December 13, 2018

Escaping the Wilderness – Why have I changed my theological positions?

As I have been exiting the “Evangelical Wilderness”, I have been taking stock of where I fit with some of my theological beliefs. Some of the areas where there is variance between what I believe and what others believe are in the table below. I am solidly in the right hand column in all of these topics.

Category
Bible Inerrant Inspired
Theological Framework Calvinism Arminianism
Holy Spirit Cessationists Charismatic
Origins Creationism Theistic Evolution
Gender Roles Complementarian Egalitarian
Worship Style Liturgical Extemporaneous

I didn’t always used to be in the right hand column. In fact, the church that I grew up in would have been in the left hand column for five of the six items. It hit me earlier this week that there is a pattern here. The two columns can largely be classified by two words “Orderly” versus “Flexible”. (There may be better synonyms, feel free come up with better categorizations.)

Let’s go through the list and see how they fit this classification.

Inerrancy vs. Inspiration

Granted advocates of Inerrancy also hold to Inspiration. Often they will use the phrase “Plenary Verbal Inspiration”, meaning that the inspiration is fully authoritative, and inspired right down to the choice of words that are chosen. I hold to a view of inspiration that is considerably less strict than that, that God used very human vessels to convey his thoughts, and that these human vessels did not feel at all constrained to shape the words they heard to fit their audience. That is why we see Matthew talking about the “kingdom of Heaven”, while Mark uses the expression “kingdom of God”. Their concern was relaying the message in a way that their hearers could understand and process. As we read through the Gospels I could point out many examples of this.

Calvinism vs. Arminianism

One is rooted in God’s unchanging character and his sovereignty, the other in the response of Human beings.

Cessationist vs. Charismatic

One says that the Holy Spirit no longer gifts people in “charismatic” ways. The other says that that is putting God in a box, and that God can and does choose to gift his people in different ways.

Creationism vs. Theistic Evolution

The first says that all species on this earth were created by God as they exist now during three specific days of a seven day period (Days 3, 5, and 6). The second says that God created life and that that life has constantly evolved and changed over roughly four billion years.

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism

The first points back to created order and that man was created head of the family. The second points to giftedness, and that God may choose to gift people in different ways and that they should serve according to their giftedness.

Finally,

Liturgical vs. Extemporaneous

The former points to a set order that is to be followed in a cycle with set scripture readings and prayers. The latter looks to variation in worship, though to be honest Extemporaneous is rarely done well and ends up looking like a cheap version of Liturgical. Michael Spencer wrote a whole series on this.

Summary Thoughts

Here is what hit me earlier this week. The differences can be summed up in two letters. “J” and “P”. You may recognize them as the final letters in the Myers Briggs personality type indicator. While Myers Briggs has been somewhat discounted, it got me wondering. Have my theological choices been largely been a product of my personality or personal preferences. Is it just coincidence that many denominations are largely in one column or the other.

Then Wednesday’s Post came along with this humdinger.

Haidt (along with Richard Beck) have convinced me that when we take a stand for “truth” or “morality,” we are primarily revealing deep, fundamental visceral and emotional feelings and then using rational arguments to justify our “righteous” position. Furthermore, those who are on the more “liberal” end of the spectrum react intuitively to different things than those on the “conservative” end. (Chaplain Mike)

Christiane provided us with this amazing quote, and a translation for those who do not come from “la belle province” or “le beau pays”

Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connait point.

The heart has its reasons of which the mind knows nothing.
(Blaise Pascal)

Interpreting this for myself, it makes me wonder if most of my reasons for the theological changes I have made are because of the way I am wired. If I had been wired differently maybe I would have been quite happy to stay in the church of my youth. Conversely, perhaps those who are raised in traditions like the one I am currently in, and who crave certainty in their innermost being end up in those churches that promise more of that. And perhaps there are those who find they do not fit, and chose to chuck the whole church thing altogether.

I added one other row as I was finishing writing this post.

I will call the category “Overarching Guide” for lack of a better word.

Overarching Guide Truth Grace

 

Is it no wonder that I say “I like to err on the side of Grace”?

As usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Comments

  1. Wayne Essel says:

    What comes to mind as I read this (and I did read and enjoy the Wednesday post), is the difference between “using truth” and “seeking truth”. The truth sets us free. And seeking truth is, I believe, one of our major tasks. It is separating ego from awareness. It is learning to know and love God more and being available to bring the kingdom. It is learning to be gracious. It is the difference between “being right” and “right being”. And along with all that, to be happy, content whenever possible isn’t a bad thing.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It is the difference between “being right” and “right being”.

      “For in the Devil’s theology, the most important thing is to Be Absolutely Right, and prove everyone else to be Absolutely Wrong.”
      — Thomas Merton, “Moral Theology of the Devil”

      • stickmanonymous says:

        The greatest human failing is preferring to be right than to be effective.
        – Stephen Fry

  2. Iain Lovejoy says:

    I am not sure “worship style” fits the general pattern – while the other 5 generally go together, worship style can be liturgical or informal whatever the theology, in my experience.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      Also, the “cycle with set scripture readings,” i.e. the lectionary, is not inherent in liturgical worship (though I think it a very good idea).

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Agree, no sure about that one in the matrix.

      I prefer Liturgical if only because it present silly endless debates about how to do worship. I never want to be in one of those conversations ever again. “This is how it is done here, the end. Next topic” seems the perfect wisdom in regards to worship “style”. Oh, the hours, the hours, lost!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I find established Liturgy provides Structure.

        You no longer waste time and energy Reinventing the Wheel over and over and over; like an Operating System taking care of the background routine so you have time to actually do Apps.

    • Michael Bell says:

      I think my point was that my worship style preference is very much a product of my personality as well. I see it in other areas of my life. When hiking or canoeing my preference is for places that I haven’t been before. As a computer programmer my preference is for new experiences, rather than security.

      • Hello Michael Bell,
        I was thinking about your comments regarding being ‘hard-wired’, and your comment about preferences as a product of personality, and what came to mind is a quote from Emerson, this:

        ” The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.”

        if this quote seems a bit cryptic, the rest of Emerson’s ‘Self-Reliance’ is equally a bit ponderous being from another century, another generation. But he does encourage us to be ‘individuals’ in the sense that we are creatures who have something to over that IS ‘new in nature’ as individuals, and we need not walk away from that distinctive individuality in order to ‘conform’ or ‘belong’; that if we did walk away, we might betray ‘who we really are’ within the universe of collective human diversity.
        Emerson’s a bit deep, but I realized a long time ago that what we each may have that is ‘different’ from all others may not be the ‘enemy’ after all; that it might be something we need to ‘share’ rather than to hide away, that it might make some contribution to the whole rather than be seen by ourselves as a mark to be erased forever as insignificant and meaningless. . . .

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        That makes sense.

    • In terms of worship styles, in my mind “liturgical” goes hand in hand with “sacramental” and “mystical,” whereas “extemporaneous” worship tends to be sermon-centered (instead of eucharist-centered) and intellectual. So I would’ve actually put “liturgical” on the “P” end of the spectrum. (Of course, it’s quite possible that the churches I’ve experienced are very different from the ones you’re thinking of!)

      • Some forms of “non-liturgical” worship are very much emotionally-based, however long the sermon may be. No one remembers the sermons, but people very much remember the heady, oxygen-deprived high of singing the Jesus praises over again and again; they remember the state of ecstasy that the worship team leads them to week after week. Maybe the long sermons are just a pseudo-intellectual cover-up for a kind of orgiastic emotional frenzy that is really the draw.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Maybe the long sermons are just a pseudo-intellectual cover-up for a kind of orgiastic emotional frenzy that is really the draw.

          That sounds like the 1943 OSS Freudian analysis of a Nuremberg Rally (which foreign eyewitnesses DID describe as “a Revival Meeting”).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I think your definition of “Extemporaneous” overlaps with “Calvin” (not the kid with the tiger). Sermon-centered worship can be just as strict a Liturgy as Tridentine High Mass, with overtones of Six Hours of “Thoughts of Comrade Maximum Leader” in the pulpit. It seems to correlate with YRR-style abusive splinter church behavior.

  3. Yes, I have long maintained that personality largely determines theology. It’s not something we like to contemplate though, makes us feel a bit determinist (just when we were in recovery from Calvinism as well!)

