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March 25, 2008 | 4 Comments

These posts are in response to last week's Old Scout column.

To the Host:
I've been a fan of Prairie Home Companion for years and recently I've been enjoying your column in the Saturday Kansas City Star. Today's column was about your doubts about your faith which I think we all have at times if we're honest. I just want to recommend a book to you. It's The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel. It answered a lot of my questions about how the gospels were written. Have a Happy Easter!

Sandy B.
Kansas City

Thanks, Sandy, and as soon as I finish reading Garry Wills's "What The Gospels Meant" and "What Paul Meant," I will look for the Strobel book. I'm a little busy writing a book of my own this spring so time is limited, but if it's going to answer nagging questions about scriptural authority, then I had better get to it.

Your thoughts about how the Gospels were "cobbled together" rather than handed down on high reminded me of something I read recently by Karl Barth (in Church Dogmatics 1.2). Yes, the humanness of our scriptures requires faith; but that is exactly the point! The Lord chose not to give us the scriptures "mechanically" but to give them to us through people in all their humanness. Barth refers to this as "the miracle that here fallible men speak the Word of God in fallible human words... being justified and sanctified by grace alone, they have still spoken the Word of God in their fallible and erring human word... Verbal inspiration does not mean the infallibility of the biblical word in its linguistic, historical and theological character as a human word. It means that the fallible and faulty human word is as such used by God and has to be received and heard in spite of its human fallibility."

Andy S.
Elizabethtown, PA

Your point is a good one, I'm sure, but I was brought up in a Bibliodolatrous group that held that each word, each comma, each semi-colon, was placed there by God Almighty and was not to be questioned or quibbled with, which of course was a spur to scholarship but also to legalism and to a squadron of Pharisees. Fallibility was not part of the deal. The Sanctified Brethren admitted to no doubt whatsoever. But I will look up the passage from Barth. And thanks for sending it on.


Welcome to the Closet Unitarians group. You're in good company. Keep an open mind. I enjoy the eclectic slant on religion in your programs and writings. My mother once told me, when I became a Unitarian our of desperation, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" - she was a Baptist minister's wife, so you can see where she was coming from.


I saw you speak at UCLA and it was a delight to hear a string of your best Lake Wobegon tales in fell swoop. Considering I often come home from seminary classes and relax to a podcast of Lake Wobegon, this was a perfect way to start my spring break.

I was reading your Old Scout column with great interest as this is exactly what I learn about in school. I think the comment about Barth's quote is particularly important. I would only add knowing and understanding the contexts of the gospels' origins is important and indeed add more meaning to interpretation. Its like a extra layer to a cake! I've also read the Lee Strobel book and I would recommend it, though there are still other questions remaining of course, some of which might be answered in his other books, Case for Faith and Case for a Creator. And there are numerous other Christian scholars and writers with books with differing points of views. I can definitely understand frustrations with a "bibliolatrous" theology and hope that your search is fruitful.

My girlfriend and I, after listening to you at UCLA, found a lot of meaning in your medley of News from Lake Wobegon. And I think, of my interpretation of it, you're right, in that we all need an angel in our lives to save us, whether its a man on skis or a wet nose of a dog or our Lord and Savior.

Keep up the great work and I look forward to listening to you again!

Brett Y.
Southern CA

Dear Garrison,

You'll have plenty of company in the doubter's pew with those of us who love the questions as much as the answers---which we realize we may never get in this lifetime. That is one of Luther's beautiful gifts to the church, the respect and nurture of the intellect as God-given. Wrestling with the unknowingness of the Unknown is the work of a lifetime. And for those of us in the church, so is uncovering the core of the Gospel from it's layers of human tampering. I believe our faithfulness lies in not turning our backs on the struggle, for slick answers and false security, but embracing it.

From another sixty-something skeptic in the pew.

Been listening to you for years and I guess I never realized you poke fun at us UU's, which shows to go you. ANyway, Could I get the words (and music if possible) to the Unitarian song you did on today's show (APril 13)? I think our music director would love for us all to sing it.


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