Criticism of Christianity

Criticism of Christianity

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Throughout the history of Christianity
History of Christianity
The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, its followers and the Church with its various denominations, from the first century to the present. Christianity was founded in the 1st century by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth who they believed to be the Christ or chosen one of God...

, many have criticized Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, the church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

, and Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s themselves. Some criticism specifically addresses Christian beliefs, teachings and interpretation of scripture. The formal response of Christians to such criticisms is described as Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views...

.

Several areas of criticism include some claims of scripture itself, ethics of biblical interpretations that have been used historically to justify attitudes and behaviors that are seen by critics as clearly wrong, the question of compatibility with science, and certain Christian doctrines that some find unsettling or unreasonable.

Biblical criticism


Biblical criticism, in particular higher criticism, covers a variety of methods used since the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 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. 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: form, traditional, higher and lower criticism.
  • 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 have grown 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.
  • Lower criticism: the discipline and study of the actual wording of the Bible; a quest for textual purity and understanding.


Conservative Christians, as well as much of Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

  and Karaite Judaism
Karaite Judaism
Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish movement characterized by the recognition of the Tanakh alone as its supreme legal authority in Halakhah, as well as in theology...

, support the idea that the Bible is historically accurate. Moderate and liberal Christians generally accept the historicity and reliability of scripture in varying degrees, but differ primarily on interpretation of particular passages—from literal meanings to metaphorical intent in some regard.

Inconsistencies have been alleged by critics and skeptics, 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
Documentary hypothesis
The documentary hypothesis , holds that the Pentateuch was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors...

, two source hypothesis (in various guises), and assertions that the Pastoral Epistles
Pastoral epistles
The three pastoral epistles are books of the canonical New Testament: the First Epistle to Timothy the Second Epistle to Timothy , and the Epistle to Titus. They are presented as letters from Paul of Tarsus...

 are pseudonymous. Contrasting with these critical stances are positions supported by literalists, considering the texts to be consistent, with the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 written by a single source, but the Gospels by four independent witnesses, and all of the Pauline Epistles, except possibly the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

, as having been written by Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

.

While consideration of the context is necessary when studying the Bible, some find the accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 within the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, difficult to reconcile. E. P. Sanders
E. P. Sanders
Ed Parish Sanders is a New Testament scholar, and is one of the principal proponents of the New Perspective on Paul. He has been Arts and Sciences Professor of Religion at Duke University, North Carolina, since 1990. He retired in 2005....

 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."

Harold Lindsell points out that it is a "gross distortion" to state that people who believe in Biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is accurate and totally free of error, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact." Some equate inerrancy with infallibility; others do not.Conservative Christians generally believe that...

 suppose every statement made in the Bible is true (opposed to accurate). He indicates there are expressly false statements in the Bible which are reported accurately (for example, Satan is a liar whose lies are accurately reported as to what he actually said). 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
Biblical inspiration
Biblical inspiration is the doctrine in Christian theology that the authors and editors of the Bible were led or influenced by God with the result that their writings many be designated in some sense the word of God.- Etymology :...

 guided them to flawlessly project his message through their own language and personality.

Those who believe in the inspiration
Biblical inspiration
Biblical inspiration is the doctrine in Christian theology that the authors and editors of the Bible were led or influenced by God with the result that their writings many be designated in some sense the word of God.- Etymology :...

 of scripture teach that it is infallible
Biblical infallibility
Biblical infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is wholly useful and true. It is the "belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose...

 (or inerrant), that is, free from error in the truths it expresses by its character as the word of God. 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. Other scholars take stronger views, but for a few verses these positions require more exegetical work, leading to dispute (compare the serious debate over the related issue of perspicuity
Clarity of scripture
The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture is a Protestant Christian position teaching that "the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and, therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture , it may be searched and known by other...

, 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
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

 modern (critical) copies are considered to "faithfully represent the originals", 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.

Judaism view: Unfulfilled prophecy


Hundreds of years before the time of Jesus, Jewish prophets promised that a messiah
Jewish Messiah
Messiah, ; mashiah, moshiah, mashiach, or moshiach, is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to describe priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil as described in Exodus 30:22-25...

 would come. Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 claims that Jesus did not fulfill these prophecies. Other skeptics usually claim that the prophecies are either vague or unfulfilled, or that the Old Testament writings influenced the composition of New Testament narratives. Christian apologists
Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views...

 claim that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies
Bible prophecy
Bible prophecy or biblical prophecy is the prediction of future events based on the action, function, or faculty of a prophet. Such passages are widely distributed throughout the Bible, but those most often cited are from Ezekiel, Daniel, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, and Revelation.Believers in biblical...

, which they argue are nearly impossible to fulfill by chance. Many Christians anticipate the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 of Jesus, when he will fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy, such as the Last Judgement, the general resurrection
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

, establishment of the Kingdom of God
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.The term "Kingdom of God" is found in all four canonical gospels and in the Pauline epistles...

, and the Messianic Age
Messianic Age
Messianic Age is a theological term referring to a future time of universal peace and brotherhood on the earth, without crime, war and poverty. Many religions believe that there will be such an age; some refer to it as the "Kingdom of God" or the "World to Come".- Terminology: "messianic" and...

 (see the article on Preterism
Preterism
Preterism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets prophecies of the Bible, especially Daniel and Revelation, as events which have already happened in the first century A.D. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the...

 for contrasting Christian views).

God gave Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 unconditional promises entailing multitudinous progeny, nationhood, royal leaders, and land possession. The Hebrew Bible's prophetic literature ends waiting for Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 to be restored via a new monarch, one who will restore the Davidic kingdom and possibly create universal peace. The New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 traces Jesus' line to that of David; however, according to Stephen L. Harris:
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. 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.


Many Christians counter this argument by stating that these prophesies will be fulfilled by Jesus in the Millennial Reign
Millennialism
Millennialism , or chiliasm in Greek, is a belief held by some Christian denominations that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth in which "Christ will reign" for 1000 years prior to the final judgment and future eternal state...

 after the Great Tribulation.

The 16th-century Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 theologian Isaac ben Abraham
Isaac b. Abraham of Troki
Isaac ben Abraham of Troki, Karaite scholar and polemical writer Isaac ben Abraham of Troki, Karaite scholar and polemical writer Isaac ben Abraham of Troki, Karaite scholar and polemical writer (b. Trakai, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, c. 1533; d. Trakai, c. 1594 (or eight years earlier for both...

, who lived in Trakai, Lithuania
Trakai
Trakai is a historic city and lake resort in Lithuania. It lies 28 km west of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Because of its proximity to Vilnius, Trakai is a popular tourist destination. Trakai is the administrative centre of Trakai district municipality. The town covers 11.52 km2 of...

, penned a work called Chizzuk Emunah (Faith Strengthened) that attempted to refute the ideas that Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 was the Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

 prophesied in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 and that Christianity was the "New Covenant
New Covenant
The New Covenant is a concept originally derived from the Hebrew Bible. The term "New Covenant" is used in the Bible to refer to an epochal relationship of restoration and peace following a period of trial and judgment...

" of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

. He systematically identified a number of inconsistencies in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, contradictions between the New Testament and the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, and Old Testament prophesies which remained unfulfilled in Jesus' lifetime. In addition, he questioned a number of Christian practices, such as Sunday Sabbath. Written originally for Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 to persuade them not to convert to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, the work was eventually read by Christians. While the well-known Christian Hebraist Johann Christoph Wagenseil
Johann Christoph Wagenseil
Johann Christoph Wagenseil was a German Christian Hebraist.In 1667 he was made professor of history at Altdorf, and was professor of Oriental languages at the same university from 1674 to 1697, after which he occupied the chair of ecclesiastical law until his death...

 attempted an elaborate refutation of Abraham's arguments, Wagenseil's Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 translation of it only increased interest in the work and inspired later Christian freethinkers. Chizzuk Emunah was praised as a masterpiece by Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

.

On the other hand, Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal , was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen...

