Jump directly to the content

Is the Bible Immoral? Messiah College Professor Says Yes, Sometimes

Eric Seibert: "Not everything in the 'good book' is either good, or good for us."

According to Messiah College professor and author Eric Seibert, misuse of the Bible is not just Christians' fault. Rather, the problem "runs right through the pages of Scripture itself."

In a recent Patheos blog post, Seibert writes that the Bible "has been used to justify warfare, oppress women, condemn gays and lesbians, support slavery, and legitimate colonization, to name just a few of its troubling legacies."

It's an old discussion, and Seibert notes that "Most Christians would attribute this misuse of the Bible to faulty interpretations and misguided interpreters." But that's not the only problem, he says. "At times the Bible endorses values we should reject, praises acts we must condemn, and portrays God in ways we cannot accept."

As a result, he argues, Christians have a moral obligation to critique Scripture and condemn what is immoral," he states.

Seibert's claims about the nature of Scripture are rare among professors at evangelical colleges, albeit not entirely new; the call for Christians to pursue an 'ethical' reading of Scripture has long been a fixture in some mainline circles. But the sentiment seems to be new in the Bible department of Messiah, one of the few Anabaptist colleges in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Still, according to the school's statement of faith, "God gives us the Bible as the inspired, trustworthy and authoritative Scripture to reveal God's ways and purposes, to nourish our minds and souls, and to instruct us in how we ought to think and to live."

Seibert has made similar claims before, most notably in his book Disturbing Divine Behavior–which also received criticism. (Scot McKnight called Seibert's argument "at times Marcion-like," referring to the second-century heretic who rejected the Old Testament.)

This time around, Boyce College theology professor Owen Strachan calls Seibert's piece "shameful," pointing out the "serious friction … between Seibert and his school's statement of faith."

CT previously has examined the question of how to read the Bible, including a look at sin in the Old Testament, why God seems to sanction raw violence in the Old Testament but not the New, and similar topics.

Related Topics:Doctrine; Higher Education
Posted:February 6, 2013 at 10:59AM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.

Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article.
Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.
Recent Posts
Guard Kills 3 Americans at Christian Hospital in Afghanistan
Pediatrician "felt called" to leave Chicago's Lawndale Christian Health Center for Kabul.
Israeli Military's Call-Up of Arab Christians Labeled 'Intimidation'
Attempt at increasing recruits ten-fold occurs against backdrop of stalled peace talks, Hamas-PLO reconciliation.
James Dobson's Birthday Gift: Latest Court Victory Over Obamacare Contraception
In shadow of Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby hearing, judge rules in favor of Family Talk.
Bill Gothard Breaks Silence on Harassment Claims by 30 Women
(UPDATED) Popular seminar speaker: 'I have failed to live out some of the very things that I have taught.'