On the “Nashville Statement”

On the “Nashville Statement” August 29, 2017

Loudly prominent anti-gay white evangelicals are anti-gay. That’s hardly big news, but there was apparently a press release or something about it to remind us all of that today. The group that voluntarily chose to call itself the “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” released a manifesto/declaration reiterating their belief that we must all listen to them and defer to them and bend the knee to them as the sole right and true arbiters of morality.

They would also like to remind everyone that they are inerrant and infallible and directly inspired by God as authoritative. This is what they refer to as a “high view.” They also claim to have a “high view of scripture,” but it’s not nearly as high a view as they have of themselves as it’s exclusive and authoritative interpreters.

Those are always the major themes of everything these folks declare or pronounce or manifest in their pompous public “statements.” The minor, subordinate matters addressed in such statements varies. In today’s case — something they call the “Nashville Statement,” Google it yourself — that lesser theme is that these anti-gay self-appointed arbiters of morality and biblical interpretation are, in case anyone was wondering, anti-gay.

Stop the presses.

(TL) Tony Perkins, seen here being embraced by white supremacists in the 1980s, is among the moral authorities endorsing the Nashville Statement.
(TL) Tony Perkins, seen here being embraced by white supremacists in the 1980s, is among the moral authorities endorsing the Nashville Statement.

For those keeping score, this is a group of white evangelicals tripling down on the precise theology that utterly failed them in the past. Twice.

It is a theological mistake, twice repudiated by history and in the process of being repudiated a third time.

This theological mistake of “biblical literalism” somehow still manages to frame itself as a “conservative” approach to the Bible and to theology. My contention is that there is nothing “conservative” about it. This was not the hermeneutics of the apostles, of the early church, of the Ante-Nicene fathers, of Augustine, or of the Reformers. It did not gain a foothold anywhere in the church until it arose among white Protestants in America as a defense of slavery.

This clumsy, proof-texting literalism is able to pose today as “conservative” because it has lingered here in America for centuries and theological mistakes — like politicians, ugly buildings, and prostitutes — “get respectable if they last long enough.” But just look at its record over the past 200 years of its ascendance among white American Protestants. It has been consistently, repeatedly, disastrously wrong.

We know this. We’ve seen this before and we’re seeing it again.

One, two, three strikes you’re out.

It is bewildering to think that anyone would turn to such awful creatures for moral guidance. It is far more bewildering that these silly, silly men expect us all to do so.

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