 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. Apologist Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
Joslin "Josh" McDowell is a Christian apologist, evangelist, and writer. He is within the Evangelical tradition of Protestant Christianity, and is the author or co-author of some 77 books. His best-known book is Evidence That Demands a Verdict, which was ranked 13th in Christianity Today's list of...

 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
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

 in years and in relation to events is predicted, and that the Jewish Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 (not accepting Jesus as the Messiah, see also Rejection of Jesus
Rejection of Jesus
The Canonical Gospels of the New Testament include some accounts of the rejection of Jesus in the course of his ministry. Judaism's view of Jesus, Jesus in Islam, and the view of the Historical Jesus all differ from Christian views of Jesus.-Hometown rejection:...

) laments that the Messiah had not appeared despite the scepter being taken away from Judah.

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 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
Abrogation of Old Covenant laws
While many Christian theology systems reflect the view that at least some Mosaic laws have been set aside under the New Covenant, there are some theology systems that view the entire Mosaic or Old Covenant as abrogated in that all of the Mosaic laws are set aside for the Law of Christ...

 by the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, such as circumcision
Circumcision controversy in early Christianity
There is evidence of a controversy over religious male circumcision in Early Christianity. A Council of Jerusalem, possibly held in approximately 50 AD, decreed that male circumcision was not a requirement for Gentile converts. This became known as the "Apostolic Decree" and may be one of the...

, though this may simply be a parallel to Jewish Noahide Laws
Noahide Laws
The Seven Laws of Noah form the major part of the Noachide Laws, or Noahide Code. This code is a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah" – that is, all of humankind...

. 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.
  • Others argue that the Old Testament law applies, except as modified by the New Testament.

Textual corruption


Within the wealth 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 and the mistranscription of abbreviations. Text critics such as Bart D. Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill....

 have proposed that some of these textual variants and interpolations were theologically motivated. Ehrman's conclusions and textual variant choices have been challenged by reviewers, including Daniel B. Wallace
Daniel B. Wallace
Daniel Baird Wallace is a professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he has been tenured since 1995. He is also the founder of the Center of the Study of NT Manuscripts....

, Craig Blomberg
Craig Blomberg
Craig L. Blomberg is an American New Testament scholar. Since 1986 he has been Distinguished Professor of the New Testament at Denver Seminary in Colorado.-Life:...

 and Thomas Howe.

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:
  • The ending of Mark
    Gospel of Mark
    The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...


  • The story in John
    Gospel of John
    The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

     of the woman taken in adultery, the Pericope Adulterae
  • An explicit reference to the Trinity
    Trinity
    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

     in 1 John, the Comma Johanneum
    Comma Johanneum
    The Comma Johanneum is a comma in the First Epistle of John according to the Latin Vulgate text as transmitted since the Early Middle Ages, based on Vetus Latina minority readings dating to the 7th century...



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 Aland
Kurt Aland
Kurt Aland was a German Theologian and Professor of New Testament Research and Church History. He founded the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster and served as its first director for many years...

 and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort
The New Testament in the Original Greek
The New Testament in the Original Greek is the name of a Greek language version of the New Testament published in 1881. It is also known as the Westcott and Hort text, after its editors Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort...

, von Soden
Hermann, Freiherr von Soden
Baron Hermann von Soden , German biblical scholar, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 16, 1852, and was educated at the University of Tübingen. He was minister of Dresden-Striesen in 1881 and in 1887 became minister of the Jerusalem Church in Berlin...

, Vogels, Merk, Bover and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement. 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
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

 would have suspected… In the Gospels, Acts
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

, and Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater".

With the discovery of the Hebrew Bible texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

, questions have been raised about the textual accuracy of the Masoretic text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

. That is, whether the Masoretic text which forms the basis of most modern English translations of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, or translations which pre-date the masoretic text, such as the Septuagint, Syriac Peshitta, and Samaritan Pentateuch
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

 are more accurate.

Mistranslation


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 states that inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is accurate and totally free of error, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact." Some equate inerrancy with infallibility; others do not.Conservative Christians generally believe that...

 applies only to the original language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

s, some believers trust their own translation to be the accurate one. One such group of believers is known as the King-James-Only Movement
King-James-Only Movement
The "King James Only movement" advocates the superiority of the Authorized King James Version of the Protestant Bible. The topic increased in newsworthiness in 2011, the 400th anniversary of the translation's 1611 initial publication....

. 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 or a variant reading between the Masoretic Hebrew and Septuagint Greek manuscripts often quoted in the New Testament.

Translation of Almah as Virgin: reads: "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him 'Immanuel'—which means, 'God with us.' " From the earliest days of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, Jewish critics have argued that Christians were mistaken in their reading of the word almah
Almah
The Hebrew term almah or plural: alamot is a Hebrew feminine noun, for a girl who has reached puberty but is still under the shielding protection of her family; she is a young, marriageable girl. In Bibles, almah is typically translated as virgin, maiden, young woman, damsel or girl...

 ("עלמה") in . 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
Immanuel
Immanuel or Emmanuel or Imanu'el . It is a theophoric name used in the Bible in and...

 for further information).

Christians also counter this argument by stating that refers to the "seed of the woman" when in fact there is no such thing, therefore prophesying a virgin birth.
"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."


The Greek text of uses the term "parthenos," which is the usual Greek word for virgin:
"[…] Ιδου η παρθενος εν γαστρι εξει και τεξεται υιον και καλεσουσιν το ονομα αυτου εμμανουηλ ο εστιν μεθερμηνευομενον μεθ ημων ο θεος". (Matthew 1:23
Matthew 1:23
Matthew 1:23 is the twenty-third verse of the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Joseph has just been informed of the nature of Jesus by an angel and in this verse the author of Matthew relates this to a quote from the Old Testament....

 1881 Westcott-Hort
The New Testament in the Original Greek
The New Testament in the Original Greek is the name of a Greek language version of the New Testament published in 1881. It is also known as the Westcott and Hort text, after its editors Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort...

)


However, the Hebrew text at uses the word almah
Almah
The Hebrew term almah or plural: alamot is a Hebrew feminine noun, for a girl who has reached puberty but is still under the shielding protection of her family; she is a young, marriageable girl. In Bibles, almah is typically translated as virgin, maiden, young woman, damsel or girl...

:

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.


The Jewish translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek that was in use during the first century, the Septuagint, uses the word "parthenos" ("virgin") in rather than the usual Greek word "neanis" for "young woman". The Septuagint's Greek term (parthenos) is considered by many to be an inexact rendering of the Hebrew word `almah in the text of Isaiah.

The use of the Hebrew word "almah" in the Hebrew Masoretic Text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

 of Isaiah has stirred debate among translators and has resulted in variations between Bible translations, with some translations using "young woman" as does the New English Translation
New English Translation
The New English Translation is a free, "completely new" on-line English translation of the Bible, " with 60,932 translators’ notes" sponsored by the Biblical Studies Foundation and published by Biblical Studies Press....

 or NET Bible:
“For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.”


The text from the Luther Bible
Luther Bible
The Luther Bible is a German Bible translation by Martin Luther, first printed with both testaments in 1534. This translation became a force in shaping the Modern High German language. The project absorbed Luther's later years. The new translation was very widely disseminated thanks to the printing...

 uses the German word "Jungfrau", which is composed literally of the words "young" and "woman", although it is common to use this word for "virgin". This ambiguity results in a similar reading to the original Hebrew in the text of Jesaja (Isaiah) 7:14. "Darum wird euch der HERR selbst ein Zeichen geben: Siehe, eine Jungfrau ist schwanger und wird einen Sohn gebären, den wird sie nennen Immanuel." in English: "For this reason, the LORD himself will give to you(plural) a sign: See, a virgin/young woman is pregnant and will bear a son, whom she will name Immanuel."

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. Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 also argued that the debate was irrelevant, not because the words do not clearly mean virgin, but because almah and bethulah were functional synonyms.

(For more information, see the articles on the Virgin birth of Jesus and Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14 is a verse of the Book of Isaiah in which the prophet Isaiah, addressing king Ahaz of Judah , promises the king a sign that his oracle is a true one...

