Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Forged: Announcing the Invictus Pilgrim Book Club

Though the title of this post may sound somewhat pretentious ("Who does Invictus Pilgrim think he is, announcing his own book club?"), it is not intended to be so.  But upon starting into a book that was recently recommended to me by UtahHiker801, it occurred to me that a “book club” would be an interesting vehicle for exploring issues of interest to those who follow my blog, as well as providing me with an incentive to do more reading.

So, the first book I have chosen is Forged:  Writing in the Name of God  - Why the Bible’s Authors are Not Who We Think They Are, by Bard D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar and professor at the University of North Carolina, where he has served as Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.  

I’m going to kind of play this by ear, but my thought is to publish weekly posts, probably on Tuesdays, covering material that will be announced the previous Tuesday.  I will write my own thoughts about the material and invite others to join in a discussion, through comments, about the selected passages.

Because this is a new concept, I am going to give those who wish to participate a week to obtain a copy of the book if they wish.  Today, as a teaser, I’m going to quote passages from the Introduction, and I will plan to return to it next week in order to invite comments.

Ehrman, in his introduction, explains that he embraced evangelical Christianity as a teenager and attended Moody Bible Institute before going on to Wheaton College to complete his undergraduate degree.  He then went to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned his masters and Ph.D., and describes in the introduction part of his transformative intellectual and spiritual journey through those years (see if any of this resonates):

“One of the ironies of modern religion is that the absolute commitment to truth in some forms of evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity and the concomitant view that truth is objective and can be verified by any impartial observer have led many faithful souls to follow the truth wherever it leads – and where it leads is often away from evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity.  So if, in theory, you can verify the ‘objective’ truth of religion, and then it turns out that the religion being examined is verifiably wrong, where does that leave you?  If you are an evangelical Christian, it leaves you in the wilderness outside the evangelical camp, but with an unrepentant view of truth.  Objective truth, to paraphrase a not so Christian song, has been the ruin of many a poor boy, and God, I know, I’m one.

“Before moving outside into the wilderness (which, as it turns out, is a lush paradise compared to the barren camp of fundamentalist Christianity), I was intensely interested in ‘objective proofs’ of the faith … The reason [the] commitment to evidence, objectivity, and truth has caused so many well-meaning evangelicals problems over the years is that they – at least some of them – really are confident that if something is true, then it necessarily comes from God, and that the worst thing you can do is to believe something that is false.  The search for truth takes you where the evidence leads you, even it, at first, you don’t want to go there. 

“The more I studied the evangelical truth claims about Christianity, especially claims about the Bible, the more I realized that the ‘truth’ was taking me somewhere I very much did not want to go … [I]t was not long before I started seeing that the ‘truth’ about the Bible was not at all what I had once thought when I was a committed evangelical Christian at Moody Bible Institute … Eventually, I came to realize that the Bible not only contains untruths or accidental mistakes.  It also contains what almost anyone today would call lies.”

Next week, I’ll cover the rest of the Introduction.  I hope some of you will join me on this literary adventure.


  1. Very cool. I'm glad you're doing this and flattered that you took my recommendation, Invictus. I'll pull out my copy and brush up on it. I look forward to the discussion.

  2. Not sure I'll have the time to read... but I look forward to the discussions. Yes, what you quoted from the introduction does resonate for me. I'm personally on an interesting and sometimes spiritually frightening journey. For one who was brought up in The church, and a 5th generationer, I sometimes feel like a traitor to my native religion.

  3. I own most of Bart's books, and have noted his transition from believer to skeptic. I will be interested to read the discussion.

  4. You should start a fb group for it as well so it's easier for people to keep up on what's going on. I also am part of an (in person) gay mens book club here in Portland and I love it. We do a book a month and get together to discuss it over cheese and wine.

  5. Thanks for all the comments! Dayofmine, that's an excellent idea and I'll do just that next week.

  6. Sounds like a great idea. Can I suggest "The Velvet Rage"? Not tied to religion and homosexuality, but it's a great book about overcoming shame as a gay man, something I think we've all been through.

  7. That's a great suggestion, Alex. We'll do that one next! I had heard of this book, but it seems like when I looked almost a year ago, it was out of print. I see, though, that copies are readily available, as is a Kindle edition. :)