‘The Big Four’ — ‘the package deal of Christianity’

‘The Big Four’ — ‘the package deal of Christianity’ June 11, 2012

Jonathan Dudley in Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics:

I learned a few things growing up as an evangelical Christian: that abortion is murder; homosexuality, sin; evolution, nonsense; and environmentalism, a farce. I learned to accept these ideas — the “big four” — as part of the package deal of Christianity. In some circles, I learned that my eternal salvation hinged on it. Those who denied them were outsiders, liberals, and legitimate targets for evangelism. If they didn’t change their minds after being “witnessed to,” they became legitimate targets for hell.

So let’s check in on each of the big four and the whole package deal.

Nynia Chance:Biblical Abortion: A Christian’s View

The War on Women has been especially effective in getting many to feel as though Christians need to march in lockstep against the idea of allowing abortions of any type to ever be legal, to the point of criminalizing miscarriage, itself. Those who try to conscript religious Christians into this war do so under the argument that the Bible itself demands such a prohibition.

Except that it doesn’t. The Bible never once specifically forbids abortions; it’s actually quite the contrary! Not only were methods of abortion well-known at the time, there’s times when the Bible states God commands that one take place. I’m going to walk through a few examples as illustrations.

Ari Kohen:How Religions Are Updated: Homosexuality and the Torah

The issue is that, even if they accept these things about homosexuality as true, they claim that there just isn’t anything to be done: the Torah says what the Torah says and there’s really no way to disagree with or to update it.

… This is where Conservative Judaism parts company from Orthodoxy, in that it respects tradition but allows for continued argumentation about and interpretaton of the Torah. There is, of course, some unfortunate slippage — not as many Conservative Jews observe the laws of kashrut or refrain from all work on Shabbat — but there’s also greater inclusivity. Because Orthodox Judaism changes so slowly (if at all), it runs the risk of complete ossification, which might not be so bad except that it allows those who adhere to it to avoid the difficult conversations that arise from changing times and changing understanding.

The Torah’s condemnation of homosexuality proceeds from an understanding of human sexuality that no longer holds much water. But the appeal above — the Torah says what the Torah says and there’s really no way to disagree with or to update it — allows Orthodox Jews to sidestep the whole debate about welcoming gays and lesbians, to either cling to a misunderstanding or to simply put the needs of their fellow human beings out of their minds. The most learned rabbis of old found such interesting ways to intepret the teachings of the Torah so that unpleasant edicts might be avoided; there’s very little reason why the most learned Orthodox rabbis of today couldn’t do the same.

Craig S. Keener:Is Young-Earth Creationism Biblical?

The human characters in Genesis 2 are called “Man” (the meaning of adam) and something like, “Life” (Eve). The trees bear not figs or dates, but “life” and “the knowledge of good and evil.” The narrative includes a talking serpent. Unlike the only other account of a talking animal in ancient Israelite literature (Balaam’s donkey), it reports no miracle as facilitating it. Apart from some Israelite parables, nowhere else in the Bible do we read anything like this: a talking serpent convinces Man and Life to pluck a fruit that is Knowledge. Not surprisingly, many biblical scholars, including evangelical biblical scholars, suspect some figurative language here.

National Climatic Data Center:U.S. Experiences Second Warmest May, Hottest Spring on Record

The nationally-averaged spring temperature of 57.1°F was 5.2°F above the long-term average. With the warmest March, third warmest April and second warmest May, Spring 2012 marked the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States.


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