.)

Prophecy of the Nazarene
Nazarene (title)
Nazarene is a title applied to Jesus , who grew up in Nazareth, a town in Galilee, now in northern Israel. The word is used to translate two related words that appear in the Greek New Testament: the adjective Nazarēnos and the Nazōraios...

:

Another example is : "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
Jews for Judaism
Jews for Judaism, established by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz in 1985, is an international organization designed to counter Christian missionaries whose evangelistic efforts are directed toward Jews. They aim to help Jews strengthen and rediscover their Judaism. It is the largest counter-missionary...

 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." However, one common suggestion is that the New Testament verse is based on a passage relating to Nazirite
Nazirite
In the Hebrew Bible, a nazirite or nazarite, , refers to one who voluntarily took a vow described in . The term "nazirite" comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning "consecrated" or "separated"...

s, 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 and ) with the Greek nazoraios, here translated 'Nazarene.'" 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. The background for this is illustrated by Philip's initial response in to the idea that Jesus might be the Messiah: "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"

Miracles


For most Christians, the miracles represent actual historical events. Without the resurrection, Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians, "our preaching is useless and so is your faith." The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 requires a certain number of miracles to occur before granting sainthood to a putative saint, with particularly stringent requirements in validating the miracle's authenticity.

Philosopher David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 argued against the plausibility of miracles:
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 challenged by Jesus' own admission of the human impossibility of miracles. Instead, Jesus said that miracles are acts of God that are "impossible for men" but "with God all things are possible". When Jesus asked Peter to walk on water, Peter's own fear of the waters of the seas led him to fall after a brief period of success (Hume postulated that past experiences led to predictions based on reason), with Jesus characteristically rebuking Peter for having little faith.

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. In the Eastern Churches the "miraculous" transubstantiation is described as a "mystery", claiming that any human attempt to understand the scientific process leads to confusion.

Miraculous healings through prayers, often involving the "laying on of hands
Laying on of hands
The laying on of hands is a religious ritual that accompanies certain religious practices, which are found throughout the world in varying forms....

", have been reported. Reliance on faith healing
Faith healing
Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing of a person is brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or rituals that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence and power toward correcting disease and disability. Belief in divine intervention in illness or...

 alone can indirectly contribute to serious harm and even death.

Christian apologists
Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views...

 including C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler
Norman Geisler
Norman L. Geisler is a Christian apologist and the co-founder of Southern Evangelical Seminary outside Charlotte, North Carolina, where he formerly taught. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Jesuit Loyola University...

 and William Lane Craig
William Lane Craig
William Lane Craig is an American analytic philosopher, philosophical theologian, and Christian apologist. He is known for his work on the philosophy of time and the philosophy of religion, specifically the existence of God and the defense of Christian theism...

 have argued that miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s are reasonable and plausible.

Ethics


Certain interpretations of some moral decisions in the Bible are considered ethically
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 questionable by many modern groups. Some of the passages most commonly criticized include colonialism
Christianity and colonialism
Christianity and colonialism are often closely associated because Catholicism and Protestantism were the religions of the European colonial powers and acted in many ways as the "religious arm" of those powers. According to Edward Andrews, Christian missionaries were initially portrayed as "visible...

, the subjugation of women, religious intolerance
Religious intolerance
Religious intolerance is intolerance against another's religious beliefs or practices.-Definition:The mere statement on the part of a religion that its own beliefs and practices are correct and any contrary beliefs incorrect does not in itself constitute intolerance...

, condemnation of homosexuality, and support for the institution of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 in both Old and New Testaments.

Colonialism


Christianity and colonialism
Christianity and colonialism
Christianity and colonialism are often closely associated because Catholicism and Protestantism were the religions of the European colonial powers and acted in many ways as the "religious arm" of those powers. According to Edward Andrews, Christian missionaries were initially portrayed as "visible...

 are often closely associated because Catholicism and Protestantism were the religions of the European colonial powers and acted in many ways as the "religious arm" of those powers. 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.”

Christianity is targeted by critics of colonialism because the tenets of the religion were used to justify the actions of the colonists. 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.”

Slavery


Early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 variously opposed, accepted, or ignored slavery. The early Christian perspectives of slavery were formed in the contexts of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

's roots in Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, and as part of the wider culture of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Both the Old
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 and New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

s 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." 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
Epistle to Philemon
Paul's Epistle to Philemon, usually referred to simply as Philemon, is a prison letter to Philemon from Paul of Tarsus. Philemon was a leader in the Colossian church. This letter, which is one of the books of the New Testament, deals with forgiveness.Philemon was a wealthy Christian of the house...

 is devoted to Onesimus
Onesimus
Saint Onesimus |churches]]) was a slave to Philemon of Colossae, a man of Christian faith. Eventually, Onesimus transgressed against Philemon and fled to the site of Paul the Apostle's imprisonment to escape punishment for a theft he was said to have committed, there, he heard the Gospel from...

, 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
Pope Pius I
Pope Saint Pius I was Bishop of Rome, according to the Annuario Pontificio, from 142 or 146 to 157 or 161, respectively. Others suggest that his pontificate was perhaps from 140 to 154.-Early life:...

 (term c. 158-167) and Pope Callixtus I
Pope Callixtus I
Pope Saint Callixtus I or Callistus I was pope from about 217 to about 222, during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus...

 (term c. 217-222) as former slaves.

Since the Middle Ages, the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 understanding of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 has seen significant internal conflict and endured dramatic change. Nearly all Christian leaders before the late 17th century regarded slavery, within specific Biblical limitations, as consistent with Christian theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

. In early Medieval times, the Church discouraged slavery throughout Europe, largely eliminating it. That changed in 1452, when Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V , born Tommaso Parentucelli, was Pope from March 6, 1447 to his death in 1455.-Biography:He was born at Sarzana, Liguria, where his father was a physician...

 instituted hereditary slavery of captured Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s and pagans, which effectively meant African
African people
African people refers to natives, inhabitants, or citizen of Africa and to people of African descent.-Etymology:Many etymological hypotheses that have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa":...

s or Asian
Asian people
Asian people or Asiatic people is a term with multiple meanings that refers to people who descend from a portion of Asia's population.- Central Asia :...

s. As he read the Bible, God had instructed his faithful to make slaves of the neighboring heathens. Pope Paul III in the 1537 bull Sublimis Deus
Sublimus Dei
Sublimus Dei is a papal bull promulgated by Pope Paul III on June 2, 1537, which forbids the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and all other people...

 forbade the seizing of pagans as slaves, however various Christian groups have taught that Africans were the descendants of Ham, cursed with "the mark of Ham" (dark skin) to be servants to the descendants of Japheth
Japheth
Japheth is one of the sons of Noah in the Abrahamic tradition...

 (Europeans) and Shem
Shem
Shem was one of the sons of Noah in the Hebrew Bible as well as in Islamic literature. He is most popularly regarded as the eldest son, though some traditions regard him as the second son. Genesis 10:21 refers to relative ages of Shem and his brother Japheth, but with sufficient ambiguity in each...

 (Asians).

Rodney Stark
Rodney Stark
Rodney Stark is an American sociologist of religion. He grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota in a Lutheran family. He spent time in the U.S. Army and worked as a journalist before pursuing graduate studies at The University of California, Berkeley...

 makes the argument in For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery, that Christianity helped to end slavery worldwide, as does Lamin Sanneh
Lamin Sanneh
Lamin Sanneh is currently the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity and Professor of History at Yale Divinity School.-Life and work:...

 in Abolitionists Abroad. These authors point out that Christians who viewed slavery as wrong on the basis of their religious convictions spearheaded abolitionism
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

, and many of the early campaigners for the abolition of slavery were driven by their Christian faith and a desire to realize their view that all people are equal under God. In the late 17th century, anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

s began to criticize slavery. Criticisms from the Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

, Mennonite
Mennonite
The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

s, and the Amish
Amish
The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

 followed suit. Prominent among these Christian abolitionists were William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire...

