A Church for Freaks?

Scott Paeth has been thinking about what kind of church he might fit. It is, he thinks, a Church for Freaks. He asks, “If I no longer feel at home among “normal” mainline Christians, and I can’t take self-identified evangelicals, where’s the church for the freaks?

He’s come up with three posts about what that church might look like, and I think that many readers of this blog will resonate:

Part I: A Church for Freaks

I am thinking more in terms of both the institutional and ritual structures that have become central to the mainline Christian denominations over the past decades and even centuries. Part of this is an objection to a particular kind of church bureaucracy, which is increasingly moribund and useless for the purpose of actually sustain the church as a community of believers. This is the case across mainline denominations. It’s not a specifically United Church of Christ problem, but exists among Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and others. Despite the differences in their organizational structures and ecclesiologies, these denominations have all managed to create and sustain a set of institutional prejudgices and prerogatives that seem to me to be increasingly damaging to the church.

Part II: Theology

[Read more…]

Bishop Al Mohler Strikes Again

Panel Discussion: Revisiting Inerrancy from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Baptists don’t have bishops, right?

That’s what I thought, having been reared in the related denomination of Congregationalism. Growing up, I was taught that we — congregationalists and baptists and others whose polity is considered “congregational” — were vehemently anti-hierarchical. Our tradition started because Henry VIII and the Anglicans had not differentiated themselves enough from Rome. We were, from our founding, anti-papist, anti-bishop.

In congregational polity, nothing is more sacred than individual hermeneutical authority. That is, every believe has the freedom to interpret the Bible, the freedom to follow the dictates of her or his conscience, the freedom to worship with fellow believers.

So it always surprises me when congregationalists or baptists act like bishops. In my book, The New Christians, I wrote,

[Read more…]

The Conservative Allure of the Pseudo-Intellectual

Dinesh D’Souza: From saint to pariah

Until now, I haven’t blogged about the Dinesh D’Souza kerfluffle at King’s College because it seemed a little internecine, even for this blog. But I’ve been following it closely because I’ve known of D’Souza since 1986.

That Fall I arrived at Dartmouth College, and I was randomly assigned to a dorm room in South Massachusetts Hall. South Mass was the last all-male dorm on campus — that lasted only another year — and, as such, it was a haven for the ultra-conservative males at Dartmouth. These were the upperclassmen who’d torn down the shanties on the campus green — shanties built in protest of Apartheid — the previous Spring. They refused to acknowledge that the “Dartmouth Indian” mascot had been retired years earlier — they plied freshmen with free Indian tee-shirts and led Indian war chants at athletic events. And they wrote for the Dartmouth Review, where D’Souza got his start.

D’Souza graduated in the Spring of 1983, but when I arrived in the Fall of 1986, his shadow loomed large, and in South Mass, his name was spoken with reverence.

So I’ve been interested in watching his rise and, over the last month, his fall. No one has covered this story better than David Sessions (who is one of my favorite writers). You can find David’s reporting on the matter at The Daily Beast/Newsweek. But you can read his opinions on the matter at Patrol Magazine (along with another of my favorite writers, Jonathan Fitzgerald).

At Patrol, David goes beyond recounting what happened to King’s College and how they were duped into hiring D’Souza. He offers some advice to conservative institutions who are enamored more of FOX News appearances than they are of curriculum vitae. And I think he’s spot on: [Read more…]

Is God’s Goodness Arbitrary? [Questions That Haunt]

Time for another installment of Questions That Haunt Christianity. This week, our question comes from Lisa, whom you can find at her blog and on Twitter. In fact, she’s already taken a stab at answering her own question on her blog.

[Read more…]