Dr. Candida Moss, a historian, professor and expert of New Testament and early Christianity whose research and writings often draw the ire of conservatives and liberals alike, recently said that she hasn’t encountered anything in her extensive research that would lead her to abandon faith in a higher power.
“I personally haven’t found anything that makes me want to be an atheist,” Moss, a Catholic, said on the Freefall podcast. “And I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of in the study of history.”
The University of Notre Dame professor said that she is driven by her search for facts and truth when exploring Christian history, telling this author and TheBlaze TV’s Raj Nair that if a person is afraid that there’s something in scholarship that could lead him or her to atheism, it’s important to explore the issue.
“You need to find out what that is and then find out what the responses are to that, otherwise you’re just avoiding this big elephant in the room,” she said.
Listen to the interview below:
As for her own career in academia, Moss said that it has changed the way she reads the Bible and the way she looks at religious adherence.
Tacking the heart of the Christian faith, Moss described Jesus and his early followers as being genuinely convinced of his divinity.
“It seems to me that he believed himself and his first followers believed him to be the Messiah and the son of God,” she said, dubbing Jesus likely to be “mesmerizing in person.” “He clearly had some pretty exacting demands on his followers about how they should treat one another.”
Addressing the debate over the Bible’s authenticity, Moss tackled critics’ claims that Christians should be concerned that there are numerous texts that were cut from the holy book.
She explained that there are answers surrounding why certain books were cut from the Bible, specifically suggesting that many Christians believe the book wasn’t assembled by random chance.
“It seems to me [Jesus] believed himself and his first followers believed him to be the Messiah…”
“If you believe in the holy spirit inspiring those people … or if you believe in Church tradition and hierarchy … then you have an answer to that,” Moss said. “It’s not as if when they decided what would be included they sort of brought those books out for the first time and said, ‘How do you feel about the Gospel of John?’”
The historian described her responsibility of presenting historical fact as a “weighty” one, especially considering that she wants to work carefully to ensure she doesn’t harm peoples’ faith by highlighting certain elements that could create difficult theological questions.
“I just want a more mature kind of faith, a more rational, and reasonable form of faith that can interact with archaeological discoveries and history without having to hide,” Moss said. “I think of it as a process of refining. So you learn things and they can be alarming, but just reading the Bible can be alarming … we have to have ways to deal with that, so when I look at these discoveries what I’m looking for is a way to produce a more reasonable faith response.”
She has been known to anger the left and right alike, joking that she was once called a “spawn of Satan.”
Consider that she recently wrote a book alleging that early Christians “exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs.” But she also defended Easter this year, claiming that the holiday — and Jesus’ resurrection — were not stolen from pagans as many atheists have contended.