    There are fundamentalists being born all the time 🙂

    • Christiane says:

      Hello Ben S,

      I am concerned that we all do not have the same ‘definition’ of ‘fundamentalism’ and that leads to problems with understanding one another. I learned this from Senecagriggs who responded by my use of the term: ‘fundamentalist-evanglicals in a recent post. And it makes sense that if we mean different things by a word, we will not fully be able to comprehend what the other person’s meaning is, and no one wins in that case.

      I am open to learning more about how some people interpret ‘fundamentalism’ in different ways,
      as the only way I now see it is in the negative . . . . probably because examples of run-away patriarchal misogyny, examples of the severe application of ‘not sparing the rod’ when it comes to the Pearls’ advocacy of hitting infants and toddlers with ‘switches’, some cases ending in the deaths of children from long-term severe beatings by their ‘christian’ parents . . . .

      I see fundamentalism in terms of ‘control’ and the abuse of power at the present time.
      If there is another side of the ‘fundamentalism’ coin, I need to find out about it.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Has anyone checked out the correlation between political Trumpism and 1) Fundamentalism (as Christiane defines it above) and/or 2) the TRVTH side of the “Overarching Guide”?

        Just from anecdotal observations, it seems to be one-to-one or close as makes no difference.

        • Christiane says:

          Hello Headless,
          no, I haven’t done any statistical ‘correlations’ between Trumpism and the kind of ‘fundamentalism’ I defined, no.

          But I did think about a story in sacred Scripture about a poor man who had a lamb he loved dearly like his own child, and a rich young ruler came along and took the poor man’s lamb away from him and killed it and served it for a feast . . . .

          and THEN I think about the poor refugee man whose only son was taken away from him at the border, and the man was jailed and was so distraught about losing his child that he hung himself . . . .

          when I heard about the poor man whose heart was broken when they took his only son from him, I thought about that story in Scripture . . . . it’s in 2 Samuel, Chapter 12 where Nathan was sent to counsel King David who did not understand his own cruelty in wronging Bathsheba’s husband until David heard that story from Nathan, this:

          ” . . . the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms and was like a daughter to him. 4Now a traveler came to the rich man, who refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.” 5David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan: “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!…”

          I’m sure at some point future historians will have a field day commenting on Trump and Trumpism, but I think it was commented on long ago by a prophet named Nathan sent by God to teach King David about the great inhumanity of thoughtless injustice to a poor man

          we could use some Nathans today, but all the King’s evangelical ministers we have to counsel the King kept silent when the border children and their parents suffered . . . . it would have been a Christian kindness for someone to speak to Trump, but no one came to help him understand
          . . . . so it was left to the women of our country who remembered and became politically active and won and now we have a ‘pink wave’ in the House of Representatives, and these women will see to it that the King is counseled against inhumanity and injustice finally . . . . they will help him understand when no one else dared

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            we could use some Nathans today, but all the King’s evangelical ministers we have to counsel the King kept silent when the border children and their parents suffered .

            They all want to be THE Court Favorite du Jour who gets to hand the King his socks when he dresses in the morning.

    • Iain Lovejoy says:

      Personality changes too over time.
      I don’t see that it is at all surprising that theology is to a great extent determined by personality. None of the things we speculate and argue about are proven beyond doubt on either side (or we wouldn’t be arguing) and what we believe comes down to an overall subjective impression what we believe most likely or plausible or to fit in with our overall impression of how the world and God are. This will naturally correspond in with our overall approach, thoughts and feelings about everything else.

      • Christiane says:

        what about us ‘eclectic’ types ?

        I am at home and at peace in the Catholic liturgy, yes;
        but I hear the beauty and form of the old ‘shape-note’ singing from the Appalachians, and I am at home with that too, it makes my heart sing . . . . . and is there any Christian here who would not be moved by the writings of the Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer? And take a look at the work of Southern Baptist Wade Burleson over at Istoria Ministries blog where he and his Church are helping minister to men and women who have been incarcerated. . . . can we not take hope from this also?

        comes a time when ‘one’ style begins to open us to other ‘styles’ of worship, as long as the focus of all of these is Christ the Lord . . . so maybe ‘different’ styles are reflections from the same Light? I think they well might be.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STtz7ZhEC6U

        • I used to blog in a site called Eclectic Christian. So I deeply appreciate where you are coming from here.

  4. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    “””Interpreting this for myself, it makes me wonder if most of my reasons for the theological changes I have made are because of the way I am wired. “””

    There is a great deal of truth here; and it is both liberating and frightening.

