April 29th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Taking stock of the wheat scandal

EDITORIAL: Watering Australia: a national priority

BORDER PROTECTION: Why Australia needs naval, air force bases in Torres Strait

NATIONAL SECURITY: Lives endangered by latest intelligence leaks

ENVIRONMENTALISM: How the Great Barrier Reef is mismanaged

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Labor misses the bus / All is vanity / Kosovo's mafia / When the bills come in / Open season on Christianity

REGIONAL ECONOMIC POLICY: The end of international economic cooperation? (Part 2)

PERU: Latest Latin American country to turn left

SCHOOLS: The choice so few parents can afford

MEDIA: ABC's Easter assault on Christianity

THE WEST AND ISLAM: No alternative but to defend our values

Social cost of unfettered capitalism (letter)

Robert Manne's media critique defended (letter)

Why have a Department of Foreign Affairs? (letter)

CINEMA: Caped crusader for the know-nothing left: V for Vendetta

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ABC's Easter assault on Christianity

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, April 29, 2006
The ABC is at it again, slamming the Christian faith, and doing so on one of the most holy days in the Christian calendar, writes Bill Muehlenberg.

On Easter Sunday evening (April 16), ABC television aired on its Compass program the second of a two-part documentary entitled "Who Wrote the Bible?". Hosted by Robert Beckford, it is one long challenge to the authenticity and reliability of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. Beckford, a black British theologian, stands in a long line of liberal theologians who are quite happy to debunk the Bible and challenge orthodox theology.

He has previously done a documentary entitled, "God is Black". His radical agenda (unusual for one who claims to be a Pentecostal) is much of the old liberalism, be it pushing the documentary hypothesis concerning the Pentateuch, or being puzzled why the four gospels appear to conflict.

Stalin's Russia

For example, concerning the Hebrew Scriptures, Beckford states, "The so-called law of Moses turns out to be the work of many human hands. What I once thought was the word of God was now beginning to sound like something out of Stalin's Russia."

That Moses may have had editorial assistance is not disputed by scholars. But by making such a melodramatic claim, he is simply looking for sensationalism, not offering solid criticism.

Indeed, in the Beckford version of things, the five Books of Moses weren't written by Moses at all, but by four anonymous writers, each with his own particular view to promote. These writings were only brought together much later when an Israelite king found them useful to promote his political agenda: "King Hezekiah turned the Bible into a party political manifesto for monotheism. He definitely knew something about spin."

Yes, we all know of the now old and musty "JEDP" thesis, especially championed by German historian Julius Wellhausen in 1875, in which Old Testament books were classified into four narrative types: Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist and Priestly - a theory now largely abandoned by Old Testament scholars.

Yet, incredibly, Beckford seems to think he is on the cutting edge of biblical scholarship with such remarks. In truth, he is radically behind the times.

As another case in point, he declares the New Testament to be a "masterwork of spin, written by people who were nowhere near the events they describe, all gathered by powerful editors who kept out ideas they did not like".

Very few credible New Testament scholars would take that position. The trustworthiness and reliability of the four gospels, and the very good reasons for their different versions of events, have been ably defended by New Testament experts. But then again, it seems Beckford is quite content to basically interview only fellow liberal theologians - and out-dated ones at that - who are happy to slam the Bible, while he continues to ignore the wealth of contemporary biblical scholarship that is out there.

Such foolish attacks on Scripture and the Christian faith are par for the course by our taxpayer-funded ABC. Indeed, one begins to suspect that the ABC actually stands for Always Bashing Christianity, or Atheism is Better than Christianity, or perhaps the Anti-Bible Corporation. It is a radically leftist, secular broadcaster, quite happy to engage in Christian-bashing on a regular basis.

But is the ABC an equal opportunity offender? Does it pick on other religions in the same way? Not usually. I have yet to see our ABC air a documentary highly critical of the Koran, and run it during Ramadan. Nor will it air a documentary critical of Hinduism or Aboriginal dream-time spirituality, especially on their sacred days.

This is just another case of the ABC's long-standing anti-Christian bigotry. Indeed, it seems to make a habit of this. On earlier occasions it has done similar things, featuring theological liberals and radicals, seeking to debunk the divinity of Christ, his resurrection, and so on.

One really wonders if it is part of the ABC charter to take a constant anti-Christian stance. One wonders if any prospective employee has to sign an anti-Christianity oath, or swear on a stack of atheistic literature.

And what is most galling, of course, is the fact that all of us support the ABC by our taxes. We are effectively subsidising the ABC's anti-Christian bigotry. Perhaps it is time for all believers to withhold part of their next cheque to the tax office in protest.

But the ABC has long ago ceded any claims to being "our" ABC. It is simply a collection of elitist, anti-faith and anti-family secularists, who neither represent the general community, nor are accountable to it.

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