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Criticism of Christianity

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Criticism of Christianity

Criticism of Christianity varies from the criticism of Christian beliefs, teachings, history, activities, and terrorism. Throughout the history of Christianity, many have criticized Christianity, the church, Jesus, Christian Bible, Christians and other elements of Christianity.

The formal response of Christians to such criticisms is described as Christian apologetics. Several areas of criticism also include the claims of scripture itself, the ethics of biblical interpretations that have been used historically to justify certain attitudes and behaviors, the question of the religion's compatibility with science, and other Christian doctrines. The criticism came from the various religious and non-religious groups around the world, some of whom were themselves Christians.


  • Scripture 1
    • Biblical criticism 1.1
    • Judaic view: Unfulfilled prophecy 1.2
    • Selective interpretation 1.3
    • Textual corruption 1.4
    • Mistranslation 1.5
      • Translation of Almah as Virgin 1.5.1
      • Prophecy of the Nazarene 1.5.2
  • Miracles 2
  • Ethics 3
    • Colonialism 3.1
    • Slavery 3.2
    • Christianity and women 3.3
    • Christianity and politics 3.4
    • Christianity and violence 3.5
  • Science 4
  • Doctrine 5
    • Incarnation 5.1
    • Hell and damnation 5.2
    • Idolatry 5.3
    • Limbo 5.4
    • Atonement 5.5
    • Second Coming 5.6
    • Inconsistency with Old Testament conception of the afterlife 5.7
  • Criticism of Christians 6
    • Negative attitudes in the United States 6.1
    • Negative attitudes in Nazi Germany 6.2
    • Hypocrisy 6.3
    • Bigotry 6.4
    • Materialism 6.5
    • Sectarianism 6.6
    • Persecution by Christians 6.7
    • Response of apologists 6.8
  • Criticism by other religions 7
    • Hinduism 7.1
    • Judaism 7.2
    • Islam 7.3
    • African Traditional 7.4
  • Origins 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
    • Skeptical of Christianity 11.1
    • Defending Christianity 11.2
  • External links 12
    • General 12.1
    • Skeptical 12.2
    • From other religions 12.3
    • Apologetic 12.4
    • Debates 12.5


Biblical criticism

Biblical criticism, in particular higher criticism, covers a variety of methods used since the Enlightenment in the early 18th century as scholars began to apply to biblical documents the same methods and perspectives which had already been applied to other literary and philosophical texts.[1] It is an umbrella term covering various techniques used mainly by mainline and liberal Christian theologians to study the meaning of biblical passages. It uses general historical principles, and is based primarily on reason rather than revelation or faith. There are four primary types of biblical criticism:[2]

  • Form criticism: an analysis of literary documents, particularly the Bible, to discover earlier oral traditions (stories, legends, myths, etc.) upon which they were based.
  • Tradition criticism: an analysis of the Bible, concentrating on how religious traditions grew and changed over the time span during which the text was written.
  • Higher criticism: the study of the sources and literary methods employed by the biblical authors.[3][2]
  • Lower criticism: the discipline and study of the actual wording of the Bible; a quest for textual purity and understanding.[3]

Inconsistencies have been pointed out by critics and skeptics,[4] presenting as difficulties the different numbers and names for the same feature and different sequences for what is supposed to be the same event. Responses to these criticisms include the modern documentary hypothesis, two source hypothesis (in various guises), and assertions that the Pastoral Epistles are pseudonymous. Contrasting with these critical stances are positions supported by literalists, considering the texts to be consistent, with the Torah written by a single source,[5][6] but the Gospels by four independent witnesses,[7] and all of the Pauline Epistles, except possibly the Hebrews, as having been written by Paul the Apostle.

While consideration of the context is necessary when studying the Bible, some find the accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus within the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, difficult to reconcile. E. P. Sanders concludes that the inconsistencies make the possibility of a deliberate fraud unlikely: "A plot to foster belief in the Resurrection would probably have resulted in a more consistent story. Instead, there seems to have been a competition: 'I saw him,' 'So did I,' 'The women saw him first,' 'No, I did; they didn't see him at all,' and so on."[8]

Harold Lindsell points out that it is a "gross distortion" to state that people who believe in biblical inerrancy suppose every statement made in the Bible is true (opposed to accurate).[9] He indicates there are expressly false statements in the Bible which are reported accurately[9] (for example, Satan is a liar whose lies are accurately reported as to what he actually said).[9] Proponents of biblical inerrancy generally do not teach that the Bible was dictated directly by God, but that God used the "distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers" of scripture and that God's inspiration guided them to flawlessly project his message through their own language and personality.[10]:Art. VIII

Those who believe in the inspiration of scripture teach that it is infallible (or inerrant), that is, free from error in the truths it expresses by its character as the word of God.[11] However, the scope of what this encompasses is disputed, as the term includes 'faith and practice' positions, with some denominations holding that the historical or scientific details, which may be irrelevant to matters of faith and Christian practice, may contain errors.[12] Other scholars take stronger views,[13] but for a few verses these positions require more exegetical work, leading to dispute (compare the serious debate over the related issue of perspicuity, attracting biblical and philosophical discussion).

Infallibility refers to the original texts of the Bible, and all mainstream scholars acknowledge the potential for human error in transmission and translation; yet, through use textual criticism modern (critical) copies are considered to "faithfully represent the original",[10]:Art. X and our understanding of the original language sufficiently well for accurate translation. The opposing view is that there is too much corruption, or translation too difficult, to agree with modern texts.

Judaic view: Unfulfilled prophecy

God reveals himself to Abraham in scripture and he is seen here with three angels. By Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

Hundreds of years before the time of Jesus, Jewish prophets promised that a messiah would come. Judaism claims that Jesus did not fulfill these prophecies. Other skeptics usually claim that the prophecies are either vague or unfulfilled,[14] or that the Old Testament writings influenced the composition of New Testament narratives.[15] Christian apologists claim that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies, which they argue are nearly impossible to fulfill by chance.[16] Many Christians anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus, when he will fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy, such as the Last Judgment, the general resurrection, establishment of the Kingdom of God, and the Messianic Age (see the article on Preterism for contrasting Christian views).

The New Testament traces Jesus' line to that of David; however, according to Stephen L. Harris:[17]

Jesus did not accomplish what Israel's prophets said the Messiah was commissioned to do: He did not deliver the covenant people from their Gentile enemies, reassemble those scattered in the Diaspora, restore the Davidic kingdom, or establish universal peace (cf. Isa. 9:6–7; 11:7–12:16, etc.). Instead of freeing Jews from oppressors and thereby fulfilling God's ancient promises—for land, nationhood, kingship, and blessing—Jesus died a "shameful" death, defeated by the very political powers the Messiah was prophesied to overcome. Indeed, the Hebrew prophets did not foresee that Israel's savior would be executed as a common criminal by Gentiles, making Jesus' crucifixion a "stumbling block" to scripturally literate Jews. (1 Cor.1:23)

Christian preachers counter this argument by stating that these prophecies will be fulfilled by Jesus in the Millennial Reign after the Great Tribulation, according to New Testament prophecies, especially in the Book of Revelation.

The 16th-century Jewish theologian Isaac ben Abraham, who lived in Trakai, Lithuania, penned a work called Chizzuk Emunah (Faith Strengthened) that attempted to refute the ideas that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament and that Christianity was the "New Covenant" of God. He systematically identified a number of inconsistencies in the New Testament, contradictions between the New Testament and the Old Testament, and Old Testament prophesies which remained unfulfilled in Jesus' lifetime. In addition, he questioned a number of Christian practices, such as Sunday Sabbath.[18] Written originally for Jews to persuade them not to convert to Christianity,[19] the work was eventually read by Christians. While the well-known Christian Hebraist Johann Christoph Wagenseil attempted an elaborate refutation of Abraham's arguments, Wagenseil's Latin translation of it only increased interest in the work and inspired later Christian freethinkers. Chizzuk Emunah was praised as a masterpiece by Voltaire.[18]

On the other hand, Blaise Pascal believed that "[t]he prophecies are the strongest proof of Jesus Christ". He wrote that Jesus was foretold, and that the prophecies came from a succession of people over a span of four thousand years.[20] Apologist Josh McDowell defends the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy as supporting Christianity, arguing that prophecies fulfilled by Christ include ones relating to his ancestral line, birthplace, virgin birth, miracles, manner of death, and resurrection. He says that even the timing of the Messiah in years and in relation to events is predicted, and that the Jewish Talmud (not accepting Jesus as the Messiah, see also Rejection of Jesus) laments that the Messiah had not appeared despite the scepter being taken away from Judah.[21]

Selective interpretation

Critics argue that the selective invocation of portions of the Old Testament is hypocritical, particularly when those portions endorse hostility towards women and homosexuals, when other portions are considered obsolete. The entire Mosaic Law is described in Galatians 3:24-25 as a tutor which is no longer necessary, according to some interpretations, see also Antinomianism in the New Testament.

On the other hand, many of the Old Testament laws are seen as specifically abrogated by the New Testament, such as circumcision,[22] though this may simply be a parallel to Jewish Noahide Laws. See also Split of early Christianity and Judaism. On the other hand, other passages are pro-Law, such as Romans 3:31: "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law." See also Pauline passages opposing antinomianism.

