The man who asked Republican presidential candidates if they believe every word of the Bible in Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube debate says he wasn’t satisfied by any of the answers he heard.
“How you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you,” 24-year-old Joseph Dearing said in his question No. 20 during the two-hour debate. ”
“Do you believe every word of this book?” he asked, holding up a cover titled “Holy Bible” toward the camera. “And I mean specifically this book that I am holding in my hand,” he continued, turning the spine toward camera reading “King James Version.”
“Do you believe this book?” he reiterated. None of the three candidates invited to respond appeared to catch the specific reference to the KJV.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Roman Catholic, took the first stab. “The reality is, I believe it, but I don’t believe it’s necessarily literally true in every single respect,” he said. “I think there are parts of the Bible that are interpretive. I think there are parts of the Bible that are allegorical. I think there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be interpreted in a modern context.”
“So, yes, I believe it. I think it’s the great book ever written. I read it frequently. I read it very frequently when I’ve gone through the bigger crises in my life, and I find great wisdom in it, and it does define to a very large extent my faith,” Giuliani said. “But I don’t believe every single thing in the literal sense of Jonah being in the belly of the whale, or, you know, there are some things in it that I think were put there as allegorical.”
According to a story posted late Wednesday night by the Dallas Morning News, Dearing described Giuliani’s response “a cop-out.”
Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith has been a prickly issue for evangelical voters from the start of his campaign, stumbled on his answer.
“I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely,” he said. “And I try … (Applause) … I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of ways. But it’s a guide for my life and for hundreds of millions, billions of people around the world. I believe in the Bible.”
“Does that mean you believe every word?” pressed debate moderator Anderson Cooper.
“You know,” Romney paused, “yes, I believe it’s the word of God, the Bible is the word of God.
“The Bible is the word of God. I mean, I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don’t disagree with the Bible. I try to live by it.”
Dearing’s response to Romney: “It was very telling that he wouldn’t give a yes or no to the question,” he said. “His entire religion is in direct contradiction with the Bible.”
Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and former pastor, gave the most polished response.
“Sure, I believe the Bible is exactly what it is. It’s the word of revelation to us from God himself,” Huckabee said to applause. “And the fact is that when people ask do we believe all of it, you either believe it or you don’t believe it.”
“But in the greater sense, I think what the question tried to make us feel like was that, well, if you believe the part that says ‘Go and pluck out your eye,’ well, none of us believe that we ought to go pluck out our eye,” Huckabee continued. “That obviously is allegorical.
“But the Bible has some messages that nobody really can confuse and really not left up to interpretation: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ and ‘as much as you’ve done it to the least of these brethren, you’ve done it unto me.’ Until we get those simple, real easy things right, I’m not sure we ought to spend a whole lot of time fighting over the other parts that are a little bit complicated.
“And as the only person here on the stage with a theology degree, there are parts of it I don’t fully comprehend and understand, because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite God, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too small.”
Huckabee’s answer also didn’t satisfy Dearing, who appears in other videos on a religious version of YouTube advocating use of only the King James Version of the Bible.
“I think Mike Huckabee is a typical liberal pastor, because I heard in a previous debate that he didn’t think it matters whether or not you believe the creation in Genesis was six literal days,” Dearing told the Dallas newspaper.
Dearing’s user profile at GodTube.com describes him as a 24-year-old male from Grand Prairie, Texas, who signed up for the site 38 days ago.
“I was saved from eternity in a literal fiery hell in 2003 by the only means possible–grace through faith in the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross,” Dearing says in a paragraph “about me.”
“He died as a sacrifice to pay for my sins and then rose from the dead,” the profile continues. “Since then, I’ve grown a lot spiritually, thanks to the influence of the infallible word of God, which today is found in the Authorized (King James) Bible.”
“The King James Version is not just a translation of the word of God,” Dearing says in one of his videos. “It is literally the supernatural word of God, just as much as the original autographs were the word of God.”
Modern Bible translations like the Revised Standard Version, New American Standard Version and Southern Baptist Convention-produced Holman Christian Standard Version, he says in another video, are “fake Bibles” that “contain lies.”
Presumptions underlying modern translations, like the Bible was without error in original texts called autographs but not in the later translation of the KJV, Dearing reasons, would mean that God made the effort to reveal His word in Scripture but not to preserve it.
Dearing says on his MySpace page that growing up in liberal churches, he didn’t even know he wasn’t saved.
“The main reason I’m saved now is what I learned from Bible-believers showing me the differences between the Bible versions,” he said. “You can’t get saved until you understand the gospel, and I didn’t understand the gospel until I read the King James verses.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.