Shibboleths 2: Flattening People

When we get really serious about “standing for truth,” sometimes we wind up flattening people. I’d rather not flatten anyone, even for the sake of an important doctrine. And I don’t think that makes me a bad pastor. In fact, I think it makes me a better one.

Site Update: The Literate Pastor

I’m coming to realize that questioning is the easy part. It’s necessary, but not sufficient. We need to tear down our worn, tired, and too-easy answers. But to forego a disciplined commitment to building new and better answers makes us lazy at best, and cowardly at worst.

Dialogue With Eastern Orthodoxy, Pt. 2

Humans, even holy humans, make errors. We sort that out by using the “choir” of patristic voices. If a particular voice is out of tune on one or two notes, we relegate those notes, but not the whole singer, to the trash bin. It’s the music they make together, within the Tradition, that we recognize as authoritative.

Dialogue With Eastern Orthodoxy, Pt. 1

Eastern Orthodoxy doesn’t have the baggage of Protestantism, because it didn’t live through the medieval Catholic Church’s abuses of power. So because the Orthodox don’t have that trauma, that suspicion, they’re more able to recognize that the Church has a role in discerning matters of faith and practice, and that Scripture is the Church’s tool in that effort.

Jonah, Pt. 1: A Modest Proposal

Some Christians get really anxious about whether or not the fish story is historically true. They seem to think that if one questions the historicity of Jonah, one is attacking or discarding the Bible as a whole. The problem is, there’s lots of reason to question the historicity of Jonah. And it has nothing to do with the fish.

Deconstructing Deconstruction: Robot Gun-Car

When you deconstruct Paradise Lost or The Handmaid’s Tale or Howl, you don’t do it to undermine or dismiss them. You do it as an act of utmost respect, understanding that there are depths of meaning in the text that are worth digging for, even if it’s uncomfortable. The same is true for faith deconstruction.

Less Luther, More Babylon 3: Reforming the Reformers

Luther and Calvin did all their theology with a big, big piece of the puzzle missing. Now, we have that piece. Should we not expect that it should re-shape our theology a bit? Doesn’t it stand to reason that, if Luther and Calvin knew what we know, they themselves might have formulated faith differently?

First Principles: Start With the Naked Bible

I argue that the most intellectually defensible way of building our faith is to start with the naked Bible - unclothed by any a priori assumptions about how the text works, and what kind of book it is. We must give pride of place to the actual phenomena of the words of Scripture, instead of the inadequate constructs we use to describe Scripture.

Less Luther, More Babylon 2: Intellectual Viability

There is a Christianity that does not deny science or history, but is situated and rooted within them. A Christianity that doesn’t throw a sheet over scholarship, saying, “Move along, nothing to see here,” but that instead displays scholarship prominently and says, “This is an integral part of our faith.”

Jesus Ruins the Patriotic Parade

The symbol of Jesus’ reign would not be the flag or the tank. It would be the cross. Because his victory would be not through nationalistic dominance, but through self-giving love. Should his followers be any different?

Deconstructing the Plain Reading of Scripture

Here’s my point: the plain reading of the biblical text - the most faithful, the most conservative reading of the text - is achieved not by restricting oneself to the text, but by restricting oneself to the author’s intention. And Christianity needs to realize that in many cases, the author’s intent included going beyond the text.