There are a number of positions which are taken in response to these critics:

  • Some argue that the specific principles invoked by Christians are endorsed or renewed in the New Testament.[23]
  • Others argue that the Old Testament law applies, except as modified by the New Testament.[24]

Textual corruption

Within the abundance of biblical manuscripts exist a number of textual variants. The vast majority of these textual variants are the inconsequential misspelling of words, word order variations[25] and the mistranscription of abbreviations.[26] Text critics such as Bart D. Ehrman have proposed that some of these textual variants and interpolations were theologically motivated.[27] Ehrman's conclusions and textual variant choices have been challenged by reviewers, including Daniel B. Wallace, Craig Blomberg and Thomas Howe.[28]

In attempting to determine the original text of the New Testament books, some modern textual critics have identified sections as probably not original. In modern translations of the Bible, the results of textual criticism have led to certain verses being left out or marked as not original. These possible later additions include the following:[29][30]

Most Bibles have footnotes to indicate areas which have disputed source documents. Bible Commentaries also discuss these, sometimes in great detail.

In The Text Of The New Testament, Kurt and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement.[31] They concluded, "Thus in nearly two-thirds of the New Testament text, the seven editions of the Greek New Testament which we have reviewed are in complete accord, with no differences other than in orthographical details (e.g., the spelling of names, etc.). Verses in which any one of the seven editions differs by a single word are not counted. This result is quite amazing, demonstrating a far greater agreement among the Greek texts of the New Testament during the past century than textual scholars would have suspected… In the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater."[31]

With the discovery of the Hebrew Bible texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, questions have been raised about the textual accuracy of the Masoretic text. That is, whether the Masoretic text which forms the basis of most modern English translations of the Old Testament, or translations which pre-date the masoretic text, such as the Septuagint, Syriac Peshitta, and Samaritan Pentateuch are more accurate.


Translation has given rise to a number of issues, as the original languages are often quite different in grammar as well as word meaning. While the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy[10] states that inerrancy applies only to the original languages, some believers trust their own translation to be the accurate one. One such group of believers is known as the King-James-Only Movement. For readability, clarity, or other reasons, translators may choose different wording or sentence structure, and some translations may choose to paraphrase passages. Because some of the words in the original language have ambiguous or difficult to translate meanings, debates over the correct interpretation occur.

Criticisms are also sometimes raised because of inconsistencies arising between different English translations of the Hebrew or Greek text. Some Christian interpretations are criticized for reflecting specific doctrinal bias[32] or a variant reading between the Masoretic Hebrew and Septuagint Greek manuscripts often quoted in the New Testament.

Translation of Almah as Virgin

Matthew 1:22-1:23 reads: "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." As early as the 2nd century CE, Jewish critics have argued that Christians were mistaken in their reading of the word almah ("עלמה") in Isaiah 7:14.[33] Jewish translations of the verse from Isaiah read: "Behold, the young woman is with child and will bear a son and she will call his name Immanuel." Moreover, it is claimed that Christians have taken this verse out of context (see Immanuel for further information).[32]

Christians claim that the reference to the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15 refers to a virgin birth, but critics claim otherwise.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)

The Greek text of Matthew 1:23 uses the term "parthenos", which is the usual Greek word for virgin:

"ιδού η παρθένος εν γαστρί έξει και τέξεται υιόν και καλέσουσιν το όνομα αυτού Εμμανουήλ ο έστιν μεθερμηνευόμενος μεθ' ημών ο Θεός". (Matthew 1:23 Textus Receptus)[34]

The (right-to-left) Hebrew of Isaiah 7:14 uses the word almah:

יד לָכֵן יִתֵּן אֲדֹנָי הוּא, לָכֶם--אוֹת: הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה, הָרָה וְיֹלֶדֶת בֵּן, וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ, עִמָּנוּ אֵל. 14
Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)[35]

The Jewish translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek that was in use during the 1st century, the Septuagint, uses the word "parthenos" ("virgin") in Isaiah 7:14 rather than the usual Greek word "neanis" for "young woman".[36] The Septuagint's Greek term παρθένος (parthenos) is considered by many to be an inexact rendering of the Hebrew word `almah in the text of Isaiah, but only in light of the Masoretic Canon which was finalized nearly 1000 years after the Septuagint.[37]

Some scholars contend that debates over the precise meaning of bethulah ("בתולה"-virgin) and almah (young woman) are misguided because no Hebrew word encapsulates the idea of certain virginity.[38] Martin Luther also argued that the debate was irrelevant, not because the words do not clearly mean virgin, but because almah and bethulah were functional synonyms.[39]

(For more information, see the articles on the Virgin birth of Jesus and Isaiah 7:14.)

Prophecy of the Nazarene

Another example is Nazarene in Matthew 2:23: "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." The website for Jews for Judaism claims that "Since a Nazarene is a resident of the city of Nazareth and this city did not exist during the time period of the Jewish Bible, it is impossible to find this quotation in the Hebrew Scriptures. It was fabricated."[32][40] However, one common suggestion is that the New Testament verse is based on a passage relating to Nazirites, either because this was a misunderstanding common at the time, or through deliberate re-reading of the term by the early Christians. Another suggestion is "that Matthew was playing on the similarity of the Hebrew word nezer (translated 'Branch' or 'shoot' in Isaiah 11:1 and Jeremiah 23:5) with the Greek nazoraios, here translated 'Nazarene.'"[41] Christians also suggest that by using an indirect quotation and the plural term prophets, "Matthew was only saying that by living in Nazareth, Jesus was fulfilling the many Old Testament prophecies that He would be despised and rejected."[42] The background for this is illustrated by Philip's initial response in John 1:46 to the idea that Jesus might be the Messiah: "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"[41]


Philosopher David Hume argued against the plausibility of miracles:[43]

1) A miracle is a violation of the known laws of nature;
2) We know these laws through repeated and constant experience;
3) The testimony of those who report miracles contradicts the operation of known scientific laws;
4) Consequently no one can rationally believe in miracles.

Hume's argument against the plausibility of miracles produced by humans is answered by Jesus' own admission of the human impossibility of miracles, which are acts of God that are "impossible for men", but "with God all things are possible". (Matthew 19:26)

The Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church reject Hume's argument against miracles outright with the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas, who postulated that Reason alone was not sufficient to understand God's energies (activities such as miracles) and essence, but faith was.[44]

Miraculous healings through prayers, often involving the "laying on of hands", have been reported. Reliance on faith healing alone can indirectly contribute to serious harm and even death.[45] Christian apologists including C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler and William Lane Craig have argued that miracles are reasonable and plausible.[46][47][48]


Certain interpretations of some moral decisions in the Bible are considered ethically questionable by many modern groups. Some of the passages most commonly criticized include colonialism, the subjugation of women, religious intolerance, condemnation of homosexuality, and support for the institution of slavery in both Old and New Testaments.

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche criticized the ethics of Christianity. See Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche#Christianity and morality.


Christianity and colonialism are often closely associated because Catholicism, Russian Orthodoxy and Protestantism were the religions of the European colonial powers[49] and acted in many ways as the "religious arm" of those powers.[50] Initially, Christian missionaries were portrayed as "visible saints, exemplars of ideal piety in a sea of persistent savagery". However, by the time the colonial era drew to a close in the last half of the twentieth century, missionaries became viewed as “ideological shock troops for colonial invasion whose zealotry blinded them.”[51]

Christianity is targeted by critics of colonialism because the tenets of the religion were used to justify the actions of the colonists.[52] For example, Michael Wood asserts that the indigenous peoples were not considered to be human beings and that the colonisers was shaped by "centuries of Ethnocentrism, and Christian monotheism, which espoused one truth, one time and version of reality."[53]


Early Christianity variously opposed, accepted, or ignored slavery.[54] The early Christian perspectives of slavery were formed in the contexts of Christianity's roots in Judaism, and as part of the wider culture of the Roman Empire. Both the Old and New Testaments recognize that the institution of slavery existed.

The earliest surviving Christian teachings about slavery are from Paul the Apostle, who frequently referred to himself as a "Slave of Christ", perhaps implying that he was a slave and Jesus was his master, although it may have just been an expression. Paul did not renounce the institution of slavery. Conversely, he taught that Christian slaves ought to serve their masters wholeheartedly. At the same time, he taught slave owners to treat their slaves fairly. The entire Epistle to Philemon is devoted to Onesimus, a runaway slave and convert whom Paul returns to his master, to be seen as "not just a slave, but much more than a slave; he is a dear brother in Christ". Tradition describes Pope Pius I (term c. 158-167) and Pope Callixtus I (term c. 217-222) as former slaves.[55]

Since the Middle Ages, the Christian understanding of slavery has been subjected to significant internal conflict and has endured dramatic change. Nearly all Christian leaders before the late 17th century recognised slavery, within specific biblical limitations, as consistent with Christian theology. The key verse used to justify slavery was Genesis 9:25-27: "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem." which was interpreted to mean that Africans were the descendants of Ham, cursed with "the mark of Ham" to be servants to the descendants of Japheth (Europeans) and Shem (Asians).[54] In early Medieval times, the Church discouraged slavery throughout Europe, largely eliminating it.[56] That changed in 1452, when Pope Nicholas V instituted the hereditary slavery of captured Muslims and pagans, regarding all non-Christians as "enemies of Christ."[57]

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was instrumental in starting abolitionism as a popular movement.[61]

