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Throughout the history of Christianity, many have offered criticisms of Christianity, the church, and of Christians themselves. Some criticism specifically addresses Christian beliefs, teachings and interpretation of scripture. The formal response of Christians to such criticisms is described as Christian apologetics.

This article considers several areas of criticism including some claims of scripture itself, ethics of biblical interpretations that have been used historically to justify attitudes and behaviors that are seen by critics as clearly wrong, the question of compatibility with science, and certain Christian doctrines that some find unsettling or unreasonable.


Biblical criticism

Biblical criticism, in particular higher criticism, covers a variety of methods used since the Enlightenment in the early 18th century as scholars began to apply to biblical documents the same methods and perspectives which had already been applied to other literary and philosophical texts.[1] It is an umbrella term covering various techniques used mainly by mainline and liberal Christian theologians to study the meaning of Biblical passages. It uses general historical principles, and is based primarily on reason rather than revelation or faith. There are four primary types of Biblical criticism: form, traditional, higher and lower criticism.[2]

  • Form criticism: an analysis of literary documents, particularly the Bible, to discover earlier oral traditions (stories, legends, myths, etc.) upon which they were based.
  • Tradition criticism: an analysis of the Bible, concentrating on how religious traditions have grown and changed over the time span during which the text was written.
  • Higher criticism: the study of the sources and literary methods employed by the biblical authors.[3]
  • Lower criticism: the discipline and study of the actual wording of the Bible; a quest for textual purity and understanding.[3]

Conservative Christians, as well as much of Orthodox Judaism and Karaite Judaism, support the idea that the Bible is historically accurate. Moderate and liberal Christians generally accept the historicity and reliability of scripture in varying degrees, but differ primarily on interpretation of particular passages—from literal meanings to metaphorical intent in some regard.

Inconsistencies have been alleged by critics and skeptics,[4] presenting as difficulties the different numbers and names for the same feature and different sequences for what is supposed to be the same event. Responses to these criticisms include the modern documentary hypothesis, two source hypothesis (in various guises), and assertions that the Pastoral Epistles are pseudonymous. Contrasting with these critical stances are positions supported by literalists, considering the texts to be consistent, with the Torah written by a single source,[5][6] but the Gospels by four independent witnesses,[7] and all of the Pauline Epistles, except possibly the Hebrews, as having been written by Paul of Tarsus.

While consideration of the context is necessary when studying the Bible, some find the accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus within the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, difficult to reconcile. E. P. Sanders concludes that the inconsistencies make the possibility of a deliberate fraud unlikely: "A plot to foster belief in the Resurrection would probably have resulted in a more consistent story. Instead, there seems to have been a competition: 'I saw him,' 'So did I,' 'The women saw him first,' 'No, I did; they didn't see him at all,' and so on."[8]

Harold Lindsell points out that it is a "gross distortion" to state that people who believe in Biblical inerrancy suppose every statement made in the Bible is true (opposed to accurate).[9] He indicates there are expressly false statements in the Bible which are reported accurately[9] (for example, Satan is a liar whose lies are accurately reported as to what he actually said).[9] Proponents of biblical inerrancy generally do not teach that the Bible was dictated directly by God, but that God used the "distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers" of scripture and that God's inspiration guided them to flawlessly project his message through their own language and personality.[10]:Art. VIII

Those who believe in the inspiration of scripture teach that it is infallible (or inerrant), that is, free from error in the truths it expresses by its character as the word of God.[11] However, the scope of what this encompasses is disputed, as the term includes 'faith and practice' positions, with some denominations holding that the historical or scientific details, which may be irrelevant to matters of faith and Christian practice, may contain errors.[12]
Other scholars take stronger views,[13] but for a few verses these positions require more exegetical work, leading to dispute (compare the serious debate over the related issue of perspicuity, attracting biblical and philosophical discussion).

Infallibility refers to the original texts of the Bible, and all mainstream scholars acknowledge the potential for human error in transmission and translation; yet, through use textual criticism modern (critical) copies are considered to "faithfully represent the originals",[10]:Art. X and our understanding of the original language sufficiently good for accurate translation. The opposing view is that there is too much corruption, or translation too difficult, to agree with modern texts.

Unfulfilled Prophecy


Abraham, whose unconditional promises were not fulfilled by Jesus according to people of the Jewish tradition. Portrait done by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

Hundreds of years before the time of Jesus, Jewish prophets promised that a messiah would come. Judaism claims that Jesus did not fulfill these prophecies. Other skeptics usually claim that the prophecies are either vague or unfulfilled,[14] or that the Old Testament writings influenced the composition of New Testament narratives.[15]
Christian apologists claim that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies, which they argue are nearly impossible to fulfill by chance.[16] Many Christians anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus, when he will fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy, such as the Last Judgement, the general resurrection, establishment of the Kingdom of God, and the Messianic Age (see the article on Preterism for contrasting Christian views).

The Hebrew Bible, referred to by Christians as the Old Testament, is a history of the land of Israel. God gave Abraham unconditional promises entailing multitudinous progeny, nationhood, royal leaders, and land possession. The Hebrew Bible's prophetic literature ends waiting for Judah to be restored via a new monarch, one who will restore the Davidic kingdom and possibly create universal peace. The New Testament traces Jesus' line to that of David; however, according to Stephen L. Harris:

Jesus did not accomplish what Israel's prophets said the Messiah was commissioned to do: He did not deliver the covenant people from their Gentile enemies, reassemble those scattered in the Diaspora, restore the Davidic kingdom, or establish universal peace.[Isa. 9:6-7] [11:7-12:16] Instead of freeing Jews from oppressors and thereby fulfilling God's ancient promises—for land, nationhood, kingship, and blessing—Jesus died a "shameful" death, defeated by the very political powers the Messiah was prophesied to overcome. Indeed, the Hebrew prophets did not foresee that Israel's savior would be executed as a common criminal by Gentiles, making Jesus' crucifixion a "stumbling block" to scripturally literate Jews.[1 Cor.1:23] [17]

Many Christians counter this argument by stating that these prophesies will be fulfilled by Jesus in the Millennial Reign after the Great Tribulation. As stated in The Book of Revelation, Jesus will restore the Jewish kingdom and take throne in Jerusalem (fulfilling the prophesies of the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom and the freedom from the Gentiles). It is here that a new temple will be built.

The 16th-century Jewish theologian Isaac ben Abraham, who lived in Trakai, Lithuania, penned a work called Chizzuk Emunah (Faith Strengthened) that attempted to refute the ideas that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament and that Christianity was the "New Covenant" of God. He systematically identified a number of inconsistencies in the New Testament, contradictions between the New Testament and the Old Testament, and Old Testament prophesies which remained unfulfilled in Jesus' lifetime. In addition, he questioned a number of Christian practices, such as the Sunday Sabbath.[18] Written originally for Jews to persuade them not to convert to Christianity,[19] the work was eventually read by Christians. While the well-known Christian Hebraist Johann Christoph Wagenseil attempted an elaborate refutation of Trakai's arguments, Wagenseil's Latin translation of it only increased interest in the work and inspired later Christian freethinkers. Chizzuk Emunah was praised as a masterpiece by Voltaire.[18]

On the other hand, Blaise Pascal believed that "[t]he prophecies are the strongest proof of Jesus Christ." He wrote that Jesus was foretold, and that the prophecies came from a succession of people over a span of four thousand years.[20] Apologist Josh McDowell defends the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy as supporting Christianity, arguing that prophecies fulfilled by Christ include ones relating to his ancestral line, birthplace, virgin birth, miracles, manner of death, and resurrection. He says that even the timing of the Messiah in years and in relation to events is predicted, and that the Jewish Talmud (not accepting Jesus as the Messiah) laments that the Messiah had not appeared despite the scepter being taken away from Judah.[21]

Selective interpretation

Critics argue that the selective invocation of portions of the Old Testament is hypocritical, particularly when those portions endorse hostility towards women and homosexuals, when other portions are considered obsolete. The entire Mosaic Law is described in Galatians 3:24-25 as a tutor which is no longer necessary.

On the other hand, many of the Old Testament laws are specifically abrogated by the New Testament, such as circumcision.[22] Romans 3:31 says "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law".