    I think it is not only wiring, but position as well. In hindsight so many of my positions changed as my position changed.

    When I was young I was rather hapless [not one of those people born-with-a-plan], in a sad dying place, and I am not a particularly exceptional specimen of the human kind. With such a position comes anxiety, and order is a balm to the anxious. The above left hand column had clear rules and made clear promises.

    Yet I ascended the socioeconomic ladder their voices became ever more distant; somehow they had less and less to say to me. I moved past the phase of life where the Pelvic Obsession was to some degree concomitant to my own obsessions. Those who claimed a calling and a prophetic voice, so quick to chastise the language of the plumber or the length of the girl’s skirt . . . among the powerful they are conspicuously silent, and in the home of the real-estate developer they teeter on the verge of obsequiousness.

    And I met first-hand those people they are certain are monsters, but who are beautiful generous human beings, whose ideas are careful and nuanced – not the simple ideologues the left hand column portrays them as. A contrast too stark to be swept under the great rug of “common grace”.

    Once the Authority of the champions of the left hand column fractures, moving to the positions of the right hand column is nearly automatic. Being in the right hand column is easier, and I don’t see what in the left hand column is worth the fight.

    Some of my movement was Intellectual, but more I think in the beginning of the process than in the actual movement, with no change in circumstance I possibly could have remained as a grumpy contrarian within the left column [there is no shortage of those].

  5. Regarding what you said about our making choices, psychologists would generally agree that we are much more ‘subject to’ than ‘in charge of’ our thinking. We are subconscious or unconscious much of the time regarding quite substantial movements within our lives. Awake oh sleeper! Arise and shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is upon you. Funny that scripture has to proclaim that to us. The glory of the Lord would seem to be apparent but apparently not.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “We are subconscious or unconscious much of the time regarding quite substantial movements within our lives.”

      After years have accumulated, one begins to look back and become aware of these movements. Some are quite astonishing to us, such as an almost total shift in substantial areas.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > “We are unconscious….”

        Over time I’ve come to think of that “unconscious” as just as much me as the not-unconscious part; it is still making decisions, but often more efficiently, without having to bother with words.

  6. Roberto Effo
    How are you doing today?

    • Home and seem to be doing fine. Not much pain; have avoided using the opiod (since when did the word opiate become outdated, and why?) prescribed for pain. Much stiffness, but then I’m still wearing a foot to thigh compression bandage; and some extensive bruising along a five inch surgical incision just below the groin and above the stocking. I know, TMI, but it comes with being Italian! We like to discuss the gross stuff! Lol!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’ve been prescribed synthetic opiates twice; once after abdominal surgery and once after breaking my wrist. In both cases, I didn’t want to do the opiates unless absolutely necessary and ended up needing nothing more than extra-strength Ibuprofin. (Though in the first case, I was given natural opiates — morphine, i.e. concentrated “Milk of Poppy” — in the hospital without problems.)

        • In the recovery room they gave me both oxycodin and fentanyl. They released me from the hospital with a prescription for oxycodin filled in the hospital pharmacy, but I’ve only used two doses of that, the last one last night. They gave me an interesting little bag for the destruction and disposal of any left other oxycodin; insert medication, add water, close and shake. Then you can dispose of it, without risk of it falling into the wrong hands, and with minimal damage to the environment.

      • Glad the sense of humor is intact. I have no problem with the Italian way. Good news!

      • I’m thankful it went well.

  7. In my own life I’ve found that I lean toward the “Judging” end of the Meyers Briggs spectrum at times when I feel threatened, insecure, sad, frustrated, etc., and I tend toward the “Perceiving” end when I’m feeling content, confident, etc. Often, insisting on order in my life (e.g. being obsessively tidy) is a reaction to feeling like I don’t have control. So, I wonder if maybe the shift you’ve experienced is not just because your “personality” has changed, but because your life circumstances or outlook on life has changed.

    That’s actually a general pattern in the conservative vs. progressive spectrum: conservatives tend to be much more afraid (of minorities, of new ideas, of random violence, etc.) and are therefore drawn to ways of trying to exert control or dominance over others (gun ownership, complementarianism, white supremacy, etc.).

