Thursday, June 21, 2012

Food For Thought

The history of theology (Christian or otherwise) is the history of people desperately trying to fit the way things actually are into the way their holy books say they should be.  (Think of the billions of words written in tens of thousands of books on religion "explaining" pain and suffering in the light of God's purported goodness.)  So some people do what Mom [Edith Schaeffer] did: spend a lot of time making excuses for The-God-Of-The-Bible.  Others contrive their theology to make it seem more enlightened than it is: Roman Catholic medieval dogma is rechristened as "Natural Law," Creationism is rebaptized as "Intelligent Design," Islam calls the oppression of women the "protection of women," and so forth.

There is another choice: To admit that the best of any religious tradition depends on the choices its adherents make on how to live despite what their holy books "say," not because of them.  "But where would that leave me?" my former self would have asked.  "I'd be adrift in an ocean of uncertainty."  Yes, and perhaps that's the only honest place to be.  Another name for uncertainty is humility.  No one ever blew up a mosque, church, or abortion clinic after yelling, "I could be wrong."
-Frank Schaeffer, Sex, Mom & God

At the very least, those of us who believe that the Bible is something more than just another book need to be willing to admit that we (and every other Christian who has ever lived) pick and choose which parts of the Bible to emphasize and which to downplay (or even ignore) when formulating our theology.  And that, therefore, we could be wrong about a great many things even if we're right about the Bible's unique significance.

Friday, June 08, 2012


Princess of China, by Coldplay (with Rihanna)

Not part of my Life Soundtrack series, but I really like the video.  And it's an opportunity to revisit this old post, where I referenced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which was very likely one of this video's inspirations)...

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


With society's growing acceptance of its LGBT members, especially among the younger generations, it's no surprise that gay students are becoming vocal even at the more conservative Christian colleges.  So the rise of LGBT-supportive groups at schools as conservative as Oral Roberts University, Wheaton College and now Biola University was really just a matter of time.

And I do support the right of these schools to maintain theologically conservative stances on any and all issues they see fit.  So while some of the doctrines taught in their Bible classes may do a mind job on the gay members of their student body (I speak from my own experiences at such a school), nobody is truly being forced to attend them.  I do agree with Misty Irons' point about allowing gay students to live honestly, but at the schools in question it should be possible to accommodate that without any major change in doctrinal stance.

I do, however, have to take issue with a statement that Biola's president, Barry Corey, made in a recent address to the student body (as relayed by John Shore):

Who did He [Jesus] rise up in anger and not receive? Those who quoted scripture like the Pharisees, who wanted to legitimize a certain way of life that Jesus said was not right.
This from the president of a university that includes a theological seminary?  I can see where he's trying to go with that thought, but it's a rather ironic stretch for someone accusing others of twisting scripture.  Jesus' anger at the religious leaders of his day was directed at their hypocrisy and self-righteousness, at the people they drove away from God (both directly and indirectly), and at the higher value they placed on the letter of the law over the people the law was written for.  In the rare cases where those leaders were permissive rather than legalistic, it was primarily for the benefit of a privileged few.

It's one thing to debate what Christian sexual ethics should look like, and quite another to turn Jesus' righteous indignation upside-down to condemn those who call on the church to stop driving LGBT individuals away from God.  The fact that the top spokesman for a highly regarded evangelical institution would engage in such sloppy exegesis suggests that the Biola Underground has him far more rattled than he would ever publicly admit - and perhaps even that there are cracks in the dam that aren't yet visible to outside observers.