There are a number of positions which are taken in response to these critics:

  • Some argue that the specific principles invoked by Christians are endorsed or renewed in the New Testament.[23]
  • Others argue that the Old Testament law applies, except as modified by the New Testament[24]

Textual corruption

Within the wealth of Biblical manuscripts exist a number of textual variants. The vast majority of these textual variants are the inconsequential misspelling of words, word order variations[25] and the mistranscription of abbreviations.[26] Text critics such as Bart D. Ehrman have proposed that some of these textual variants and interpolations were theologically motivated.[27] Ehrman's conclusions and textual variant choices have been challenged by reviewers, including Daniel B. Wallace, Craig Blomberg and Thomas Howe.[28][29][30]

In attempting to determine the original text of the New Testament books, some modern textual critics have identified sections as probably not original. In modern translations of the Bible, the results of textual criticism have led to certain verses being left out or marked as not original.These possible later additions include the following:[31][32]

Most Bibles have footnotes to indicate areas which have disputed source documents. Bible Commentaries also discuss these, sometimes in great detail.

In The Text Of The New Testament, Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement.[33] They concluded, "Thus in nearly two-thirds of the New Testament text, the seven editions of the Greek New Testament which we have reviewed are in complete accord, with no differences other than in orthographical details (e.g., the spelling of names, etc.). Verses in which any one of the seven editions differs by a single word are not counted. This result is quite amazing, demonstrating a far greater agreement among the Greek texts of the New Testament during the past century than textual scholars would have suspected… In the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater"[33]

With the discovery of the Hebrew Bible texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, questions have been raised about the textual accuracy of the Masoretic text. That is, whether the Masoretic text which forms the basis of most modern English translations of the Old Testament, or translations which pre-date the masoretic text, such as the Septuagint, Syriac Peshitta, and Samaritan Pentateuch are more accurate.


Translation has given rise to a number of issues, as the original languages are often quite different in grammar as well as word meaning. While the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy[10] states that inerrancy applies only to the original languages, some believers trust their own translation to be the accurate one. One such group of believers is known as the King-James-Only Movement. For readability, clarity, or other reasons, translators may choose different wording or sentence structure, and some translations may choose to paraphrase passages. Because some of the words in the original language have ambiguous or difficult to translate meanings, debates over the correct interpretation occur.

Criticisms are also sometimes raised because of inconsistencies arising between different English translations of the Hebrew or Greek text. Some Christian interpretations are criticized for reflecting specific doctrinal bias[34][35] or a variant reading between the Masoretic Hebrew and Septuagint Greek manuscripts often quoted in the New Testament.

'Translation of Almah as Virgin ': Matthew 1:22-1:23 reads: "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel'—which means, 'God with us.' " From the earliest days of Christianity, Jewish critics have argued that Christians were mistaken in their reading of the word almah ("עלמה") in Isaiah 7:14.[36] Jewish translations of the verse from Isaiah read: "Behold, the young woman is with child and will bear a son and she will call his name Immanuel." Moreover, it is claimed that Christians have taken this verse out of context (see Immanuel for further information).[34]

Christians also counter this argument by stating that Genesis 3:15 refers to the "seed of the woman" when in fact there is no such thing, therefore prophesying a virgin birth.

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

The Greek text of Matthew 1:23 uses the term "parthenos," which is the usual Greek word for virgin:

"[…] Ιδου η παρθενος εν γαστρι εξει και τεξεται υιον και καλεσουσιν το ονομα αυτου εμμανουηλ ο εστιν μεθερμηνευομενον μεθ ημων ο θεος". (Matthew 1:23 1881 Westcott-Hort)[37]

However, the Hebrew text at Isaiah 7:14 uses the word almah:

יד לָכֵן יִתֵּן אֲדֹנָי הוּא, לָכֶם--אוֹת: הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה, הָרָה וְיֹלֶדֶת בֵּן, וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ, עִמָּנוּ אֵל. 14
Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.[38]

The Jewish translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek that was in use during the first century, the Septuagint, uses the word "parthenos" ("virgin") in Isaiah 7:14 rather than the usual Greek word "neanis" for "young woman".[39] The Septuagint's Greek term παρθένος (parthenos) is considered by many to be an inexact rendering of the Hebrew word `almah in the text of Isaiah.[40]

The use of the Hebrew word "almah" in the Hebrew Masoretic Text of Isaiah has stirred debate among translators and has resulted in variations between Bible translations, with some translations using "young woman" as does the New English Translation or NET Bible:

“For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.”[Isa. 7:14]

The text from the Luther Bible uses the German word "Jungfrau", which is composed literally of the words "young" and "woman", although it is common to use this word for "virgin". This ambiguity results in a similar reading to the original Hebrew in the text of Jesaja (Isaiah) 7:14. "Darum wird euch der HERR selbst ein Zeichen geben: Siehe, eine Jungfrau ist schwanger und wird einen Sohn gebären, den wird sie nennen Immanuel."[41] in English: "For this reason, the LORD himself will give to you(plural) a sign: See, a virgin/young woman is pregnant and will bear a son, whom she will name Immanuel."

Some scholars contend that debates over the precise meaning of bethulah ("בתולה"-virgin) and almah (young woman) are misguided because no Hebrew word encapsulates the idea of certain virginity.[42] Martin Luther also argued that the debate was irrelevant, not because the words do not clearly mean virgin, but because almah and bethulah were functional synonyms.[43]

(For more information, see the articles on the Virgin birth of Jesus and Isaiah 7:14.)

Prophecy of the Nazarene: Another example is Matthew 2:23: "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, 'He shall be called a Nazarene.'" The website for Jews for Judaism claims that "Since a Nazarene is a resident of the city of Nazareth and this city did not exist during the time period of the Jewish Bible, it is impossible to find this quotation in the Hebrew Scriptures. It was fabricated."[34][44] However, one common suggestion is that the New Testament verse is based on a passage relating to Nazirites, either because this was a misunderstanding common at the time, or through deliberate re-reading of the term by the early Christians. Another suggestion is "that Matthew was playing on the similarity of the Hebrew word nezer (translated 'Branch' or 'shoot' in Isaiah 11:1 and Jeremiah 23:5) with the Greek nazoraios, here translated 'Nazarene.'"[45] Christians also suggest that by using an indirect quotation and the plural term prophets, "Matthew was only saying that by living in Nazareth, Jesus was fulfilling the many Old Testament prophecies that He would be despised and rejected.[46] The background for this is illustrated by Philip's initial response in John 1:46 to the idea that Jesus might be the Messiah: "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"[45]


For most Christians, the miracles represent actual historical events. Without the resurrection, Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians, "our preaching is useless and so is your faith." The Roman Catholic Church requires a certain number of miracles to occur before granting sainthood to a putative saint, with particularly stringent requirements in validating the miracle's authenticity.

Philosopher David Hume argued against the plausibility of miracles:

1) A miracle is a violation of the known laws of nature; 2) We know these laws through repeated and constant experience; 3) The testimony of those who report miracles contradicts the operation of known scientific laws; 4) Consequently no one can rationally believe in miracles.

Hume's argument against the plausibility of miracles produced by humans is challenged by Jesus' own admission of the human impossibility of miracles.[Matt. 19:26] Instead, Jesus said that miracles are acts of God that are "impossible for men" but "with God all things are possible". When Jesus asked Peter to walk on water, Peter's own fear of the waters of the seas led him to fall after a brief period of success (Hume postulated that past experiences led to predictions based on reason), with Jesus characteristically rebuking Peter for having little faith.[Matt. 14:29-33]

The Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church reject Hume's argument against miracles outright with the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas, who postulated that Reason alone was not sufficient to understand God's energies (activities such as miracles) and essence, but faith was.[47] In the Eastern Churches the "miraculous" transubstantiation is described as a "mystery", claiming that any human attempt to understand the scientific process leads to confusion.

Miraculous healings through prayers, often involving the "laying on of hands", have been reported. Reliance on faith healing alone can indirectly contribute to serious harm and even death.[48]

Christian apologists including C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler and William Lane Craig have argued that miracles are reasonable and plausible.[49][50][51]


Certain interpretations of some moral decisions in the Bible are considered ethically questionable by many modern groups. Some of the passages most commonly criticized include the subjugation of women, religious intolerance, condemnation of homosexuality, and support for the institution of slavery in both Old and New Testaments.


