Taxpayer funded bibliolotry

Regis NicollIt would be an understatement to say the scriptural literacy bar at Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM) is set below sea level, and that’s before the sea level rise that Chuck Colson denies. PFM’s premier science writer PhD physicist and “Centurion”, Regis Nicoll demonstrated that he is not a bible scholar in his December 18 “Thinking Christianly…” column when he said:

Of all the miracles recorded in the bible, none has been derided as much as the virgin birth. A skeptic who turns a cool ear to stories of walking on water, healing the infirmed, and raising the dead will likely snort at the mention of the Immaculate Conception. For many folks, it is a difficult doctrine — one that has caused them to stop short of faith, or so they claim.

It is as if the One who spoke the world into existence and created the first humans without a sexual act, lost his ability a few millennia later. Yet Jesus was not the first child brought into the world in an unconventional manner. Isaac was born to a barren, geriatric mother, and so was John the Baptist…

Oops! “The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic Dogma, the conception of the Virgin Mary without any stain (macula in Latin) of original sin.” The “Immaculate Conception” (parthenogenesis) dealt with Mary’s conception, not the virgin birth. Confusing the Immaculate Conception with the Virgin Birth is excusable for a layperson, but “Regis Nicoll is a Centurion of Prison Fellowship Ministries Wilberforce Forum. In addition to writing Thinking Christianly, Regis is a columnist for BreakPoint, Salvo, and Crosswalk, and a contributor to Prison Fellowship’s worldview blog, The Point.”

In his column, Regis plugs the Centurion program:

My compass bearings came two years later with the Centurion Program, a ministry of Prison Fellowship aimed at training leaders to shape the culture through Christian worldview teaching and application. As I was being mentored by a world-class staff and networking with like-minded individuals…

“Christian worldview teaching” doesn’t appear to be theological training, or Regis would have known what the Immaculate Conception is. “Christian worldview teaching” is code for political activism and if you follow Regis’ writing, you will see that he writes primarily in opposition to evolution. He heavily promoted the “Darwinian worldview persecutes Christians” Ben Stein movie “Expelled” that has been debunked and exposed. With less frequency, Regis opposes GLBT rights. His sophomoric writing repeats the usual anti-gay myths and markets “reorientation” as in this article where he claims that it is not possible to be gay and Christian.

Exodus International is a Christian-based ministry that over the past three decades has helped many people caught in the grip of homosexuality. The organization emphasizes that while sexual reorientation is difficult, and by no means guaranteed, it is possible through the grace of God.

Being a scientist, Regis makes an engineering argument against GLBT people. Try not to laugh.

Having worked as engineer for 30 years, I know something about design… A design begins with a need or desire to be met. That leads to functional requirements which determine the form, fit and features of the end product…however well a product is made, its reliability and service will be less than optimal if not used in accordance with its designed specifications… Take a car, for instance… Making my Honda Civic serve as a farm tractor guarantees poor performance and shortened life. The same is true for human sexuality…Misusing our physiology in ways it doesn’t fit, or for which it wasn’t designed, is unhealthy or injurious. This is readily borne out by the disproportionate rates of disease and mortality among homosexuals—not to mention their increased risks for substance abuse, mental health problems, and suicide.

Regis, also calls up the “evil Darwin” when convenient.

From a naturalistic perspective, homosexuality may be natural, but it’s a natural loser. According to Darwin, the “winners” are those with “survival value”—life forms adept at getting their genes into the next generation. Whereas heterosexuals are inherently fertile, homosexuals are inherently sterile.

And Regis takes on Mel White from Soulforce with a Bible exegesis that makes it all the way through Genesis chapter 3. Regis dismisses “personal experiences” and and asks why Jesus didn’t “expand marriage to other constellations of relationships (man-man, woman-woman, groups, human-nonhuman, etc).” It seems to Regis that this is a very simple issue.

“If I rationalize that my propensity for anger is “a gift of God” and excuse my outbursts as products of my genetic makeup, I am not living in accordance with the teachings of Jesus. The same holds for those who profess to be Christian while embracing their homosexuality as a divine blessing.”

Dennis W. Wiley and Christine Y. Wiley, two local pastors who wrote a December 20 op-ed in the Washington Post would disagree. They would refer to Regis’ political activism as bibliolarty, a term coined by Harvard provessor Peter Gomes:

“bibliolatry” — the practice of worshiping the Bible rather than worshiping God. It is also found in a “literal” interpretation of the Bible that focuses more on the letter of the text than on its spirit, and concentrates on passages about domination, oppression, hierarchy, elitism and exclusion rather than on the major themes of love, justice, freedom, equality and inclusion that run throughout the Bible.

