Thursday, June 23, 2005


I was watching a special on "Who Wrote the Bible", produced by Channel4, and right at the end, the last 7 minutes or so, the main narrator Robert Beckford stopped to speak with Richard Land (see here for a more in-depth description of who he is, from his own website). The following is a brief transcript of that very tail end of the show. I wonder if anyone else finds it as disturbing as I did. (mind you, seeing someone saying these things matter of factly as he does, and to a congregation etc.... UGH.)

Theologian Robert Beckford
Dr.Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention

hahaha... I was just looking for a link to information on Robert Beckford and ran across a rebuttal of this program, and one quote leaped out at me: "The whole programme, of course, was the devil’s lie."

yes.. of course... if we agree with you, we're influenced by god... if we disagree, it's not our actual studying and research... it's THE DEVIL. such a clear worldview must be very comforting. :)

you can even read the whole thing for yourself here in the evangelical times, just to be fair. I'm sure it will be a fairly unbiased and honest evaluation of the material. ;)

UPDATE: I typed and formatted all of this myself. stepping through the video, writing down and describing every few seconds of video. just wanted to point out that I didn't copy this transcript from somewhere else, which is what Jen thought this morning when she asked me what I spent all night doing. this is what I was doing.


RB = Robert Beckman, Theologian
RL = Dr. Richard Land - President of the Southern Baptist Convention

RB: My journey is almost over. It's taken me back thousands of years, but the questions I've been asking matter today more than ever, and I'll tell you why.

(video clip of George W. Bush. audio byte of GWB saying "Freedom and Fear... are at war.")

RB: US President George W. Bush claims to live by the bible, and between 30 and 40% of the American Electorate are Evangelical Christians who believe that god wrote it.

Just before the presidential elections, Bush knows that if he rallies the religious hard-liners that didn't vote last time, it'll be 4 more years in the White House.

(audio byte of RB's car radio playing part of a sermon by Richard Land (RL): "If the Christians in America get right with God, God will bless America. If they don't, God's not gonna bless America.")

RB: I'm on my way to a baptist church in Georgia to meet a big time preacher who's been dubbed "Spiritual Advisor to the President". He's known Bush since 1988 and even wears Presidential Cuff-Links.

RB speaking to RL: What does the bible mean to George [W.] Bush?

RL to RB: I believe he believes it's God's word, and it's a source of guidance.

(video clip of RL speaking emphatically to his congregation: "God said it. That settles it. I believe it.")

RL to RB: The most important source of knowledge about Good and Evil, Right and Wrong... umm.. meaning and purpose for Human Life... umm.. that is uh.. available to human beings.

RL to congregation: I was asked the other day by a liberal uh.. if I had anything I would suggest the president had done differently, I said "yes, I would have flooded Iraq with American troops. Not 120,000... 500,000."

RB to RL: Is it right for the bible to impact Domestic and Foreign Policy?

RL to RB: Sure. Biblical Truth is Truth with a capital T... and if it's true on Sunday, it's true on Monday... it's true 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... and it should apply to every area of our lives.

RL to congregation: For a Christian to be involved in an armed conflict means that it must be authorized by the legitimate authority. I do not believe that a legitimate authority for the United States is the United Nations. Now, if they want to agree with us, great. But if they don't, (throws hands in the air and makes noise) EHH. I don't care.

RB to RL: Does reading the bible make you a better President?

RL to RB: Well, as a Christian, I believe it does. I would think it would make you a better person, a better husband, a better Senator, a better wife, a better father, a better mother, a better welder, a better lawyer uh... it'll make you a better human being.

RB to RL: On this journey, I've been looking at who wrote the bible, and I've come across theologians who say you don't have to take the New Testament literally.. because it was written decades after those events took place, so surely one needs to be a little bit more flexible...

RL cuts in on RB: I don't.. I.. I think surely not. umm.. it's not a question of intellect. It's not a question of scholarship. It's a question of Faith. umm.. most of the people that you're referring to come to the bible with what I call a Napoleonic Code... uh.. Assumption. In the Napoleonic Code, you're guilty until proven innocent. umm.. and I come to it with an English Common Law approach. You're innocent until proven guilty. It's God's word until you prove it isn't.

RB to RL: There are Theologians who argue that the biblical text was written thousands of years ago, is inaccurate, and can't be the basis of sound Domestic or International Policy. What do you say to that?

RL to RB: Rubbish. *smirk* *chuckles* You wanted a short answer, I'll give you a short answer. Rubbish. Dangerous Rubbish. When you believe the bible and you follow the bible, God blesses you and you grow. When you stand in judgment of scripture, that is a theology of death.

(video clip of Bush's victory with audio clip of Bush saying "I want to thank you all for your hard work...")

RB: 16 days later, the American Electorate gave George W. Bush a landslide victory. Many believe that preachers like Richard Land, and Bush's own very public relationship with the bible, won the day. It's been an earth shattering journey for me. From my roots, where whatever you do, you certainly never question the bible... first the so called Law of Moses turns out to be the work of many human hands... then I find much of the Old Testament was ruled by ancient politics as much as by Divine Insight. The New Testament too turns out to be a masterwork of spin. Written by people who were nowhere near the events they describe. All gathered together by powerful editors who made sure to keep out ideas they didn't like.

But my Mother always taught me: "Stay intelligent despite your education.", and what she meant by that was "use your experience to work out what's in front of you.", and if I apply that to this journey, Who Wrote the Bible? Well, I've learned that biblical authorship is messy, and it's messy because life is imperfect... and if we can find God in the imperfections of our lives, of my life, then maybe we can find God in the messiness of the text. Who Wrote the Bible? Well it's a complex question, and it takes some thinking through, and that tells me that to have Faith in the world today, is to ask questions and never have the wool pulled over your eyes.

1 comment:

JStressman said...

no problem Howie. that's one of the things I'm here for. :)