In The Spirit: Biblical critical thinking in the news

BRYAN EATON/Staff photoUnion Congregational Church on Amesbury’s Point Shore.

Bryan Eaton

While clicking through articles this morning a particular one came to my attention.

According to the remains of Moses were discovered near the Nile river thus proving that he never left Egypt. Theological shock waves are building because it disproves the death of Moses as reported in Deuteronomy 34:5-6 where it says that he died and was buried in an unknown place in Moab, a location in present day Jordan, and it overlooked the Promised Land. Biblical doubters around the world are latching onto this new finding because it proves a part of the revered book is false. The infallibility of the entire Bible is now in question. Is this the beginning of the end of faith in Judeo-Christian writings?

Confusion is being fueled by the uncertainty of the article. The backlash from the faithful is turning to anger. Atheists are planning news conferences to detail the finding from the excavation site. Pro rallies are being held and anti threats of boycotts are organizing. Tweets pro and con continue to escalate the emotional rift that this article created. Prayers are being shared on Facebook that calmer heads will prevail. Both sides are talking about marching on Washington to bring to light the truth of these claims.

What began as a small leak to by an Egyptian excavation site worker has grown to an internet firestorm. The buzz has not stopped on Facebook and Twitter while the mainstream media refuses to cover this breaking news. Newspapers and major networks remain silent in spite of the likes and shares totaling the hundred of thousands. The coverup is very evident, but the question remains — is political correctness overshadowing this latest truth about the Bible?

And so this is how it all begins, this fake news. The previous three paragraphs are completely from my own imagination and have nothing to do with reality. But did it, even for a few seconds, cause you to stop and wonder that it might be true? Is there was something inside of you that said this can’t be true? You might have even been tempted to go online to find more information. Listen to that little voice inside that urges you to learn more and question what you’ve heard or read.

Jestin Coler created websites using Wordpress to blog what sounded like real news, but was totally made up. Why did he do it? Coler quickly discovered that there was a great deal of money to be made when people shared his “news”. Even he was amazed at how many people believed what he wrote and the speed with which his fake news spread. What began with one site grew into many and it became big business. We must understand that making money is the goal of any information dispersing media be it newspapers, television, talk radio, Facebook, Twitter, and everything on the internet. There’s money to be made from advertising or writing fictitious stories. Fiction or nonfiction doesn’t matter.

Ratings and sales matter. Bias happens.

We are called to be discerning when we read, be it the Bible or news. Many people mistakingly assume that “critical thinking” is a way of attacking the Bible and that teaching students about it in “government” schools, aka public schools, encourages religious skepticism.

On the contrary, the word “critical” the Greek word kritikos that means “able to judge”. God’s blessed us with the gift of thought. May we use a discerning spirit in all we read and hear.

Rev. Lucy Blood is minister at Union Congregational Church United Church of Christ on Main Street in Amesbury. 

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