    • Michael Bell says:

      I believe the shift occurred because I was raised in a church that didn’t fit my personality. Hence when I had the opportunity to start looking for myself I naturally gravitated towards churches and theologies that were a better fit. My personality didn’t change, but my ability to change circumstances did when I reached adulthood. Most of my theological changes occurred between ages 23 and 33, over 20 years ago, which largely matches my area of theological independence from my parents.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      “””Often, insisting on order in my life (e.g. being obsessively tidy) is a reaction to feeling like I don’t have control. “””

      This, that’s what I talk about above [my comment] in terms of “anxiety”.

    • Michael Z,

      that may have been your experience with conservatives, and it accounts for some of my experience as well. However, it doesn’t account for people like David Brooks, Rod Dreher and a host of others. I myself am “conservative” on some issues, and also realize the futility of trying to force anybody to do anything, not to mention the unChrist-likeness of such a move.

      In addition, J. Haidt, quoted here this week, has pretty clearly shown that conservatives in general are able to understand others’ points of view better than liberals in general, because conservatives draw on more ethical categories than liberals do as they are making judgments. That doesn’t mean conservatives are RIGHT – it just means that there’s a recognizable – and quantifiable – difference.

      Please don’t paint with such a broad brush.

      Dana

      • I consider the categorizations of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator itself to be painted with just such a broad brush. Oh, minor caveats are made by it to the idea of a continuum between types, but they are ad hoc insertions to sidestep accusations of being overly simplistic.

      • Maybe “conservative” was the wrong word to use there. What I was trying to draw a distinction between is people who tend to be attracted to things like complementarianism or white supremacy or fear of immigrants or gun worship – all of which are fear-based – versus those who oppose those ideologies. That’s obviously very different from traditional conservatism (small government, traditional sexual ethics, etc), but at least here in the US the Trump movement makes it very hard not to conflate the two.

        I’m not sure Haidt’s arguments really even apply to Trump-style conservatism; in the Trump era, for example, it’s the “conservatives” who are excusing and celebrating sexual impurity and the “liberals” who are speaking out against it. What’s going on with Trump is something very different from what Republicanism or conservative Christianity have looked like in the past (at least in public).

        • I’ll concede the point about Trump conservatives. But remember, the “hardcore” ones aren’t the majority.

          D.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Often, insisting on order in my life (e.g. being obsessively tidy) is a reaction to feeling like I don’t have control.

      In extreme cases, this surfaces as “displacement behavior”, i.e. when you’re completely overwhelmed by things you cannot control, you tunnel-vision onto something you CAN control and micromanage it to death 24/7.

      That’s actually a general pattern in the conservative vs. progressive spectrum: conservatives tend to be much more afraid (of minorities, of new ideas, of random violence, etc.) and are therefore drawn to ways of trying to exert control or dominance over others (gun ownership, complementarianism, white supremacy, etc.).

      I see fear on both ends of the spectrum, just with very different ways of exerting dominance. The progressive end seems to be drawn to more indirect and passive-aggressive ways (like passing laws, lawsuits, media propaganda, etc). But in both, the “I’m Absolutely Right and YOU’RE WRONG!” mentality is identical.

      • Pellicano Solitudinis says:

        “… you tunnel-vision onto something you CAN control and micromanage it to death 24/7” – quite literally, in the case of disorders like anorexia.

  8. I’ve come to believe we should err on the side of grace, too. Love your post, love your matrix. It helps me to understand, and to perhaps better articulate, why I view of God, Christ and the Bible the way that I do.

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Just my first impressions of the list:

    Inerrancy vs. Inspiration
    Granted advocates of Inerrancy also hold to Inspiration. Often they will use the phrase “Plenary Verbal Inspiration”, meaning that the inspiration is fully authoritative, and inspired right down to the choice of words that are chosen.

    Until I left the bubble, I NEVER heard anything other than Verbal Plenary Inspiration(TM), i.e. Automatic Writing dictated Word-for-Word. Not that much different from Ramtha, Seth Speaks, Oahspe, or Book of Thelema except for the channeled entity giving the dictation.

    Cessationist vs. Charismatic

    Defined by the extremists on both sides; “Cessationist” means there are no more miracles, only SCRIPTURE and Doctrine; “Charismatic” means something like Voudun Loa riding their horses into Crazyland (type example — Tatted Todd of Lakeland, his pet angel Emma, and his sidekick Shaking Stacy).