Many modern Christians are united in the condemnation of slavery as wrong and contrary to God's will. Only peripheral groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and other Christian hate groups on the racist fringes of the Christian Reconstructionist and Christian Identity movements advocate the reinstitution of slavery.[54] Full adherents to reconstructionism are few and marginalized among conservative Christians.[62][63][64] With these exceptions, all Christian faith groups now condemn slavery, and see the practice as incompatible with basic Christian principles.[54][56]

In addition to aiding abolitionism, many Christians made further efforts toward establishing racial equality, contributing to the

  • "Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?" A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier (audio)
  • The Great Debate: Does God Exist?-transcript in PDF of a formal debate between presuppositionalist Christian Greg Bahnsen and atheist Gordon Stein.
  • The Martin-Frame Debate A written debate between skeptic Michael Martin and Christian John Frame about the transcendental argument for the existence of God.
  • The Drange-Wilson Debate A written debate between skeptic Theodore Drange and Christian Douglas Wilson.
  • "Is Non-Christian Thought Futile?" A written debate between Christian Doug Jones and skeptics Keith Parsons and Michael Martin in Antithesis magazine (vol. 2, no. 4).
  • "Is Christianity Good for the World?" A written debate between atheist Christopher Hitchens and theologian Douglas Wilson in Christianity Today magazine (web only, May 2007).
  • God Debate: Sam Harris vs. Rick Warren Debate between Christian Rick Warren and atheist Sam Harris as reported by Newsweek (April 9, 2007).
  • "Does God Exist? The Nightline Face-Off." A video debate between Christians Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and atheists Brian Sapient and Kelly O'Connor of the Rational Response Squad. Report of the debate posted on the Nightline website. Video of the debate posted on The Way of the Master website.
  • The Jesseph-Craig Debate: Does God Exist? (1996)-Transcripts of a debate between Christian William Lane Craig and atheist Douglas M. Jesseph.


  • Reasonable Faith
  • Probe Ministries
  • Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
  • Stand to Reason
  • Reasons to Believe


  • )Faith Strengthened (Chizzuk Emunah: English translation of Isaac of Troki's 16th-century Jewish anti-Christian polemic
  • Jewish Encyclopedia: New Testament: Unhistorical Character of the Gospels

From other religions

  • The Warfare of Science With Theology by Andrew White
  • New Testament contradictions by Paul Carlson
  • Christian Anti-Semitism
  • PBS Special: Apocalypse! Contains Jesus' apocalyptic promises along with those of Saint Paul's.


  • Professor James Tabor's educational site on the Jewish Roman world of Jesus
  • Roman Sources on the Jews and Judaism, 1 BCE-110 CE


External links

  • "The Jury Returns: A Juridical Defense of Christianity" by John Warwick Montgomery. An Excerpt from "Evidence for Faith" Chapter 6, Part 2
  • "The Infidel Delusion" by Patrick Chan, Jason Engwer, Steve Hays, and Paul Manata
  • Dethroning Jesus, by Darrell Bock, Daniel B. Wallace
  • Jesus Among Other Gods, by Ravi Zacharias
  • Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis
  • Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton
  • Reasonable Faith, by William Lane Craig
  • Reinventing Jesus, by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace
  • The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel
  • The Dawkins Letters, by David Robertson
  • The Reason For God, by Timothy J Keller

Defending Christianity

  • A Rationalist Encyclopaedia: A book of reference on religion, philosophy, ethics and science, Gryphon Books (1971).
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel Dennett
  • Civilization and its discontents, by Sigmund Freud
  • Death and Afterlife, Perspectives of World Religions, by Hiroshi Obayashi
  • Einstein and Religion, by Max Jammer
  • From Jesus to Christianity, by L. Michael White
  • Future of an illusion, by Sigmund Freud
  • Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris
  • Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart Ehrman
  • Out of my later years and the World as I see it, by Albert Einstein
  • Russell on Religion, by Louis Greenspan (Includes most all of Russell's essays on religion)
  • The Antichrist, by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, by Carl Sagan
  • Understanding the Bible, by Stephen L Harris
  • Where God and Science Meet [Three Volumes]: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion, by Patrick McNamara
  • Why I am not a Christian and other essays, by Bertrand Russell
  • Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, by John W. Loftus (Prometheus Books, 2008)
  • The Christian Delusion, edited by John W. Loftus, foreword by Dan Barker (Prometheus Books, 2010)
  • The End of Christianity, edited by John W. Loftus (Prometheus Books, 2011)
  • The Historical Evidence for Jesus, by G. A. Wells (Prometheus Books, 1988)
  • The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty (Age of Reason Publications, 1999)
  • The encyclopedia of Biblical errancy, by C. Dennis McKinsey (Prometheus Books, 1995)
  • godless, by Dan Barker (Ulysses Press 2008)
  • The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (Element 1999)
  • The reason driven life by Robert M. Price (Prometheus Books, 2006)
  • The case against the case for Christ by Robert M. Price (American atheist press 2010)
  • God, the failed hypothesis by Victor J. Stenger (Prometheus Books, 2007)
  • Jesus never existed by Kenneth Humphreys (Iconoclast Press, 2005)