Early Christianity variously opposed, accepted, or ignored slavery.[2] The early Christian perspectives of slavery were formed in the contexts of Christianity's roots in Judaism, and as part of the wider culture of the Roman Empire. Both the Old and New Testaments recognize the institution of slavery.

The earliest surviving Christian teachings about slavery are from Paul the Apostle, who frequently referred to himself as a "Slave of Christ." Paul did not renounce the institution of slavery. Conversely, he taught that Christian slaves ought to serve their masters wholeheartedly.[Eph. 6:5-8] At the same time, he taught slave owners to treat their slaves fairly. The entire Epistle to Philemon is devoted to Onesimus, a runaway slave and convert whom Paul returns to his master, to be seen as "not just a slave, but much more than a slave; he is a dear brother in Christ."[Philemon 16] Tradition describes Pope Pius I (term c. 158-167) and Pope Callixtus I (term c. 217-222) as former slaves.[52]

Since the Middle Ages, the Christian understanding of slavery has seen significant internal conflict and endured dramatic change. Nearly all Christian leaders before the late 17th century regarded slavery, within specific Biblical limitations, as consistent with Christian theology. In early Medieval times, the Church discouraged slavery throughout Europe, largely eliminating it.[53] That changed in 1452, when Pope Nicholas V instituted hereditary slavery of captured Muslims and pagans, which effectively meant Africans or Asians. As he read the Bible, God had instructed his faithful to make slaves of the neighboring heathens. Pope Paul III in the 1537 bull Sublimis Deus forbade the seizing of pagans as slaves, however various Christian groups[who?] have taught that Africans were the descendants of Ham, cursed with "the mark of Ham" (dark skin) to be servants to the descendants of Japheth (Europeans) and Shem (Asians).[2]

Rodney Stark makes the argument in For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery,[54] that Christianity helped to end slavery worldwide, as does Lamin Sanneh in Abolitionists Abroad.[55] These authors point out that Christians who viewed slavery as wrong on the basis of their religious convictions spearheaded abolitionism, and many of the early campaigners for the abolition of slavery were driven by their Christian faith and a desire to realize their view that all people are equal under God.[56] In the late 17th century, anabaptists began to criticize slavery. Criticisms from the Society of Friends, Mennonites, and the Amish followed suit. Prominent among these Christian abolitionists were William Wilberforce, and John Woolman. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her famous book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, according to her Christian beliefs in 1852. In Britain and America, Quakers were active in abolitionism. A group of Quakers founded the first English abolitionist organization, and a Quaker petition brought the issue before government that same year. The Quakers continued to be influential throughout the lifetime of the movement, in many ways leading the way for the campaign. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was instrumental in starting abolitionism as a popular movement.[57]

Nearly all modern Christians are united in the condemnation of slavery as wrong and contrary to God's will. Only peripheral groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and other Christian hate groups on the racist fringes of the Christian Reconstructionist and Christian Identity movements advocate the reinstitution of slavery.[2] Full adherents to reconstructionism are few and marginalized among conservative Christians.[58][59][60] With these exceptions, all Christian faith groups now condemn slavery, and see the practice as incompatible with basic Christian principles.[2][53]

In addition to aiding abolitionism, many Christians made further efforts toward establishing racial equality, contributing to the Civil Rights Movement.[61] The African American Review notes the important role Christian revivalism in the black church played in the Civil Rights Movement.[62] Martin Luther King, Jr., an ordained Baptist minister, was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a Christian Civil Rights organization.[63]

Christianity and women

Joan of arc miniature graded

Joan of Arc led battles in the fight to free France from England. She believed that God had commanded her to do so. Upon capture, she was tried for heresy by an English court and burned at the stake. She is now a saint venerated in the Roman Catholic Church.[64]

Many feminists have accused notions such as a male God, male prophets, and the man-centred stories in the Bible of contributing to a patriarchy.[65] Though many women disciples and servants are recorded in the Pauline epistles, there have been occasions in which women have been denigrated and forced into a second-class status.[66][67] For example, women were told to keep silent in the churches for "it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church."[1 Cor. 14:34-35] Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton said in The Woman's Bible that "the Bible in its teachings degrades Women from Genesis to Revelation".[68]

Elizabeth Clark cites early Christian writings by authors such as Augustine, Tertullian and John Chrysostom as being exemplary of the negative perception of women that has been perpetuated in church tradition.[69] Until the latter part of the twentieth century, only the names of very few women who contributed to the formation of Christianity in its earliest years were widely known: Mary, the mother of Jesus;[70] Mary Magdalene, disciple of Jesus and the first witness to the resurrection; and Mary and Martha, the sisters who offered him hospitality in Bethany.[71]

Harvard scholar Karen King writes that more of the many women who contributed to the formation of Christianity in its earliest years are becoming known. Further, she concludes that for centuries in Western Christianity, Mary Magdalene has been wrongly identified the adulteress and repentant prostitute presented in John 8–a connection supposed by tradition but nowhere claimed in the New Testament. According to King, the Gospel of Mary shows that she was an influential figure, a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership.

King claims that every sect within early Christianity which had advocated women's prominence in ancient Christianity was eventually declared heretical, and evidence of women's early leadership roles was erased or suppressed.[71]

Stagg and Stagg, in a scholarly book entitled Woman in the World of Jesus, document very unfavorable attitudes toward women that prevailed in the world into which Jesus came. They assert that there is no recorded instance where Jesus disgraces, belittles, reproaches, or stereotypes a woman. They interpret the recorded treatment and attitude Jesus showed to women as evidence that the Founder of Christianity treated women with great dignity and respect.[72] Various theologians have concluded that the canonical examples of the manner of Jesus are instructive for inferring his attitudes toward women. They are seen as showing repeatedly and consistently how he liberated and affirmed women.[73] However, Schalom Ben-Chorin argues that Jesus' reply to his mother in John 2:4 during the wedding at Cana amounted to a blatant violation of the commandment to honor one's parent.[Ex. 20:12] [74] He mistakenly assumes Jesus' response to be an offensive statement, when in all actuality, the term "woman" was used to show respect in the Hebrew cultures. Also, Christ was an adult at the time, thirty years of age. He had the Biblical right to refuse a command by his mother, and he did so stating that he was doing his Father's (God's) business.

There are three major viewpoints within modern Christianity over the role of women. They are known respectively as Christian feminism, Christian Egalitarianism and Complementarianism.

  • Christian Feminists take an actively feminist position from a Christian perspective.[75]
  • Christian Egalitarians advocate ability-based, rather than gender-based, ministry of Christians of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic classes.[76] Egalitarians support the ordination of women and equal roles in marriage, but are theologically and morally more conservative than Christian feminists and prefer to avoid the label "feminist." A limited notion of gender complementarity is held by some, known as "complementarity without hierarchy."[77]
  • Complementarians support both equality and beneficial differences between men and women.[78] They believe the Bible teaches that men and women have distinct complementary roles in both marriage and in the church. They maintain that men have a responsibility to lead and women have a responsibility to submit to the leadership of men.

Some Christians argue that the idea of God as a man is based less on gender but rather on the dominant Patriarchal society of the time in which men acted as leaders and caretakers of the Family.[79] Thus, the idea of God being "The Father" is with regards to his relationship with what are "his children", Christians.

In 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to revise its "Baptist Faith and Message" (Statement of Faith),[80] opposing women as pastors. While this decision is not binding and would not prevent women from serving as pastors, the revision itself has been criticized by some from within the convention.[81] In the same document, the Southern Baptist Convention took a strong position of the subordinating view of woman in marriage: " A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband. She has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation."

