Evangelical biblicism is a new(ish) thing

IllWind

The first-century disciples at Pentecost and in the generations that followed were not Bible Christians in anything like the way contemporary white evangelicals think of that term. They couldn’t have been for the very simple reason that the Bible did not yet exist. … I’m not talking about theology, but about technology. The Bible is a book. And in New Testament times, books hadn’t been invented yet. [Read more...]

Proverbs and fart jokes and other ancient wisdom literature

There's probably also a joke in here somewhere, which would push the oldest joke back another 20,000 years.

You have to read Proverbs with the other biblical “wisdom” books in mind. It’s part of a set and without the commentary and correction provided by those adjoining books, it can be misleading. Read Proverbs in isolation from them and you can wind up with exactly the sort of hollow Bildadism that the book of Job mocks, the Psalms mourn, and Ecclesiastes demolishes. [Read more...]

‘God hates shrimp’: Picking and choosing among abominations

PeterCraftJackson

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...]

‘God hates shrimp’: A case study

Screen shot 2014-11-08 at 5.20.22 PM

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...]

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

JackJesus

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...]

Indiana Jones, the Antichrist, and Hell

SpielbergBezalel

The stories in the text provide the basis for other stories about those stories, and details from those new stories seep back into the popular understanding as though they were part of the original. The revised and expanded original then provides the basis for even more new stories, and the cycle repeats itself. The text feeds into popular culture and popular culture, in turn, feeds back into the text, and after multiple repetitions of that cycle we lose the ability to distinguish one from the other. [Read more...]

‘Because of the angels’

"Because of the angels."

This verse seems, today, to be absurdly impenetrable — a biblical madlib in which any other noun could be substituted for “angels” with no loss or addition of meaning as far as we’re concerned. “A woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the otters.” Just as clear. [Read more...]

Qoheleth and the ‘Third Way’

Balance

We need other options if we want to escape from the miserable binaries that Qoheleth describes so well. But the language to describe such options has been co-opted by “Third Way” talk that advocates the unprincipled, obsequious “centrism” of a Joe Lieberman for President brochure. [Read more...]


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