Robert Cargill & The Bible

20 Jun

Before we get started we need to say two things. First, Dr. Cargill was appointed Editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, one of our favorite archaeological magazines. There are so few of these so it is not hard to get to the favored list. The magazine was founded by Hershel Shanks. We do not agree with Dr. Cargill on many things both archaeologically and biblically but we are sure he deserves the appointment.

Second, he is free to disagree with the Iowa law that he writes about

An Explanation of Why I Oppose the Proposed Iowa “Bible Literacy” Bill

We are not sure if we even agree with it. All we know about it is what we read in his post.But what we are writing about are certain points he makes in his opposition. Dr. Cargill is an atheist who thinks he can teach the Bible. We have spoken to him on that point before and we disagree on that issue. Why atheists cannot teach the Bible is very simple. Jesus said the unbelieving world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth and we are to follow the Spirit of Truth to the truth. We are not to use interpretation to get to God’s word.

We will address just important points as his post is very long

#1. Were option 2 to be chosen, it would cease to be a “Bible” literacy course, and would become a “New Testament” literacy course, as the New Testament comprises only 30% of the Christian Bible. That is to say, the Hebrew Bible is the complete Bible for Jews, and the Old and New Testaments comprise the Bible for Christians. However, a “New Testament only” course is NO ONE’S BIBLE. No Christian denomination views the New Testament alone as its Bible. Marcion of Sinope attempted this very thing in the second century CE, and he, his Bible (with no Old Testament), and his entire movement were branded heretics and excommunicated!

Basically, he is right here. You can’t have the NT without the OT, it just won’t work. Marcion was declared a heretic and rebuted successfully.

#2. However, we don’t speak King James English anymore. So, this bill proposes that Iowa public high school teachers teach the Bible (which was originally written in Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, and Hellenistic Greek) in English translation.

So students can’t learn? How are they going to understand Shakespeare if they do not know old English? Studying the KJV would help students in their other studies and broaden their minds. It is odd for a teacher to hinder learning.  But what we find interesting is that both Hebrew and Aramaic get the label Biblical, even though Aramaic was spoken by more than just Hebrews and Christians, and Greek gets the label Hellenistic. Doesn’t being included in the Bible make Hellenistic Greek, biblical Greek

These are minor points, of course, but they stick out.


We left his emphasis in but he is wrong. Yes, it may be the ‘fundamental rule in translation’ but it is not God’s rule and it is a rule which leads people away from the truth. There is such a thing as translation without interpretation. It is called going for the truth. The truth can be found no matter what language is used.

This is true for any language, and it is not limited to religion. It is simply not possible to translate without interpreting. It is certainly not possible to translate religious scriptures without making theological value judgments while making said translation.

Again he is wrong. A person dedicated to finding the truth can easily translate without interpretation. But you see why we disagree with Dr. Cargill when he says atheists can teach the Bible. They can’t because their eyes are deceived, their minds misled, and they do not follow God’s rules. This fundamental law is aiding and abetting those who do not want to hear the truth.

#4. Understanding the holy scripture of any religion requires extensive training, preferably in the original languages in which the religious texts were produced.

Not neccessarily. A believer can understand the Bible quite easily, if they are hearing Christ’s voice. They do not need years of formal training, they just need to learn how to distinguish the voice of the Spirit of Truth from all other voices. Then they must be willing to follow that voice, ignoring the rest. We do not need the original languages to understand the Bible. Not only is that impossible for the majority of the world to do that, it also makes God an elitist god who favors only a few.

It is an unrealistic view held by Dr. Cargill, one that makes us think that he wants the Bible restricted to bible scholars only. We know off other scholars who want control over the content of the Bible so in reality, it is their words, not God’s, that gets to the people.That is not the intent of the Bible or God. The Bible is written so those lacking education can still understand the key doctrines, instructions, and commands. You do not need years of training to understand, ‘In the beginning God…’ and many other passages of scriptures.

#5. When I teach the Bible at the University of Iowa, I give my students the English translation, and then show them the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek that underlies the text. They don’t need to know Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, I just want to show them that these verses come from a context–a context that is not in America, and not in Europe, but a context that is in the Middle East about 2000-3000 years ago

We do agree that the Bible was written in different areas throughout the old world (It wasn’t called the Middle East back then) but the context is not from a human culture. We also agree that the culture used was not American or European. Since the Bible was written by God, the culture used was God’s kingdom. There is no earthly cultural influence involved. Of course, not every civilization in the old world actually had the same culture. So Dr. Cargill has to tell us which culture was actually used if he thinks a human one influenced biblical writing.

We do not know exactly where each book of the Bible was written. Daniel was in Babylon, Esther was in Persia, Revelation in Patmos and we do not know where Peter wrote his epistles. So to say that any particular earthly culture had a hand in writing the Bible is a little ridiculous. Then not every ancient civilization practiced patriarchy.  From what we know of the Minoans, women enjoyed unlimited equality and freedom.

#6. For instance, Iowa high school teachers could show their students where slavery in America came from. When we established the United States, slavery was legal. Interestingly, the Bible supported, defended, and positively influenced the ownership of slaves in the United States

This is an issue that cannot be fully addressed here. Then others have debunked this notion far better than we can. But we can say that Dr. Cargill is wrong here. The Bible does not condone slavery and we are willing to say that many people take the American definition of slavery and apply it to the Bible.  They do not understand how God used the term and misapply the Bible to fill their sinful desires.

If you look at those verses Dr. Cargill quotes and compare those instructions to American slave owners, you will see that very few slave owners actually followed the Bible in their treatment of slaves. Since Dr. Cargill does not have the Spirit of Truth guiding him, it is fair to say that he misrepresents what the Bible says about slavery.