In recent years, there has been a small revival in the role of deaconesses in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The Chaldean Catholic Church on the other hand continues to maintain a large number of deaconesses serving alongside male deacons during mass.[82]

In some evangelical churches, it is forbidden for women to become pastors, deacons or church elders. In support of such prohibitions, the verse 1 Timothy 2:12 is often cited:[83]

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”

Christianity and politics

Some leftists and libertarians use the term Christian fascism or Christofascism to describe what some see as an emerging proto-fascism and possible theocracy in the United States.[84]

Reverend Rich Lang of the Trinity United Methodist Church of Seattle gave a sermon titled "George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism", in which he said, "I want to flesh out the ideology of the Christian Fascism that Bush articulates. It is a form of Christianity that is the mirror opposite of what Jesus embodied."[85]

Christianity and violence

Many critics of Christianity (and other monotheistic religions) have cited the violent acts of Christianized nations as another reason to denounce the religion. For example, science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke said that he could not forgive religions for the atrocities and wars over time.[86] Richard Dawkins makes a similar case in his book, The God Delusion. In The Dawkins Delusion?, Alister McGrath responds to Dawkins by suggesting that, far from endorsing "out-group hostility," Jesus commanded an ethic of "out-group affirmation." McGrath agrees that it is necessary to critique religion, but says that Dawkins seems unaware that it possesses internal means of reform and renewal. While Christians may certainly be accused of failing to live up to Jesus standard of acceptance, it is there at the heart of the Christian ethic.[87] Criticism of the violent acts of Christian societies is not limited to atheists and agnostics, as Christian pacifists would argue that Christianity had been co-opted by militant states to simply provide justification for political agendas; that is, violence is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, and as such war and genocide are regarded as un-Christian acts.

Compatibility with science

Many Christians support modern science: many scientists are also Christians. Other Christians have argued that Christianity is fundamentally incompatible with modern science.

During the nineteenth century an interpretive model of the relationship between religion and science developed, according to which interaction between religion and science almost inevitably leads to open hostility, usually as a result of religion's aggressive challenges against new scientific ideas. A popular example was the misconception that people from the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat, and that only science, freed from religious dogma, had shown that it was spherical. Scholars today call this model the conflict thesis (or the warfare model, or the Draper-White thesis). This thesis was a popular historiographical approach during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but most contemporary historians of science now reject it.[88][89][90]

This notion of a war between science and religion (especially Christianity) remained common in the historiography of science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[91] Most of today's historians of science consider that the conflict thesis has been superseded by subsequent historical research[92]

However, the framing of the relationship between Christianity and science as being predominantly one of conflict is still prevalent in popular culture[93] Similar views have also been supported by many scientists. The astronomer Carl Sagan, for example, mentions the dispute between the astronomical systems of Ptolemy (who thought that the sun and planets revolved around the earth) and Copernicus (who thought the earth and planets revolved around the sun). He states in his A personal Voyage that Ptolemy's belief was "supported by the church through the Dark Ages…[It] effectively prevented the advance of astronomy for 1,500 years."[94]

Studying astronomy and geometry

Clerks studying astronomy and geometry.
France, early 15th century.

Moreover, many scientists throughout history held strong Christian beliefs and strove to reconcile science and religion. Isaac Newton, for example, believed that gravity caused the planets to revolve about the Sun, and credited God with the design, yet his religious views are generally considered heretical. In the concluding General Scholium to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, he wrote: "This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being." Other famous founders of science as we know it who adhered to Christian beliefs included Galileo, Johannes Kepler, and Blaise Pascal.[95][96]

God the Geometer

Medieval scholars sought to understand the geometric and harmonic principles by which God created the universe.[97]

Historians of science such as J.L. Heilbron,[98] Alistair Cameron Crombie, David Lindberg,[99] Edward Grant, Thomas Goldstein,[100] and Ted Davis also have been revising the common notion—the product of black legends say some—that medieval Christianity has had a negative influence in the development of civilization. These historians believe that not only did the monks save and cultivate the remnants of ancient civilization during the barbarian invasions, but the medieval church promoted learning and science through its sponsorship of many universities which, under its leadership, grew rapidly in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Church's "model theologian," not only argued that reason is in harmony with faith, he even recognized that reason can contribute to understanding revelation, and so encouraged intellectual development. He was not unlike other medieval theologians who sought out reason in the effort to defend his faith.[101] Also, some today's scholars, such as Stanley Jaki, have suggested that Christianity with its particular worldview was actually a crucial factor for the emergence of modern science.[102]

David C. Lindberg states that the widespread popular belief that the Middle Ages was a time of ignorance and superstition due to the Christian church is a "caricature". According to Lindberg, while there are some portions of the classical tradition which suggests this view but these were exceptional cases. It was common to tolerate and encourage critical thinking about the nature of the world. The relation between Christianity and science is complex, according to Lindberg.[103] Lindberg reports that "the late medieval scholar rarely experienced the coercive power of the church and would have regarded himself as free (particularly in the natural sciences) to follow reason and observation wherever they led. There was no warfare between science and the church."[104] Ted Peters in Encyclopedia of Religion writes that although there is some truth in the "Galileo's condemnation" story but through exaggerations, it has now become "a modern myth perpetuated by those wishing to see warfare between science and religion who were allegedly persecuted by an atavistic and dogma-bound ecclesiastical authority."[105] In 1992, it was much lauded in the news that the Catholic Church had apparently "vindicated" Galileo (see Galileo affair).



The earliest objections to incarnation come from Celsus and Porphyry. Celsus found it hard to reconcile Christian human God who was born and matured with his Jewish God who was supposed to be one and unchanging. He asked "if God wanted to reform humanity, why did he choose to descend and live on earth? how his brief presence in Jerusalem could benefit all the millions of people who lived elsewhere in the world or who had lived and died before his incarnation?"[106]

One classical response is Lewis's trilemma, a syllogism popularised by C. S. Lewis that intended to demonstrate the logical inconsistency of both holding Jesus of Nazareth to be a "great moral teacher" while also denying his divinity.

Hell and damnation


Adam and Eve being driven from Eden due to original sin, portrayed by Gustave Doré.

Christianity has been criticized as seeking to persuade people into accepting its authority through simple fear of punishment or, conversely, through hope of reward after death, rather than through rational argumentation or empirical evidence.[107] Traditional Christian doctrine assumes that, without faith in Jesus Christ, one is subject to eternal punishment in hell.[108]

Critics regard the eternal punishment of those who fail to adopt Christian faith as morally objectionable, and consider it an abhorrent picture of the nature of the world. On a similar theme objections are made against the perceived injustice of punishing a person for all eternity for a temporal crime. Some Christians agree (see Annihilationism and Trinitarian Universalism). These beliefs have been considered especially repugnant[109] when the claimed omnipotent God makes, or allows a person to come into existence, with a nature that desires that which God finds objectionable.[110]

In the Abrahamic religions, Hell has traditionally been regarded as a punishment for wrong-doing or sin in this life, as a manifestation of divine justice. As in the problem of evil, some apologists argue that the torments of Hell are attributable not to a defect in God's benevolence, but in human free will. Although a benevolent God would prefer to see everyone saved, he would also allow humans to control their own destinies. This view opens the possibility of seeing Hell not as retributive punishment, but rather as an option that God allows, so that people who do not wish to be with God are not forced to be. C. S. Lewis most famously proposed this view in his book The Great Divorce, saying: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"

Hell is not seen as strictly a matter of retributive justice even by the more traditionalist churches. For example, the Eastern Orthodox see it as a condition brought about by, and the natural consequence of, free rejection of God's love.[111] The Roman Catholic Church teaches that hell is a place of punishment[112] brought about by a person's self exclusion from communion with God.[113] In some ancient Eastern Orthodox traditions, Hell and Heaven are distinguished not spatially, but by the relation of a person to God's love.

