LEAVING THE FOLD by Edward T. Babinski. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995. 462 pages, 4 appendices, index, notes. Cloth; $32.95.

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This book came out in the late 1990’s and here is my review of it. My friend Ed Babinski wrote it.

LEAVING THE FOLD by Edward T. Babinski. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995. 462 pages, 4 appendices, index, notes. Cloth; $32.95.

The purpose of Leaving the Fold is to give a clear picture of what attracts a person to the fundamentalist faith and what can drive believers away from their religion. There are more than 30 testimonies from people who have left the fold of fundamentalism. The first section is called Fundamentalism’s Grotesque Past. In the next section, eleven testimonies of former fundamentalists who are now more liberal Christians are given. The bulk of Leaving the Fold is found in the third section where testimonies are given by former fundamentalists who are now agnostics or atheists.

The author, Edward T. Babinski, is on the staff of J. B. Duke Library at Furman University. Judging from his personal testimony given in the book, he is well-qualified to write on this subject. Before becoming an agnostic, Mr. Babinski was an evangelical Christian who felt he had the absolute knowledge of life and death (p 210).

Over and over in Leaving the Fold, it is pointed out that fundamentalists hold to the belief that the Bible is absolute knowledge without any trace of error. Professor John Barnhart, department of philosophy at the University of North Texas, put it this way: “I came to believe that without an error-free or infallible Bible to serve as the foundation of the Christian structure, the structure would collapse and possibly morality along with it” (p. 334). Having absolute knowledge is one of the attractive things about fundamentalism. Another one is having the promise of eternal life. Kevin R. Henke said, “How could I live without God, and the promise of eternal life?” (p. 245).

The two most common reasons people leave the fold according to this book are the hypocritical lives of fundamentalists and errors in the Bible. A turning point in Babinski’s life came when he read a series of articles in the Skeptical Inquirer in which scriptures were cited that seemed to show that the Bible’s authors truly believed in a flat circular earth (p. 29). However, this so-called scientific error of the Bible is actually a result of Mr. Babinski’s weak interpretation of scripture. No scientific inaccuracy can be found in the verses he cites (Is. 40:22, Jer. 31:37 and Ps. 22:27). For instance, Isaiah 40:22 says, “He (God) sits enthroned above the circle of the earth.” The word circle in this verse is the word sphere in Hebrew (chuwg). It is a figure formed by a circle turning about its diameter.

Jeremiah 31:37 says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel.” Mr. Babinski comments: “In other words, just as Israel will never be totally `cast off’ the foundations of the flat earth are portrayed as ever remaining a mystery to man” (p. 230). A better interpretation would be that God will preserve Israel as a nation, and man will never be able to find the end of the universe. Of course, the facts are that in 1948 Israel was constituted a nation again, and even with our largest telescopes man has not found the end of our huge universe. Furthermore, Mr. Babinski says, “the biblical earth is often described as having `ends. A flat, circular earth would square well with such speech” (p. 229). Psalm 22:27 says: “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.” This is just a figure of speech meaning that everyone everywhere will bow before the Christ of the cross one day. King David in this passage is describing Christ’s crucifixion hundreds of years before the Jews knew of that method of capital punishment. The Jews executed by stoning. Yet, you read these words in Psalm 22:16, “They have pierced my hands and my feet.” In fact, over a dozen exact medical descriptions of death by crucifixion are given in this passage.

Although there is some extremely bad interpretation of scripture in Leaving the Fold, it does have value. It is a very thought-provoking book which discusses almost every aspect of the fundamentalist viewpoint. The major weakness of this book is its failure to realize that leaving the fold is never caused by intellectual problems with the Bible. That is just a popular excuse. Hebrews 3:12 tells us the real reason people leave the fold. It says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”

Reviewed by Everette Hatcher III, P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221.

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