#7. An Iowa public high school teacher could then turn to the role of women. The issue of equal pay for equal work for men and women is hotly debated today, but before that it was women’s suffrage–a woman’s right to vote–that dominated the national debate. When this country was established, women did not have the right to vote. But why was that the case? Why weren’t women afforded equality with men?Once again, the Bible is an excellent place to turn to see why women always took a back seat to men.

Dr. Cargill again demonstrates his lack of understanding the Bible. He goes to verses that do not even address the questions he initially raised. The Bible does not teach that women cannot vote nor get equal pay for equal work. Instead, he goes to specific instructions that do not place women beneath men in any way shape or form.

Because a woman is unpure longer for a female child is not evidence that women are unequal to men. It does show that Dr.Cargill does not do his research on the issue. Since God knows medicine and medical issues better than humans do, he has his reasons why this is to take place but it wasn’t to place women as inferior or unequal to men. That idea is read into the passages of scripture Dr. Cargill uses. There is no mention by God that this makes women inferior or unequal to men.

Then to use the difference in shekels for the value of a man and a woman is equally ridiculous and shows why interpretation cannot be used when handling scripture. Everyone knows, and women do not like to admit it, that women are the weaker sex. They have different health issues, they are not as strong as a man, they do not normally do the same work of a man. It stands to reason that there would be some disparity in the price of shekels.

Making those values an equality or inferiority issue is interpretation gone wrong. But Dr. Cargill does not stop there and uses a common verse we all know to make his point that the Bible brings inequality to the world.

But it is not just in the Old Testament that the value of women is less than that of men. The New Testament preserves the subjugation of women in its literature. For instance, 1 Corinthians 11:3 says the following:

1 Cor. 11:3–But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD OF HIS WIFE, and God is the head of Christ.

Dr.Cargill does not understand that someone has to be the leader and the head. God has made his choice and he disagrees with God. That puts Dr. Cargill on the losing side and exposes his lack of biblical knowledge, even after his years of formal training. The NT does not preserve subjugation of women, it is preserving God’s order of things. There has to be an order and since man was not made for the women but women for the man it stands to reason that women are not to be leading men.

#8. We the high school students have a discussion about whether it is ok for women to have authority over men, either as Governor of Iowa, Mayor of an Iowa city, CEO of an Iowa corporation, or the Speaker of the Iowa General Assembly. And imagine the awkwardness when all of the wonderful women teaching in our Iowa public high schools read 1 Tim. 2:12: “I permit no woman to teach.”

Dr. Cargill does what most atheists and unbelievers do, they shorten or change a verse to make their point. The verse does not say that women cannot teach but leave it to atheists to distort the issue. The verse actually reads

12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (NASB)

Women can teach as long as they do not teach men or have authority over them. Then God gives his reasons why this is so:

13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (NASB)

Dr. Cargill conveniently leaves that reason out of his point.

#9. here are other bits of literature that we can read from the Bible that pertain to issues in the United States. For instance, Iowa high school teachers can show their students the proper way to commit genocide, as strictly prescribed by God himself in 1 Sam. 15:2-3:

Again, Dr. Cargill distorts and misrepresents what God said in that passage of scripture. Divine judgment is not the same as genocide. The former is for sins committed and left unrepented. The latter is done out of hatred for a variety of reasons and none of those reasons seek to punish unrepentant sin.

This text is often overlooked as an “American value”, because like slavery, it is a period in our nation’s history that we’d like to forget. But in the Midwest, and to our Native-American brothers and sisters, the biblical verses depicting God instructing his faithful exactly how to obliterate those peoples who fight against them and do not worship as they do as they attempt to conquer and settle the new land they believe to be given to them by God is as relevant today as it was two centuries ago.

Dr. Cargill continues to distort the biblilcal passage. The Bible may be used to justify a person’s sinful actions but the Bible does not tell people to commit sin. It does not give permission for people to commit sin. There was NO biblical command given by God to commit genocide against the American Indian. It was hatred, lust, greed and other deadly sins that motiviated that action.

Blaming the Bible for the decisions of sinful man is wrong. This is why you need the Spirit of Truth to guide you. Teaching others means you need to have the truth not interpretation. Interpretation is subjective and influenced by a multitude of mitigating factors. The truth exposes sin and faulty application of the Bible. There is a reason why God put a warning in James 3 for teachers. They need to consider that warning prior to committing themselves to being teachers. Dr. Cargill does not do that.

#10. Let me put it another way: BY SIMPLY READING BIBLE VERSES IN A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM AS PART OF A “BIBLE LITERACY” COURSE, TEACHERS ARE ENGAGING IN THEOLOGY! This is because the verses they choose to read in class are chosen in an effort to paint the Bible in a particular light.

Here is his point. Because the law does not do what he wants, Dr Cargill opposes it. You cannot make laws to please everyone, someone is going to oppose every law made. This is a well-known attitude of Dr. Cargill as he is on the front lines to force academic freedom on Christian academic institutions. Dr. Cargill does not believe God nor the Bible so he becomes an unwitting tool of evil to help destroy the Church and God’s creation. He does this by distorting the Bible, teaching it erroneously and trying to stamp out the truth from being heard.

This is why atheists cannot teach the Bible regardless of how much training they have and how many ancient languages they learn. They cannot represent the Bible correctly and are supported by evil who deceives them, blinds them to the truth and uses their emotions etc., to get them to a faulty conclusion. Christians need to do their children a favor and prepare them first before they go off to study at secular and some Christian academic institutions.

Walking not in the counsel of the ungodly applies to non-Chrisian professors as well.

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Posted by on June 20, 2018 in academics, Bible, church, comparative religions, controversial issues, education, faith, family, General Life, history, Justice, leadership, politics, theology


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