- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

Too much knowledge

“Soon afterward, however, [Episcopal priestdescriptive adjective, not a title- Morton Smith] abandoned the church for the academy. The evidence of the letters - like that of his books makes clear that he also abandoned, and even came to despise, Christianity (in one letter to [Gershom] Scholem he thanked ‘the non-existent’ for a special piece of good fortune).

“Again and again, over the past 200 years, Christians and Jews raised in traditional Orthodox communities have found their faith challenged, or even destroyed, when a training in scholarship forced them to confront the fact that the Bible is not infallible.

“Bart Ehrman, for example, has described how studying New Testament textual criticism at Princeton Theological Seminary prompted him to stop ‘reading the Bible as an inerrant blueprint for our faith, life, and future’ and to start ‘seeing it as a very human book, with very human points of view, many of which differ from one another and none of which provides the inerrant guide to how we should live.’-”

Anthony Grafton, writing on “Gospel Secrets: The Biblical Controversies of Morton Smith,” in the Jan. 26 issue of the Nation

Same as ever

“The easy journalistic interpretation of Reverend [Richard John] Neuhaus’ prominence in these movements is that he was a ‘liberal’ who, when he grew older, rejected his youthful political indiscretions.

-“No such thing; he was in his youth what he was to the end, a passionate defender of human liberty, based upon man’s having been created in the image and likeness of God. The man who detested Communist crushing of the human spirit was the man who detested war as bureaucratic maneuvering of bodies for geopolitical purposes, and the man who defended American democracy and a public square wherein people could speak from the deepest wellsprings of their convictions; the man who defended the incomparable worth of every human life; who loved art and music and poetry, and who loathed - and laughed heartily at artistic impostors.

-“He remained, in the truest sense of the words, profoundly conservative and liberal to the last.”

Anthony Esolen, on “Fr. Richard John Neuhaus,” on Jan. 8 at the Touchstone blog Mere Comments

Thin veneer

“In perhaps an even deeper rebuff to modernization theory than the one made famous in Political Order, [political scientist Samuel] Huntington believed deeply in the durability of cultural values and the primacy of religion as a shaper of both national political development and international relations.

“In the face of this, globalization was a superficial force that created the thinnest veneer of cosmopolitan ‘Davos men,’ and would not in the end guarantee peace or prosperity.

“And the United States did not represent the vanguard of a universalizing democratic movement; rather, it was successful due to its origins as an ‘Anglo-Protestant’ society. His last scholarly efforts prior to his passing focused on the impact of religion on world politics.”-

Francis Fukuyama, writing on “Samuel Huntington, 1927-2008” on Dec. 29 at the American Interest blog Cont’d

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