, and John Woolman
John Woolman
John Woolman was an American itinerant Quaker preacher who traveled throughout the American colonies and in England, advocating against cruelty to animals, economic injustices and oppression, conscription, military taxation, and particularly slavery and the slave trade.- Origins and early life...

. Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom...

 wrote her famous book, Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman....

, according to her Christian beliefs in 1852. In Britain and America, Quakers were active in abolitionism. A group of Quakers founded the first English abolitionist organization, and a Quaker petition brought the issue before government that same year. The Quakers continued to be influential throughout the lifetime of the movement, in many ways leading the way for the campaign. John Wesley
John Wesley
John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield...

, the founder of Methodism
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

, was instrumental in starting abolitionism as a popular movement.

Nearly all modern Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s are united in the condemnation of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 as wrong and contrary to God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

's will. Only peripheral groups such as the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 and other Christian hate group
Hate group
A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other designated sector of society...

s on the racist fringes of the Christian Reconstructionist
Christian Reconstructionism
Christian Reconstructionism is a religious and theological movement within Evangelical Christianity that calls for Christians to put their faith into action in all areas of life, within the private sphere of life and the public and political sphere as well...

 and Christian Identity
Christian Identity
Christian Identity is a label applied to a wide variety of loosely affiliated believers and churches with a racialized theology. Many promote a Eurocentric interpretation of Christianity.According to Chester L...

 movements advocate the reinstitution of slavery. Full adherents to reconstructionism are few and marginalized among conservative Christians
Conservative Christianity
Conservative Christianity is a term applied to a number of groups or movements seen as giving priority to traditional Christian beliefs and practices...

. With these exceptions, all Christian faith groups now condemn slavery, and see the practice as incompatible with basic Christian principles.

In addition to aiding abolitionism, many Christians made further efforts toward establishing racial equality, contributing to the Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

. The African American Review notes the important role Christian revivalism in the black church played in the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

, an ordained Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 minister, was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

, a Christian Civil Rights organization.

Christianity and women


Many feminists have accused notions such as a male God, male prophets, and the man-centred stories in the Bible of contributing to a patriarchy. Though many women disciples and servants are recorded in the Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

, there have been occasions in which women have been denigrated and forced into a second-class status. 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
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early woman's movement...

 said in The Woman's Bible
The Woman's Bible
The Woman's Bible is a two-part book, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a committee of 26 women, and published in 1895 and 1898 to challenge the traditional position of religious orthodoxy that woman should be subservient to man. By producing the book, Stanton wished to promote a radical...

 that "the Bible in its teachings degrades Women from Genesis to Revelation".

Elizabeth Clark cites early Christian writings by authors such as Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 and John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

 as being exemplary of the negative perception of women that has been perpetuated in church tradition. Until the latter part of the twentieth century, only the names of very few women who contributed to the formation of Christianity in its earliest years were widely known: Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

, the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus' most celebrated disciples, and the most important woman disciple in the movement of Jesus. Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons", conventionally interpreted as referring to complex illnesses...

, disciple of Jesus and the first witness to the resurrection; and Mary and Martha
Martha
Martha of Bethany is a biblical figure described in the Gospels of Luke and John. Together with her siblings Lazarus and Mary, she is described as living in the village of Bethany near Jerusalem...

, the sisters who offered him hospitality in Bethany.

Harvard scholar Karen King
Karen Leigh King
Karen Leigh King is an American academic working in the field of early Christianity and Gnosticism. She had been Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School, from 1998 - 2008; in October 2009, she succeeded Harvey Cox to become the first woman appointed to the Hollis Chair,...

 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 –a connection supposed by tradition but nowhere claimed in the New Testament. According to King, the Gospel of Mary
Gospel of Mary
The Gospel of Mary is an apocryphal book discovered in 1896 in a 5th-century papyrus codex. The codex Papyrus Berolinensis 8502 was purchased in Cairo by German scholar Karl Reinhardt....

 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.

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.

Stagg and 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. 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. However, Schalom Ben-Chorin argues that Jesus's reply to his mother in during the wedding at Cana
Marriage at Cana
In Christianity, the transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John....

 amounted to a blatant violation of the commandment to honor one's parent. He mistakenly assumes Jesus's 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.

There are three major viewpoints within modern Christianity over the role of women. They are known respectively as Christian feminism
Christian feminism
Christian feminism is an aspect of feminist theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Christian perspective. Christian feminists argue that contributions by women in that direction are necessary for a...

, Christian Egalitarianism
Christian Egalitarianism
Christian Egalitarianism , also known as biblical equality, is a Christian form of the moral doctrine of Egalitarianism. It holds that all human persons are created equally in God's sight—equal in fundamental worth and moral status...

 and Complementarianism.
  • Christian Feminists take an actively feminist position from a Christian perspective.
  • Christian Egalitarians advocate ability-based, rather than gender-based, ministry of Christians of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic classes. Egalitarians support the ordination of women
    Ordination of women
    Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

     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."
  • Complementarians support both equality and beneficial differences between men and women. 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.


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. Thus, the idea of God being "The Father" is with regards to his relationship with what are "his children", Christians.

In 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

 voted to revise its "Baptist Faith and Message" (Statement of Faith), 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."

In recent years, there has been a small revival in the role of deaconesses in the Eastern Orthodox. The Chaldean Catholic Church on the other hand continues to maintain a large number of deaconesses serving alongside male deacons during mass.

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:
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”

Christianity and politics


Some leftists
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 and libertarians
Libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 use the term Christian fascism or Christofascism
Christofascism
Christofascism is a concept in Christian theology first mentioned by Dorothee Sölle, a Christian theologian and writer, in her book Beyond Mere Obedience: Reflections on a Christian Ethic for the Future in 1970. To Sölle, Christofascism was caused by the embracing of authoritarian theology by the...

 to describe what some see as an emerging proto-fascism and possible theocracy
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

 in the United States.

Reverend Rich Lang of the Trinity United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

 of Seattle gave a sermon titled "George Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 and the Rise of Christian Fascism", in which he said, "I want to flesh out the ideology of the Christian Fascism that Bush articulates. It is a form of Christianity that is the mirror opposite of what Jesus embodied."

Christianity and violence


Many critics of Christianity (and other monotheistic religions) have cited the violent acts of Christianized nations as another reason to denounce the religion. For example, science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

 said that he could not forgive religions for the atrocities and wars over time. Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins
Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

 makes a similar case in his book, The God Delusion
The God Delusion
The God Delusion is a 2006 bestselling non-fiction book by British biologist Richard Dawkins, professorial fellow of New College, Oxford, and inaugural holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford.In The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that...

. In The Dawkins Delusion?
The Dawkins Delusion?
The Dawkins Delusion?, subtitled Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine, is a book by Christian theologian Alister McGrath and psychologist Joanna Collicutt McGrath. It is written from a Christian perspective as a response to arguments put forth in The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins...

, Alister McGrath
Alister McGrath
Alister Edgar McGrath is an Anglican priest, theologian, and Christian apologist, currently Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at Kings College London and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture...

 responds to Dawkins by suggesting that, far from endorsing "out-group hostility," Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 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.
The relationship of Christianity and violence is the subject of controversy because some people assert that Christianity advocates peace, love and compassion while others view it as a violent religion.
Peace, compassion and forgiveness of wrongs done by others are key elements of Christian teaching. However, Christians have struggled since the days of the Church fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 with the question of when the use of force is justified. Such debates have led to concepts such as just war theory. Throughout history, certain teachings from the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 and Christian theology have been used to justify the use of force against heretics, sinners and external enemies. Heitman and Hagan identify the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

s, Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, wars of religion and antisemitism as being "among the most notorious examples of Christian violence". To this list, J. Denny Weaver adds, "warrior popes, support for capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

, corporal punishment
Corporal punishment
Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

 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."