Skeptical of Christianity

Further reading

  1. ^ Browning, W.R.F. "Biblical criticism." A Dictionary of the Bible. 1997 8 Apr. 2010
  2. ^ a b Robinson, B.A. Biblical Criticism, including Form Criticism, Tradition Criticism, Higher Criticism, etc. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 2008. Web: 8 Apr 2010.
  3. ^ a b Mather, G.A. & L.A. Nichols, Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult, Zondervan (1993) (quoted in Robinson, Biblical Criticism
  4. ^ See for example the list of alleged contradictions from The Skeptic's Annotated Bible and Robert G. Ingersoll's article Inspiration Of Bible.
  5. ^ M.W.J. Phelan. The Inspiration of the Pentateuch, Two-edged Sword Publications (March 9, 2005) ISBN 978-0-9547205-6-8
  6. ^ Ronald D. Witherup, Biblical Fundamentalism: What Every Catholic Should Know, Liturgical Press (2001), page 26.
  7. ^ France, R.T., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Matthew, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England (1985), pg. 17.
  8. ^ Britannica Encyclopedia, Jesus Christ, p.17
  9. ^ a b c Lindsell, Harold. "The Battle for the Bible", Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA (1976), pg. 38.
  10. ^ a b c Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
  11. ^ As in 2 Timothy 3:16, discussed by Thompson, Mark (2006). A Clear and Present Word. New Studies in Biblical Theology. Downers Grove: Apollos. p. 92.  
  12. ^ Norman L. Geisler, William E. Nix (2012), From God To Us Revised and Expanded: How We Got Our Bible, Moody Publishers, p. PT45,   "faith and practice"
  13. ^ See notably Grudem, representative of recent scholarship with this emphasis (Grudem, Wayne (1994). Systematic Theology. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press. pp. 90–105.  ).
  14. ^  
  15. ^ W. H. Bellinger; William Reuben Farmer, eds. (1998). Jesus and the Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 and Christian Origins. Trinity Press.  
  16. ^ Peter W. Stoner, Science Speaks, Moody Pr, 1958, ISBN 0-8024-7630-9
  17. ^   (Further snippets of quote: B C D)
  18. ^ a b Biography of Isaac ben Abraham of Troki
  19. ^ , TorahLab StoreChizzuk Emunah
  20. ^ Pascal, Blaise (1958). Pensees. Translator W. F. Trotter. chapter x, xii, xiii. 
  21. ^  
  22. ^ See, for example, the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15
  23. ^ For instance "What's wrong with being gay?" at argues that the Old Testament prohibitions against homosexuality are renewed in the New Testament
  24. ^ For example, Theonomy: What it is; What it is not
  25. ^ Bruce Metzger, cited in The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel
  26. ^  
  27. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1993
  28. ^ Wallace, Daniel B. "The Gospel According to Bart: A Review Article of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2006 (also available at
    • Craig L. Blomberg, "Review of Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why," Denver Seminary, February 2006
  29. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2006). Whose Word Is It?. Continuum International Publishing Group.   p. 166
  30. ^ Bruce Metzger "A Textual Commentary on the New Testament", Second Edition, 1994, German Bible Society
  31. ^ a b K. Aland and B. Aland, "The Text Of The New Testament: An Introduction To The Critical Editions & To The Theory & Practice Of Modern Text Criticism", 1995, op. cit., p. 29-30.
  32. ^ a b c "English Handbook Page 34 999KB" (PDF). 
  33. ^ Dialogue of Trypho Dialogue of Justin Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew, LXIII
  34. ^ Matthew 1:23 compare multiple versions and languages
  35. ^ Interlinear Hebrew in English order
  36. ^ The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon
  37. ^ Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article Virgin Birth of Christ
  38. ^ Charles D. Isbell, Biblical Archaeological Review, June 1977, "Does the Gospel of Matthew Proclaim Mary’s Virginity?"
  39. ^ Martin Luther, "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew," in Luther's Works, vol. 45: The Christian in Society II, ed. H. T. Lehmann (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1962).
  40. ^ See also "Given the New Testament a Chance?" from the Messiah Truth website
  41. ^ a b David Sper, Managing Editor, "Questions Skeptics Ask About Messianic Prophecies," RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI, 1997
  42. ^ See Psalms 22:6-8,; , ; Isaiah 11:1, , ,; Daniel 9:26
  43. ^  
  44. ^ *Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas, Vol. 1 (ISBN 1-878997-67-X) Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas, Vol. 2 (ISBN 187899767X)
  45. ^ Bruce L. Flamm, MD (2004). "Inherent Dangers of Faith-Healing Studies". The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. 
  46. ^ "Are Miracles Logically Impossible?". Come Reason Ministries, Convincing Christianity. Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  47. ^ Miracles are not possible," some claim. Is this true?""". Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  48. ^ Paul K. Hoffman. "A Jurisprudential Analysis Of Hume’s "in Principal" Argument Against Miracles" (PDF). Christian Apologetics Journal, Volume 2, No. 1, Spring, 1999; Copyright ©1999 by Southern Evangelical Seminary. Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  49. ^ Melvin E. Page, Penny M. Sonnenburg (2003). Colonialism: an international, social, cultural, and political encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 496. Of all religions, Christianity has been most associated with colonialism because several of its forms (Catholicism and Protestantism) were the religions of the European powers engaged in colonial enterprise on a global scale. 
  50. ^ Bevans, Steven. "Christian Complicity in Colonialism/ Globalism". Retrieved 2010-11-17. The modern missionary era was in many ways the ‘religious arm’ of colonialism, whether Portuguese and Spanish colonialism in the sixteenth Century, or British, French, German, Belgian or American colonialism in the nineteenth. This was not all bad — oftentimes missionaries were heroic defenders of the rights of indigenous peoples 
  51. ^ Andrews, Edward (2010). "Christian Missions and Colonial Empires Reconsidered: A Black Evangelist in West Africa, 1766–1816". Journal of Church & State 51 (4): 663–691.  
  52. ^ Meador, Jake. "Cosmetic Christianity and the Problem of Colonialism – Responding to Brian McLaren". Retrieved 17 November 2010. According to Jake Meador, "some Christians have tried to make sense of post-colonial Christianity by renouncing practically everything about the Christianity of the colonizers. They reason that if the colonialists’ understanding of Christianity could be used to justify rape, murder, theft, and empire then their understanding of Christianity is completely wrong. 
  53. ^ Conquistadors, Michael Wood, p. 20, BBC Publications, 2000
  54. ^ a b c d Robinson, B. A. (2006). "Christianity and slavery". Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  55. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia Slavery and Christianity
  56. ^ a b  
  57. ^ Jack D. Forbes (1993), Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples, University of Illinois Press, p. 27,  
  58. ^ Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery ISBN 978-0-691-11436-1 (2003)
  59. ^ Lamin Sanneh, Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa, Harvard University Press ISBN 978-0-674-00718-5 (2001)
  60. ^ Ostling, Richard N. (2005-09-17). "Human slavery: why was it accepted in the Bible?". Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  61. ^ "Abolitionist Movement". MSN Encyclopedia Encarta. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  62. ^ Martin, William. 1996. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. New York: Broadway Books.
  63. ^ Diamond, Sara, 1998. Not by Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right, New York: Guilford Press, p.213.
  64. ^ Ortiz, Chris 2007. "Gary North on D. James Kennedy", Chalcedon Blog, 6 September 2007.
  65. ^ "Civil Rights Movement in the United States". MSN Encyclopedia Encarta. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  66. ^ "Religious Revivalism in the Civil Rights Movement". African American Review. Winter 2002. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  67. ^ "Martin Luther King: The Nobel Peace Prize 1964". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2006-01-03. 
  68. ^ Thurston, Herbert. St. Joan of Arc. 1910. Catholic Encyclopedia
  69. ^ Feminist philosophy of religion
  70. ^ "The Status Of Women In The Old Testament".
  71. ^ The Woman's Bible
  72. ^ Clark, Elizabeth. Women in the Early Church. Liturgical Press, 1984. ISBN 0-8146-5332-4
  73. ^ Jesus' Family Tree
  74. ^ a b "King, Karen L. "Women in Ancient Christianity: the New Discoveries." Karen L. King is Professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard University in the Divinity School.
  75. ^ Stagg, Evelyn and Frank. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978. ISBN 0-664-24195-6
  76. ^ Bilezikian, Gilbert. Beyond Sex Roles (2nd ed.) Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1989, ISBN 978-0-8010-0885-6. pp. 82–104
  77. ^ Schalom Ben-Chorin.Brother Jesus: the Nazarene through Jewish eyes. U of Georgia Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8203-2256-8, p.66
  78. ^ See "About the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus". 
  79. ^ Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE)
  80. ^ Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis (eds.). Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy. IVP 2004. p. 17. 
  81. ^ Grudem, Wayne A. "Should We Move Beyond the New Testament to a Better Ethic?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS), 47/2 (June 2004) 299–346
  82. ^ Eck, Diana L. Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras. (2003) p. 98
  83. ^ a b Brumley, Mark. "Why God is Father and not Mother". The Catholic Faith Magazine. July/August 1999. Accessed 25 Feb 2013
  84. ^ a b "Baptist Faith and Message"
  85. ^ (non-English) - The second image shows deaconnesses, on August 15th, for the prayers on the day of the Assumption of Mary
  86. ^ The 9 Most Important Issues Facing the Evangelical Church
  87. ^ See, for example, Everybody's Talkin' About Christian Fascism by Gary Leupp.
  88. ^ George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism
  89. ^ Clarke, Arthur C. & Watts, Alan (January), “At the Interface: Technology and Mysticism”, Playboy (Chicago, Ill.: HMH Publishing) 19 (1): 94, ISBN 0032-1478, OCLC 3534353
  90. ^ Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion?, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2007, ISBN 978-0-281-05927-0
  91. ^ Luke 6
  92. ^ Andrew Peoples, Dr., Glenn. "Whittling down the pacifist narrative: Did early Christians serve in the army?". Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  93. ^ 1Kings 18:17-46
  94. ^ Deuteronomy 17:5
  95. ^ Psalm 18:37
  96. ^ International encyclopedia of violence research, Volume 2. Springer. 2003. 
  97. ^ a b J. Denny Weaver (2001). "Violence in Christian Theology". Cross Currents. Retrieved 28 October 2014. "[3rd paragraph] I am using broad definitions of the terms "violence" and "nonviolence." "Violence" means harm or damage, which obviously includes the direct violence of killing – in war, capital punishment, murder – but also covers the range of forms of systemic violence such as poverty, racism, and sexism. "Nonviolence" also covers a spectrum of attitudes and actions, from the classic Mennonite idea of passive nonresistance through active nonviolence and nonviolent resistance that would include various kinds of social action, confrontations and posing of alternatives that do not do bodily harm or injury. 
  98. ^  
  99. ^ War, A Catholic Dictionary: Containing some Account of the Doctrine, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies, Councils, and Religious Orders of the Catholic Church, W. E Addis, T. Arnold, Revised T. B Scannell and P. E Hallett, 15th Edition, Virtue & Co, 1953, Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Philips, Imprimatur: E. Morrogh Bernard, 2 October 1950, "In the Name of God : Violence and Destruction in the World's Religions", M. Jordan, 2006, p. 40
  100. ^ Quotation: "The conflict thesis, at least in its simple form, is now widely perceived as a wholly inadequate intellectual framework within which to construct a sensible and realistic historiography of Western science." (p. 7), from the essay by Colin A. Russell "The Conflict Thesis" in Gary Ferngren (editor). Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0".
  101. ^ Quotation: "In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the "warfare between science and religion" and to presume that the two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict. However, it is a very long time since these attitudes have been held by historians of science." (p. 195) Shapin, S. (1996). The Scientific Revolution. University of Chicago Press Chicago, Ill. 
  102. ^ Quotation: "In its traditional forms, the [conflict] thesis has been largely discredited." (p. 42)  
  103. ^ Quotation from Ferngren's introduction at "Gary Ferngren (editor). Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0.": "…while [John] Brooke's view [of a complexity thesis rather than conflict thesis] has gained widespread acceptance among professional historians of science, the traditional view remains strong elsewhere, not least in the popular mind." (p. x)
  104. ^ Gary Ferngren (editor). Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8018-7038-0. (Introduction, p. ix)
  105. ^ From Ferngren's introduction:
    "…while [John] Brooke's view [of a complexity thesis rather than conflict thesis] has gained widespread acceptance among professional historians of science, the traditional view remains strong elsewhere, not least in the popular mind. (p. x)-Gary Ferngren, (2002); Introduction, p. ix)
  106. ^ Sagan, Carl. Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Episode 3: "The Harmony of the Worlds"
  107. ^ quoted in Ted Peters, Science and Religion, Encyclopedia of Religion, p.8182
  108. ^ Petto, Andrew J.; Godfrey, Laurie R. (2007). Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.  
  109. ^ Gould, Stephen Jay (1992). Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History. New York: Norton. pp. 432–447.  
  110. ^ The compass in this 13th-century manuscript is a symbol of God's act of Creation.
    * Thomas Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, (Washington, DC: Regenery, 2005), ISBN 0-89526-038-7
  111. ^ Howard W. Clarke, The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers, Indiana University Press, 2003, p. 12
  112. ^ William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Crossway Books (1994) pages 38-39.
  113. ^ "Let no cultured person draw near, none wise and none sensible, for all that kind of thing we count evil; but if any man is ignorant, if any man is wanting in sense and culture, if anybody is a fool, let him come boldly [to become a Christian]. Celsus, AD178
  114. ^ "Since we all inherit Adam's sin, we all deserve eternal damnation. All who die unbaptized, even infants, will go to hell and suffer unending torment. We have no reason to complain of this, since we are all wicked. (In the Confessions, the Saint enumerates the crimes of which he was guilty in the cradle.) But by God's free grace certain people, among those who have been baptized, are chosen to go to heaven; these are the elect. They do not go to heaven because they are good; we are all totally depraved, except insofar as God's grace, which is only bestowed on the elect, enables us to be otherwise. No reason can be given why some are saved and the rest damned; this is due to God's unmotivated choice. Damnation proves God's justice; salvation His mercy. Both equally display His goodness." A history of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, Simon & Schuster, 1945
  115. ^ Bible Teaching and Religious Practice essay: "Europe and Elsewhere," Mark Twain, 1923)
  116. ^ Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), p. 27
  117. ^ What do Orthodox Christians teach about death and when we die?
  118. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 0-89243-565-8,1994-the revised version issued 1997 has no changes in this section
  119. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 0-89243-565-8,1994
  120. ^ Richard Beck. "Christ and Horrors, Part 3: Horror Defeat, Universalism, and God's Reputation". Experimental Theology. March 19, 2007.
  121. ^ Jonathan Kvanvig, The Problem of Hell, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-508487-0, 1993
  122. ^ "The Works of Thomas Manton", by Thomas Manton, p. 99
  123. ^ Cultural Anxieties over the Child in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries by William F. MacLehose
  124. ^ Canon Law 1983
  125. ^ a b CNS STORY: Vatican commission: Limbo reflects 'restrictive view of salvation'
  126. ^ n:Vatican abolishes Limbo
  127. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church. New York: Doubleday. 1994. p. 845.  
  128. ^ Limbo: Recent statements by the Catholic church; Protestant views on Limbo at
  129. ^ Root of All Evil? (2006) (TV)-Memorable quotes
  130. ^  
  131. ^ Dawkins, Richard (September 17, 2007). "Do you have to read up on leprechology before disbelieving in them?". Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  132. ^ Marianna Krejci-Papa, 2005. "Taking On Dawkins' God:An interview with Alister McGrath." Science & Theology News, 2005–04–25.
  133. ^ Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great About Christianity, Regnery Publishing, ISBN 1-59698-517-8 (2007)
  134. ^ Andrew Wilson, Deluded by Dawkins?, Kingsway Publications, ISBN 978-1-84291-355-0 (2007)
  135. ^ A Biographical Appreciation of Robert Green Ingersoll: Chapter 11
  136. ^ Brandt, Eric T., and Timothy Larsen (2011). "The Old Atheism Revisited: Robert G. Ingersoll and the Bible". Journal of the Historical Society 11 (2): 211–238.  
  137. ^ More Than A Carpenter, Tyndale House, Wheaton, Illinois, 1977, ISBN 978-0-8423-4552-1
  138. ^ Jeffery, Steve; Ovey, Michael; Sach, Andrew (2007). Pierced for our transgressions. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press. ch. 13.  
  139. ^ Most notably, Matthew 10:22-23, , , , ; Mark 9:1, , ; and Luke 9:27
  140. ^ In his famous essay Why I Am Not a Christian
  141. ^ Dr. Knox Chamblin, Professor of New Testament Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary: Commentary on Matthew 16:21-28 - see last 4 paragraphs
  142. ^ Theodor Zahn, F.F. Bruce, J. Barton Payne, etc. hold this opinion - What is the meaning of Matthew 10:23?
  143. ^ a b From Witchcraft to Justice: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament, George E. Mendenhall.
  144. ^ a b Hiroshi Obayashi, Death and Afterlife: Perspectives of World Religions. See Introduction.
  145. ^ Jewish eschatology#Olam Haba - the afterlife and the world to come Jewish eschatology: The afterlife and olam haba
  146. ^ Acts 23:6-8
  147. ^ Pharisees#Pharisaic principles and values Pharisees: Pharisaic Principles and Values
  148. ^ Essenes#Rules, customs, theology and beliefs Essenes: Rules, customs, theology and beliefs
  149. ^ About 91% of young outsiders felt Christians were anti-homosexual, 87% felt Christians were judgemental and 85% thought Christians were hypocritical.
  150. ^ unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Baker Books, October 1, 2007, ISBN 0-8010-1300-3
  151. ^ Who Do People Say We Are? It doesn't hurt to listen to what non-Christians think of us., A Christianity Today editorial, Christianity Today, December 12, 2007
  152. ^ a b c d Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; WW Norton & Company; London; p.381-382
  153. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Fascism - Identification with Christianity; 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2013
  154. ^ a b Alan Bullock; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny; HarperPerennial Edition 1991; p219
  155. ^ American Experience . The Man Behind Hitler . Transcript | PBS
  156. ^ Martin BormannEncyclopedia Britannica Online - ; web 25 April 2013
  157. ^ Alfred RosenbergEncyclopedia Britannica Online - ; web 25 April 2013.
  158. ^ Alan Bullock; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny; HarperPerennial Edition 1991; p219"
  159. ^ Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; WW Norton & Company; London; p.295-297
  160. ^ Martin NiemöllerEncyclopedia Britannica Online - ; web 24 April 2013
  161. ^ Dietrich BonhoefferEncyclopedia Britannica Online - ; web 25 April 2013
  162. ^ Gaudium et Spes, 19
  163. ^ The Evangelical Scandal – Christianity Today
  164. ^ Marriage 103: The Raw Reality of Divorce and its Terrible Results
  165. ^ Chip Berlet, "Following the Threads," in Ansell, Amy E. Unraveling the Right: The New Conservatism in American Thought and Politics, pp. 24, Westview Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8133-3147-1
  166. ^ "MPs turn attack back on Cardinal Pell". Sydney Morning Herald. 2007-06-06. 
  167. ^ "Pope warns Bush on stem cells". BBC News. 2001-07-23. 
  168. ^ Andrew Dickson, White (1898). A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. p. X. Theological Opposition to Inoculation, Vaccination, and the Use of Anaesthetics. 
  169. ^ In his book "Glimpses of world history", p. 86-87
  170. ^ "Secularism and Hindutva, a Discursive Study", by A. A. Parvathy, p.42
  171. ^ As quoted by William Rees-Mogg 4 April 2005 edition of The Times. Gandhi here makes reference to a statement of Jesus: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13)
  172. ^  
  173. ^ see e.g.: John Coffey, Persecution and Toleration on Protestant England 1558-1689, 2000, p. 206.
  174. ^ see e.g.: John Coffey, Persecution and Toleration on Protestant England 1558-1689, 2000, p.22
  175. ^ *Lutz E. von Padberg (1998), Die Christianisierung Europas im Mitterlalter, Reclam (German), p. 183
  176. ^ The Evangelical Scandal
  177. ^ "Raja Rammohun Roy: Encounter with Islam and Christianity and the Articulation of Hindu Self-Consciousness. Page 166, by Abidullah Al-Ansari Ghazi, year = 2010
  178. ^ "Raja Rammohun Roy: Encounter with Islam and Christianity and the Articulation of Hindu Self-Consciousness. Page 169, by Abidullah Al-Ansari Ghazi, year = 2010
  179. ^ "Neo-Hindu Views of Christianity", p. 96, by Arvind Sharma, year = 1988
  180. ^ "Gandhi on Pluralism and Communalism", by P. L. John Panicker, p.39, year = 2006
  181. ^ "Dayānanda Sarasvatī, his life and ideas", p. 267, by J. T. F. Jordens
  182. ^ The Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, by Paul Arthur Schilpp, page = 641
  183. ^ "Judaism and Other Religions", p. 88, publisher = Palgrave Macmillan
  184. ^ Anti-Judaism and Early Christian Identity: A Critique of the Scholarly Consensus, by Miriam S. Taylor, p. 41
  185. ^ "Idolatry", by Moshe Halbertal, p. 212
  186. ^ Wise Criticizes Christian World for Failure to Rescue Jews in Nazi Europe 19 February 1943
  187. ^ "Global Civilization: A Buddhist-Islamic Dialogue", by Daisaku Ikeda, Majid Tehranian, p. 36
  188. ^ Christianity: An Introduction, p. 125, by Alister E. McGrath
  189. ^ Examples of authors who argue the Jesus myth theory: Thomas L. Thompson The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David (Jonathan Cape, Publisher, 2006); Michael Martin, The Case Against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 36–72; John Mackinnon Robertson
  190. ^ Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter (1999) The Jesus Mysteries. London: Thorsons (Harper Collins)
  191. ^ Brian Branston, The Lost Gods of England
  192. ^ Historian Michael Grant stated, "To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first rank scholars.' In recent years, 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary." —Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (Scribner, 1995).
    • "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more." —Burridge, R & Gould, G, Jesus Now and Then, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004, p.34.
    • Michael James McClymond, Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, Eerdrmans (2004), page 24: "most scholars regard the argument for Jesus' non-existence as unworthy of any response".
  193. ^  


