Bob Avakian in all his talks and writings continues to promote the new communism as the emancipator of humanity. Without religion or God, Avakian attempts to persuade the masses to put their faith in the scientific method and dialectical materialism for their salvation, not in the hereafter but in the here and now.
In his book entitled, Away with All Gods! Avakian argues that God, as revealed in the Bible, doesn’t exist because how can a loving, all powerful god allow tragedies and suffering to afflict mankind? Avakian also states that if such a god existed, “it would be a cruel, vicious, sick, twisted, and truly monstrous god”1 [emphasis added] that no “sane and decent”2 person would want to follow or worship. This is the age-old argument that every atheist and agnostic has used to attack God and the People of the Book.
On the other hand, Christians of all denominations have struggled with the problem of how to reconcile the fact that God seems to allow human suffering while at the same time professing to love His creation. Apologetics, as a branch of theology, has attempted to reconcile these two apparent mutually exclusive aspects of God’s character. However, what most pundits fail to factor into the equation is the holiness of God. It’s not surprising since we, as the Church, have largely fallen away from realizing God’s holiness because we are too caught up by the world system; we are more of the world than we are in the world.
Even so, Avakian is clever enough to use an obscure incident from the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel 24 to convince his readers of how monstrous God really is.3 Avakian was obviously aware that most people, including Christians, wouldn’t be familiar with the particular verses in 2 Samuel which would make it easier for him to catch his readers off guard. The incident that Avakian is pointing out is where David was incited to conduct a census because of God’s anger against Israel in order to force God’s hand. The back reference for 2 Samuel 24 is in Exodus.
The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,
When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. (Exod. 30:11-12, NASB)
Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.
The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves. (Exod. 30:14-15)
David was fully aware that if he conducted the census without collecting the required ransom or contribution from the people as God commanded in Exodus, God would be forced to send a plague as a judgement upon Israel.
In 1966, John Lennon made the following remark concerning the Beatles, “We’re more popular than Jesus…” Lennon wasn’t being idealistic when he made that remark, he was basing it more on dialectical materialism. However, in today’s political climate, Hitler has replaced Jesus in popularity. In this respect, Avakian was ahead of the curve because in his book published in 2008, he wasted no time accusing Christian fundamentalists as being Christian fascists and associating them with Hitler.4
It’s interesting that whenever a left-wing extremist accuses someone or something as being fascist, they always bring up Hitler, not Mussolini—the father of fascism. I wonder why that is? Could it be that it would be embarrassing if people knew that Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Kennedy, among others were fascist sympathizers,5 and that Columbia University’s Casa Italiana was once controlled by Mussolini supporters?6 Fascism is statism, and communism is emancipation. Fascist economic systems are corporatist, but in communist society, there are no classes in that the proletariat owns everything which really means no one owns anything.
Avakian makes a valid point when he accuses hypocritical fundamentalist Christian fascists of insisting that people obey the Ten Commandments while otherwise ignoring other aspects of the Mosaic Law. Avakian labels this tendency as “Salad Bar”7 Christianity. Rightly so, since not only are the Ten Commandments still in effect, but the entire Law as given in the Old Testament of the Bible is still in effect—forever.
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29) [emphasis added]
Jesus Himself affirms the Law, as given in the Old Testament, is still in effect.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt. 5:17-18)
As a “Salad Bar” Christian myself, I usually pass on the salad and go straight for the strong meat. (Heb. 5:12 GenevaBible)
Avakian deviates from his tactic of misinterpreting obscure Scripture verses such as 2 Samuel to attack God and Christianity directly using Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific method. Avakian repeats all the typical progressive talking points used to defend evolution such as, “evolution has for some time been a settled question.”8 Evolution is a settled question like the Big Bang theory is a settled question. Like it or not, organic evolution like the Big Bang theory are examples of historical science, not operational science.9
In his book, Away with All Gods! Avakian bases a significant portion of his objections to the Bible by presenting the viewpoints of Bart D. Ehrman, Chairman of the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.10 Avakian is quick to point out Ehrman’s authoritative credentials since Ehrman is himself a former evangelical fundamentalist.11
Ehrman zeroes in on many accusations and criticisms of the Bible but I’ve decided not to address each of those criticisms and accusations individually, but instead, I’ve provided excerpts from Tom V. Taylor’s class handouts from a Bible history course I took at Biblical Theological Seminary in 1991. The following excerpts provide answers, either directly or in some cases indirectly, for many of the questions people have concerning our English Bible.
None of the original manuscripts survive and if they did men would worship them instead of the Lord. We feel the Lord has been pleased to give us very good copies…it is a technical study, but very good copies.
The work of translation is hard work because no two languages have identical vocabularies…and few even have identical alphabets…In addition many languages did not have some of the word ideas that are in the Bible (like redemption) and translators had to assess what speech idiom in a language would make this meaningful to the people of that place.
(Note: we do not change the Bible we change the translation of it…the rendering of it…to meet new concepts and societies.)
That is the beauty of the Bible. God gave us a book of truth that retains its character and meaning for life in spite of the many translations…these helping to make the biblical message relevant and meaningful from age to age.
The Word of God is the inscripturated message, not the individual translation. We may apply the term to any translation in a general sense because it contains the inscripturated message but if someone says well…’Did God actually write these words?’ the answer is ‘No, these are the words into which the God breathed message has been put by men for the people of their language and culture.’ They should be careful, of course, but they were not working under inspiration (technical inspiration of 2 Timothy 3:16) and are simply doing the best they can to serve God and His people.