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 specifically to enforce orthodoxy of their faith.
In Letter to a Christian Nation
Letter to a Christian Nation
Letter to a Christian Nation is a non-fiction book by Sam Harris, written in response to feedback he received following the publication of his first book The End of Faith. The book is written in the form of an open letter to a Christian in the United States...

, critic of religion Sam Harris
Sam Harris (author)
Sam Harris is an American author, and neuroscientist, as well as the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Stanford University, before receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA...

 writes that "...faith 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..."

Christian theologians point to a strong doctrinal and historical imperative within Christianity against violence, particularly Jesus's Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew...

, which taught nonviolence and love of enemies. For example, Weaver asserts that Jesus's 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
Christian pacifism
Christian pacifism is the theological and ethical position that any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. Christian pacifists state that Jesus himself was a pacifist who taught and practiced pacifism, and that his followers must do likewise.There have been various notable...

." 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.

Criticism of the violent acts of Christian societies is not limited to atheists and agnostics, as Christian pacifists would argue that Christianity had been co-opted by militant states to simply provide justification for political agendas; that is, violence is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, and as such war and genocide are regarded as un-Christian acts.

Compatibility with science


During the nineteenth century an interpretive model of the relationship between religion and science known today as the conflict theory
Conflict theory
Conflict theories are perspectives in social science that emphasize the social, political or material inequality of a social group, that critique the broad socio-political system, or that otherwise detract from structural functionalism and ideological conservativism...

 developed, according to which interaction between religion and science almost inevitably leads to open hostility, usually as a result of religion's aggressive challenges against new scientific ideas. A popular example was the misconception that people from the Middle Ages
Science in the Middle Ages
Science in the Middle Ages consisted of the study of nature, including practical disciplines, the mathematics and natural philosophy in medieval Europe. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the decline in knowledge of Greek, Christian Western Europe was cut off from an important...

 believed that the Earth was flat
Myth of the Flat Earth
The myth of the Flat Earth is the modern misconception that the prevailing cosmological view during the Middle Ages saw the Earth as flat, instead of spherical....

, and that only science, freed from religious dogma, had shown that it was spherical. This thesis was a popular historiographical
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 approach during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but most contemporary historians of science
History of science
The history of science is the study of the historical development of human understandings of the natural world and the domains of the social sciences....

 now reject it.

This notion of a war between science and religion (especially Christianity) remained common in the historiography of science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of today's historians of science consider that the conflict thesis has been superseded by subsequent historical research.

However, the framing of the relationship between Christianity and science as being predominantly one of conflict is still prevalent in popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

. Similar views have also been supported by many scientists. The astronomer Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

, for example, mentions the dispute between the astronomical systems of Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 (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 his A personal Voyage that Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

's belief was "supported by the church through the Dark Ages…[It] effectively prevented the advance of astronomy for 1,500 years."
Moreover, many scientists throughout history held strong Christian beliefs and strove to reconcile science and religion. Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

, for example, believed that gravity caused the planet
Planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

s to revolve about the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

, and credited God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 with the design, yet his religious views
Isaac Newton's religious views
Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, theologian and alchemist. He also wrote many works that would now be classified as occult studies....

 are generally considered heretical. In the concluding General Scholium to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", often referred to as simply the Principia, is a work in three books by Sir Isaac Newton, first published 5 July 1687. Newton also published two further editions, in 1713 and 1726...

, he wrote: "This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being." Other famous founders of science as we know it who adhered to Christian beliefs included Galileo, Johannes Kepler, and Blaise Pascal.

Historians of science such as J.L. Heilbron, Alistair Cameron Crombie
Alistair Cameron Crombie
Alistair Cameron Crombie was an Australian historian of science who began his career as a zoologist. He was noted for his contributions to research on competition between species before turning to history....

, David Lindberg, Edward Grant
Edward Grant
Edward Grant is an American historian. He was named a Distinguished Professor in 1983. Other honors include the 1992 George Sarton Medal, for "a lifetime scholarly achievement" as an historian of science.-Biography:...

, Thomas Goldstein, and Ted Davis also have been revising the common notion—the product of black legend
Black Legend
The Black Legend refers to a style of historical writing that demonizes Spain and in particular the Spanish Empire in a politically motivated attempt to morally disqualify Spain and its people, and to incite animosity against Spanish rule...

s say some—that medieval Christianity has had a negative influence in the development of civilization. These historians believe that not only did the monks save and cultivate the remnants of ancient civilization during the barbarian invasions, but the medieval church promoted learning and science through its sponsorship of many universities which, under its leadership, grew rapidly in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Church's "model theologian," not only argued that reason is in harmony with faith, he even recognized that reason can contribute to understanding revelation, and so encouraged intellectual development. He was not unlike other medieval theologians who sought out reason in the effort to defend his faith. Also, some today's scholars, such as Stanley Jaki
Stanley Jaki
Stanley L. Jaki, OSB was a Benedictine priest and Distinguished Professor of Physics at Seton Hall University, New Jersey since 1975...

, have suggested that Christianity with its particular worldview was actually a crucial factor for the emergence of modern science.

David C. Lindberg states that the widespread popular belief that the Middle Ages was a time of ignorance and superstition due to the Christian church is a "caricature". According to Lindberg, while there are some portions of the classical tradition which suggest this view, these were exceptional cases. It was common to tolerate and encourage critical thinking about the nature of the world. The relation between Christianity and science is complex, according to Lindberg. Lindberg reports that "the late medieval scholar rarely experienced the coercive power of the church and would have regarded himself as free (particularly in the natural sciences) to follow reason and observation wherever they led. There was no warfare between science and the church." Ted Peters
Ted Peters
Ted Peters is a Lutheran theologian and Professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. In addition to his work as a theologian and educator, he is a prolific author and editor on Christian and Lutheran theology in the modern world...

 in Encyclopedia of Religion writes that although there is some truth in the "Galileo's condemnation" story but through exaggerations, it has now 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."
In 1992 the Catholic Church's seeming vindication of Galileo attracted much comment in the media (see Galileo affair
Galileo affair
The Galileo affair was a sequence of events, beginning around 1610, during which Galileo Galilei came into conflict with the Aristotelian scientific view of the universe , over his support of Copernican astronomy....

).

Incarnation



The earliest objections to incarnation come from Celsus
Celsus
Celsus was a 2nd century Greek philosopher and opponent of Early Christianity. He is known for his literary work, The True Word , written about by Origen. This work, c. 177 is the earliest known comprehensive attack on Christianity.According to Origen, Celsus was the author of an...

 and Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

. 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?"

One classical response is Lewis's trilemma
Lewis's trilemma
Lewis' Trilemma is an argument intended to prove the divinity of Jesus. It was popularised by C. S. Lewis in a BBC radio talk and in his writings. It is sometimes summarized either as "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord", or as "Mad, Bad, or God".-History:...

, a syllogism
Syllogism
A syllogism is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition is inferred from two or more others of a certain form...

 popularised by C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

 that intended to demonstrate the logical inconsistency of both holding Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 of Nazareth to be a "great moral teacher" while also denying his divinity. The logical soundness of this trilemma has been widely questioned.

Hell and damnation


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. Traditional Christian doctrine assumes that, without faith in Jesus Christ, one is subject to eternal punishment in hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

.

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
Annihilationism
Annihilationism is a Christian belief that apart from salvation the death of human beings results in their total destruction rather than their everlasting torment. It is directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given...

 and Trinitarian Universalism
Trinitarian Universalism
Trinitarian Universalism is a variant of belief in universal salvation, the belief that every person will be saved, that also held the Christian belief in Trinitarianism as opposed to liberal Unitarianism which is more usually associated with Unitarian Universalism...

). These beliefs have been considered especially repugnant when the claimed omnipotent God makes, or allows a person to come into existence, with a nature that desires that which God finds objectionable.

In the Abrahamic religions, Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 has traditionally been regarded as a punishment
Punishment
Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....

 for wrong-doing or sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

 in this life, as a manifestation of divine justice. As in the problem of evil
Problem of evil
In the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is the question of how to explain evil if there exists a deity that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient . Some philosophers have claimed that the existences of such a god and of evil are logically incompatible or unlikely...

