“Scholar of American Religion” Doesn’t Know Much about Christianity

In a USA Today article, Stephen Prothero writes that “Sanders, a secular Jew, is the most Christian candidate in this race.” Prothero self-identifies as a “scholar of American religion.” All that means is that he has a PhD from a secular institution, but it doesn’t guarantee that he really knows that much about religion, especially the Christian religion.

By “Christian” Prothero means someone who supports wealth confiscation in the name of “fairness” (socialism), the legal authorization to kill unborn children (abortion), and the promotion of homosexuality as a moral and rational practice. It’s not just Bernie Sanders who supports these unbiblical positions; it’s nearly the entire Democrat Party and most likely the majority of the faculty at Boston University where Professor Prothero professes to teach religion.

Consider this from Professor Prothero:

 If the Bible is your guide, Jesus said nothing, ever, about abortion. He did, however, tell us to love our neighbors, including those Samaritans, the Mexicans and Muslims of his time. And he demonstrated a clear preference for the blessed poor over the filthy rich.”

Let’s start with the “filthy rich” comment. If you want to attend Boston University it will cost you $68,353 per academic year. Times four, that’s $273,412. This means that only the “filthy rich,” who are paying Professor Prothero’s salary can afford to attend Boston University.

“Professors at Boston University make on average $159,510 over the course of nine months, the typical contract for an academic year. This is $108,504 more than the average university professor’s nine month salary ($51,006).”

Boston University

Not only does Professor Prothero teach at a school that only the “filthy rich” can attend, but he’s one of the filthy rich.

While Professor Prothero may be a “scholar of religion,” he’s not much of a scholar with it comes to the Bible.

Yes, Jesus did tell us to “love our neighbors. He also told us to love our enemies. Loving someone does not mean to permit them to break the law. There’s a reason why “illegal immigration” is described as illegal. Americans aren’t opposed to immigration. They are opposed to breaking the law.

Let’s not forget that the returning Jews from captivity rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem:

“But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard it, they mocked us and despised us and said, ‘What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?’ So I answered them and said to them, ‘The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.’. . . “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” (Neh. 2:19-20; 6:16).

Even the Pope enjoys security at the Vatican with its very high walls and gates.

Vatican Wall

The Islamic religion has designs to obliterate all religious and secular competition. Again, while we are commanded to love our enemies, we are not commanded to standby while an admitted enemy wants to convert infidels by force, tax them so they can live under their rule, or kill them for breaking some arbitrary Sharia law like the teenage boy who was recently beheaded for listening to Western music.

What about Professor Prothero’s claim that Jesus didn’t say anything about abortion? Jesus didn’t say anything about rape, child molestation, cannibalism, or having sex with animals. Does this mean that these acts are morally permissible since Jesus didn’t specifically prohibit them? That’s the “logic” of Professor Prothero’s argument.

Apparently unborn children do not count as our neighbors or enemies since Professor Prothero believes it would have been a part of Jesus’ ethic to support the killing of unborn children. Abortion didn’t need to be mentioned by Jesus since the Bible is filled with comments about how children are a blessing from God:

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward (Ps. 127:3).

In addition, there’s the story of Jacob and Esau who struggled with one another in their mother’s womb (Gen. 25:22).  Notice that the text says “the children [lit. sons] struggled together within her.” Blobs of tissue don’t struggle, and blobs of tissue aren’t sons.

If biblical case law designates unborn children as persons when a pregnant woman is struck by two men fighting so that, literally, “her children come out” (Ex. 21:22-28),1 then it certainly ought to protect unborn children from those who want a law passed making it legal for women kill them via an abortion.

Consider the birth narratives of John, the child of Zacharias and Elizabeth, and Jesus: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby [βρέφος] leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41, 44). The Greek word βρέφος, translated as “baby,” in Luke 1:41 is the same word used of the born child Jesus and children in general: “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby [βρέφος] wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12, 16; also 18:15; 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:2).

Professor Prothero has to give an obligatory nod to the same-sex crowd with this claim: “When Jesus turns up in a synagogue in the Gospel of Luke (4:14-29), he does not condemn homosexuals.”

There are many things Jesus didn’t condemn in His synagogue visit, including murder, theft, “cursing a deaf man or placing a stumbling block before the blind” (Lev. 19:14), removing a neighbor’s boundary marker (Deut. 19:14; 27:17; Job 24:2; Prov. 22:28; 23:10), and so much more since He didn’t have to since the Hebrew Scriptures already dealt with them, and that includes the condemnation of same-sex sexuality before (Lev. 18:22) and after (20:13) the chapter that says “love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18).

A professor of religion should know these biblical arguments. If he does know them, then he is being dishonest in not answering them, and if he doesn’t know these arguments, then he shouldn’t declare himself to be a “scholar of American religion.”

  1. The Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, translates the pertinent phrase (21:22) as ἐξέλθη τὸ παιδίον (exelthê to paidion), literally, “the child to go out.” []
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