Book Plunge: Lies Your Sunday School Teacher Told You

Did your Sunday School teacher tell you lies? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I often have this tendency to get into debates with people such as Christ mythers who have no clue what they’re talking about, but think they do. It can be fun for a day or so and then it just gets tiring. I think the same drive often gets me to get books like Alexander Drake’s “Lies Your Sunday School Teacher Told You”, particularly when I’m just trying to see what book I can borrow for free for the month on my Kindle.

If I were to go through and give a refutation of all the points that Drake gets wrong, it would require a book about four times the length. The problem in our society today is that the Bible is a difficult and complex book to understand and people expect it to be custom-wrapped from God and be written in a style and language that they readily understand, after all, it’s the “Word of God.”

In that sense, Drake is just like the Christians that he wants to open the eyes of. His work shows no interaction with the scholarly community. Instead, the appeal is far more emotional with questions about slavery, hell, God’s behavior in the OT, etc.

Now if we had just the title alone, even that is inaccurate, but it does point to a problem in the church definitely. The only way you can say the Sunday School teacher is telling you lies is if the following is true. It must be the case that the teacher is teaching you one thing. It must then be the case the teacher knows that what they are teaching you is not true. To teach something that is wrong is not a lie, any more than a child getting the wrong answer on a math quiz is lying. To teach something you know to be wrong is a lie.

Unfortunately, most Sunday School teachers, and for that matter, most pastors today, don’t really do in-depth study of the Bible to be able to handle objections like Drake’s, which are really simple and childish. That Drake found them convincing does not say anything about Drake’s abilities as a researcher, but it speaks volumes about the failure of the church to educate. When people like Drake fall away, they become stronger evangelists for their new worldview and are more than happy to speak about what the church has not spoken about.

Now Drake does think his readers haven’t read the Bible or they’d know it’s fiction. I have in fact read the Bible well over a dozen times straight through. When I get done going straight through, I start all over again doing the same thing. Bible reading is an important part of my life. Also important, is reading the best in scholarship on the Bible from all perspectives.

Reading Drake, one sees very little scholarship, save one can tell he’s read about critical theories such as the JEPD hypothesis. There is no indication he has interacted with Licona, Bauckham, Wright, Evans, Keener, Witherington, etc. The inability of many of these writers to interact with the other side is a disservice they do to themselves and to their readers.

To be fair, there are times that Drake does make some points that he sees as being parallels in the Bible. These are also sad points to think about because it shows that if Drake had done the work, he could have seen even more ways the Bible refers to its own self and how later passages were to be seen in light of earlier ones.

What people with objections like Drake’s need to do first is go and see if anyone else in church history has asked their question, and that will require research. Chances are, you will not come across a new “Bible contradiction” that someone somewhere in church history has not answered. You might think the answer is inadequate, but you owe it to yourself and your audience to show you have interacted with that side. An argument can be seen as easily convincing after all if you only give one side of it.

Were Drake interested, he could readily find volumes written on the interpretation of Scripture and how it fits in with its own culture. A volume coming out soon that would deal with much of what is said would be “The Lost World of Scripture” and I highly recommend any curious reader get it.

That people like Drake are out there who don’t know better but think they do is a tragedy. It is exactly what we can expect though when we see the church failing to do one of the jobs that Christ gave us to do, teach. When the church gets moving and starts educating its ranks, we will find fewer and fewer Drakes in our midst.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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4 Responses to “Book Plunge: Lies Your Sunday School Teacher Told You”

  1. Joe Foster Says:

    Well said, Nick. That you had to spell out the difference between a lie and an error to the author of a book with such a title speaks loudly of the depth readers will find in it. Very little.

  2. duncanvann Says:

    Well I think you’re allowed a bit of theatre in your title, After all, you can pass on a lie without even realising that you are lying yourself, can’t you?

    If you will make that allowance (for the title, at least – I agree it ought to make your clarification somewhere in the book), then I can remember plenty of lies that children picked up from somewhere-and-quite-possibly-Sunday-school back in the day when almost everyone in England considered themselves to be Christian. Even today in our generally good teaching material, I do find simplistic, misleading lessons in that give the children the impression everything will be fine if they work hard (or whatever worthy the lesson is instilling this week). It’s often quite hard to get even the 11-13 year olds I taught until recently past the point of repeating what they think they’re supposed to say and encouraging them to think for themselves about what they’re learning.

    So the title sounded like it could make for a really interesting and challenging book; even without the further benefit of scholarly research. Which is why I clicked through to your review.

    Doesn’t sound like this is that book though. 😦

    If you’re right, it rather continues the tradition of the mythical Sunday school teacher outside the church. At least it isn’t pretending to be Christian like it used to!

    Oh how I wish WordPress would let me use a password I can remember!

  3. Peter Wielhouwer Says:

    Do you have any citations for your claim that “most Sunday School teachers, and for that matter, most pastors today, don’t really do in-depth study of the Bible to be able to handle objections like Drake’s.” It sounds plausible, but where did you get that?

  4. apologianick Says:

    I get it from seeing what’s going on in our society in America today with the lack of educational sermons at pulpits, lack of emphasis on apologetic topics, lack of decent books in Christian bookstores, rampant biblical illiteracy in the laity, and the massive falling away of young Christians in college. I get it from seeing that people like Benny Hinn and Joel O’Steen are better known than Mike Licona and N.T. Wright and others. I also get it from personal experience of several pastors who want nothing to do with an apologetics ministry.

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