Lk 9:18-22 From Atheist To Fraud

Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week In Ordinary Time

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Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'”  Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Who do you say that I am?  If you want to know what people think of you, should you just ask them?  I don’t know.  I am not convinced people will give you a very honest assessment, especially if you are their boss!

So what are we to do?  Should we just come out and say it?  Again, I am not so sure that would be very helpful.

Not too long ago, Samuel Friedman of the New York Times wrote an article about a Methodist minister who became an atheist.  

He wrote the Rev. Teresa MacBain would “preach the Gospel every Sunday, only to slip each Monday into tormented doubt.”

How horrible! 

The Rev. MacBain:  “For me, the lesson was that doubting is sinful and wrong.  If you have these things come up, you suppress them, you ignore them, you pray them away. This natural inquisitiveness and questioning is just wrong. And if I did them, I was displeasing God. For me, life was about being the person who loved God and wanted to be everything God wanted me to be. That just carried me on through decades.” 

How painful!

Samuel Friedman:  “Growing into adulthood, however, Ms. MacBain ran aground on what seemed like irreconcilable messages in Scripture. In First Corinthians alone, for example, Verse 14:34 instructed women to be silent in church, while Verse 11:5 referred to women praying and prophesying. If text is divinely inerrant, as Ms. MacBain had been taught, how could both statements be true?”

Now when I first came across this, I was shocked.  I thought to myself: How could a minister, who had a Master of Divinity from Duke University, not understand these simple verses?  How could she be so ignorant of Scripture and of the meaning of inerrancy?

My questions were finally answered.

In their hurry to get their new found heroine published and put in the lime light, the secular, liberal and often anti-Christian New York Times failed to verify Ms. MacBain’s credentials.

Apparently MacBain “overstated her credentials” in her interview and résumé.  

Leaving this understatement aside, MacBain not only fooled the New York Times and many atheist bloggers, but also her most recent employer, the Humanist Community at Harvard (H.C.H).

In an e-mail to the New York Times, Greg M. Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard, wrote: Clearly we should have verified Teresa’s M.Div. degree rather than relying upon her résumé and the frequent, public references to it as she worked for and with several Freethought organizations.”

Apparently, Mr. Epstein had no problem believing an atheist by faith alone.

His e-mail went on to say, “All of us at H.C.H. are disturbed and perplexed by this situation.” 
Now I wonder, does free thought allow for some bending of the truth?
A popular blogger, who refers to himself as the friendly and skeptical atheist, wrote in his blog:

“The hard truth appears to be that MacBain has no theological degree. The softer truth, however, may be that it doesn’t really matter.”

Really???  It doesn’t really matter?  Now isn’t that convenient. 

I think it matters a lot.  Actually, I think it might very well explain why Ms. MacBain was tormented with doubt.  Think about it, every Sunday she had to preach from Scripture passages she never fully grasped (at least, at the University level).  MacBain may very well have “overstated her credentials” well before her conversion to atheism, which would have made her ill-equipped to properly direct and shepherd souls.  Finally, she may actually have rejected a faith that was never really the Christian faith.  Enough!

Who am I?  I know who I am.  There is only one honest – correct – answer to that question:  I am a sinner. And I know I am not alone.  In many ways we are all frauds; that is, we are not who we claim to be.  But as profound and important as this is, the real purpose of faith – and of God’s plan for us – is to help us achieve who we were meant to be.  Who can I be?  With the help of Almighty God, I can be a Saint; that is, another Christ. 

It also helps to not take oneself too seriously.


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Fr. Alfonse (1044 Posts)

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