Some modern critics of the doctrine of Hell (such as Marilyn McCord Adams) claim that, even if Hell is seen as a choice rather than as punishment, it would be unreasonable for God to give such flawed and ignorant creatures as ourselves the awesome responsibility of our eternal destinies.[114] Jonathan Kvanvig, in his book, The Problem of Hell, agrees that God would not allow one to be eternally damned by a decision made under the wrong circumstances. For instance, one should not always honor the choices of human beings, even when they are full adults, if, for instance, the choice is made while depressed or careless. On Kvanvig's view, God will abandon no person until they have made a settled, final decision, under favorable circumstances, to reject God, but God will respect a choice made under the right circumstances. Once a person finally and competently chooses to reject God, out of respect for the person's autonomy, God allows them to be annihilated.[115]


The Catholic Church teaches that baptism is a necessity. In the fifth century, St. Augustine concluded that infants who die without baptism were consigned to hell.[116] By the 13th century, theologians referred to the "limbo of infants" as a place where unbaptized babies were deprived of the vision of God, but did not suffer because they did not know of that which they were deprived. A Catholic burial can be denied to babies who are stillborn. The 1983 Code of Canon Law (1183 §2) specifies that "Children whose parents had intended to have them baptized but who died before baptism, may be allowed church funeral rites by the local ordinary".[117] In 2007, the 30-member International Theological Commission revisited the concept of limbo.[118][119] However, the commission also said that hopefulness was not the same as certainty about the destiny of such infants.[118]

The concept of limbo is not accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church or by Protestants.[120]


The idea of atonement for sin is criticized by Richard Dawkins on the grounds that the image of God as requiring the suffering and death of Jesus to effect reconciliation with humankind is immoral. The view is summarized by Dawkins: "if God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them? Who is God trying to impress?"[121] Oxford theologian Alister McGrath maintains that Dawkins is "ignorant" of Christian theology, and therefore unable to engage religion and faith intelligently. He goes on to say that the atonement was necessary because of our flawed human nature, which made it impossible for us to save ourselves, and that it expresses God's love for us by removing the sin that stands in the way of our reconciliation with God.[122] Responding to the criticism that he is "ignorant" of theology, Dawkins asks "do you have to read up on leprechology before disbelieving in leprechauns?,"[123] and "[y]es, I have, of course, met this point before. It sounds superficially fair. But it presupposes that there is something in Christian theology to be ignorant about. The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a non-subject."[124] Dinesh D'Souza says that Dawkins criticism "only makes sense if you assume Christians made the whole thing up." He goes on to say that Christians view it as a beautiful sacrifice, and that "through the extremity of Golgotha, Christ reconciles divine justice and divine mercy."[125] Andrew Wilson argues that Dawkins misses the point of the atonement, which has nothing to do with masochism, but is based on the concepts of holiness, sin and grace.[126]

Robert Green Ingersoll suggests that the concept of the atonement is simply an extension of the Mosaic tradition of blood sacrifice and "is the enemy of morality".[127] The death of Jesus Christ represents the blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices; the resulting mechanism of atonement by proxy through that final sacrifice has appeal as a more convenient and much less costly approach to redemption than repeated animal sacrifice – a common sense solution to the problem of reinterpreting ancient religious approaches based on sacrifice.

The prominent Christian apologist Josh McDowell, in More Than A Carpenter, addresses the issue through an analogy of a real-life judge in California who was forced to fine his daughter $100 for speeding, but then came down, took off his robe, and paid the fine for her from his billfold,[128] though as in this and other cases, illustrations are only cautiously intended to describe certain aspects of the atonement.[129]

The Second Coming

Several verses in the New Testament appear to contain Jesus' predictions that the Second Coming would take place within a century following his death.[130] Jesus appears to promise for his followers the second coming to happen before the generation he is preaching to vanishes. This is seen as a essential failure in the teachings of Christ by many critics such as Bertrand Russell.[131]

However, Preterists argue that Jesus did not mean his second coming[Matt. 16:28] but speaks about demonstrations of his might, formulating this as 'coming in his kingdom', especially the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple 70 AD, which he foretold, and which definitely showed that God's nation are the Christians and not anymore the Jews whom God did not protect anymore. At that time really only some of his disciples still lived.[132] According to this view Matthew 10:23 should be understood in the same way.[133]

Inconsistency with Old Testament conception of the afterlife

Most Christian traditions teach belief in life after death as a central and indispensable tenet of their faith. Critics argue that the Christian conception of the afterlife is inconsistent with that described in the Old Testament. George E. Mendenhall believes there is no concept of immortality or life after death in the Old Testament.[134] The presumption is that the deceased are inert, lifeless, and engaging in no activity.[134] However, Heaven and Hell are mentioned in the Old Testament and two men, Enoch and Elijah, are taken into the afterlife without ever experiencing death.

The idea of Sheol ("שׁאול") or a state of nothingness was shared among Babylonian and Israelite beliefs. "Sheol, as it was called by the ancient Israelites, is the land of no return, lying below the cosmic ocean, to which all, the mighty and the weak, travel in the ghostly form they assume after death, known as Raphraim. There the dead have no experience of either joy or pain, perceiving no light, feeling no movement."[135] Obayshi alludes that the Israelites were satisfied with such a shadowy realm of afterlife because they were more deeply concerned with survival.[135]

Some critics charge that the belief in an afterlife is an innovation of Christianity, perhaps by admixture with Greek philosophy; however, by the first century such a belief was already prevalent in Jewish thinking[136] among the Pharisees[137][138] and Essenes.[139] The themes of unity and sheol which largely shaped the ancient tradition of Judaism had been undermined when only the most pious of Jews were being massacred during the Maccabean revolt.

Criticism of Christians

Negative attitudes in the United States

David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute, and Gabe Lyons of the Fermi Project published a study of attitudes of 16-29 year old Americans towards Christianity. They found that about 38% of all those who were not regular churchgoers had negative impressions of Christianity, and especially evangelical Christianity, associating it with conservative political activism, hypocrisy, anti-homosexuality, and judgmentalism.[140] About 17% had "very bad" perceptions of Christianity.[141][142]


Gaudium et Spes claims that the example of Christians may be a contributory factor to atheism, writing, "…believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion".[143]

Secular and religious critics have accused many Christians of being hypocritical.[144] For instance, although marital fidelity and family values are arguably central to Christian morality (see Christian views on divorce), a study by the Barna Research Group has shown that divorce rates among certain Christian groups were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than the rate of divorce among atheists and agnostics.[145] Tom Whiteman, a Philadelphia psychologist found that the primary reasons for Christian divorce include adultery, abuse (including substance, physical and verbal abuse), and abandonment whereas the number one reason cited for divorce in the general population was incompatibility.[146]


File:Proper hands.jpg

Conservative Christians are often accused of being intolerant bigots and hate mongers by secular humanists and liberal Christians, saying they oppose science (creation-evolution controversy, use of birth control, research into embryonic stem cells etc.), liberal democracy (separation of church and state), and progressive social policies (rights of people of other races and religions, of women, and of people with different sexual orientations).[147][148][149][150]


To Mahatma Gandhi, the materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that it is not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.[151] (see also Prosperity gospel)

I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it's not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.

Mahatma Gandhi


Some have argued that Christianity is undermined by the inability of Christians to agree on matters of faith and church governance, and the tendency for the content of their faith to be determined by regional or political factors. Schopenhauer sarcastically suggests:

To the South German ecclesiastic the truth of the Catholic dogma is quite obvious, to the North German, the Protestant. If then, these convictions are based on objective reasons, the reasons must be climatic, and thrive, like plants, some only here, some only there. The convictions of those who are thus locally convinced are taken on trust and believed by the masses everywhere.[152]

Christians respond that Ecumenism has helped bring together such communities, where in the past mistranslations of Christological Greek terms may have resulted in seemingly different views. Non-denominational Christianity represents another approach towards reducing the divisions within Christianity, although many Christian groups claiming to be non-denominational wind up with similar problems.

Persecution by Christians

Individuals and groups throughout history have been persecuted by certain Christians (and Christian groups) based upon sex, sexual orientation, race, and religion (even within the bounds of Christianity itself). Many of the persecutors attempted to justify their actions with particular scriptural interpretations. During Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, important Christian theologians advocated religious persecution to varying degrees. However, Early modern Europe witnessed a turning point in the Christian debate on persecution and toleration. Nowadays all significant Christian denominations embrace religious toleration, and "look back on centuries of persecution with a mixture of revulsion and incomprehension."[153]

Early Christianity was a minority Religion in the Roman Empire and the early Christians were themselves persecuted during that time. After Constantine I converted to Christianity, it became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire. Already under the reign of Constantine I, Christian heretics had been persecuted; beginning in the late 4th century A.D. also the ancient pagan religions were actively suppressed. In the view of many historians, the Constantinian shift turned Christianity from a persecuted into a persecuting religion.[154]

After the decline of the Roman Empire, the further Christianization of Europe was to a large extent peaceful.[155] However, encounters between Christians and Pagans were sometimes confrontational, and some Christian kings (Charlemagne, Olaf I of Norway) were known for their violence against pagans. In the late Middle Ages, the appearance of the Cathars and Bogomils in Europe laid the stage for the later witch-hunts. These (probably gnostic-influenced) sects were seen as heretics by the Catholic Church, and the Inquisition was established to counter them.