See also

Scholars and historians such as James H. Charlesworth caution against using parallels with life-death-rebirth gods in the widespread mystery religions prevalent in the Hellenistic culture to conclude that Jesus is a purely legendary figure. Charlesworth argues that "it would be foolish to continue to foster the illusion that the Gospels are merely fictional stories like the legends of Hercules and Asclepius. The theologies in the New Testament are grounded on interpretations of real historical events…"[193]

Some have argued that Christianity is not founded on a historical Jesus, but rather on a mythical creation.[189] This view proposes that the idea of Jesus was the Jewish manifestation of Hellenistic mystery cults that acknowledged the non-historic nature of their deity using it instead as a teaching device.[190] Author Brian Branston has argued that Christianity adopted many mythological tales and traditions into its views of Jesus. According to Branston these traditions, largely from Greco-Roman religions, have parallels to the story of Jesus.[191] However, the position that Jesus was not a historical figure is essentially without support among biblical scholars and classical historians, most of whom regard its arguments as examples of pseudo-scholarship.[192]


Much African Traditional Religion criticism of Christianity has centered on the lack of coherence of its doctrines, its relative regression in morality compared to African Traditional Religion, the witnessed hypocrisy of its followers, its coercive use for colonial and neo-imperialist domination of Africa, and its lack of suitability to the African environment.

