Around the Blogosphere

Pisteuomen shared a YouTube video of George W. Bush, intending it to cast aspersions on his religious views, because they don’t match up with one particular Evangelical understanding of salvation. In fact, if anything, it makes Bush look better than he might have otherwise. You be the judge. R. T. Jones, by contrast, shows that the classic position of Christian orthodoxy is very different than that of modern fundamentalists.

A recent interview Bart Ehrman gave is being discussed by Mystical Seeker, Alan Lenzi, and Duane Smith. Jim West’s post about Ehrman, like all his others, have been hacked. :-(

Nathan Rice offers thoughts about a commonly-used circular argument. Theo Geek tackles the odd way many people today think about Sodom and Gomorrah.

Northstate Science has posted on archaeology and the Bible.

It seems like bad arguments and misreadings of evidence are being challenged all over the place – including in Florida! This is, of course, why we blog.

Clearly the United States needs more political parties. Why should it matter if McCain is “too liberal” while Huckabee wants to rewrite the Constitution? Let’s have more parties, representing a wider range of views, so that we can get past this two-party system (which is but one step away from a one-party system, and that can’t be good).

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  • T. Michael W. Halcomb

    James,I would like to respond at-length to your comments here in a future post but for now, I just have a few replies:1. I find it intriguing that you call me out for trying to cast doubt on one person’s view, when you turn around and do the same exact thing.2. I find it intriguing that you call me narrow (minded) but in doing so, you’re also being narrow-minded, suggesting that your view is “the” right one.3. I find it simply apalling that you compared me to the guy in the YouTube video. I would hope that after reading my blog, you’d know better than this. To suggest that my scholarship is like that is very offensive to me. I totally disagree with some of the things you blog about but I know that you read and study, etc. and even if you didn’t, out of respect, I wouldn’t make any such comparison. Saying you disagree is one thing but grouping me with this preacher is both inaccurate and disrespectful.4. You are terribly wrong to suggest that believing Jesus is the only way to salvation equals fundamentalism. Come on!5. I do believe that all salvation comes through Jesus and Jesus alone but that does not mean I go around judging people to hell. It is quite interesting, though, that you ended your sentence by telling your readers to “be the judge”. Hmm.6. You seemed to have missed the point of the post altogether. The point was to question the view espoused by Bush but more than that it was also meant to get Christians to examine all of the other candidates to see if what they’re saying is the truth (or are they just mouthing the words). 7. You were right, however, in suggesting that I believe my evangelical view is correct. I wouldn’t call this narrow, I would just say it is what I believe and I believe it is right. If I thought it was wrong, I’d discard it. But, I don’t think it is.8. Jason is a young believer and I think you might have responded a bit differently if you knew his context, unfortunately, something blogging doesn’t always allow.In the end, I’m glad to be able to get discussion going. However, when that discussion is defamatory (as when you incorrectly likened me to the fundy in the video) and untrue, it is quite bothersome. From one blogger to another, know that I’m all about debates and challenges if they are done in a clean, civil way.

  • James F. McGrath

    Hi Michael. Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. It sounds to me like you are suggesting that I can’t disagree with you and be consistent – if I criticize your criticism, I am doing what you’re doing. If I criticize you for giving voice to a “narrow” view, I am being narrow myself. I am not sure that is true, but if it is, presumably intelligent conversation is not possible. Yet we seem to be trying to have one, and so I will proceed on the assumption that it is possible to do what I hope we are now doing!I had no intention of “comparing you to the guy in the YouTube video”. I presumed that you shared that video because it presents Bush as saying that people can get to heaven by other routes than Christianity, and you assumed that any true Christian would agree with you. I thought I was addressing what I understood to be your reason for posting it, and not simply lumping you together with the maker of the video. I apologize if I was unclear about this and as a result was misunderstood.I obviously had no way of knowing how old either you or the other commenter is, or how long anyone has held the view that they have. I’ll leave things there for now, just to make sure my point about not assuming that because you shared a video, you agree with everything that is in it, does not get lost among other things I might add. I hope no one will think that every YouTube video I’ve shared reflects my views!

  • James F. McGrath

    Oh, OK, I get it now. I have this habit of inserting links into words here and there. I realize now that you’re referring to the link from the word ‘narrow’, which I am hereby removing. It was simply an attempt to add an additional silly link, not to connect you with that preacher. I realize I did indeed give that impression, and I apologize. I’ll be more careful about such random silly links in the future!!!!(At least now I know some people actually do click on those links. You may be the only one…in this case I hope so!)