, some apologists argue that the torments of Hell are attributable not to a defect in God's benevolence, but in human free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

. 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
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

 most famously proposed this view in his book The Great Divorce
The Great Divorce
The Great Divorce is a work of allegory by C. S. Lewis that is complementary to Lewis' earlier book The Screwtape Letters.The working title was Who Goes Home? but the real name was changed at the publisher's insistence. The title refers to William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell...

, 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.'"

Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 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.
The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 teaches that hell is a place of punishment brought about by a person's self exclusion from communion with God. In some ancient Eastern Orthodox traditions, Hell and Heaven are distinguished not spatially, but by the relation of a person to God's love.

Some modern critics of the doctrine of Hell (such as Marilyn McCord Adams
Marilyn McCord Adams
Marilyn McCord Adams is an American philosopher working in philosophy of religion, philosophical theology and medieval philosophy.-Family:Adams is the daughter of William Clark McCord and Wilmah Brown McCord...

) 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 ourselves the awesome responsibility of our eternal destinies. Jonathan Kvanvig
Jonathan Kvanvig
Jonathan Kvanvig is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University.Kvanvig is also an author, best known for his book The Problem of Hell which debates Hell in a modern theological and philosophical way....

, 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
Depression (mood)
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

 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.

Limbo


The Catholic Church teaches that baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 is a necessity. In the fifth century, St. Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 concluded that infants who die without baptism were consigned to hell. By the 13th century, theologians referred to the "limbo
Limbo
In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo is a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the damned. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church or any other...

 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". In 2007, the 30-member International Theological Commission revisited the concept of limbo. However, the commission also said that hopefulness was not the same as certainty about the destiny of such infants. 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." 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.

The concept of limbo is not accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 or by Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

.

Atonement


The idea of atonement for sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

 is criticized by Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins
Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

 on the grounds that the image of God as requiring the suffering and death of Jesus to effect reconciliation with humankind is immoral. The view is summarized by Dawkins: "if God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them? Who is God trying to impress?" Oxford theologian Alister McGrath maintains that Dawkins is "ignorant" of Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

, 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. Responding to the criticism that he is "ignorant" of theology, Dawkins asks "do you have to read up on leprechology before disbelieving in leprechaun
Leprechaun
A leprechaun is a type of fairy in Irish folklore, usually taking the form of an old man, clad in a red or green coat, who enjoys partaking in mischief. Like other fairy creatures, leprechauns have been linked to the Tuatha Dé Danann of Irish mythology...

s?," 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." Dinesh D'Souza
Dinesh D'Souza
Dinesh D'Souza is an author and public speaker and a former Robert and Karen Rishwain Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is currently the President of The King's College in New York City. D'Souza is a noted Christian apologist and conservative writer and speaker....

 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." 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.

Robert Green Ingersoll
Robert G. Ingersoll
Robert Green "Bob" Ingersoll was a Civil War veteran, American political leader, and orator during the Golden Age of Freethought, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism. He was nicknamed "The Great Agnostic."-Life and career:Robert Ingersoll was born in Dresden, New York...

 suggests that the concept of the atonement is simply an extension of the Mosaic tradition of blood sacrifice and "is the enemy of morality". 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 prominent Christian apologist Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
Joslin "Josh" McDowell is a Christian apologist, evangelist, and writer. He is within the Evangelical tradition of Protestant Christianity, and is the author or co-author of some 77 books. His best-known book is Evidence That Demands a Verdict, which was ranked 13th in Christianity Today's list of...

, 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, though as in this and other cases, illustrations are only cautiously intended to describe certain aspects of the atonement.

Second Coming



Several verses in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 appear to contain Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

' predictions that the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 would take place within a century following his death. 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
Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

.

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 which definitely showed that God's nation are the Christians and not anymore the Jews whom God did not protect anymore
Supersessionism
Supersessionism is a term for the dominant Christian view of the Old Covenant, also called fulfillment theology and replacement theology, though the latter term is disputed...

. At that time really only some of his disciples still lived. According to this view should be understood in the same way.

Inconsistency with Old Testament conception of the afterlife


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 Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

. George E. Mendenhall believes there is no concept of immortality or life after death in the Old Testament. The presumption is that the deceased are inert, lifeless, and engaging in no activity. However, Heaven and Hell are mentioned in the Old Testament and two men, Enoch and Elijah, are taken into the afterlife without ever experiencing death.

The idea of Sheol
Sheol
Sheol |Hebrew]] Šʾôl) is the "grave", "pit", or "abyss" in Hebrew. She'ol is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go, regardless of the moral choices made in life, and where they are "removed from the light of God"...

 ("שׁאול") or a state of nothingness was shared among Babylonian and Israelite beliefs. "Sheol
Sheol
Sheol |Hebrew]] Šʾôl) is the "grave", "pit", or "abyss" in Hebrew. She'ol is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go, regardless of the moral choices made in life, and where they are "removed from the light of God"...

, 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." Obayshi alludes that the Israelites were satisfied with such a shadowy realm of afterlife because they were more deeply concerned with survival.

Some critics charge that the belief in an afterlife is an innovation of Christianity, perhaps by admixture with Greek philosophy; however, by the first century such a belief was already prevalent in Jewish thinking
Jewish eschatology
Jewish eschatology is concerned with the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead. Eschatology, generically, is the area of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, the ultimate destiny of humanity, and related concepts.-The Messiah:The...

 among the Pharisees
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

 and Essenes
Essenes
The Essenes were a Jewish sect that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE which some scholars claim seceded from the Zadokite priests...

. The themes of unity and sheol
Sheol
Sheol |Hebrew]] Šʾôl) is the "grave", "pit", or "abyss" in Hebrew. She'ol is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go, regardless of the moral choices made in life, and where they are "removed from the light of God"...

 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.

Negative attitudes in the United States


David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Institute
George Barna
George Barna is the founder of The Barna Group, a market research firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, and the intersection of faith and culture...

, 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, and judgmentalism. About 17% had "very bad" perceptions of Christianity.

Hypocrisy


Gaudium et Spes
Gaudium et Spes
Gaudium et Spes , the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, was one of the four Apostolic Constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council...

 claims that the example of Christians may be a contributory factor to atheism
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

, 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".

Secular and religious critics have accused many Christians of being hypocritical. For instance, although marital fidelity and family values are arguably central to Christian morality (see Christian views on divorce), a study by the Barna Research Group has shown that divorce rates among Evangelical Christians were higher than for other faith groups, and also trended higher than the rate of divorce among atheists and agnostics. 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.

Bigotry



Conservative Christians
Conservative Christianity
Conservative Christianity is a term applied to a number of groups or movements seen as giving priority to traditional Christian beliefs and practices...

 are often accused of being intolerant by secular humanists and liberal Christians
Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward...

, claiming that they oppose science that seems to contradict scripture (Creationism
Creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

, use of birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

, research into embryonic stem cell
Embryonic stem cell
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst, an early-stage embryo. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4–5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50–150 cells...

s, etc.), liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

 (separation of church and state
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

), and progressive social policies (rights of people of other races and religions, of women, and of people with different sexual orientations).

Materialism


To Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

, the materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that it is not possible to worship both Mammon
Mammon
Mammon is a term, derived from the Christian Bible, used to describe material wealth or greed, most often personified as a deity, and sometimes included in the seven princes of Hell.-Etymology:...

 and God at the same time. (see also Prosperity gospel)

Sectarianism



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 suggests:
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.


Christians respond that Ecumenism
Ecumenism
Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice...

 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
Non-denominational Christianity
In Christianity, nondenominational institutions or churches are those not formally aligned with an established denomination, or that remain otherwise officially autonomous. This, however, does not preclude an identifiable standard among such congregations...

 represents another approach towards reducing the divisions within Christianity, although many Christian groups claiming to be non-denominational wind up with similar problems.

