Okay, so let me explain. Karen Ray, a former ghost-writer for Dave Pack, decided to list all those dangerous folk who were wicked atheists and unbelievers on her website: Darrell Condor, Herman, Dennis Diehl...
Naturally, Karen is entitled to an opinion, and having expressed a few of my own I’m not averse to other folk doing the same. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. But anti-Christ?
Only 5 of the 36 quotes provided were actually mine, and 4 of those were comments about various books Karen judges to be beyond the pale. 28 were from reader reviews on Amazon, the remaining 3 came from others who had contributed to AW.
And the objectionable books? Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and Living in Sin (John Shelby Spong), The Jesus Mysteries (Freke & Gandy), Jesus - 100 Years Before Christ (Ellegard), Remedial Christianity (Laughlin and Jackson), A History of God (Karen Armstrong), Good as New (Henson)
So let me confess right from the start that I’ve read John Shelby Spong’s Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. It’s a provocative book with important things to say. If that makes me an anti-Christ, so be it. Do I recommend it? Yes. Does that mean I agree with everything Spong has ever said? Hardly.
And yes, it’s true, I also once recommended Living in Sin by the same author. Not “living in sin” as such, you understand, but the book of that title. I have taken the time to read it, and not just react in knee-jerk style. I doubt this fully qualifies me as an atheist though.
Having admitted to these depravities let me shock you further. I have a copy of The Jesus Mysteries on my bookshelf. Here’s what I once wrote:
The case is put strongly, and builds on the work of scholars like Elaine Pagels. While the authors are not specialists in the field of Historical Jesus/Early Church studies, they have produced a well documented and tightly argued case that can't be dismissed too lightly. This book will reach an audience not usually exposed to concepts like these, and it seems to mesh in several essentials with earlier studies. After completing it I had the same mixture of astonishment and conviction that I felt after reading Ellegard's Jesus—One Hundred Years Before Christ. If you want a swift kick in your Christian comfort zone, this is the place to start.
But I’m not sure that means unqualified approval or agreement. If it does, I'm embarrassed, for I do have problems with some of the authors’ arguments. Then again, apparently I'm an atheist, which also comes as something of a surprise, but maybe the word means something different where Karen comes from... but let's not quibble, there are yet more books to burn!
Yes, I have read Ellegard’s book (it’s sitting next to The Jesus Mysteries and glowering down on me at this moment). It's a fascinating reconstruction, but highly speculative. Alas, just referring to it is enough, it seems, to lead to reprobation. A History of God (Karen Armstrong) is notably absent from the shelf though. I lent it to a relative and, well, you know how it is with books you lend to others… still, it's a mind-stretching book, and well worth the effort.
I’m also guilty of mentioning a book called Remedial Christianity. And so I did, based on a recommendation from a reader, but I haven’t got around to reading it myself yet.
Then there’s (and this is the last one on the list of subversive literature) a New Testament translation I mentioned, but never got around to reviewing, called Good as New. This is the clincher in the case to declare me an atheist and anti-Christ. The translator is a Baptist minister (John Henson) and the foreword is by Rowan Williams. I suspect Karen is unaware that Rowan Williams is indeed a celebrated atheist and anti-Christ in his own right – he is the current Archbishop of Canterbury.
But then I doubt Karen has actually read any of these books.In any event, this ends the case for my infamy. But why stop there? I have even more terrible volumes in my possession: a biography of Joseph Smith, Mystery of the Ages, a gaggle of books by F.F. Bruce, the Book of Concord (Lutheran Confessions), and (gasp!) every single book in the Harry Potter series… now I wonder what someone might do with that information.