Clobber-texting isn’t a principled hermeneutic: A horrifying case study

You have heard it said that if a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, she shall become his wife; but I say unto you, screw that. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Get that rapist behind bars and keep him as far away from his victim as possible. Love is the fulfillment of the law. [Read more…]

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Welcome J.R. Daniel Kirk to Patheos

Theologian J.R. Daniel Kirk’s terrific Storied Theology blog is now part of the line-up on Patheos’ progressive Christian channel. Writing that sentence makes me smile. [Read more…]

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Come hear the music. Come join the dance.

Many others are out there, too, but they don’t share the older brother’s anger. They can hear the music and dancing inside and they want to go in to join the party. They really wish they could. But they’re convinced they’re not allowed to. They’re convinced the Bible says they’re not allowed to. [Read more…]

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J.R. Daniel Kirk on the heart of the gospel (This is not an Official Statement of a stance on an issue)

If the gospel is not allowed to be audacious, then how can it possibly be good news? Audacity — sheer, mind-boggling audacity — is a core characteristic of the gospel. If your idea of the gospel isn’t so audacious as to give you pause, then your idea of the gospel is far too small. [Read more…]

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‘God hates shrimp’: Picking and choosing among abominations

The key thing to notice when asking this question of white evangelicals in America is that they don’t usually try to answer it. They don’t respond with a hermeneutical argument for how to approach the Bible, but rather with a defense of their affirmation of particular commandments. Such non-answers don’t provide an explanation of the principles by which we can determine whether or not a biblical teaching ought to be regarded as binding. They offer, instead, after-the-fact, ad hoc rationalizations — attempts to defend our current practice by creating some retroactive explanation for them. I want to look here at three popular variations on this non-answer. [Read more…]

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‘God hates shrimp’: A case study

The function of that argument is purely internal. It’s not an attempt to persuade others. It’s not addressed to others. It’s a therapeutic, self-help affirmation addressed to themselves — a way of reassuring themselves that they’re not being as cruel and unfair as it sounds. This mantra of self-assurance always includes a denial of personal responsibility: “It’s not me. It’s the Bible. The Bible is making me say these cruel things.” [Read more…]

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‘God hates shrimp’ is a question. That question needs an answer.

If we are to be “Bible-believing” Christians — people for whom that scripture is, in any real way, authoritative or meaningful — then we have to have some principle or set of principles that allows us to distinguish between the various passages we are picking and choosing to be authoritative and those we are picking and choosing not to be. Otherwise, we’re just projecting our own preferences and prejudices into the text and then gleaning them back out of it through our self-serving, arbitrary selection of some prooftexts and our self-serving, arbitrary disregard for others. [Read more…]

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A radically un-radical, conservative call for ‘full acceptance of LGBT Christians in the church’

David Gushee’s “Changing Our Mind” calls for a church in which “the rules are the same” for all Christians — regardless of sexual orientation. That’s the radically un-radical core of his message. And maybe also the un-radically radical aspect of it. It doesn’t seek to amend or to overturn conservative Christian ideas about marriage and sexual ethics, only to expand them to apply equally to LGBT Christians as well. [Read more…]

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