Persecution by Christians



Individuals and groups throughout history have been persecuted by Christians based upon gender, race, and religion. Many of the persecutors justified their actions through Christian scriptural. During Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 and the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, important Christian theologians advocated religious persecution
Religious persecution
Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or lack thereof....

 to varying degrees.

Early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 was a minority religion in the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and the early Christians were themselves persecuted during that time. After Constantine I converted to Christianity
Constantine I and Christianity
During the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine, also known as Constantine I, had a significant religious experience following his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312...

, 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 A.D. also the ancient pagan religions were actively suppressed. In the view of many historians, the Constantinian shift
Constantinian shift
Constantinian shift is a term used by Anabaptist and Post-Christendom theologians to describe the political and theological aspects of the 4th-century process of Constantine's legalization of Christianity. The term was popularized by the Mennonite theologian John H...

 turned Christianity from a persecuted into a persecuting religion.

After the decline of the Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

, the further Christianization
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 of Europe was to a large extent peaceful. However, encounters between Christians and Pagans
Christianity and Paganism
Early Christianity developed in an era of the Roman Empire during which many religions were practiced, that are, due to the lack of a better term, labeled paganism."Paganism", in spite of its etymological meaning of "rural", has a number of distinct meanings...

 were sometimes confrontational, and Christian king
King
- Centers of population :* King, Ontario, CanadaIn USA:* King, Indiana* King, North Carolina* King, Lincoln County, Wisconsin* King, Waupaca County, Wisconsin* King County, Washington- Moving-image works :Television:...

s (Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, Olaf I of Norway
Olaf I of Norway
Olaf Tryggvason was King of Norway from 995 to 1000. He was the son of Tryggvi Olafsson, king of Viken , and, according to later sagas, the great-grandson of Harald Fairhair, first King of Norway.Olaf played an important part in the often forcible, on pain of torture or death, conversion of the...

) were known for their violence against pagans. In the late Middle Ages, the appearance of the Cathar
Cathar
Catharism was a name given to a Christian religious sect with dualistic and gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France and other parts of Europe in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries...

s and Bogomils in Europe laid the stage for the later witch-hunts
Witch-hunts
-Track listing:#"Without Ceremony and Bell Toll" – 5:59#"Inside the Circle of Stones" – 6:38#"The Crow and the Warrior" – 4:21#"Dying to Meet you" – 6:14#"The Preacher Came to Town" – 7:16#"Burn, Witches, Burn" – 5:39#"Witch Hunters" – 5:31...

. These (probably gnostic-influenced) sects were seen as heretics by the Catholic Church, and the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

 was established to counter them.

After the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, the devastation caused by the partly religiously motivated wars (Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

, English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

, French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

) in Europe in the 17th century gave rise to the ideas of Religious toleration
Religious toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

, Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 and Religious pluralism
Religious pluralism
Religious pluralism is a loosely defined expression concerning acceptance of various religions, and is used in a number of related ways:* As the name of the worldview according to which one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values...

.

Response of apologists


Christians will sometimes point out through their own interpretations that the wrong doings of other Christians are not the fault of the 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 to be accurately followed. According to Ron Sider
Ron Sider
Ronald James Sider is a Canadian-born American theologian and Christian activist. He is often identified by others with the Christian left, though he personally disclaims any political inclination. He is the founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, a think-tank which seeks to develop biblical...

, an Evangelical theologian "The tragedy is that poll after poll by Gallup and Barna
The Barna Group
The Barna Group is an evangelical Christian polling firm based in Ventura, California.-Overview:It consists of five divisions focusing on primary research ; communications tools ; printed resources ; leadership development for young people ; and church facilitation and enhancement...

 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."

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 the 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
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

's Divine Comedy, where Roman Catholic Clergy who had practiced simony
Simony
Simony is the act of paying for sacraments and consequently for holy offices or for positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus , who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9-24...

 find themselves in the lower circles of hell.

Origins



Some have argued that Christianity isn't founded on a historical Jesus, but rather on a mythical creation. This view proposes that the idea of Jesus was the Jewish manifestation of Hellenistic cults that acknowledged the non-historic nature of their deity using it instead as a teaching device. Author Brian Branston has argued that Christianity adopted many mythological tales and traditions into its views of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

. According to Branston these traditions, largely from Greco-Roman religions, have parallels to the story of Jesus.
However, the position that Jesus was not a historical figure is essentially without support among biblical scholars
Biblical studies
Biblical studies is the academic study of the Judeo-Christian Bible and related texts. For Christianity, the Bible traditionally comprises the New Testament and Old Testament, which together are sometimes called the "Scriptures." Judaism recognizes as scripture only the Hebrew Bible, also known as...

 and classical historians, most of whom regard its arguments as examples of pseudo-scholarship
Pseudo-scholarship
Pseudo-scholarship is a work or body of work that is presented as, but is not, the product of rigorous and objective study or research; the act of producing such work; or the pretended learning upon which it is based...

.
Scholars and historians such as James H. Charlesworth
James H. Charlesworth
James H. Charlesworth is the George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature and director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is noted for his research in Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, the Dead Sea Scrolls,...

, caution against using parallels with life-death-rebirth gods
Life-death-rebirth deity
A dying god, also known as a dying-and-rising or resurrection deity, is a god who dies and is resurrected or reborn, in either a literal or symbolic sense. Male examples include the ancient Near Eastern and Greek deities Baal, Melqart, Adonis, Eshmun, Attis Tammuz, Asclepius, Orpheus, as well as...

 in the widespread mystery religion
Greco-Roman mysteries
Mystery religions, sacred Mysteries or simply mysteries, were religious cults of the Greco-Roman world, participation in which was reserved to initiates....

s 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
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

 and Asclepius
Asclepius
Asclepius is the God of Medicine and Healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia , Iaso , Aceso , Aglæa/Ægle , and Panacea...

. The theologies in the New Testament are grounded on interpretations of real historical events…" Similarly, the existence of the category of life-death-rebirth gods is questioned by mainstream scholarship.

In addition, on Christian origins presented in Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White states:
A classic response to the criticism of the relations between Greco-Roman mythology and Christianity is that of J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

 and subsequently C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

, who considered that just because a story was a myth does not preclude it from also having taken place as a historical event. Pagan myths can be seen as prefiguring the life and death of Christ, but without detracting from their historical and religious significance. Lewis even went so far as to suggest that the existence of these Pagan myths lend Christianity credibility, as their existence might reflect God's hidden watch over all human history and his influence on the collective subconscious in the form of "good dreams" and premonitions. Lewis states that he would be far more doubtful of the reality of a supposed historical event of the magnitude of the Atonement if humanity had neglected to anticipate it in any way. A similar approach is used in justifying the Gospels, whose own similarities, yet in lacking exactness of words, point to a common "truth" arrived at separately by the four evangelists.

See also


  • Anti-Catholicism
    Anti-Catholicism
    Anti-Catholicism is a generic term for discrimination, hostility or prejudice directed against Catholicism, and especially against the Catholic Church, its clergy or its adherents...

  • Anti-Christian sentiment
  • Anti-clericalism
    Anti-clericalism
    Anti-clericalism is a historical movement that opposes religious institutional power and influence, real or alleged, in all aspects of public and political life, and the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen...

  • Anti-Protestantism
    Anti-Protestantism
    Anti-Protestantism is an institutional, ideological or emotional bias, hatred or distrust and against some or all forms and divisions of Protestantism and its followers.- History :...

  • Antireligion
    Antireligion
    Antireligion is opposition to religion. Antireligion is distinct from atheism and antitheism , although antireligionists may be atheists or antitheists...

  • Antitheism
    Antitheism
    Antitheism is active opposition to theism. The etymological roots of the word are the Greek 'anti-' and 'theismos'...

  • Biblical cosmology
    Biblical cosmology
    The various authors of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament provide glimpses of their views regarding cosmology.According to the Genesis creation narrative, the cosmos created by Elohim has three levels, with the habitable world in the centre, an underworld below and the heavens above...