It is also true that some heretics have translated the Bible and changed its basic thrust at some points to support their teachings. Naturally we are not going to endorse any such works but it is surprising that even in some of these books the inscripturated message of salvation and grace can still be seen.
The bottom line is that only the original manuscripts were “inspired” or God breathed. But what about “inerrancy,” i.e., nothing contrary to fact and “infallibility,” i.e., incapable of teaching error. If there are any errors in a Bible translation, they are due to “translation or an insufficient current body of knowledge,”12 as Taylor’s class handouts have implied. And according to the Ligonier Ministries’ website, “We can have inerrancy without infallibility, but we cannot have infallibility without inerrancy.”13
Practically speaking, whether or not our current Bible translations are infallible or incapable of teaching error, is dependent on whether or not the translators were working from an agenda. That is, if the translators were faithful to the best available manuscripts then the results of their efforts would be infallible but still not technically inerrant, again, as Taylor seems to imply from his class handouts. Nevertheless, “through the process of textual criticism, we can recover the original wording of the manuscripts with a high degree of certainty.”14
Slavery was abolished in the United States on December 18, 1865, but if you listen to Avakian you would think that slavery is still being practiced in America and that God, the Bible, and Christianity are responsible. Contrary to the nonsense that Avakian is peddling, nowhere in the Bible is slavery encouraged or promoted. The Bible references slavery because the practice was widespread during the times in which the books of the Bible were written. As a matter of fact, the Bible gives strict guidance on how masters were to treat their slaves and how slaves where to behave towards their masters. Slaves were not without rights in the Scripture as revealed in the following verses: Exod. 21:2, 21:20, 21:27, 23:12; Deut. 23:15-16; and Prov. 30:10.
In Matt. 8:9, Jesus heals the centurion’s servant or slave.
And then there’s the story of the runaway slave Onesimus who was ministering to Paul in prison and whom Paul sent back to his master with a letter. In the letter, Paul writes:
For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever,
no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. (Philem. 1:15-17 NASB)
Jesus makes frequent use of the master/slave relationship in many of His parables as an analogy for the type of relationship He desires between Himself and His followers. (Matt. 24-25)
Since Avakian has irrefutably discredited God, the Bible, and Christianity, there is no reason to debate unchangeable human nature since it doesn’t exist according to Avakian.15 He further asserts that all the conflicts, tragedies, and injustices that have occurred in human history are all a result of the “system.”16 If you remove the spiritual dimension from human beings, then humans are no more than cogs in the machine. Okay, so were John Mauchly and Presper Eckert, the actual inventors of the world’s first digital electronic computer, cogs in the machine? Or how about William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Houser Brattain, the inventors of the transistor, were they just cogs in a machine? I could go on but you see my point. The capitalist system, which communists hate so much, is responsible for bringing about all the major innovations that the world now takes for granted. Would these innovations been possible under a system that promotes a “do as you’re told” work ethic?
Avakian, along with all other good communists, would like you to believe that God, the Bible, and Christians are all against science. Well, I doubt that Avakian is familiar with Donald E. Knuth, computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University who is most famous for his The Art of Computer Programming multi-volume book series. In addition to his computer science and mathematics writings, Knuth is also a student and teacher of the Scriptures. He has written a book, 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated that is the result of his unique Bible study approach which he describes as “stratified sampling.”17 By using this mathematical principle, Knuth believed that “A large body of information can be comprehended reasonably well by studying more or less random portions of the data.”18
As a result, Knuth ‘randomly’ decided on Chapter 3, verse 16 from each book of the Bible given that John 3:16 is so well known and because he felt it would be easier for his class to remember.19 After allowing for books that don’t have 16 verses in Chapter 3 and for books that don’t even have a Chapter 3, Knuth arrived at 59 instances of the 3:16 rule.20 In addition, Knuth decided to provide his own translation for each of the selected verses even though he isn’t a Greek or Hebrew scholar.21 Considering the translations, commentary, and calligraphy, I think the results were impressive, particularly John 3:16 as follows (minus the calligraphic flourish):
Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only child, so that all people with faith in Him can escape destruction and live forever.22
Bob Avakian, Away with All Gods!, (Insight Press, Chicago, 2008), 6. ↩
Ibid., 6. ↩
Ibid., 4-5. ↩
Ibid., 16. ↩
Gerard Sczepura, “American Fascism,” Theological Ruminations (blog), August 21, 2017, https://gerardsczepura.com/myblog/american-fascism/. ↩
Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 32. ↩
Ibid., 44. ↩
“’Evolution Is a Fact.’ Argument 1,” Answers In Genesis, October 17, 2017, https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/evolution-is-a-fact/. ↩
Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 61. ↩
“Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer,” We Talk of Holy Things, accessed April 02, 2020, http://www.wetalkofholythings.com/2013/03/inerrancy-vs-infallibility-theological.html. ↩
“Infallibility and Inerrancy,” Ligonier Ministries, accessed April 02, 2020, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/infallibility-and-inerrancy/. ↩
Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 226. ↩
Donald E. Knuth, 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated, (Madison, Wisconsin, A-R Editions, Inc., 1991), 3. ↩
Ibid., 5. ↩
Ibid., 7. ↩
Ibid., 8. ↩
Ibid., 171. ↩