After the Protestant Reformation, the devastation caused by the partly religiously motivated wars (Thirty Years' War, English Civil War, French Wars of Religion) in Europe in the 17th century gave rise to the ideas of Religious toleration, Freedom of religion and Religious pluralism.

Response of apologists

Christians will point out that the wrong doings of other Christians are not the fault of the scriptures but of those who have wrongly interpreted it. They posit that the mistakes of Christians do not refute the validity of their teachings, but merely proves their weakness and sinful nature, of which they then turn to Christ. Thus, the "Word of God" can still be true and valid without it having to be accurately followed. According to Ron Sider, an Evangelical theologian "The tragedy is that poll after poll by Gallup and Barna show that evangelicals live just like the world. Contrast that with what the New Testament says about what happens when people come to living faith in Christ. There's supposed to be radical transformation in the power of the Holy Spirit(2 Cor 5:17, 1 Cor 10:13). The disconnect between our biblical beliefs and our practice is just, I think, heart-rending."[156]

Similar arguments are held by Roman Catholics against critics of the Catholic Church, or by other Christians defending their respective Churches. Whilst the organization may make a mistake, it is not the fault of the Church's structure, but the fault of those serving within it. Roman Catholics will argue that the Popes who were corrupt in the Middle Ages is not the fault of the position of the Papacy or of the fact that there are obedient Priests lower in the hierarchy, but the fault of the individual people who act as "God's representative on Earth". Such examples can be seen in Dante's Divine Comedy, where Roman Catholic Clergy who had practiced simony find themselves in the lower circles of hell.



Some critics have maintained that Christianity isn't founded on a historical figure, but rather on a mythical creation.[157] This view proposes that the idea of Jesus was the Jewish manifestation of Hellenistic cults that acknowledged the non-historic nature of their deity using it instead as a teaching device.[158] Author Brian Branston has argued that Christianity adopted many mythological tales and traditions into its views of Jesus. According to Branston these traditions, largely from Greco-Roman religions, have parallels to the story of Jesus.[159] Authors such as Stephen L. Harris,[160] Luther H. Martin[161] and Joseph Campbell[162] have suggested numerous parallels between Jesus and pagan gods such as Dionysius and Mithras. (See also Dionysus and Mithras and Christianity)

However, the position that Jesus was not a historical figure is rare among Bible scholars.[163][164][165][166]

Scholars and historians such as James H. Charlesworth, caution against using parallels with life-death-rebirth gods in the widespread mystery religions prevalent in the Hellenistic culture to conclude that Jesus is a purely legendary figure. Charlesworth argues that "[i]t would be foolish to continue to foster the illusion that the Gospels are merely fictional stories like the legends of Hercules and Asclepius. The theologies in the New Testament are grounded on interpretations of real historical events…"[167] Similarly, the existence of the category of life-death-rebirth gods is questioned by mainstream scholarship.[168]

In addition, on Christian origins presented in Acts of the Apostles Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White states:

For Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Yet Acts is, in simple terms and judged externally, no less of a propaganda narrative than the Gospels, liable to similar distortions. But any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted…. The agnostic type of form-criticism would be much more credible if the compilation of the Gospels were much later in time…. Herodotus enables us to test the tempo of myth-making, [showing that] even two generations are too short a span to allow the mythical tendency to prevail over the hard historic core.

Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press (1963), pp. 189-190.

A classic response to the criticism of the relations between Greco-Roman mythology and Christianity is that of J. R. R. Tolkien and subsequently C. S. Lewis, who considered that just because a story was a myth does not preclude it from also having taken place as a historical event. Pagan myths can be seen as prefiguring the life and death of Christ, but without detracting from their historical and religious significance. Lewis even went so far as to suggest that the existence of these Pagan myths lend Christianity credibility, as their existence might reflect God's hidden watch over all human history and his influence on the collective subconscious in the form of "good dreams" and premonitions. Lewis states that he would be far more doubtful of the reality of a supposed historical event of the magnitude of the Atonement if humanity had neglected to anticipate it in any way. A similar approach is used in justifying the Gospels, whose own similarities, yet in lacking exactness of words, point to a common "truth" arrived at separately by the four evangelists.

