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Why is the Bible Literacy Project Controversial

Contact: Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D., 919-833-4979    

RALEIGH, NC, Jan. 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is released by Dennis L. Cuddy, PhD.:
In my last article posted on the Christian Newswire, I reported that the Bible Literacy Project (BLP) was trying to distance itself from Charles Haynes, who co-authored the BLP's first amendment guide.   This was after Dr. Wiley Drake (Second Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention) had called attention to certain activities or associations regarding Haynes.

However, the problem with the BLP isn't just Haynes, but the fact that his guide emphasizes a "common ground" representative of the communitarian philosophy.   In fact, about half of the BLP's original advisory board are communitarians.

A different advisory board member, Os Guinness, is also known for the controversial "Living With Our Deepest Differences" curriculum, which included a variation on the notorious "lifeboat" game where students determined who lives or dies.

But the problem isn't just with Haynes, the communitarian philosophy, and Guinness.   Rather, it's why the BLP chooses the people it does include as contributors to its project.   For example, Robert Alter is identified as a contributor and endorser.   And in John Updike's review of Alter's THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES in THE NEW YORKER (November 1, 2004), Updike points out that Alter believes the King James Version of THE HOLY BIBLE has "a shaky sense of Hebrew."   The King James Version of Genesis says "And the earth was without form, and void," but Alter's version says "the earth was then welter and waste."   The King James Version states "Let my people go," but Alter says "Send off my people."   And Updike also relates that regarding Moses' followers being urged to destroy opposing nations "under the ban," Alter wrote: "There is, thankfully, no archeological evidence that this program of annihilation was ever implemented."

In case you think Updike is isolated in his remarks about Alter, Robert Fulford in THE NATIONAL POST (June 6, 2000) recounts a lecture Alter gave in Toronto.   Fulford wrote regarding Alter's lecture that Alter "is not a believer in any traditional sense" in the Hebrew Bible.   Someone asked Alter if a certain action was truly inspired by God, and Alter said that was a matter of personal belief.   Fulford also wrote: "David, a shepherd boy with a talent for music and poetry, turns himself into (as Alter puts it) the first Machiavellian prince in literature."   And Fulford explained that "Alter considers the Goliath story an inserted piece of folklore."

The BLP's connection with such people is one of the reasons that it is controversial.    This is in addition to its textbook's factual errors and insidious questions posed to students, such as "If God allows evil things to happen, can God honestly be described as good?"    The BLP's textbook, THE BIBLE AND ITS INFLUENCE, answers this question by stating "This puzzle remains essentially unsolved," thus inviting students actually to consider the possibility that God may not be good !   American students should not have their Biblical beliefs undermined by the BLP.