Why Don't Christian History Professors Matter When it Comes to David Barton?

TurningAmericaLogoOf late, I have gone from trying to change the problem to trying to understand it.
Numerous Christian academic historians have weighed in on the historical misadventures of David Barton, often with unclear results in the church world. A recent example is the decision of the Missouri Baptist Convention to sponsor a talk by David Barton in MO near the end of the month. Despite clear evidence from academic Christian historians that Mr. Barton’s talks are laced with significant historical problems, the executive director of the MBC told me:

We are grateful for the opportunity to help a leading Missouri Baptist church serve as host of the conference. Whatever your views on David Barton, we support the event and encourage Missouri Baptists to hear him out and decide for themselves. In my many years in Baptist life, I have found my fellow Baptists to be fair-minded and discerning people who love the truth.  Certainly, we agree with the stated mission of WallBuilders: to educate the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; to provide information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies that reflect Biblical values; and to encourage Christians to be involved in the civic arena.

Gregg Frazer, historian at The Master’s College said in response:

Baptists may well be “fair-minded and discerning people who love the truth” and it is good that the president wants Missouri Baptists to “decide for themselves.”  The problem is that in order to properly discern and to properly decide on truth, people must have access to proper information and actual truth.  Missouri Baptists, for example, would never come to the truth of the Gospel if all that was presented to them was Buddhism or Islam.  In order to come to a proper conclusion, one must have access to the truth.  How can they learn truth if Missouri Baptists hear only manufactured “history” – history as some wish it had been; history as constructed from partial quotes, quotes out of context, misleading half-truths, and complete falsehoods?  The vast majority of Missourians/Americans do not have the time or resources to study primary historical documents – so they put their faith in people who claim to have done that study.  When that trust is misplaced, Missouri Baptists will inevitably draw false conclusions – through no fault of their own.

If Missouri Baptists are going to hear the eccentric views of self-proclaimed historians and still have a chance to know the truth and to discern it, they must also hear from someone who can point out misleading tactics and errors and show them the actual texts that are distorted and manipulated.  I’m from Missouri; I trust that Missourians could discern properly between two alternatives.  But IF THEY ONLY HEAR ONE SIDE, HOW CAN THEY MAKE A PROPER DETERMINATION?

Of course, Frazer is correct.
Here is what I don’t understand. In the face of evidence that you are may be responsible for disseminating error, shouldn’t you check into it? This almost never happens. There is clear evidence that a problem exists and the person in charge does nothing but defend the decision.
Shouldn’t Dr. Yeats have a conversation with Hankins and Frazer?
I can supply him and his board with names of over 50 Christian academics who can provide relevant evidence regarding the matter at hand.
I wrote and asked the MBC why Christian academic historians don’t matter. No answer.
Southern Baptists send their children to Christian colleges to get an education from academics who have dedicated their lives to getting things right. Of course, we don’t always get it right but the values of the academy push us to correct where we are wrong and own up to it. However, when it comes to church work, respect for Christian colleges often goes out the window, at least in the area of historical scholarship. Wallbuilders has the right slogan so it doesn’t matter what the organization’s founder teaches or how many key facts he gets wrong.
Barton’s claims don’t just relate to America’s founding era. He has falsely claimed that violent crime has risen almost 700% since the early 1960s (crime did rise until the mid-1990s but has been falling since then). He has misled audiences about HIV vaccines, PTSD, and numerous other more current issues. He even claimed to play college basketball for Oral Roberts University. He didn’t. This was debunked by ORU. He claimed to be a translator for the Russian national gymnastics team (they brought their own). His book on Thomas Jefferson was pulled from publication by a Christian publisher after they fact checked it. Much more could be said.
Shouldn’t the people responsible for these meetings check into these things?
I realize that the MBC may be at odds with the parent convention over religion and politics. Recently, the SBC pulled an invitation for Ben Carson to speak at an event due to concerns about those entanglements. Perhaps the MBC leadership disagrees with that approach and wants a more political approach to religion. However, if so, that is no reason to mislead the people you are responsible for.
Think about that for a minute. The SBC pulled Ben Carson’s invitation but the MBC is rock solid on sponsoring David Barton.
Something is wrong with this picture.

