Sophisticated Christian apologist:
There is no question that the Bible does indeed carry much deeply problematic moral content. And rather than ignore those texts or spin them, Christians need to confront them honestly. Every reader has a tendency to read in accord with their biases. And if [Dan] Barker [popular skeptic/former Christian pastor turned atheist author] reads like a fundamentalist Christian counting instances of the ‘f-bomb’, his book forces Christians who have their own selective methods to confront many texts that may present a significant challenge to their theology.
The fact is, however, that there are many books and essays by Christians that offer thoughtful reflections on biblical violence in light of theology, hermeneutics, and ethics (e.g. Eric Seibert, Kent Sparks, Paul Copan, Greg Boyd, Peter Enns, John Dominic Crossan, Philip Jenkins, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Richard Swinburne, Douglas Earl, Thom Stark). None of these scholars root their analysis in fundamentalist methods. And all of them seem a good deal more aware of their own presuppositions and how those presuppositions inform their work than Dan Barker.
Whenever one is reading an ancient text, a text whose author has been dead for millennia, it is impossible to be 100% certain as to the intent of the author. Did he intend this or that passage to be understood literally or metaphorically? No one, I don’t care how much of an an “expert” he or she may be, can be certain. Experts can only make educated guesses.
So whether we are reading the works of Homer, the authors of the Pentateuch, or the authors of the Gospels, we can only guess as to the author’s intent. But there is a big difference on this issue between Homer and the authors of the Bible. Does it really matter whether or not some particular passage in Homer’s “Iliad” was intended to be read literally or metaphorically? No. Not really. Not in the big scheme of things. In fact, even if ALL the characters, stories, and details (the Greco-Trojan wars) in “The Iliad” are fictional it wouldn’t really matter. But imagine if the authors of the Pentateuch were wrong! Imagine if ALL the stories in the first five books of the Jewish and Christian holy books are complete fiction!
And imagine the same is true with the authors of the Gospels. Imagine if many or all of the stories about Jesus found in the Gospels are fictional?? Yes, Jesus probably existed. Yes, he was probably an apocalyptic preacher and had a reputation as a healer and miracle worker. But imagine if the detailed stories of Jesus’ followers seeing and touching a walking, talking corpse are merely theological fiction!
Don’t read the Bible like a fundamentalist, my friends, but do read it with your eyes wide open! You have an educated brain. Use it! Virgins never give birth to demi-gods fathered by invisible (holy) ghosts and brain dead corpses never come back to life.
End of post.