See also


  1. Browning, W.R.F. "[/doc/1O94-biblicalcriticism.html Biblical criticism.]" A Dictionary of the Bible. 1997. 8 Apr. 2010 <>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Robinson, B.A. "Biblical Criticism, including Form Criticism, Tradition Criticism, Higher Criticism, etc." Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 2008. Web: 8 Apr 2010. Biblical Criticism, including Form Criticism, Tradition Criticism, Higher Criticism, etc.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mather, G.A. & L.A. Nichols, "'Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult," Zondervan (1993) (quoted in Robinson, B.A. "Biblical Criticism, including Form Criticism, radition Criticism, Higher Criticism, etc." Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 2008. Web: 8 Apr 2010.
  4. See for example the list of alleged contradictions from The Skeptic's Annotated Bible and Robert G. Ingersoll's article Inspiration Of Bible.
  5. M.W.J. Phelan. The Inspiration of the Pentateuch, Two-edged Sword Publications (March 9, 2005) ISBN 978-0-9547205-6-8
  6. Ronald D. Witherup, Biblical Fundamentalism: What Every Catholic Should Know, Liturgical Press (2001), page 26.
  7. France, R.T., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Matthew, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England (1985), pg. 17.
  8. Britannica Encyclopedia, Jesus Christ, p.17
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Lindsell, Harold. "The Battle for the Bible", Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA (1976), pg. 38.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
  11. As in 2Timothy 3:16, discussed by Thompson, Mark (2006). A Clear and Present Word. New Studies in Biblical Theology. Downers Grove: Apollos. p. 92. ISBN 1844741400. 
  12. Geisler & Nix (1986). A General Introduction to the Bible. Moody Press, Chicago. ISBN ISBN 0-8024-2916-5. 
  13. See notably Grudem, representative of recent scholarship with this emphasis (Grudem, Wayne (1994). Systematic Theology. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press. pp. 90–105. ISBN 9780851106526. ).
  14. Till, Farrell (1991). "Prophecies: Imaginary and Unfulfilled". Internet Infidels. Retrieved 2007–01–16. 
  15. Bellinger, W. & W. Farmer (1998). Jesus and the Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 and Christian Origins. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.
  16. Peter W. Stoner, Science Speaks, Moody Pr, 1958, ISBN 0–8024–7630–9
  17. Stephen L. Harris, Understanding the Bible. (McGraw-Hill, 2002) p 376-7
  18. 18.0 18.1 Biography of Isaac ben Abraham of Troki
  19. Chizzuk Emunah, TorahLab Store
  20. Pascal, Blaise (17th c.). Pensees. chapter x, xii, xiii. 
  21. McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. chapter 8. 
  22. See, for example, the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15
  23. For instance "What's wrong with being gay?" at argues that the Old Testament prohibitions against homosexuality are renewed in the New Testament
  24. For example,
  25. Bruce Metzger, cited in The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel
  26. Ehrman (2005), p.91
  27. Ehrman, Bart D. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1993
  28. Wallace, Daniel B. "The Gospel According to Bart: A Review Article of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2006 (also available at
  29. Craig L. Blomberg, "Review of Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why," Denver Seminary, February 2006
  30. Thomas Howe, "A Response to Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus,"[dead link] International Society of Christian Apologetics,"
  31. Ehrman, Bart D. (2006). Whose Word Is It?. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-9129-4.  p. 166
  32. Bruce Metzger "A Textual Commentary on the New Testament", Second Edition, 1994, German Bible Society
  33. 33.0 33.1 K. Aland and B. Aland, "The Text Of The New Testament: An Introduction To The Critical Editions & To The Theory & Practice Of Modern Text Criticism", 1995, op. cit., p. 29-30.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 English Handbook Page 34[dead link]PDF (999 KB)
  35. Jew for Judaism[dead link]
  36. Dialogue of Justin Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew, LXIII
  37. See also the textus receptus text: "[…] ιδού η παρθένος εν γαστρί έξει και τέξεται υιόν και καλέσουσιν το όνομα αυτού Εμμανουήλ ο έστιν μεθερμηνευόμενος μεθ' ημών ο Θεός". (Matthew 1:23 Textus Receptus)
  38. Isaiah 7 Hebrew (Masoretic Text)-English (JPS 1917 Edition) Bible, Mechon-Mamre website
  39. The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon
  40. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-10-280290-3), article Virgin Birth of Christ
  41. Bibel-Online.NET - - Lutherbibel 1912
  42. Charles D. Isbell, Biblical Archaeological Review, June 1977, "Does the Gospel of Matthew Proclaim Mary’s Virginity?"[dead link]
  43. Martin Luther, "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew," in Luther's Works, vol. 45: The Christian in Society II, ed. H. T. Lehmann (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1962).
  44. Jews for Judaism website See also "Given the New Testament a Chance?" from the Messiah Truth website
  45. 45.0 45.1 David Sper, Managing Editor, "Questions Skeptics Ask About Messianic Prophecies," RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI, 1997
  46. See ;&version=; Psalms 22:6-8, 22:13; 69:8, 69:20-21; Isaiah 11:1, 49:7, 53:2-3, 53:8; Daniel 9:26
  47. *Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas, Vol. 1 (ISBN 1-878997-67-X) Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas, Vol. 2 (ISBN 187899768X)
  48. Bruce L. Flamm, MD (2004). "Inherent Dangers of Faith-Healing Studies". The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. 
  49. "Are Miracles Logically Impossible?". Come Reason Ministries, Convincing Christianity. Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  50. "“Miracles are not possible,” some claim. Is this true?". Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  51. Paul K. Hoffman. "A Jurisprudential Analysis Of Hume’s “in Principal” Argument Against Miracles" (PDF). Christian Apologetics Journal, Volume 2, No. 1, Spring, 1999; Copyright ©1999 by Southern Evangelical Seminary. Retrieved 2007-11-21. [dead link]
  52. Catholic Encyclopedia Slavery and Christianity
  53. 53.0 53.1 Ostling, Richard N. (2005-09-17). "Human slavery: why was it accepted in the Bible?". Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  54. Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery ISBN 978-0-691-11436-1 (2003)
  55. Lamin Sanneh, Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa, Harvard University Press ISBN 978-0-674-00718-5 (2001)
  56. Ostling, Richard N. (2005-09-17). "Human slavery: why was it accepted in the Bible?". Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  57. "Abolitionist Movement". Abolitionist Movement. Microsoft. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  58. Martin, William. 1996. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. New York: Broadway Books.
  59. Diamond, Sara, 1998. Not by Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right, New York: Guilford Press, p.213.
  60. Ortiz, Chris 2007. "Gary North on D. James Kennedy", Chalcedon Blog, 6 September 2007.
  61. "Civil Rights Movement in the United States". Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Microsoft. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  62. "Religious Revivalism in the Civil Rights Movement". African American Review. Winter, 2002. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  63. "Martin Luther King: The Nobel Peace Prize 1964". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2006–01–03. 
  64. Thurston, Herbert. St. Joan of Arc. 1910. Catholic Encyclopedia.
  65. Feminist philosophy of religion
  66. The Status Of Women In The Old Testament
  67. The Status Of Women In The Old Testament
  68. The Woman's Bible
  69. Clark, Elizabeth. "Women in the Early Church".
  70. Jesus' Family Tree
  71. 71.0 71.1 "King, Karen L. "Women in Ancient Christianity: the New Discoveries." Karen L. King is Professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard University in the Divinity School.
  72. Stagg, Evelyn and Frank. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978. ISBN 0-664- 24195-6
  73. Bilezikian, Gilbert. Beyond Sex Roles (2nd ed.) Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1989, ISBN 978-0-8010-0885-6. pp. 82–104
  74. Schalom Ben-Chorin.Brother Jesus: the Nazarene through Jewish eyes. U of Georgia Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8203-2256-8, p.66
  75. See About the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus, 
  76. Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE)
  77. Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis (eds.). Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy. IVP 2004. p. 17. 
  78. Grudem, Wayne A. "Should We Move Beyond the New Testament to a Better Ethic?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS), 47/2 (June 2004) 299–346
  79. Eck, Diana L. Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras. (2003) p. 98
  80. "Baptist Faith and Message" Online:
  81. Baptists vote against women pastors-June 14, 2000
  82., The second image shows deaconesses on August 15th, for the prayers on the day of the Assumption of Mary
  83. The 9 Most Important Issues Facing the Evangelical Church
  84. See, for example, Everybody's Talkin' About Christian Fascism by Gary Leupp.
  85. George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism
  86. Clarke, Arthur C. & Watts, Alan (January), “At the Interface: Technology and Mysticism”, Playboy (Chicago, Ill.: HMH Publishing) 19 (1): 94, ISBN 0032-1478, OCLC 3534353
  87. Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion?, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2007, ISBN 978-0-281-05927-0
  88. Quotation: "The conflict thesis, at least in its simple form, is now widely perceived as a wholly inadequate intellectual framework within which to construct a sensible and realistic historiography of Western science." (p. 7), from the essay by Colin A. Russell "The Conflict Thesis" in Gary Ferngren (editor). Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0".
  89. Quotation: "In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the "warfare between science and religion" and to presume that the two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict. However, it is a very long time since these attitudes have been held by historians of science." (p. 195) Shapin, S. (1996). The Scientific Revolution. University of Chicago Press Chicago, Ill. 
  90. Quotation: "In its traditional forms, the [conflict] thesis has been largely discredited." (p. 42) Brooke, J.H. (1991). Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives.. Cambridge University Press. 
  91. Quotation from Ferngren's introduction at "Gary Ferngren (editor). Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0.": "…while [John] Brooke's view [of a complexity thesis rather than conflict thesis] has gained widespread acceptance among professional historians of science, the traditional view remains strong elsewhere, not least in the popular mind." (p. x)
  92. Gary Ferngren (editor). Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0. (Introduction, p. ix)
  93. From Ferngren's introduction:
