Biblical Literalist Slap Fight

Broomfield, Colorado — north of Denver and southeast of Boulder — has a population of just over 45,000. That relatively small band of residents is served by close to fifty churches. If those numbers show nothing else, they show that folks ’round these here parts take their Christianity pretty goddamn seriously.

The Broomfield Enterprise is a free newspaper that gets delivered to every residence in town whether we want it or not. Not surprisingly, the local rag includes a weekly faith column. Equally unsurprisingly, the column focuses pretty much exclusively on Christianity. Christians are rather fond of talking about our “Judeo-Christian” heritage, but the “Judeo” part gets lost in the shuffle pretty quickly when push comes to shove.

A week ago the Enterprise ran a column in which regular contributor Bob Rudland had the temerity to say Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. Bad move, Bob.

Yesterday the Enterprise publishes two rather scathing rebukes in its LTTE section. Greg Smith of Christ Community Church (we’re not told whether Mr. Smith is the pastor or just a church member) accused Ruland of “sophomoric biblical illiteracy” regarding the “historical Jesus.”

That’s right, folks; the New Testament is a work of history, despite all the known errors the total absence of corroboration from any contemporaneous source. Ya heard it here first.

The author also trots out that hoary old chestnut, C.S. Lewis’ Liar/Lunatic/Lord false trilemma. A group of godless heathen savages have fun with that bit of nonsense here.

The second letter writer, one Charles P. Woodruff, is fond of rhetorical excess. According to him, Mr. Rudland’s faith column “immerses the reader in new age and Marxist thought” and “regularly tortures scripture to conform to his world view.” Mr. Woodruff suggests that we embrace an “objective starting point” in our search for the truth:

“For God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16

Apparently, appearance in print is Mr. Woodruff’s pole star for objectivity. Trouble is, the quoted statement has no more claim to “objective truth” by virtue of appearing in a venerated text than a statement from the Bhagavad Gita or — horror of horrors — the Koran.

But hey, if that’s the test, allow me to propose an alternative starting point in our search for “objective” truth:

“He sure knew how to drive his hog.” — Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October

At the end of his vitriol laden screed Mr. Woodruff advises, “Please don’t take this too seriously[.]” No problem, Chuck. I haven’t taken religion seriously since age ten or so.

In any event, it’s quite clear that we have a schism under way in our sleepy little town and that at least one recent contributor to the local paper is a heretic. I suggest a three-way, winner-take-all cage match to the death involving Messrs. Rudland, Smith and Woodruff. The winner is obviously favored of God and gets to dictate the One True Faith, at least within the bounds of the City and County of Broomfield.

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