Inadvertent Pluralism Sunday School

I must admit I forgot that today was Pluralism Sunday until I read blogs after church. To my relief, my class today ended up speaking about precisely this topic. A thought that has come up in the series about “When Christians Disagree” time and again is that most of would agree that it is OK to agree to disagree about non-essentials. What we really disagree about is what those essentials are. And so, after asking about that and how we figure out what is essential, we found ourselves talking about Christian identity and other religions.

Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof got a mention in my Sunday school class. He was remarkably flexible at times, yet found himself asking how far he can bend before he breaks. Among the subjects we discussed was whether Christian identity is a matter of doctrine, practice or both. I also pointed out that conservative Christians and Muslims would agree over against many liberal Christians in believing in the virgin birth. Some in the class were surprised to learn that Muslims believe in the virgin birth. We also discussed whether it makes sense for Christians to think of Muslims as “worshipping a different God”, or whether it makes more sense to acknowledge that the belief in one supreme deity is something held in common, while we disagree about certain doctrines and practices. Over the coming weeks we’ll be thinking more about the subject of the relationship between Christianity and other religions, and how Christians might/should view those religious traditions. In the mean time, I got them to take the flaming meteorite test.

Also related to the subject of agreement and disagreement, I recently finished reading Michael Bird and James Crossley’s book/conversation How Did Christianity Begin? It is a wonderful book and all authors’ contributions are valuable. I will mention (in a “pet peeve” moment) one complaint: Michael Bird really does muddle things in his treatment of the burial of Jesus. Not only do the Gospels’ presentations of the burial get run together, but so too do Crossan’s view that Jesus was probably not buried at all, and the view defended by Raymond Brown, Byron McCane, Craig Evans and myself, namely that Jesus may have been buried in a tomb reserved for criminals. Having said that, I learned a lot from the book and listening to all four contributors helped me reflect on my own views, biases, presuppositions, assumptions and methods.

Elsewhere around the blogosphere, Theological Scribbles offers (qualified) praise for evangelical pragmatism. Internet Monk has a reflection on God knowing us and recommends Love is an Orientation. Jim Getz will be hosting next month’s Biblical studies carnival, and promises it will be mostly harmless – so long and thanks for all the blogging! Hopefully Jim will include something by Michael Carden. Dr. Platypus asks if the blood of Christ can make you sick. John Hobbins discusses Rachel Elior’s contrarian thesis about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Drew Tatusko discusses affluence and religiosity (or lack thereof). I wonder as I wander…about the way Christians use “God is good”.

What’s New In Papyrology highlights the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents: Photographic Archive of Papyri in the Cairo Museum, which includes texts like the Gospel of Peter and 1 Enoch. Also, the latest issue of Oral Tradition is out. Deinde provides convenient assistance with SBL abbreviations.

Jorge Garcia (aka Hurley) saw the Star Trek premiere. I hope to see it once it is in theaters!

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  • T Crosthwaite

    You may find these articles on virgin birth of interest and coming from an unusual angle;=view&id;=14&Itemid;=26and, similarly TheologyWeb: Forum — General Theistics 101Thread — Does the Bible teach that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived? to click on arrow on the right which will take you to the last post.