Newsweek, in an article by Kurt Eichenwald, says that Christians who regard homosexual practice as sin (or who—horror!—favor prayer in public school) “are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians,” “hypocrites,” “Biblical illiterates,” “fundamentalists and political opportunists,” and “Pharisees.” To support his slurs, Eichenwald first tries to undermine reliance on Scripture as a supreme authority for moral discernment and then to show how Christians, oblivious to the problems with biblical inspiration, ignore its clear teaching.
Eichenwald claims that the New Testament Greek text is unreliable, ignoring the fact that no other ancient text comes close to being so well attested. For example, while the oldest surviving manuscript for a significant portion of Plato’s fourth-century B.C. dialogues dates to 895, for the first-century a.d. New Testament the dates are ca. 200 (Paul) and the third century (Gospels, Acts), with over a dozen substantial manuscripts from the fourth–sixth centuries. Only a tiny fraction of the variations among the manuscripts pose any serious problem for scholars in determining the original text. Furthermore, no major Christian doctrine hangs in the balance because of these variations.
Eichenwald also charges that modern English translations of the New Testament are notoriously unreliable. The truth is that there are today a dozen or so fairly reliable translations. Eichenwald cites as his key example of translation inaccuracy renderings of the Greek verb proskunéō(προσκυνέω) as “worship” when applied to Jesus. Although the verb’s basic sense is “prostrate oneself (before),” Eichenwald is ignorant of places in the Gospels where the sense is already sliding over into the meaning of “worship” such as when the disciples “prostrated themselves before” Jesus after he stilled the storm, declaring “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matt 14:33).
Eichenwald flubs even worse when he claims that nowhere in the New Testament is there a clear indication that Jesus is part of the Godhead. He erroneously tries to dismiss the reference in Philippians 2:6 to Jesus being in “the form of God” as a mistranslation of “the image of God,” ignoring both many parallels with the figure of Wisdom in early Judaism and many other New Testament texts that speak to Jesus’s pre-existent divine state.
Eichenwald claims that excessive attention to the authority of the Bible, particularly regarding the doctrines of the incarnation and the atonement, has been responsible for bloodshed. It is an odd charge given the vast numbers of Christians throughout history (including the first few centuries) were inspired by their understanding of Jesus’s gracious incarnation and death to be non-violent.