Around the Blogosphere: The Varieties of Fundamentalisms

Here’s a round-up of some blogging on several topics of longstanding interest:

Michael Pahl is leaving Cedarville University due to his views, which are at odds with those of that fundamentalist institution. The university’s president has also resigned.

Doug Chaplin asks how any institution with the views Cedarville stipulates in its statement of faith can call itself a university. And the implications of the university’s statements need to be reflected on. They said,

Dr. Michael Pahl has been relieved of his teaching duties because he is unable to concur fully with each and every position of Cedarville University’s doctrinal statement…Dr. Pahl’s orthodoxy and commitment to the gospel are not in question, nor is his commitment to Scripture’s inspiration, authority and infallibility.

Did you get that? Pahl’s orthodoxy is not in question. His commitment to the gospel is not in question. His commitment to Scripture is not in question. And so one has to ask, why are things that do not matter for orthodoxy, the gospel, or Scripture matter enough to this institution that they impose them as a rigid framework on those who work and study there?

UPDATE: Tony LeDonne has weighed in on this topic since I first posted this, as have Mike Bird and Bruce Gerencser.

Before anyone gets on a high horse about this, let me now share a link to a guest post by Timothy Pettipiece on Alin Suciu’s blog, in which he draws attention to the dogmatic and dismissive attitude of some bloggers to the papyrus fragment known as the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.

Michael Kruger linked to an article in World magazine about the fragment, while Bob Cornwall shared the piece in Sightings.

Timo Paananen has an article in Currents in Biblical Research about a similar problem to that noted in Pettipiece’s piece, but in relation to the Secret Gospel of Mark. The article is available for free for a limited time.

Returning to Christian fundamentalism, and the question of whether its approach to the Bible is typical among atheists as well, the blog Unreasonable Faith has posted a contribution to the conversation. I think the last bit about liberal Christians misses the mark. For many liberal Christians, the term God denotes that with which we are ultimately concerned, that which is most transcendent. And so it is not that we start with the assumption that God is loving. We begin with the conviction that love is in some sense ultimate, and central to our ultimate concern, and so that therefore becomes part of the core symbolism relating to the term “God.”

For more from a progressive Christian perspective, see Deborah Arca’s interview with Marcus Borg.

Before concluding, let me mention the fact that Mark Goodacre has shared a pdf by Richard Bauckham about the name Yose and its relevance to the Talpiot tomb.

And finally, to reward (or is it punish?) those who read all the way to the end, here’s the most amusingly outlandish “Jesus and his wife Mary” image I’ve come across on the internet lately:

  • karen

    Can someone PLEASE, in simple layman’s terms, explain to me WHAT EXACTLY Pahl believes (or stated) that got him fired? I attended Cedarville 3 decades ago and am disheartened to hear about the turmoil going on there. I’ve read several blogs looking for the answer and I guess I need a simpler explanation to understand. Thanks & God bless!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      My understanding is that they objected to his statement that a historical Adam – which he accepts for other reasons – could not be justified on the basis solely of interpretation of the relevant Biblical passages.

    • http://twitter.com/Jessica__Robb Jessica Robb
      • Gary

        Good call. Oct 29th post, he’s looking for a job.

        http://rustlingsinthegrass.blogspot.com/

        My assumption is that he will end up getting a better job.

        I think his old school ought to make all students sign their agreement to the doctrine statements. Otherwise, they will refuse to accept them as students (and their tuition money – probability, zero). Agree to the doctrine before you are taught the doctrine. That makes wonderful sense. Or better yet, take the student’s tuition, then after 4 years, make them sign the doctrine statements, otherwise they get no degree. Thought police must rule there. Must avoid at all costs.

      • karen

        Thanks Jessica but i’m embarrassed to say I had read that blog yesterday and am still confused (this is a time I truly wish I was a bible scholar!) So is Pahl saying that creation happened just NOT in 6 LITERAL days? Or that Adam DIDN’T exist as an actual person? Or something else altogether? Thanks for you patience. Not trying to be difficult, just trying to understand what EXACTLY is the difference, especially since I attended there and CU has a special place in my heart.

  • Simon Cozens

    An honest, if rather provocative question: Why *isn’t* literalism considered a heresy? “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” has some pretty harsh words for it, but stops just short of calling it heretical. Yet an awful lot of Protestants seem to consider it a possible, even valid, way of reading the Bible. I am finding this makes less and less sense.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      In the early Church, the literalism one found in Gnosticism, for instance – treating God’s walking in the garden looking for Adam and Eve, wondering where they are, as literal, for instance – was considered heretical by those who defined what became Christian orthodoxy. So the answer is that some do not call it heresy because they find they need to pander to those who hold that view, and people adopt the view itself because they think they are supposed to, don’t know or don’t remember that throughout most of Christian history people approached the Bible differently than they do, and the pastors and teachers whose jobs depend on these conservative laypeople are afraid to tell them otherwise – if they do, they may lose their jobs.


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