Saturday, 26 May 2007
Dougie Mans the Ramparts
Mention "wild claims, unsubstantiated statements, false information, antiquated arguments, risky assumptions, open ridicule and erroneous conclusions" in the same breath as the LCG's Tomorrow's World mag, and you might think someone had finally wised up.
Alas, no. The words are those of Douglas Winnail in an article (May-June) entitled Religion Under Fire! where Dougie lets rip on the subject of those evil atheists and liberal Bible scholars - which he appears to confuse - in an unintentionally hilarious hissy-fit.
In Dougie's sights are Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. On the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend he cuddles up to British theologian Alister McGrath, the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and even Josh McDowell. Whether any of these worthies would enjoy the sweaty embrace of Winnail's fringe sect is another matter!
For someone who comes from a long-line of intemperate and irreverent pulpit-pounders (HWA, GTA, Rod...) it seems a little curious when Winnail accuses Dawkins of an "intemperate and irreverent manner." Maybe he sleeps through his own sermons? He then quotes Dawkins' portrayal of the Old Testament deity as "jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleaner... homophobic, racist... malevolent bully... psychotic delinquent..."
Well, that's not how I'd describe the God of the Hebrew Bible, but it certainly fits some of his Charlotte-based latter-day servants. Many of us can remember sermons that bemoaned the non-extermination of indigenous peoples who stood in "Israel's" path to empire. Intemperate? Undoubtedly, but not as intemperate as Rod Meredith's characteristic stream-of-consciousness foot-in-mouth sermon deviations. And just think back to all those cheap shots COG ministers have taken over the years at rival churches, Protestantism, Catholicism and the Jesus of popular piety. Winnail and his good buddies are past-masters of the art.
Predictably it's all another example of prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes, according to Dougie. In the Last Days scoffers will come. In an accompanying article ("Prophecy Comes Alive: Scoffers in the Last Days!") the LCG heavyweight grows expansive on this theme. Move over ye demons of atheism and make room for wicked Dr. James Tabor, "revisionist scholars" and the Q source. Dougie lets fly at these threateners of cultic comfort with some surprising rhetoric. Take this reference for example: "apocryphal writings - never accepted by the Church..."
Church? Which church? The Catholic Church? If so, why is Dougie bothered? How relevant is it to LCG whether or not "the Church" accepted or rejected anything? If the reference is to the mist-shrouded, putative apostolic Church of God, then where, dear Doug, is there any proof that it either prescribed or proscribed any particular books as canonical? The fact is, whether Doug likes it or not, that the early church used the Septuagint (LXX) which is much closer to the Orthodox and Catholic canons than his truncated New King James Version. It's also a fact that those pesky proto-Catholics decided what was going into the New Testament, not the Sabbath-keeping Jewish Christians he fantasises continuity with.
There is a counter-case to be made against the new wave of "evangelical atheists", but Winnail is doing nobody a favor by lobbing a custard pie into his own face by such ludicrous apologetics. His fulmination against genuine scholarship is an even bigger joke. It's probably a very good thing that almost nobody outside the LCG will bother to read these articles.