Gospel Coalition Blog: The PTSD Advice From David Barton And Kenneth Copeland Is Gospel-Destroying And Demonic

Wake a sleeping giant and he gets mad.
Communications Director of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and editor of the Gospel Coalition blog, Joe Carter, has some strong words for David Barton and Kenneth Copeland. Specifically the issue is Barton’s and Copeland’s advice to those who suffer from combat related post-traumatic stress disorder. See yesterday’s post on the subject.
In a post on the Gospel Coalition website, Carter blasts Barton and Copeland:

How then should we answer the fools Copeland and Barton? While it is tempting to ignore them completely, I believe that would be a mistake. Had they merely proffered another laughably inept reading of the Bible, it would have hardly been worthy of notice. Throughout his career, Copeland has been accused of various heresies, most of which he created through his inept handling of Scripture. And though Barton is still, inexplicably, trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes. They are, in other words, among the last people who could be relied on to intelligently interpret a text.
Yet many people will erroneously believe that Copeland and Barton speak as experts on the Bible and that their interpretation is the natural result of a literal or inerrant view of Scripture.
To those who are unclear on that point, let me express what I believe is the shared opinion of Biblical scholars, intelligent laymen, and just about anyone else who has ever bothered to read the Bible: Copeland and Barton’s application of Numbers 32:21-22 to modern veterans suffering from PTSD is one of the most profoundly stupid interpretations ever uttered.


Throughout most modern wars, from World War I to Vietnam, both the military and civilian worlds denied or downplayed the existence of this form of psychological trauma. It wasn’t until the post-Vietnam era that the medical community began to recognize that experiences of PTSD sufferers were not only real, but also that the causes were likely rooted in genes and brain chemistry, rather than a defect in the veteran’s character.
For Copeland and Barton to resurrect this “blame the victim” trope and coat it with the veneer of Biblical warrant is Satanic. Christians need to counter this demonic, gospel-destroying message by letting the men and women who are suffering from combat related PTSD know what the Bible really says about hope, healing, and deliverance through Christ Jesus.

Very strong language. I certainly agree with the substance of his remarks. No matter how the remarks from Barton and Copeland were intended, they were cruel and unusual and require an apology and a retraction from them. I am very pleased that Carter, as spokesperson for the ERLC and the GC, has stepped out and made a strong stand.
Will Barton and Copeland get it? I am not hopeful. Recently, Barton accused his Christian critics of being recruited by “secular guys” to critique his problems with history. I suspect he will attempt to deflect these strong words from the Southern Baptists and the Gospel Coalition in a similar manner.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the Barton-Starbucks Fuss

Columnist Bud Kennedy serves up some thoughts on the controversy brewing between David Barton and Starbucks. Turns out Bud doesn’t find much happening in the greater evangelical world, at least if the Southern Baptists are any guide.

At the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting this week in Houston, the manager of the convention center Starbucks said lines have stayed long.

As Kennedy points out, Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore has discouraged boycotts and if the manager of the Houston convention center Starbucks is right, his brethren are following Moore rather than the boycotters.
Yours truly is quoted about half-way through the article, making a similar case as I presented here. Hope you’ll go read Bud’s column.

Why is there no coverage at the Christian Post about Richard Land’s troubles?

UPDATE: Christianity Today, Religion Dispatches, and Christian Century (via Religion News Service) have stories on the SBC investigation. Nothing so far from CP.

Richard Land has been in the news a lot lately and not for reasons one would want to be in the news.

Land apologized for remarks made about the Trayvon Martin case on his radio show and then Monday apologized for his statements and for using content from a Washington Times article without verbal attribution. Wednesday, the SBC said they would investigate his remarks.

Continue reading “Why is there no coverage at the Christian Post about Richard Land’s troubles?”