Scripture, Doctrine and Christianity
I don’t have a lot of time today thanks to Spanish homework and trying to win an ugliest kitchen contest, but thought I’d give a brief overview of an issue I hope to deal with a lot and where I think a lot of counter-apologetics go wrong.
It’s important to distinguish between the Bible, official doctrine and Christianity as practiced. While a lot of Protestants theoretically believe in sola scriptura, in practice no version of Christianity practiced now, if ever, sprung fully-formed from the Bible. Doctrine may be derived from the Bible (emphasis on “may”), but it is distinct from the Bible. This is much like how a book like The Science of Star Trek is distinct from “Star Trek” itself. More importantly, most Christians never read the Bible from cover-to-cover, despite the practice being widely encouraged. They read passages that come up in sermons and Bible studies, which are pretty much limited to the well-known stories and a few inspirational quotes. They also have no idea what doctrines their church teaches beyond the few basic ones that get emphasized in sermons. For Pentecostals, this will be gifts of the spirit, salvation by grace and spreading the gospel, along with the obvious stuff, but this varies a bit by denomination. I’ve always felt that a lot of anti-Christians tracts miss the point by going after stuff the average Christian is unlikely to care about if they’ve heard of it, not that pointing out the bad stuff in the Bible and doctrinal absurdities and poking holes in apologetics doesn’t have its place. I’ve heard a few testimonials from people who deconverted due to the God Delusion, so it is sometimes effective, but I think it misses a big part of the picture. I hope to detail this over several essays.