African Traditional

Muslim scholars have criticized Christianity, usually for its Trinity concept. They argue that this doctrine is an invention, distortion of the idea about God, and presentation of the idea that there are three gods.[188]

Islam's prophet Muhammad said that Christians had to follow one God, but they have made multiple, he said:-


Stephen Samuel Wise in his own words was critical towards Christian community, for their failure to rescue Jews, from Europe, during Nazi rule. He wrote that:-

Professor Moshe Halbertal, regards Christianity to be "idolatrous religion," and he further adds that the idolatry by Christians "opened the door to the easing of many other restrictive prohibitions."[185]

David Flusser viewed Christianity as "Cheaper Judaism" and highly anti-judaism, he also highlighted the "failure of christianity to convert the Jewish people to the new message" as "precisely the reason for the strong anti-jewish trend in christianity."[184]

Shlomo ben Aderet criticized Christianity, adding that it has lesser form of monotheism, and lacks a unified deity compared to Judaism.[183]

Moshe Halbertal in 2009.


Highly acclaimed Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, writes :-

Philosopher Dayanand Saraswati, regarded Christianity as "barbarous religion, and a 'false religion' religion believed only by fools and by the people in a state of barbarism,"[180] he included that Bible contains many stories and precepts that are immoral, praising cruelty, deceit and encouraging sin.[181]

Vivekananda regarded Christianity as "..collection of little bits of Indian thought. Ours is the religion of which Buddhism with all its greatness is a rebel child, and of which Christianity is a very patchy imitation."[179]

Ram Mohan Roy criticized Christian doctrines, and asserted that how "unreasonable" and "self-contradictory" they are.[177] He further adds that people, even from India were embracing Christianity due to the economic hardship and weakness, just like European Jews were pressured to embrace Christianity, by both encouragement and force.[178]

Statue of Raja Ram Mohan Roy at College Green, Bristol, UK.


Criticism by other religions

Similar arguments are held by Roman Catholics against critics of the Catholic Church, or by other Christians defending their respective Churches. of the Church's structure. Roman Catholics will argue that Popes who were corrupt in the Middle Ages is not the fault of the position of the Papacy or of the fact that there are obedient Priests lower in the hierarchy, but the fault of the individual people who act as "God's representative on Earth". Such examples can be seen in Dante's Divine Comedy, where Roman Catholic Clergy who had practiced simony find themselves in the lower circles of hell.

Christians will sometimes point out that in their points of view, the wrongdoings of other Christians are not the fault of their religious scriptures but of those who have wrongly interpreted it. They posit that the mistakes of Christians do not refute the validity of their teachings, but merely proves their weakness and sinful nature, of which they then turn to Christ. Thus, according to them, the "Word of God" can still be true and valid without it having been accurately followed. According to Ron Sider, an Evangelical theologian, "The tragedy is that poll after poll by Gallup and Barna show that evangelicals live just like the world. Contrast that with what the New Testament says about what happens when people come to living faith in Christ. There's supposed to be radical transformation in the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 5:17, 1 Cor 10:13). The disconnect between our biblical beliefs and our practice is just, I think, heart-rending."[176]

Response of apologists

After the Protestant Reformation, the devastation caused by the partly religiously motivated wars (Thirty Years' War, English Civil War, French Wars of Religion) in Europe in the 17th century gave rise to the ideas of Religious toleration, Freedom of religion and Religious pluralism.

After the decline of the Roman Empire, the further Christianization of Europe was to a large extent peaceful.[175] However, encounters between Christians and Pagans were sometimes confrontational, and some Christian kings (Charlemagne, Olaf I of Norway) were known for their violence against pagans. In the late Middle Ages, the appearance of the Cathars and Bogomils in Europe laid the stage for the later witch-hunts. These (probably gnostic-influenced) sects were seen as heretics by the Catholic Church, and the Inquisition was established to counter them.

Early Christianity was a minority religion in the Roman Empire and the early Christians were themselves persecuted during that time. After Constantine I converted to Christianity, it became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire. Already under the reign of Constantine I, Christian heretics had been persecuted; beginning in the late 4th century AD also the ancient pagan religions were actively suppressed. In the view of many historians, the Constantinian shift turned Christianity from a persecuted into a persecuting religion.[174]

Individuals and groups throughout history have been persecuted by certain Christians (and Christian groups) based upon sex, sexual orientation, race, and religion (even within the bounds of Christianity itself). Many of the persecutors attempted to justify their actions with particular scriptural interpretations. During Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, important Christian theologians advocated religious persecution to varying degrees. However, Early modern Europe witnessed a turning point in the Christian debate on persecution and toleration. Nowadays all significant Christian denominations embrace religious toleration, and "look back on centuries of persecution with a mixture of revulsion and incomprehension".[173]

Persecution by Christians

Christians respond that Ecumenism has helped bring together such communities, where in the past mistranslations of Christological Greek terms may have resulted in seemingly different views. Non-denominational Christianity represents another approach towards reducing the divisions within Christianity, although many Christian groups claiming to be non-denominational wind up with similar problems.

To the South German ecclesiastic the truth of the Catholic dogma is quite obvious, to the North German, the Protestant. If then, these convictions are based on objective reasons, the reasons must be climatic, and thrive, like plants, some only here, some only there. The convictions of those who are thus locally convinced are taken on trust and believed by the masses everywhere.[172]

Some have argued that Christianity is undermined by the inability of Christians to agree on matters of faith and church governance, and the tendency for the content of their faith to be determined by regional or political factors. Schopenhauer sarcastically suggested:



Conservative Christians are often accused of being intolerant by secular humanists and liberal Christians, claiming that they oppose science that seems to contradict scripture (Creationism, use of birth control, research into embryonic stem cells, etc.), liberal democracy (separation of church and state), and progressive social policies (rights of people of other races and religions, of women, and of people with different sexual orientations).[165][166][167][168]

Protestant Christian dominated KKK hinting at violence toward Jews and Catholics. Illustration by Rev. Branford Clarke from Heroes of the Fiery Cross 1928 by Bishop Alma White published by the Pillar of Fire Church in Zarephath, NJ.


Secular and religious critics have accused many Christians of being hypocritical.[163] Tom Whiteman, a Philadelphia psychologist found that the primary reasons for Christian divorce include adultery, abuse (including substance, physical and verbal abuse), and abandonment whereas the number one reason cited for divorce in the general population was incompatibility.[164]

Gaudium et Spes claims that the example of Christians may be a contributory factor to atheism, writing, "…believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion."[162]


According to Bullock, Hitler considered the Protestant clergy to be "insignificant" and "submissive" and lacking in a religion to be taken seriously.[158] Kershaw wrote that the subjugation of the Protestant churches proved more difficult than Hitler had envisaged however. With 28 separate regional churches, his bid to create a unified Reich Church through Gleichschaltung ultimately failed, and Hitler became disinterested in supporting the so-called "German Christians" Nazi aligned movement. Hitler initially lent support to Ludwig Muller, a Nazi and former naval chaplain, to serve as Reich Bishop, but his heretical views against St Paul and the Semitic origins of Christ and the Bible (see Positive Christianity) quickly alienated sections of the Protestant church. Pastor Martin Neimoller responded with the Pastors Emergency League which re-affirmed the Bible. The movement grew into the Confessing Church, from which some clergymen opposed the Nazi regime.[159] Neimoller was arrested by the Gestapo in 1937, and sent to the Concentration Camps.[160] The Confessing Church seminary was prohibited that same year.[161]

Hitler's chosen deputy and private secretary, Martin Bormann, was a rigid guardian of National Socialist orthodoxy and saw Christianity and Nazism as "incompatible" (mainly because of its Jewish origins),[153][156] as did the official Nazi philosopher, Alfred Rosenberg. In his "Myth of the Twentieth Century" (1930), Rosenberg wrote that the main enemies of the Germans were the "Russian Tartars" and "Semites" - with "Semites" including Christians, especially the Catholic Church.[157]

Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Propaganda, was among the most aggressive anti-Church Nazi radicals. In 1928, soon after his election to the Reichstag, Goebbels wrote in his diary that National Socialism was a "religion" that needed a genius to uproot "outmoded religious practices" and put new ones in their place: "One day soon National Socialism will be the religion of all Germans. My Party is my church, and I believe I serve the Lord best if I do his will, and liberate my oppressed people from the fetters of slavery. That is my gospel."[155] Goebbels led the Nazi persecution of the German Catholic clergy and, as the war progressed, on the "Church Question", he wrote "after the war it has to be generally solved... There is, namely, an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a heroic-German world view".[152]

The Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was anti-clerical and hostile to Christianity.[152][154]

Aggressive anti-Church radicals like [154]

Nazi ideology was hostile to Christianity and clashed with Christian beliefs in many respects.[153] Nazism saw Christian ideals of meekness and conscience as obstacles to the violent instincts required to defeat other races.[153] The Nazis opposed Catholic teachings against racism, euthanasia and eugenics.

The Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, among the most aggressive anti-Church Nazis, wrote that there was "an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a heroic-German world view".[152]

Negative attitudes in Nazi Germany

David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute, and Gabe Lyons of the Fermi Project published a study of attitudes of 16- to 29-year-old Americans towards Christianity. They found that about 38% of all those who were not regular churchgoers had negative impressions of Christianity, and especially evangelical Christianity, associating it with conservative political activism, hypocrisy, anti-homosexuality, authoritarianism, and judgmentalism.[149] About 17% had "very bad" perceptions of Christianity.[150][151]

Negative attitudes in the United States

Criticism of Christians

Before Christianity began in the 1st century, the belief in an afterlife was already prevalent in Jewish thinking[145] among the Pharisees[146][147] and Essenes.[148] The themes of unity and sheol which largely shaped the ancient tradition of Judaism had been undermined when only the most pious of Jews were being massacred during the Maccabean revolt.

The idea of Sheol ("שׁאול") or a state of nothingness was shared among Babylonian and Israelite beliefs. "Sheol, as it was called by the ancient Israelites, is the land of no return, lying below the cosmic ocean, to which all, the mighty and the weak, travel in the ghostly form they assume after death, known as Raphraim. There the dead have no experience of either joy or pain, perceiving no light, feeling no movement."[144] Obayashi alludes that the Israelites were satisfied with such a shadowy realm of afterlife because they were more deeply concerned with survival.[144]

However, two men, Enoch and Elijah, are taken into the afterlife without ever experiencing death. [143] The presumption is that the deceased are inert, lifeless, and engaging in no activity.[143] Most Christian traditions teach belief in life after death as a central and indispensable tenet of their faith. Critics argue that the Christian conception of the afterlife is inconsistent with that described in the

Inconsistency with Old Testament conception of the afterlife

However, Preterists argue that Jesus did not mean his second coming but speaks about demonstrations of his might, formulating this as "coming in his kingdom", especially the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple 70 AD, which he foretold, and by which time not all of his disciples were still living.[141] According to this view Matthew 10:23 should be understood in the same way.[142]

Several verses in the New Testament appear to contain Jesus' predictions that the Second Coming would take place within a century following his death.[139] Jesus appears to promise for his followers the second coming to happen before the generation he is preaching to vanishes. This is seen as an essential failure in the teachings of Christ by many critics such as Bertrand Russell.[140]

Second Coming

The prominent Christian apologist Josh McDowell, in More Than A Carpenter, addresses the issue through an analogy of a real-life judge in California who was forced to fine his daughter $100 for speeding, but then came down, took off his robe, and paid the fine for her from his billfold,[137] though as in this and other cases, illustrations are only cautiously intended to describe certain aspects of the atonement.[138]

Robert Green Ingersoll suggests that the concept of the atonement is simply an extension of the Mosaic tradition of blood sacrifice and "is the enemy of morality".[135][136] The death of Jesus Christ represents the blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices; the resulting mechanism of atonement by proxy through that final sacrifice has appeal as a more convenient and much less costly approach to redemption than repeated animal sacrifice—a common sense solution to the problem of reinterpreting ancient religious approaches based on sacrifice.

The idea of [129] Oxford theologian Alister McGrath maintains that Dawkins is "ignorant" of Christian theology, and therefore unable to engage religion and faith intelligently. He goes on to say that the atonement was necessary because of our flawed human nature, which made it impossible for us to save ourselves, and that it expresses God's love for us by removing the sin that stands in the way of our reconciliation with God.[130] Responding to the criticism that he is "ignorant" of theology, Dawkins asks, "Do you have to read up on leprechology before disbelieving in leprechauns?"[131] and "[y]es, I have, of course, met this point before. It sounds superficially fair. But it presupposes that there is something in Christian theology to be ignorant about. The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a non-subject."[132] Dinesh D'Souza says that Dawkins' criticism "only makes sense if you assume Christians made the whole thing up." He goes on to say that Christians view it as a beautiful sacrifice, and that "through the extremity of Golgotha, Christ reconciles divine justice and divine mercy."[133] Andrew Wilson argues that Dawkins misses the point of the atonement, which has nothing to do with masochism, but is based on the concepts of holiness, sin and grace.[134]


The concept of limbo is not accepted by the Orthodox Church or by Protestants.[128]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that baptism is a necessity. In the 5th century, St. Augustine concluded that infants who die without baptism were consigned to hell.[123] By the 13th century, theologians referred to the "limbo of infants" as a place where unbaptized babies were deprived of the vision of God, but did not suffer because they did not know of that which they were deprived, and moreover enjoyed perfect natural happiness. The 1983 Code of Canon Law (1183 §2) specifies that "Children whose parents had intended to have them baptized but who died before baptism, may be allowed church funeral rites by the local ordinary".[124] In 2007, the 30-member International Theological Commission revisited the concept of limbo.[125][126] However, the commission also said that hopefulness was not the same as certainty about the destiny of such infants.[125] Rather, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1257, "God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments."[127] Hope in the mercy of God is not the same as certainty through the sacraments, but it is not without result, as demonstrated in Jesus' statement to the thief on the cross in Luke 23:42-43.


Despite Christians usually alleges different religions to be idolatrous, they have been pointed out by number of notable people to have been engaged in idolatry, the common practices of Christians that have been regarded as idolatry contains the use of images of Jesus, Mary, Saints, etc.[122]


Some modern critics of the doctrine of Hell (such as Marilyn McCord Adams) claim that, even if Hell is seen as a choice rather than as punishment, it would be unreasonable for God to give such flawed and ignorant creatures as humans the awesome responsibility of their eternal destinies.[120] Jonathan Kvanvig, in his book, The Problem of Hell, agrees that God would not allow one to be eternally damned by a decision made under the wrong circumstances. For instance, one should not always honor the choices of human beings, even when they are full adults, if, for instance, the choice is made while depressed or careless. On Kvanvig's view, God will abandon no person until they have made a settled, final decision, under favorable circumstances, to reject God, but God will respect a choice made under the right circumstances. Once a person finally and competently chooses to reject God, out of respect for the person's autonomy, God allows them to be annihilated.[121]

Hell is not seen as strictly a matter of retributive justice even by the more traditionalist churches. For example, the Eastern Orthodox see it as a condition brought about by, and the natural consequence of, free rejection of God's love.[117] The Roman Catholic Church teaches that hell is a place of punishment[118] brought about by a person's self exclusion from communion with God.[119] In some ancient Eastern Orthodox traditions, Hell and Heaven are distinguished not spatially, but by the relation of a person to God's love.

In the Abrahamic religions, Hell has traditionally been regarded as a punishment for wrongdoing or sin in this life, as a manifestation of divine justice. As in the problem of evil, some apologists argue that the torments of Hell are attributable not to a defect in God's benevolence, but in human free will. Although a benevolent God would prefer to see everyone saved, he would also allow humans to control their own destinies. This view opens the possibility of seeing Hell not as retributive punishment, but rather as an option that God allows, so that people who do not wish to be with God are not forced to be. C. S. Lewis most famously proposed this view in his book The Great Divorce, saying: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"

Critics regard the eternal punishment of those who fail to adopt Christian faith as morally objectionable, and consider it an abhorrent picture of the nature of the world. On a similar theme objections are made against the perceived injustice of punishing a person for all eternity for a temporal crime. Some Christians agree (see Annihilationism and Trinitarian Universalism). These beliefs have been considered especially repugnant[115] when the claimed omnipotent God makes, or allows a person to come into existence, with a nature that desires that which God finds objectionable.[116]

Christianity has been criticized as seeking to persuade people into accepting its authority through simple fear of punishment or, conversely, through hope of reward after death, rather than through rational argumentation or empirical evidence.[113] Traditional Christian doctrine dictates that, without faith in Jesus Christ or in the Christian faith in general, one is subject to eternal punishment in Hell.[114]

Adam and Eve being driven from Eden due to original sin, portrayed by Gustave Doré.

Hell and damnation

One classical response is Lewis's trilemma, a syllogism popularised by C. S. Lewis that intended to demonstrate the logical inconsistency of both holding Jesus of Nazareth to be a "great moral teacher" while also denying his divinity. The logical soundness of this trilemma has been widely questioned.[112]

The earliest objections to incarnation come from Celsus and Porphyry. Celsus found it hard to reconcile Christian human God who was born and matured with his Jewish God who was supposed to be one and unchanging. He asked "if God wanted to reform humanity, why did he choose to descend and live on earth? How his brief presence in Jerusalem could benefit all the millions of people who lived elsewhere in the world or who had lived and died before his incarnation?"[111]



Medieval scholars sought to understand the geometric and harmonic principles by which God created the universe.[110]

Numerous scientists have criticized Christian fundamentalism and creationism as inherently unscientific and incompatible with modern understanding of evolutionary biology, geology, and cosmology.[108][109]

The astronomer Carl Sagan, mentioned the dispute between the astronomical systems of Ptolemy (who thought that the sun and planets revolved around the earth) and Copernicus (who thought the earth and planets revolved around the sun). He states in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage that Ptolemy's belief was "supported by the church through the Dark Ages… [It] effectively prevented the advance of astronomy for 1,500 years."[106] Ted Peters in Encyclopedia of Religion writes that although there is some truth in this story, it has been exaggerated and has become "a modern myth perpetuated by those wishing to see warfare between science and religion who were allegedly persecuted by an atavistic and dogma-bound ecclesiastical authority".[107] In 1992, the Catholic Church's seeming vindication of Galileo attracted much comment in the media.

