Last week, Scot Miller blogged about Robert Gagnon’s book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, which many readers of this blog are sure will convince Scot and me that we’re wrong about the gays. Here’s my summary of Scot’s posts. -TJ
Day One: Hermeneutics Is King
Scot made the Gadamerian move of proclaiming his prejudices up front. In other words, how one reads the Bible vis-á-vis homosexual practice has everything to do with hermeneutics, and hermeneutics has everything to do, according to Gadamer, with what prejudgements one brings to the task. Scot claims his, which is a great benefit to readers. Gagnon, alas, does not. Here’s Scot’s first prejudice:
First: Fidelity to the biblical message is important to me. I am a Christian, and how I understand God and salvation and sin and grace have been mediated to me through the Bible. I am interested in the Bible as a participant, not as a detached observer.
Day Two: Let’s Claim Some More Prejudices
In fact, Scot thinks that hermeneutical prejudices are so important — and I agree with him — that he spent another post explicating his. They are:
Second: I am aware that the Bible can be misread in dangerous ways.
Third: I am better trained as a philosopher than I am a biblical scholar.
If you don’t see what’s coming, it’s this: Scot claims his prejudices, Gagnon does not. Thus, readers can read Scot’s posts with these in mind, and they can judge his conclusions with this knowledge. Gagnon’s entire posture in his tome is one of absolute certainty — he writes as though he is capable of complete objectivity. He objectively looks at the evidence in the Bible, and objectively determines that homosexual practice is definitively rejected.
But, of course, Gagnon is not objective. As Scot makes clear in his later posts, Gagnon’s blindness to his own prejudices is the fatal flaw in his book. He bends all evidence — even scientific evidence — to his pre-determined conclusions.
Day Three: Gagnon Is Not an Inerrantist
Scot expresses appreciation for Gagnon’s biblical hermeneutic. Gagnon doesn’t, for instance, think that the Pentateuch was written by Moses. He acknowledges deutero-Pauline authorship of some epistles. In the end, Scot has a beneficent conclusion:
Roasting the Passover eggs as I post this. From today’s StarTribune:
Edina pastor and author Tony Jones, a theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch church in Minneapolis, plans to attend a Seder with his family at the home of Rabbi Joseph Edelheit on Saturday. Jones met Edelheit in the Nashville airport, struck up a conversation and became “fast friends,” he said.
“I think the ecumenical and interfaith movements of the late 20th century were great,” Jones said. “But they were almost always at a very high level, a bishop talking to a rabbi talking to a seminary professor. I think for Gen Xers and younger, we’re probably more likely to just reach out and make those connections on our own with our neighbors or our co-workers rather than because our bishop or pastor or priest tells us, ‘Hey, we’re having an official interfaith dialogue between the rabbi and the seminary professor.’
“The fact is, we live in a more pluralistic society,” he said. “Jews and Muslims and Hindus and atheists live on the same street with me, the Christian. Multiple religions has become the very fabric of society we live in.”
Christians have long held an interest in Passover because the events of Easter — Jesus’ death and resurrection — happened during the Passover festival when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.
Read the rest of the article: A shared Seder that nourishes connections | StarTribune.com.
This week, as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter, we’ve have a post every morning about the atonement. And I’ve curated streams on Storify and Tumbler, both tracking atonement. You can read all of the posts, and my past posts on this topic, here.
Before I conclude, let me express my thanks. This blog has picked up many new readers over the past month, as I’ve written my way through my thoughts on the atonement. I welcome you here, and I appreciate your comments (and tweets, FB posts, and blog posts). I also appreciate the favorable reviews of my ebook, A Better Atonement. Some of that book appeared originally on this blog, and some of it is exclusive to the book. This, my concluding post on the topic (for now), is not in the book.
Some have wondered why I am consumed with this topic. My brothers and sisters more liberal than I state that they figured this out long ago, and that I just making too much of Jesus’ death. One, John Vest, writes,
I titled this post “Ockham’s Atonement” not because William of Ockham had a theory of the atonement (that I’m aware of). Rather, I’m suggesting an approach to Jesus’ death that applies Ockham’s Razor: a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one. Jesus died because he was executed by the powers he threatened. To suggest anything else is to overlay this fact of history with unnecessary theological speculation.