  • T. Michael W. Halcomb

    James,Thanks for taking the time to reply, explain and in the end, remove the link I was referring to. I do think we can disagree and debate and argue in a civil way; sure that is possible. I do think though, that when persons resort to labeling others “narrow” it often reveals that they have their own narrow views. I’m not saying that you do, I’m just making that point.For me, it’s not about getting to heaven. I’m not worried about heaven; I don’t think about it much. Many evangelicals are too hung up on it; even the Bible isn’t hung up on it. For me, it’s about being in right standing with God, which I think is only possible through Jesus, through whom all salvation (right standing) comes.Now, I realize in saying this that I’ve “narrowed” things down. I also think what I’m saying is right. But that does not mean I’m a closed-minded bigot who is always judgmental or employs poor scholarship. For example, my critical reading of the Romans and John passages is different from yours. In fact, I think your interpretations are wrong. That said, I’m not judging you as a person or condemning you. But in the end, I still think I’m right. (Just like you think you’re right.)I might be able to articulate my views better than Jason or more gently or clearly or whatever. I know that for the most part, on this, Jason and I share similar views. But in confessing what he did, he was not trying to confuse people. Instead, he was simply stating his belief. In fact, he was trying to clarify things.I hope this doesn’t morph into an I’m a believer/you’re not conversation but rather it can be made clear that there are thinking evangelicals whose confession is that all right-standing with God (salvation) comes only through Jesus and that the persons confessing that don’t have to be labeled with pejoratives.

  • James F. McGrath

    Thanks for taking the time to reply, and for being so understanding. I will post something a bit more detailed and theological about my own view tomorrow. For now, let me just say that I’m approaching this as an Evangelical, born again Christian who finds himself unable to deny that the experience that others describe of coming into a relationship with God in the context of other traditions so closely mirrors my own experience that I do not feel I can deny that they have had a genuine experience of God. It also seems to me that many who stand within the Christian tradition have not had this sort of personal experience. And, perhaps most importantly, I found myself persuaded that the Bible itself does in places leave room for this understanding. This is not to deny that there are books and authors in the Bible that use the language of exclusivism, but there are others who seem to have a different view. It may be that ultimately we choose to elevate one and subordinate the other, but (to quote the worm in the VeggieTales Jonah movie, “I’m OK with that now”.

  • T. Michael W. Halcomb

    James,I appreciate your candor and your thoughts. I also appreciate your willingness to call yourself out on a mess up, albeit accidental (I think).As for person’s experiences, I believe that other religions can contain truth and that the God of Christianity can even work through them to some degree. In the end, though, I have to affirm once more that all salvation or right-standing with God comes only through Jesus.I do not doubt your personal faith claims (eg that you are a Christian), even though I adamantly disagree with some of your other remarks about faith, Scripture, etc. I think it would be interesting to have a back-and-forth discussion on this topic. Perhaps we could do response posts to one another, giving each other the opportunity to show how we exegete certain passages. Would you be interested in this?

  • James F. McGrath

    I’d love to have a discussion of this topic. Perhaps we could have what could be called a ‘blogversation’, kind of like the ‘wall to wall’ on Facebook, where we simply use titles for our replies that indicate the ongoing conversation, and post links from each entry to the next one on the other blog.That’s just a suggestion. I’m flexible on the format, and look forward to a chance to talk more. Some of my story is already posted on my blog (and I suspect some of yours is on yours), and so feel free to do some poking around to see if it raises any ideas for questions you’d want to ask me or topics you’d like to focus on.

  • T. Michael W. Halcomb

    The kind of wall-to-wall format is a good idea. Do you mind starting? How about by offering some exegetical insights from one of the specific Jn or Paul passages? I’ll announce that we’re going to do this when you post on it and add a link to your post, then i’ll reply…etc. This will be fun; i’m loooking forward to engaging you. i know we have many different views but if nothing else, i want to show that to persons who disagree can, as professed CHristians, still talk civilly and love one another.Thanks for doing this james, i’ll snoop around your blog some in the meantime. Just let me know when you’re ready to begin the blogversation.

  • James F. McGrath

    I’ve posted something to hopefully get our ‘bloggersation’ going. I hope that readers of both our blogs will join in, so that it becomes not merely ‘blog to blog’ but ‘blogs to blogs to blogs…’ Feel free to take it in a completely different direction, or bring it back to things we started talking about here or on your blog.There is no particular reason that a ‘bloggersation’ has to have a particular pace, so I will not assume that, if a reply doesn’t appear on your blog quickly, or other posts appear in the mean time, no reply will eventually follow. And I hope you’ll assume the same in my case! :)