Smart people saying smart things

Smart people saying smart things June 5, 2012

Ari Kohen: On religious tenets and bigotry

Their argument rests on the presumption that religious people are morally serious and, as such, they reflect on the tenets of their faiths before coming to their conclusions about matters like same-sex marriage.

That’s all well and good, if it’s true. But it doesn’t explain why we shouldn’t think of it as bigotry. That someone believes something to be true and arrives at his or her belief in a serious manner doesn’t exempt him or her from being challenged on that belief, especially when that belief might impact the lives of others.

… Religions aren’t monolithic; if people really are involved in deep spiritual reflection on the matter of homosexuality, then they will surely be able to find an interpretation of their religious texts that allows for the kind of evolution that President Obama described. This doesn’t mean I’m not serious about practicing Judaism; it means I’m serious about finding a way to reconcile my belief in the teachings of Judaism with my belief that people should be treated equally. But, obviously, one must actually have both of these beliefs.

What do we call someone who either fails to consider the alternative teaching of his or her religion or rejects that teaching because it doesn’t lead to continued condemnation of gays and lesbians, someone — in other words — who doesn’t actually have both a religious belief and a belief in equality?

Peter Enns: “Would Paul Have Made a Good Evangelical?

Paul didn’t treat the Bible the way mainstream Evangelicalism says you need to.

The way Paul handled his Bible–what we call the Old Testament – would keep him off the short list for openings to teach Bible in many Evangelical seminaries and Christian colleges. Heck, John Piper, John MacArthur, and R. C. Sproul probably wouldn’t let Paul lead a home Bible study, at least not without supervision.

Here is the main reason why:

For Evangelicals, the Old Testament leads to the Gospel story. For Paul, the Old Testament is transformed by the Gospel.

For Evangelicals, the Old Testament, read pretty much at face value, anticipates Jesus. For Paul, the Old Testament is reshaped in order to conform to Jesus.

For Evangelicals, the Bible is God’s final authority. For Paul, Jesus is the final authority to which the Bible must bend.

President Barack Obama: “Remarks by the President at the Joplin High School Commencement

But here in Joplin, you’ve also learned that we have the power to grow from these experiences. We can define our lives not by what happens to us, but by how we respond. We can choose to carry on. We can choose to make a difference in the world. And in doing so, we can make true what’s written in Scripture -– that “tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.”

… Now, just as you’ve learned the goodness of people, you’ve also learned the power of community.  And you’ve heard from some of the other speakers how powerful that is. And as you take on the roles of co-worker and business owner — neighbor, citizen — you’ll encounter all kinds of divisions between groups, divisions of race and religion and ideology. You’ll meet people who like to disagree just for the sake of being disagreeable. You’ll meet people who prefer to play up their differences instead of focusing on what they have in common, where they can cooperate.

But you’re from Joplin. So you will always know that it’s always possible for a community to come together when it matters most.


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