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trusted by many conservative evangelicals, he has himself built his reputation on twisting and misrepresenting historical documents for ideological and propagandist purposes.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.