Required Homework for Christians

Trying to get them to read, study, ponder the Bible

One of the old hymns I recall from my Methodist upbringing is Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, which includes these words: “What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms. Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms…” Safe and secure. This security inside the Christian shelter can happen when doubts are denied, when troublesome thoughts are dismissed: “Our priests and preachers must have it right. We believed them when we were toddlers, so why be suspicious now? We’ll keep the faith.” Take it on faith.



This commonly means ignoring the critiques leveled at Christianity by secular and Christian thinkers alike: that is, putting up barriers against all alarms: “No, I don’t want to think about it, so I won’t.” But maybe one way around this stubbornness is actually pretty simple: try to coax Christians to read the Bible, which they so commonly neglect to do; but more than that: urge them to bring their critical thinking skills to bear on Bible texts. They use these skills to get along in the modern world. Now use these skills when they study the Bible, and do the same thing if they can be coaxed to analyze elements of their piety. 


A couple of years ago I created a Playlist, titled Required Homework for Christians, on my YouTube channel. It’s now a year and a half since I recorded the last one, Number 13. I have a few ideas for more. In this post I am providing links to these thirteen videos. All of them are under five minutes. I am no professional when it comes to making videos; I record them on my laptop, and do some elementary editing, e.g., adding graphics. 


Please note: None of these homework assignments are about science! Their primary focus is what we find in the Bible.


If you manage to engage your Christian family and friends in serious discussion, some of these short videos may be helpful.


Required Homework for Christians 


Video 1: How basic is this: please read the Bible!


Video 2: A few thoughts on how you got your Bible: it is processed Word of God.


Video 3: There is no way to verify the words of Jesus in the gospels.


Video 4: Why have some scholars suggested that Jesus never existed? Consider their reasons. 


Video 5: Is Jesus as portrayed in Mark’s gospel really the Jesus you want?


Video 6: Consider some of the bad theology we find in John’s gospel.


Video 7: Does prayer work? A few reasons to suspect it doesn’t. 


Video 8: The apostle Paul was wrong about so much, which isn’t hard to grasp.


Video 9: Publishing the four gospels together was a big mistake.


Video 10: What happens when we read the Jesus birth stories in Matthew and Luke?


Video 11: Can we really trust our supposed sources of knowledge about God?


Video 12: The bad theology in John, Chapter 3, including the famous John 3:16.


Video 13: Specific homework assignments: books by Richard Carrier, Tim Sledge, and John Loftus.


So, each video is about five minutes, but the true homework is thinking long and hard about the issues I discuss. 



David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. He is the author of two books, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith (2016; 2018 Foreword by John Loftus) and Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (2021). His YouTube channel is here. He has written for the Debunking Christianity Blog since 2016.


The Cure-for-Christianity Library©, now with more than 500 titles, is here. A brief video explanation of the Library is here. 

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