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Our responses to your complaint Emails

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Overview:

We receive a lot of Emails critical of the contents of our Web site. We welcome these letters because they often reveal specific errors in one of our essays. But other Emails are of a general nature.

As of 2008-APR, we have placed about 4,300 essays and menus on line. Any one reader is certain to disagree with the contents of some of them. Disagreements are particularly intense over the Christian menu which contains dozens of links to descriptions of basic Christian doctrines.

The following are common criticisms and our response to them. Perhaps if you read them, you will be saved the time of writing us a letter (and we will be saved the time of replying). We respond to as many letters as we are able to, even the "You and your children will burn for all eternity in the fires of Hell because of what you have put on the Internet" type of Email.

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You lack formal theological education, yet you speak as authorities

Three out of the four of us are professionals. But all of us do lack a formal theological education. But we do not speak as authorities. We simply explain what liberal, mainline and conservative theologians believe. We are reporters. With the exception of a very few locations on our web site, we do not present innovative theological beliefs. Those cases are clearly marked.

There is nothing particularly original in any of our essays. We describe very few of our own personal ideas. We merely describe all viewpoints by followers of Christianity and other religions. We also have hundreds of essays that deal with current controversial social and religious conflicts.

Many conservative Christians, attend conservative Protestant or Roman Catholic religious services, listen to conservative Christian radio stations, buy religious books at conservative Christian bookstores, go to conservative Christian theme parks, etc. They are often shocked when they read about the beliefs of sincere, intelligent, thoughtful, studious and devout liberal Christians. They are unaware that there are many Bible commentaries and handbooks whose authors state that:
bulletMoses did not write the first 5 books of the Bible
bulletthe Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
bulletSt. Paul did not write many of the Epistles which were traditionally assigned to him
bulletThe book of Daniel was written many centuries after Daniel's death
bulletetc.

Please trust us. We are not making all of this up. Please don't "shoot the messenger." In our quest to provide you will information on all Christian viewpoints, we will inevitably write a great deal of material that religious conservatives find offensive. There is also much material here that offends religious liberals. This is the real situation in North America. We are merely mirroring it.

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You give almost all of your attention to liberal interpretations

This is quite true. We probably devote at least three times the space to liberal beliefs than to conservative beliefs. Consider our essay on the Virgin Birth. The conservative view takes up 3.6 lines, whereas the liberal views take up 8 screens. But there is a reason for that. It is not bias on our part.

Many Bible passages define a belief clearly and without ambiguity. For example, two Gospels (Matthew and Luke) mention the virgin birth of Jesus. If one believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, there is no room for alternative beliefs. Jesus' birth must have happened exactly that way." Simple. Case closed. No need for argument. No need to explain alternative beliefs among conservative Christians because there are none.

But the liberal view is based on an entirely different conception of the Bible. They look at the sacred texts of other religions in the Mediterranean area in the expectation that some of the ideas from those texts might have been adopted by Christian/Jewish authors. They study other Gospels, infancy stories, books of revelation, etc. that were considered inspired text by various early Christian groups but which never made it into the New Testament. They arrange the books of the Christian Scriptures chronologically in order to detect how a particular belief might have developed through time. They compare accounts in different Biblical passages in order to determine how they compare and conflict. They look for personal agendas of the authors, and the religious groups that they belonged to. They believe that the Bible shows different Christian traditions developing, often in bitter conflict with each other (e.g. Jewish Christians, Gnostic Christians and  Pauline Christians). They look for forgeries and copying errors that may have crept into the text. They might conclude that what liberals might call "the virgin birth legend" does not relate to a real event circa 6 BCE, but is a myth which was invented in order to show that Jesus' birth was a miracle, much like the births of the founders and saviors of humanity in other Mediterranean religions. Our essay on the birth goes on for 8 pages with a half page of references added.

With some topics, we have to explain not one but an of a number of different conclusions reached by different liberal theologians. On other topics, we find that the Roman Catholic church has a doctrine that is at variance from both conservative and liberal Protestantism. So we explain all three beliefs. This takes a lot of words, and area on your screen.

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You are heavily biased towards the liberal view

On the contrary. If you want to see really biased reporting, you should look elsewhere on the Internet. You can go to Fundamentalist and other Evangelical sites and learn only of the conservative view. You can go to liberal Christian, progressive Christian, and Atheist sites and see only their views. At least we try to explain both (or all) sides accurately.

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You poke holes in the conservative view

This is true in one instance: In our studies of evolution, we found a little discussed fact in the fossil record that proves that fossils and rock layers were not laid down during the Noachian flood. This indicates that the beliefs of most Creation Scientists are wrong. It does not show that the Theory of Evolution is true; just that Creation Science is not true.

But that is an exception. One cannot prove or disprove something like the Trinity, the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus from scientific observations. So, we simply explain both or all belief systems.

Some people believe that liberal views actually poke holes in corresponding the conservative views. That is not really possible, because both sides come from entirely different points of origin:
bulletThe conservative typically believes in the inerrancy of the Bible. Thus his/her views are impervious to disproof, If the Bible says that something happened, then it happened exactly that way.
bulletThe liberal typically approaches the Bible as a series of books by fallible religious authors whose writings show a gradually evolving belief system. They see contradictions and errors in the text. They look upon the Bible as just one source of original material. They often ask "why things were recorded as they were" rather than "what really happened."

So, conservative and liberals start with very different assumptions about the bible and reach very different conclusions. But they are not attacking each other. Each is saying: "If you start from a certain fundamental belief system about the nature of the Bible, then this is a conclusion that you might reach."

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