inspires should be PERFECT, because God is PERFECT. Whatever the Holy Spirit of God inspires will be without contradiction and error. Yet, the Bible is full of contradictions and errors! Think about this. Does one think a PERFECT God will produce an IMPERFECT product riddled with imperfections that could lead to wrong beliefs? What about a product that would lead to abusive attitudes and behaviors toward women and children?

Does the Bible contain truths? I believe so. Do these errors mean that we should discount the known truths because of the errors? I don’t believe so. These errors and contradictions show the humanity of the authors. They were not perfect human beings and therefore, they could not produce a perfect work. If these authors were inspired by God, then their works would be perfect because God is perfect. However, if they were inspired like any other writer is inspired, then one will find mistakes. There is a difference between these two types of inspiration, wouldn’t you think?

One more area of thought I would like to mention is that many Christians discount known facts based on what they are taught instead of research and evidence. Also, what about the known errors, changes, insertions and deletions that the translators made to the manuscripts in order to lean the scriptures toward their already biased views?  Scholars have known for centuries about these changes and biases.

So, does one discount the inerrancy and inspiration based on the mistakes and changes (known facts), or, does one adhere to its inerrancy and inspiration based on the  opinions of preachers and Bible theologians of the 20th century that made these claims that, heretofore, were not made?

What discovery transpired during the 20th century with all the manuscripts in existence that suddenly moved conservative Christians to propound that the Bible was inerrant and inspired? If nothing transpired with the manuscripts, then could it have been a dispute that happened because different factions disagreed on a theological doctrine? If it is not based on facts, then one would think that it would be foolish to make such a presumption that for centuries had not been made or even considered. I believe it happened as a result of a dispute between religious factions.

These are just some of my thoughts on this subject as I continue to study and learn.  But more importantly, I wanted readers to know that Erhman is not anti-Christian. Instead of making assumptions and discrediting his work based on his belief, wouldn’t it be better to make an informed decision based on evidences and facts? Of course it would! That’s what Erhman does.  If everyone would do this, it would prevent a lifetime of living, believing and propagating lies. As a result of the lies that many fundamentalists proclaim as truth, lives are being destroyed; as many of these teachings lead to abusive attitudes and behaviors toward women and children. The stories on my blog are a testament to this fact.

My desire is that everyone would do their due diligence to search out if what they have been taught is true using outside sources instead of biased sources from within their own sects. The truth is that getting an unbiased education will prevent much of the animosity and conflict that proliferates throughout Christianity against those that believe differently or disagree. It also allows for sound reasoning between different belief systems without the anger and vitriol being spewed.  Study. Find evidence that supports the truth of a matter. Think on it. Make decisions regarding it. Don’t believe blindly what you are told is truth.