The evangelical bubble cannot be sustained (part 1)

The evangelical bubble cannot be sustained (part 1) May 31, 2012

The following unrelated items are not unrelated:

1. Latebloomer, who writes at Past Tense, Present Progressive, tells a familiar story about being an inquisitive kid in the insular world of American fundamentalist Christianity:

I was in the middle of writing a homeschool high school essay called “Why I Believe What I Believe,” and one of my points was that the Bible was inspired. I wrote down something like this: “Written over ____ years by ___ authors in different countries and in several languages, the Bible amazingly has no contradictions.” Then, I grabbed our family encyclopedia to check exactly how many years and how many authors. True horror suddenly gripped me as I saw words on the page like “disputed author,” “written in the second century,” and “not settled until the fourth century …” My vision blurred; I slammed the encyclopedia shut.  Eventually, I calmed down enough to continue writing, having mentally explained away the data as yet one more humanistic attack on God’s obvious truth. But I never managed to feel really confident in my finished essay.

2. Ed Cyzewski highlights a little-discussed, but very real gap between seminary-educated clergy and the laypeople in their congregations. In seminary, he writes:

Instead of finding all of the answers, seminary revealed all of the dirty little secrets that pastors aren’t allowed to talk about because they’d lose their jobs if they brought any of it up with their congregations.

I confronted controversial topics like biblical authority, inerrancy, the problem of evil, the character of God, how salvation works, the historic views of hell, women in ministry, where we got the Bible from, and the list goes on. …

3. Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune reports how “Mormons confront ‘epidemic’ of online misinformation“:

A Mormon student surfs the Internet for a school assignment and discovers that Mormon founder Joseph Smith had multiple wives, even marrying a 14-year-old.

A returned Mormon missionary, preparing a Sunday school lesson, comes across a website alleging that the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from a novel.

Surprised by what they find so easily online, more and more Mormons are encountering crises of faith. Some even leave the fold and, feeling betrayed, join the ranks of Mormon opponents.

It’s a growing problem, acknowledges Marlin Jensen, the outgoing historian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it’s one Mormon leaders are working to confront.

… For those who discover unwelcome information about the church’s history online, [LDS scholar Richard] Bushman said, “the whole picture changes in a flash.” The best way to prevent this from happening, Bushman said, is to give Mormons “the whole story from the beginning.”

“If the disruptive facts are worked into the history Latter-day Saints learn as they grow up, they won’t be turned upside down when they come across something negative.”

4. J.R. Daniel Kirk writes about the “irreducible theological diversity” of the four New Testament Gospels. To pastors, he says:

If you don’t give your people a category for this kind of diverse Bible being the word of God, then you will create a false sense of connection between a supposedly uniform, univocal Bible and the Christian faith as such. So what happens when they go off to college and take a Bible class at State University? What happens when they get bored one Saturday and map out (or try, anyway) the last week of Jesus’ life in each of the four Gospels?

Uh oh.

That’s when they discover that the Bible isn’t what you led them to believe. And if that imagined Bible is necessary for believing what God has to say about Jesus and the Christian faith in general, then the latter are apt to crumble as well.

5. Thousands traveled to Maiden, N.C., on Sunday to protest preacher who called for concentration camps:

Thousands of people traveled Sunday to the Catawba County Justice Center for a chance to share their feelings about the controversial comments of Charles Worley. During a May sermon, the Maiden pastor told his congregation he advocated confining gay people inside an electrified fence.

… People traveled to the protest from many North Carolina cities, including Asheville, Gastonia and Greensboro. The protest also drew travelers from across state lines.

 

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