Two offensive analogies in the gay marriage debate from David Gushee and Andrew Wilson

gay marriage symbols

During the past couple of weeks, two arguments have surfaced on opposite sides of the gay marriage debate that are based upon offensive analogies (or "provocative" ones, depending which side you're on). At the Reformation Project conference in DC, evangelical ethicist David Gushee made an analogy between the Biblically-based, tradition-affirmed anti-Semitism of the pre-Holocaust church and the church's opposition to homosexuality. Then in response to the Reformation Project, British … [Read more...]

Three arguments for Biblical inerrancy that need to be retired

bible beater

One of the most important books I read in seminary was evangelical Old Testament scholar Peter Enns' Incarnation and Inspiration, which offers a way of understanding the Bible in which its authority can be respected even if some of the stories it tells are not historical events. Peter Enns just released another book called The Bible Tells Me So that has the Biblical inerrantists in a tizzy. For a long time, I've been wanting to name and repudiate three of the more frustrating arguments that … [Read more...]

When “the Bible is perfectly clear” becomes the reason it can’t teach us anything

I've noticed a gap between what feels right to say about the Bible in the abstract and what actually happens when we read the Bible as part of our daily discipleship. When many Christians talk about the Bible in the abstract, they talk as though it's a collection of "perfectly clear" but tough to stomach rules that people don't want to obey so they pull out words like "mystery" to justify their disobedience. It makes me wonder how much time a person who talks that way actually spends reading the … [Read more...]

Why English majors make lousy fundamentalists

I think that the reason many Christians can't understand each other, particularly with regard to how we read the Bible, may end up boiling down to different personality types. I am an INFP, according to the Myers-Briggs system. I would tend to call it the personality type of a poet, or an English major, or perhaps a romantic. According to the Internet, people like me "do not like to deal with hard facts and logic" and we "don't understand or believe in the validity of impersonal judgment." I … [Read more...]

Two Biblical commands no Christian will ever obey

I've been at the Ecclesia National Gathering in DC. It's a network of moderate evangelicals who use the word "missional" a lot and plant churches and stuff like that. We just had a presentation from Bill Webb about the nature of the Bible's authority. One of his points was that the Bible's authority is always "accommodated" to its particular cultural context. He shared two very awkward Biblical commands, Proverbs 31:6-7 and Deuteronomy 25:11-12, that I'm pretty confident no Christian would ever … [Read more...]

The Bible has room for more than one gay Christian story

A couple of weeks ago, at Wheaton College, a very interesting dialogue happened. The campus had organized a speaking event for ex-gay activist Rosaria Butterfield whose story of converting from a leftist lesbian university professor to the homeschooling housewife of a conservative evangelical pastor has made her very popular in the conservative evangelical speaking circuit. LGBT-supporting Wheaton students held a "demonstration" outside the talk that they said wasn't a "protest." They held signs … [Read more...]

Wrestling with the Bible (#sermon #podcast)

Last weekend, I preached on wrestling with the Bible. We looked at the Tower of Babel story as an example and tried to interpret it first taking everything at face value and then with the love-oriented approach to interpretation that Augustine wrote about in his Doctrina Christiana: “If it seems to you that you have understood the divine scriptures, or any part of them, in such a way that by this understanding you do not build up this twin love of God and neighbor, then you have not understood t … [Read more...]

Three different conceptions of Biblical authority

Thanks very much for your responses to my last post on Biblical inerrancy. Though some were a bit snarky, they were actually quite helpful to my sermon preparation process, which was my goal with the post. What has emerged out of that wrestling is that there seem to be three ways of understanding Biblical authority, which basically amount to three interpretations of the most cited proof-text for Biblical authority: 2 Timothy 3:16: "All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, reproof, … [Read more...]

The two verses that torpedo Biblical inerrancy

This weekend, we will be wrestling with what it means for the Bible to be our authoritative guide for how to live as Christians when some things in the Bible were written in a different era when people didn't have the scientific information they do today. Some Christians hold to a position of Biblical inerrancy, which means different things to different people but basically means that the Bible has to be without error in any claims that it makes like Methusaleh's lifespan of 969 years, for … [Read more...]

“Do not believe every spirit” (1 John 4)

At the basilica's Monday mass, the epistle reading was from 1 John 4, which includes: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world." It was a sobering reminder to me that not all the "inspiring" voices in my head are from God. Even if I have had legitimate prophetic convictions before, that doesn't mean that my compulsive urge to weigh in on the latest drama in our world is "God-breathed." One … [Read more...]