  • Biblical literalism
    Biblical literalism
    Biblical literalism is the interpretation or translation of the explicit and primary sense of words in the Bible. A literal Biblical interpretation is associated with the fundamentalist and evangelical hermeneutical approach to Scripture, and is used almost exclusively by conservative Christians...

  • Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
    Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
    The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry is an Evangelical Christian apologetics ministry founded in 1995. The proprietor of the website is Matt Slick. The organization's materials may be accessed on the Internet, through its website at www.carm.org. The ministry is registered as a 5013...

  • Christianity and multiculturalism
    Christianity and multiculturalism
    Multiculturalism and Christianity have a long historical association. Christianity originated as a sect of Judaism in the Middle East, as Jesus, the founder and central figure of Christianity, lived and held his ministry in the Middle East...

  • Criticism of Jesus
    Criticism of Jesus
    Jesus is the central figure of Christianity and Christians who believe that he was divine. Since the time in which he lived, a number of noted individuals have criticised Jesus, some of whom were themselves Christians.-Pharisees and scribes:...

  • Internal consistency of the Bible
  • Science and the Bible
    Science and the Bible
    Some of the various books of the Hebrew Bible contain descriptions of the physical world. These descriptions can be part of developing a history of science during Levant's Iron Age....

  • Criticism of the Roman Catholic Church

Skeptical of Christianity

  • A Rationalist Encyclopaedia: A book of reference on religion, philosophy, ethics and science, Gryphon Books (1971).
  • Breaking the Spell, by Daniel Dennett
    Daniel Dennett
    Daniel Clement Dennett is an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the Co-director of...

  • Civilization and its discontents, by Sigmund Freud
    Sigmund Freud
    Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

  • Death and Afterlife, Perspectives of World Religions, by Hiroshi Obayashi
  • Einstein and Religion, by Max Jammer
  • From Jesus to Christianity, by L. Michael White
    L. Michael White
    L. Michael White is an American Biblical scholar. He is Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins, and director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins, at the University of Texas at Austin...

  • Future of an illusion, by Sigmund Freud
    Sigmund Freud
    Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

  • Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris
    Sam Harris (author)
    Sam Harris is an American author, and neuroscientist, as well as the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Stanford University, before receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA...

  • 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
    Albert Einstein
    Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

  • Russell on Religion, by Louis Greenspan (Includes most all of Russell's essays on religion)
  • The Antichrist, by Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

  • The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
    Richard Dawkins
    Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, by Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan
    Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

  • 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
    Bertrand Russell
    Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

  • Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, by John W. Loftus
    John W. Loftus
    John W. Loftus is an American author who writes about his conversion from ordained minister to atheist. His best known book is Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.-Education and career as a Christian:...

     (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)

Defending Christianity



  • Dethroning Jesus, by Darrell Bock, Daniel B. Wallace
  • Jesus Among Other Gods, by Ravi Zacharias
    Ravi Zacharias
    Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias is an Indian-born, Canadian-American evangelical Christian apologist. Zacharias is the author of numerous Christian books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? and bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad and The Grand Weaver...

  • Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis
    C. S. Lewis
    Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

  • Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton
    G. K. Chesterton
    Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction....

  • Reasonable Faith, by William Lane Craig
    William Lane Craig
    William Lane Craig is an American analytic philosopher, philosophical theologian, and Christian apologist. He is known for his work on the philosophy of time and the philosophy of religion, specifically the existence of God and the defense of Christian theism...

  • Reinventing Jesus, by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace
  • The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel
    Lee Strobel
    Lee Patrick Strobel is a writer, creationist, former journalist and former megachurch pastor. He is the author of several books, including four which received ECPA Christian Book Awards and a series which addresses challenges to a Biblically inerrant view of Christianity...

  • The Dawkins Letters, by David Robertson

General


Skeptical


From other religions


Apologetic

  • Virtual Office of William Lane Craig
    William Lane Craig
    William Lane Craig is an American analytic philosopher, philosophical theologian, and Christian apologist. He is known for his work on the philosophy of time and the philosophy of religion, specifically the existence of God and the defense of Christian theism...

     from Leadership University (web portal)
  • Probe Ministries

Debates

  • The Great Debate: Does God Exist?-transcript in PDF of a formal debate between presuppositionalist Christian Greg Bahnsen
    Greg Bahnsen
    Greg L. Bahnsen was an influential Calvinist philosopher, apologist, and debater. He was an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a full time Scholar in Residence for the Southern California Center for Christian Studies.-Early life and education:He was the first born of two...

     and atheist Gordon Stein.
  • The Martin-Frame Debate A written debate between skeptic Michael Martin
    Michael Martin (philosopher)
    Michael L. Martin is an American philosopher and professor emeritus at Boston University. He obtained his PhD from Harvard University in 1962....

     and Christian John Frame
    John Frame
    John M. Frame is an American philosopher and Calvinist theologian especially noted for his work in epistemology and presuppositional apologetics, systematic theology, and ethics...

     about the transcendental argument for the existence of God.
  • The Drange-Wilson Debate A written debate between skeptic Theodore Drange
    Theodore Drange
    Theodore "Ted" Michael Drange is a philosopher of religion and Professor Emeritus at West Virginia University, where he taught philosophy from 1966 to 2001. He received a B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1955 and a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1963...

     and Christian Douglas Wilson
    Douglas Wilson (theologian)
    Douglas James Wilson is a conservative Reformed and evangelical theologian, pastor at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, faculty member at New Saint Andrews College, and prolific author and speaker...

    .
  • "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
    Christopher Hitchens
    Christopher Eric Hitchens is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the...

     and theologian Douglas Wilson
    Douglas Wilson (theologian)
    Douglas James Wilson is a conservative Reformed and evangelical theologian, pastor at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, faculty member at New Saint Andrews College, and prolific author and speaker...

     in Christianity Today
    Christianity Today
    Christianity Today is an Evangelical Christian periodical based in Carol Stream, Illinois. It is the flagship publication of its parent company Christianity Today International, claiming circulation figures of 140,000 and readership of 290,000...

     magazine (web only, May 2007).
  • God Debate: Sam Harris vs. Rick Warren Debate between Christian Rick Warren
    Rick Warren
    Richard Duane "Rick" Warren is an American evangelical Christian minister and author. He is the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, an evangelical megachurch located in Lake Forest, California, currently the eighth-largest church in the United States...

     and atheist Sam Harris
    Sam Harris (author)
    Sam Harris is an American author, and neuroscientist, as well as the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Stanford University, before receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA...

     as reported by Newsweek
    Newsweek
    Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

     (April 9, 2007).
  • "Does God Exist? The Nightline Face-Off." A video debate between Christians Ray Comfort
    Ray Comfort
    Ray Comfort is a New Zealand-born Christian minister and evangelist. Comfort started Living Waters Publications and The Way of the Master in Bellflower, California and has written a number of books.-Early life and career:...

     and Kirk Cameron
    Kirk Cameron
    Kirk Thomas Cameron is an American actor best known for his role as Mike Seaver on the television situation comedy Growing Pains , as well as several other television and film appearances as a child actor...

     and atheists Brian Sapient and Kelly O'Connor of the Rational Response Squad
    Rational Response Squad
    The Rational Response Squad, or RRS, is an atheist activist group that confronts what it considers to be irrational claims, most notably those made by theists, particularly Christians. The most visible member of RRS is co-founder Brian Sapient...

    . Report of the debate posted on the Nightline website. Video of the debate posted on The Way of the Master
    The Way of the Master
    The Way of the Master is a United States-based Christian evangelism ministry, founded in 2002 and headed by American former child actor Kirk Cameron, New Zealand-born evangelist Ray Comfort, and American radio host Todd Friel...

     website.
  • The Jesseph-Craig Debate: Does God Exist? (1996)-Transcripts of a debate between Christian William Lane Craig
    William Lane Craig
    William Lane Craig is an American analytic philosopher, philosophical theologian, and Christian apologist. He is known for his work on the philosophy of time and the philosophy of religion, specifically the existence of God and the defense of Christian theism...

    and atheist Douglas M. Jesseph.