    "…while [John] Brooke's view [of a complexity thesis rather than conflict thesis] has gained widespread acceptance among professional historians of science, the traditional view remains strong elsewhere, not least in the popular mind. (p. x)-Gary Ferngren, (2002); Introduction, p. ix)
  94. Sagan, Carl. Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Episode 3: "The Harmony of the Worlds"
  95. Christian Influences In The Sciences
  96. World's Greatest Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K
  97. The compass in this 13th century manuscript is a symbol of God's act of Creation.
    * Thomas Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, (Washington, DC: Regenery, 2005), ISBN 0-89526-038-7
  98. "J.L. Heilbron". London Review of Books. Retrieved 2006-09-15. [dead link]
  99. Lindberg, David; Numbers, Ronald L (October 2003). When Science and Christianity Meet. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-48214-6. 
  100. Goldstein, Thomas (April 1995). Dawn of Modern Science: From the Ancient Greeks to the Renaissance. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80637-1. 
  101. Pope John Paul II (September 1998). "Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), IV". Retrieved 2006-09-15. 
  102. Jaki, Stanley L. The Savior of Science, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (July 2000), ISBN 0-8028-4772-2.
  103. David C. Lindberg, "The Medieval Church Encounters the Classical Tradition: Saint Augustine, Roger Bacon, and the Handmaiden Metaphor", in David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers, ed. When Science & Christianity Meet, (Chicago: University of Chicago Pr., 2003).
  104. quoted in: Peters, Ted. "Science and Religion". Encyclopedia of Religion pg. 8182
  105. quoted in Ted Peters,Science and Religion, Encyclopedia of Religion, p.8182
  106. Howard W. Clarke, The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers, Indiana University Press, 2003, p. 12
  107. "Let no cultured person draw near, none wise and none sensible, for all that kind of thing we count evil; but if any man is ignorant, if any man is wanting in sense and culture, if anybody is a fool, let him come boldly [to become a Christian]. Celsus, AD178
  108. "Since we all inherit Adam's sin, we all deserve eternal damnation. All who die unbaptized, even infants, will go to hell and suffer unending torment. We have no reason to complain of this, since we are all wicked. (In the Confessions, the Saint enumerates the crimes of which he was guilty in the cradle.) But by God's free grace certain people, among those who have been baptized, are chosen to go to heaven; these are the elect. They do not go to heaven because they are good; we are all totally depraved, except insofar as God's grace, which is only bestowed on the elect, enables us to be otherwise. No reason can be given why some are saved and the rest damned; this is due to God's unmotivated choice. Damnation proves God's justice; salvation His mercy. Both equally display His goodness." A history of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, Simon & Schuster, 1945
  109. Bible Teaching and Religious Practice essay: "Europe and Elsewhere," Mark Twain, 1923)
  110. Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), p. 27
  111. What do Orthodox Christians teach about death and when we die?
  112. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 0-89243-565-8,1994-the revised version issued 1997 has no changes in this section
  113. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 0-89243-565-8,1994
  114. Richard Beck. "Christ and Horrors, Part 3: Horror Defeat, Universalism, and God's Reputation". Experimental Theology. March 19, 2007.
  115. Jonathan Kvanvig, The Problem of Hell, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-508487-0, 1993
  116. Cultural Anxieties over the Child in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries by William F. MacLehose
  117. Canon Law 1983
  118. 118.0 118.1 CNS STORY: Vatican commission: Limbo reflects 'restrictive view of salvation'
  119. n:Vatican abolishes Limbo
  120. Limbo: Recent statements by the Catholic church; Protestant views on Limbo at
  121. Root of All Evil? (2006) (TV)-Memorable quotes
  122. McGrath, Alister (2004). Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life. Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing. p. 81. ISBN 1-405-12538-1. 
  123. Dawkins, Richard (September 17, 2007). "Do you have to read up on leprechology before disbelieving in them?".,1647,Do-you-have-to-read-up-on-leprechology-before-disbelieving-in-them,Richard-Dawkins-The-Independent,page27. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  124. Marianna Krejci-Papa, 2005. "Taking On Dawkins' God:An interview with Alister McGrath." Science & Theology News, 2005–04–25.
  125. Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great About Christianity, Regnery Publishing, ISBN 1-59698-517-8 (2007)
  126. Andrew Wilson, Deluded by Dawkins?, Kingsway Publications, ISBN 978-1-84291-355-0 (2007)
  127. A Biographical Appreciation of Robert Green Ingersoll: Chapter 11
  128. More Than A Carpenter, Tyndale House, Wheaton, Illinois, 1977, ISBN 978-0-8423-4552-1
  129. Jeffery, Steve; Ovey, Michael; Sach, Andrew (2007). Pierced for our transgressions. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press. ch. 13. ISBN 9781844741786. 
  130. Most notably, Matthew 10:22-23, 16:27-28, 23:36, 24:29-34, 26:62-64; Mark 9:1, 14:24-30, 14:60-62; and Luke 9:27
  131. In his famous essay Why I Am Not a Christian
  132. Dr. Knox Chamblin, Professor of New Testament Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary: Commentary on Matthew 16:21-28 - see last 4 paragraphs
  133. Theodor Zahn, F.F. Bruce, J. Barton Payne, etc. hold this opinion - What is the meaning of Matthew 10:23?
  134. 134.0 134.1 From Witchcraft to Justice: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament, George E. Mendenhall.
  135. 135.0 135.1 Hiroshi Obayashi, Death and Afterlife: Perspectives of World Religions. See Introduction.
  136. Jewish eschatology#Olam Haba - the afterlife and the world to come Jewish eschatology: The afterlife and olam haba
  137. [1] Acts 23:6-8 (NASB)
  138. Pharisees#Pharisaic principles and values Pharisees: Pharisaic Principles and Values
  139. Essenes#Rules, customs, theology and beliefs Essenes: Rules, customs, theology and beliefs
  140. About 91% of young outsiders felt Christians were anti-homosexual, 87% felt Christians were judgemental and 85% thought Christians were hypocritical.
  141. unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Baker Books, October 1, 2007, ISBN 0-8010-1300-3
  142. Who Do People Say We Are? It doesn't hurt to listen to what non-Christians think of us., A Christianity Today editorial, Christianity Today, December 12, 2007
  143. Gaudium et Spes, 19
  144. The Evangelical Scandal | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
  145. Dallas Morning News
  146. Marriage 103: The Raw Reality of Divorce and its Terrible Results
  147. Chip Berlet, "Following the Threads," in Ansell, Amy E. Unraveling the Right: The New Conservatism in American Thought and Politics, pp. 24, Westview Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8133-3147-1
  148. "MPs turn attack back on Cardinal Pell". Sydney Morning Herald. 2007-06-06. 
  149. "Pope warns Bush on stem cells". BBC News. 2001-07-23. 
  150. Andrew Dickson, White (1898). A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. p. X. Theological Opposition to Inoculation, Vaccination, and the Use of Anaesthetics. 
  151. As quoted by William Rees-Mogg 4 April 2005 edition of the The Times. Gandhi here makes reference to a statement of Jesus: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13)
  152. Schopenhauer, Arthur; trans. T. Bailey Saunders. "Religion: A Dialogue". The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer. 
  153. see e.g.: John Coffey, Persecution and Toleration on Protestant England 1558-1689, 2000, p. 206.
  154. see e.g.: John Coffey, Persecution and Toleration on Protestant England 1558-1689, 2000, p.22
  155. *Lutz E. von Padberg (1998), Die Christianisierung Europas im Mitterlalter, Reclam (German), p. 183
  156. The Evangelical Scandal
  157. Examples of authors who argue the Jesus myth hypothesis: Thomas L. Thompson The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David (Jonathan Cape, Publisher, 2006); Michael Martin, The Case Against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 36–72; John Mackinnon Robertson
  158. Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter (1999) The Jesus Mysteries. London: Thorsons (Harper Collins)
  159. Brian Branston, The Lost Gods of England
  160. Stephen L. Harris, Understanding the Bible. (McGraw Hill, 2002) p 361
  161. Luther H. Martin, Hellenistic Religions: An Introduction. (Oxford University Press, 1987.) pp 95-6
  162. Campbell, Joseph (1964). The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. Viking Press.  pp. 260-61.
  163. The historian Michael Grant states that, "To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first rank scholars.' In recent years, 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary."-Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (Scribner, 1995).
  164. "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.” Burridge, R & Gould, G, Jesus Now and Then, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004, p.34.
  165. Michael James McClymond, Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, Eerdrmans (2004), page 24: most scholars regard the argument for Jesus' non-existence as unworthy of any response".
  166. "Van Voorst is quite right in saying that “mainstream scholarship today finds it unimportant” [p.6, n.9]. Most of their comments (such as those quoted by Michael Grant) are limited to expressions of contempt."-Earl Doherty, "Responses to Critiques of the Mythicist Case: Four: Alleged Scholarly Refutations of Jesus Mythicism", available[dead link]. Retrieved 05 January 2008.
  167. Charlesworth, James H. (ed.) (2006). Jesus and Archaeology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-4880-X. 
  168. Smith, Jonathan Z. (1987), "Dying and Rising Gods", in Mircea Eliade, The Encyclopedia of Religion, 3, New York: MacMillan, pp. 521-527, ISBN 978-0029094808 

Further reading

Skeptical of Christianity

  • A Rationalist Encyclopaedia: A book of reference on religion, philosophy, ethics and science, Gryphon Books (1971).
  • Breaking the Spell, by Daniel Dennett
  • Civilization and its discontents, by Sigmund Freud
  • Death and Afterlife, Perspectives of World Religions, by Hiroshi Obayashi
  • Einstein and Religion, by Max Jammer
  • From Jesus to Christianity, by L. Michael White
  • Future of an illusion, by Sigmund Freud
  • Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris
  • Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart Ehrman
  • Out of my later years and the World as I see it, by Albert Einstein
  • Russell on Religion, by Louis Greenspan (Includes most all of Russell's essays on religion)
  • The Antichrist, by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, by Carl Sagan
  • Understanding the Bible, by Stephen L Harris
  • Where God and Science Meet [Three Volumes]: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion, by Patrick McNamara
  • Why I am not a Christian and other essays, by Bertrand Russell
  • Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, by John W. Loftus (Prometheus Books, 2008)

Defending Christianity

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