Interview with James Baker
BY Bob Nalbandian
SW: You have quite an interesting background for a rock musician! You actually graduated from seminary school and were planning on becoming a minister. How did you wind up being a vocalist for an industrial metal band?
JB: It happened after an incident when I was thrown out of the church for heresy. I grew up in this extreme separatist Christian environment. My family was members of this church who thought they had a corner on the market of truth. Therefore, they thought it was wrong to, not only associate with unbelievers, but also with anyone who thought differently. So, I wasn't even allowed to talk to other Christians, because they were "corrupt," in their interpretation of the Bible.
SW: So, was it your parents' decision for you to become a minister of God?
JB: When I was growing up, one of the few indulgences we had was that my father listened to Hank Williams every now and then. And at age five, I sat up on the table and began singing one of his songs in front of my family and church people, and they immediately felt I had some kind of gift of communication. Therefore I was called of God to be a minister. So, my entire life I was shaped and groomed for that job. I went through an accelerated high school and college, and then went to seminary, and that's when the bomb was dropped on me. The teachers made the mistake of teaching me the original Greek and Hebrew languages of the scriptures. By teaching me that, they opened the door to the possibility that there were many other interpretations of the Bible. There also are no existing copies of the original manuscripts of the Bible anywhere in the world. What we have are copies among copies among copies. So, I began to study a science called textual criticism.
SW: Is that like extensive research of historic writings?
JB: Basically, what textual criticism does is it looks at all these copies and tries to find out which one is the most viable and accurate. It not only studies the Bible, but the works of Shakespeare and stuff like that. I'll give you a great example...In the last chapter of Mark in the New Testament; there's a passage there that Christians term "The Great Commission." When Jesus Christ said to all his decibels, "Go Yee into all the World and make Believers out of People..." It continues to digress into saying things like, "You will be able to lift up Serpents, they will bite you and you won't be killed." "You'll be able to drink poison and it won't affect you." "You will be able to raise people from the dead."... And the interesting thing about that passage is that I found out is it doesn't exist anywhere past 4 AD. What it was, was someone who was skeptical of the Bible just wrote that passage down on this copy. There are whole religions in the south that is based on this passage and it didn't even exist in the original text! So, when I brought this up to an 80-year-old pastor, I was accused of saying that the Bible is not valid. Which I basically admitted to. So, I was brought in front of the board of elders and was cast out of the church. All because I was being honest. So, having grown up in a secluded environment with the same group of people my whole life, suddenly all those people were gone.
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