The notion of a war between science and religion remained common in the historiography of science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[103] Most of today's historians of science consider that the conflict thesis has been superseded by subsequent historical research.[104] The framing of the relationship between Christianity and science as being predominantly one of conflict is still prevalent in popular culture.[105]

During the 19th century an interpretive model of the relationship between religion and science known today as the conflict theory developed, according to which interaction between religion and science almost inevitably leads to hostility and conflict. A popular example was the misconception that people from the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat, and that only science, freed from religious dogma, had shown that it was spherical. This thesis was a popular historiographical approach during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but most contemporary historians of science now reject it.[100][101][102]


Christian theologians point to a strong doctrinal and historical imperative within Christianity against violence, particularly Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which taught nonviolence and love of enemies. Weaver says that Jesus' pacifism was "preserved in the justifiable war doctrine that declares all war as sin even when declaring it occasionally a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism".[97] Others point out sayings and acts of Jesus that do not fit this description: the absence of any censure of the soldier who asks Jesus to heal his servant, his overturning the tables and chasing the moneychangers from the temple with a rope in his hand, and through his Apostles, baptising a Roman Centurion who is never asked to first give up arms.[99]

Although some Christians have relied on Christian teaching to justify their use of force, other Christians have opposed the use of force and violence. Some of the latter have formed sects that have emphasized pacificism as a central tenet of their faith. Christians have also engaged in violence against those that they classify as heretics and non-believers. In Letter to a Christian Nation, critic of religion Sam Harris writes that " inspires violence in at least two ways. First, people often kill other human beings because they believe that the creator of the universe wants them to do it... Second, far greater numbers of people fall into conflict with one another because they define their moral community on the basis of their religious affiliation..."[98]

Peace, compassion and forgiveness of wrongs done by others are key elements of Christian teaching.[91] However, Christians have struggled since the days of the Church fathers with the question of when the use of force is justified.[92] Such debates have led to concepts such as just war theory. Throughout history, biblical passages have been used to justify the use of force against heretics,[93] sinners[94] and external enemies.[95] Heitman and Hagan identify the Inquisitions, Crusades, wars of religion and antisemitism as being "among the most notorious examples of Christian violence".[96] To this list, J. Denny Weaver adds, "warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of 'spare the rod and spoil the child', justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men". Weaver employs a broader definition of violence that extends the meaning of the word to cover "harm or damage", not just physical violence per se. Thus, under his definition, Christian violence includes "forms of systemic violence such as poverty, racism, and sexism".[97]

[90] commanded an ethic of "out-group affirmation". McGrath agrees that it is necessary to critique religion, but says that Dawkins seems unaware that it possesses internal means of reform and renewal. While Christians may certainly be accused of failing to live up to Jesus' standard of acceptance, it is there at the heart of the Christian ethic.Jesus responds to Dawkins by suggesting that, far from endorsing "out-group hostility", Alister McGrath The Dawkins Delusion?,. In The God Delusion makes a similar case in his book, Richard Dawkins [89] Many critics of Christianity have cited the violent acts of Christian nations as a reason to denounce the religion. Science-fiction writer

Christianity and violence

Reverend Rich Lang of the [88]

Some leftists and libertarians, including Christians who disavow the Religious Right, use the term Christian fascism or Christofascism to describe what some see as an emerging neoconservative proto-fascism or Evangelical nationalism and possible theocratic sentiment in the United States.[87]

Christianity and politics

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

In some evangelical churches, it is forbidden for women to become pastors, deacons or church elders. In support of such prohibitions, the verse 1 Timothy 2:12 is often cited:[86]

The Eastern Orthodox Church does not allow female clergy. The Chaldean Catholic Church on the other hand continues to maintain a large number of deaconesses serving alongside male deacons during mass.[85]

In 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to revise its "Baptist Faith and Message" (Statement of Faith),[84] opposing women as pastors. While this decision is not binding and would not prevent women from serving as pastors, the revision itself has been criticized by some from within the convention. In the same document, the Southern Baptist Convention took a strong position of the subordinating view of woman in marriage: "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband. She has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation."[84] (Emphasis added)

Most mainline Christians claim that the doctrine of the Trinity implies that God should be called Father and not called Mother, in the same way that Jesus was a man and was not a woman.[83] Jesus tells His followers to address God as Father. He tells his disciples to be merciful as their heavenly Father is merciful. He says the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and that the Spirit of their Father will speak through them in times of persecution. On Easter Sunday, he directs Mary Magdalene to tell the other disciples, "I am going to my Father and your Father...." Mark Brumley points out that behind New Testament language of Divine Adoption and regeneration is the idea that God is our Father because He is the "source" or "origin" of our new life in Christ. He has saved us through Christ and sanctified us in the Spirit. Brumley claims this is clearly more than a metaphor; the analogy with earthly fatherhood is obvious. God is not merely like a father for Christ’s followers; he is really their Father. Among Christians who hold to this idea, there is a distinct sense that Jesus' treatment of women should imply equality in leadership and marital roles every bit as strongly as the definite male gender of Jesus should imply a name of Father for God. Rather than as antifeminist, they characterize alternative naming as unnecessary and unsupported by the words found in the Bible.[83]

Some Christians argue that the idea of God as a man is based less on gender but rather on the dominant Patriarchal society of the time in which men acted as leaders and caretakers of the Family.[82] Thus, the idea of God being "The Father" is with regards to his relationship with what are "his children", Christians.

  • Christian Feminists take an actively feminist position from a Christian perspective.[78]
  • Christian Egalitarians advocate ability-based, rather than gender-based, ministry of Christians of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic classes.[79] Egalitarians support the ordination of women and equal roles in marriage, but are theologically and morally more conservative than Christian feminists and prefer to avoid the label "feminist". A limited notion of gender complementarity is held by some, known as "complementarity without hierarchy".[80]
  • Complementarians support both equality and beneficial differences between men and women.[81] They believe the Bible teaches that men and women have distinct complementary roles in both marriage and in the church. They maintain that men have a responsibility to lead and women have a responsibility to submit to the leadership of men.

There are three major viewpoints within modern Christianity over the role of women. They are known respectively as Christian feminism, Christian Egalitarianism and Complementarianism.

Classicist Evelyn Stagg and New Testament theologian Frank Stagg, in a scholarly book entitled Woman in the World of Jesus, document very unfavorable attitudes toward women that prevailed in the world into which Jesus came. They assert that there is no recorded instance where Jesus disgraces, belittles, reproaches, or stereotypes a woman. They interpret the recorded treatment and attitude Jesus showed to women as evidence that the Founder of Christianity treated women with great dignity and respect.[75] Various theologians have concluded that the canonical examples of the manner of Jesus are instructive for inferring his attitudes toward women. They are seen as showing repeatedly and consistently how he liberated and affirmed women.[76] However, Schalom Ben-Chorin argues that Jesus' reply to his mother in John 2:4 during the wedding at Cana amounted to a blatant violation of the commandment to honor one's parent. [77] He mistakenly assumes Jesus' response to be an offensive statement, when in all actuality, the term "woman" was used to show respect in the Hebrew cultures. Also, Christ was an adult at the time, thirty years of age. He had the biblical right to refuse a command by his mother, and he did so stating that he was doing his Father's (God's) business.

King claims that every sect within early Christianity which had advocated women's prominence in ancient Christianity was eventually declared heretical, and evidence of women's early leadership roles was erased or suppressed.[74]

Harvard scholar Karen King writes that more of the many women who contributed to the formation of Christianity in its earliest years are becoming known. Further, she concludes that for centuries in Western Christianity, Mary Magdalene has been wrongly identified as the adulteress and repentant prostitute presented in John 8—a connection supposed by tradition but nowhere claimed in the New Testament. According to King, the Gospel of Mary shows that she was an influential figure, a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership.

Elizabeth Clark cites early Christian writings by authors such as Augustine, Tertullian and John Chrysostom as being exemplary of the negative perception of women that has been perpetuated in church tradition.[72] Until the latter part of the 20th century, only the names of very few women who contributed to the formation of Christianity in its earliest years were widely known: Mary, the mother of Jesus;[73] Mary Magdalene, disciple of Jesus and the first witness to the resurrection; and Mary and Martha, the sisters who offered him hospitality in Bethany.[74]

Many feminists have accused notions such as a male God, male prophets, and the man-centered stories in the Bible of contributing to a patriarchy.[69] Though many women disciples and servants are recorded in the Pauline epistles, there have been occasions in which women have been denigrated and forced into a second-class status.[70] For example, women were told to keep silent in the churches for "it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church". Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton said in The Woman's Bible that "the Bible in its teachings degrades women from Genesis to Revelation".[71]

Joan of Arc led battles in the fight to free France from England. She believed that God had commanded her to do so. Upon capture, she was tried for heresy by an English court and burned at the stake. She is now a saint venerated in the Roman Catholic Church.[68]

Christianity and women


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