In this time of budget crisis, Loudoun taxpayers are subsidizing a quarter million dollar tax deferment to fund this idolatry. PFM’s property was assessed at $23,916,300 and PFM receives a 100% tax deferrment. PFM pays zero taxes. Enough. PFM has every right to practice biblioloty and call it whatever it likes, but it doesn’t deserve to be subsidized by our hard-earned tax dollars.

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3 Responses to Taxpayer funded bibliolotry

  1. Regis Nicoll says:

    First, let me thank you for plugging my BreakPoint article, “Being Gay and Christian.” Hopefully, your readers will link to it and thoughtfully entertain it, even if not agreeing with the viewpoints expressed. More on that in a moment.

    Your “gotcha” over my reference to the Immaculate Conception is puzzling, if not amusing. Did I suggest that the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness was a biblical teaching? No. Did I misapply a unique Roman Catholic term as a synonym for the universal Christian doctrine of the Virgin Birth? Yes – which has nothing to do with biblical literacy, but with familiarity of Catholicism and its denominational distinctives.

    Concerning “Being Gay and Christian,” your critique is the first assessment of my work, in my memory, that succeeded in failing to substantively engage any of the arguments advanced.

    You start off with a material false statement, asserting that I claimed “it is not possible to be gay and Christian” – something have never said and I don’t believe. (Ironic, coming from someone who has accused me on a previous occasion of hate, lying and deception.)

    What I suggested is that embracing and indulging in one’s homosexuality, or any immoral desire, temptation or orientation, is inconsistent with Jesus’s commendation to deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.

    Then, with the flair of a middle-schooler diss-ing a classmate, you introduce one of my arguments with this warning to the unwary reader: “Try not to laugh.” Do you bother to explain why my argument might trigger a giggle reflex, or exactly why you don’t like it? No, you obviously want the reader to believe that if he is smart like you, he shouldn’t like it either because, as you’ve so “deftly” argued, this guy is no bible scholar; he even has the hubris to question “mud-to-man” evolution. The nerve.

    I was expecting you to showcase your knowledge of scripture, and set the record straight, when you brought up my point about what Jesus did and didn’t say about marriage. Instead, you remark: “It seems to Regis that this is a very simple issue.” That’s it!? I suspect I was not the only one disappointed that you didn’t share your exegesis of Jesus’s teachings on the matter.

    You attempt to marshal biblical support from Wiley and Wiley, two DC pastors who talk about the ethic of “inclusion.” But while it’s true that Jesus’s invitation is inclusive, his selection is not. Of the numerous examples that could be mentioned, the parable of the wedding banquet is particularly pertinent here.

    As I’m sure you recall, it was about a banquet that a king threw in honor of his son’s wedding. It was a gala event, complete with supplied wedding clothes for all attendees. Astonishingly, all of the invited guests declined to attend, prompting the king to extend his invitation to the streets and alleyways. Once the banquet hall is filled, and the festivities underway, the king notices a man dressed in his own clothes. Incensed over the man’s impropriety, the king has him thrown out into the darkness, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    The story has haunting similarities to the present discussion: God has invited all of us to his heavenly banquet, providing us everything we need for the abundant life: his Word, his commands, and laws. Yet some of us come to him, saying, “Yes, Lord, I know all about your laws and commands but y’see, I have these personal experiences…”

    Jesus’s scoop on “inclusion” is, that “many are called, but few are chosen.”

    As to personal experience, it takes little mental effort to realize it is an unreliable guide to the true nature of things. With only personal experience to guide us, we would still think the earth flat in a geocentric cosmos where time and space are absolute. It is only because man has discovered laws transcending personal experience that we know that reality is something radically different than what our individual and collective experiences tell us.

    The same holds for moral truth. While the experiences of many GLBT folk convince them that their homosexuality is a blessing to celebrate, the experiences of others have convinced them of the exact opposite.

    I have several friends who left “the lifestyle” because of, rather in spite of, their personal experiences. One did so after a committed 12-year relationship. She was neither a church-goer, nor raised in a Christian home. Rather, after contemplating the natural order [read: design] of sexuality, the GLBT talking points just didn’t add up for her anymore. She even had the courage and conviction to go against the counsel of three pastors in various Christian denominations who, to a person, urged her not to leave her partner.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Hi Regis,

    Thank you for the challenging response. I will respond in proper order, probably in a post of it’s own. If you can point to critiques of your work, that unlike mine, do “substantially engage” your arguments, I’d like to read them. I’d also like to hear for your friend who ‘left “the lifestyle”‘.

    I’m still a bit confused about your claim that I made ‘a material false statement, asserting that I claimed “it is not possible to be gay and Christian” – something have never said and I don’t believe.’

    After reading your piece again, I believe your argument is that it is possible to be both “ex-gay” and Christian but not gay and Christian. If you could explain how one can be both gay (not “ex-gay”) and Christian, that may clear up this misunderstanding.

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