    Creationism vs. Theistic Evolution

    The preponderance of physical evidence is on the side of Old Earth and Evolution. However, in the Evangelical Bubble YEC is Salvation-level Dogma Ex Cathedra, word-for-word from the lips of God. During my time in-country, I never heard anything else. Jack Chick’s “Big Daddy?” was the pre-Ken Ham type example.

    Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism

    “Complementarianism” has become a code word for Male Supremacist by Divine Right, i.e. “I have a penis! I get to hold the whip! Woman, Submit! GOD SAITH!”

    Liturgical vs. Extemporaneous

    I ended up in a Western-Rite Liturgical church because Liturgy provides Structure. “Extemporaneous” all too often gets firewalled into Cro-Magnon Anarchy where Anything Goes as long at it’s claimed to be From God (usually through the dominant personality — cult leader in all but title — of the extemporaneous group).

    In all the above list dyads (just like today’s American politics), all you have is the extremes of each, True Believers trying to be More X-Treme Than Thou. All-or-Nothing Package Deals down each side, with all the rest of us trapped in the middle.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Cessationist vs. Charismatic

      This is one category where I really feel: Do I have to pick? Both “sides” seem too boiler-plate, or to too easily discard discernment for the purpose of simplicity.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        This is one category where I really feel: Do I have to pick?

        Just like the 2016 elections…

    • Patriciamc says:

      Hey HUG. I’m on the right side of the table too except for liturgy. I go to an Anglican church, and I love the sacredness of the liturgy. My old church was contemporary, and the focus was on entertainment (and young!), but here, the focus is on the sacredness of God and our worship of him.

  10. Michael Bell says:

    Some great comments so far! Really appreciate the feedback.

  11. Finn wrote, “..so many of my positions changed as my position changed.”

    This is what happened with me, too. Once I started to challenge the theology and anthropological views I had received as an Evangelical, a domino fell. My position changed. It took a while for the next one to fall, and the next…. but after a while, they fell one after the other, and rather quickly (comparatively – over about 5-6 years).

    It’s still hard for me to sort out the timeline for most of those falling dominoes, because things happened so fast.

    Dana

  12. Michael Bell,

    a small note about “kingdom of Heaven”.

    Matthew’s Gospel is aimed at Jews. Pious Jews in Jesus’ day didn’t say or write “God”, just like today; they used euphemisms. One of those was “heaven” – like we say, “Heaven forfend!” or “Good heavens!” when we are actually invoking the Deity – mildly, in those examples. So both Matthew and Mark are actually saying the same thing. Mark is more direct because his Gospel is aimed pretty much at anyone who will listen, not necessarily only Jews.

    In addition, “heaven and earth” was a shorthand way to say “all of reality – that which we do not see and that which is visible to us, as one entity”. It is not a differentiation of this planet from some other-dimensional “place” of reward after we die. The Jews didn’t think that way.

    Credit to N.T. Wright and Dallas Willard.

    Dana

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      In addition, “heaven and earth” was a shorthand way to say “all of reality – that which we do not see and that which is visible to us, as one entity”.

      In my church’s English version of the Nicene Creed, it’s expressed in the phrase “all that is seen an unseen”.

      And JMJ/Christian Monist put it as “The dividing line is between Uncreated and created, not natural and supernatural or physical and spiritual”.

  13. Borrowing from Fr. Freeman and many other writers

    Old me -> two-storey universe (earth/heaven, natural/supernatural, reason/faith)
    New Me-.> single storey (no distinction)

    After that, all the evangelical distinctions mentioned above are meaningless.

  14. Burro (Mule) says:

    I have never made a decision in my life that wasn’t at the root an aesthetic one. Thus, I remain a
    – complementarian Sex is one of the deepest mysteries there is, and I find the stereotypes more true than not, and beautiful as well. manly men and womanly women move me at a level that androgynes will never touch. And I don’t believe in ‘giftedness’ anyway. A pox upon the whole concept.
    – a theistic evolutionary of a mythopoetic bent What a beautiful universe Mike the G painted for us yesterday.
    – a non-cessationist ‘Charismatic’ is too egalitarian a word, as if all of us could become Elder Paisios by the laying on of hands. The spiritual life is by nature both aristocratic and republican)
    – liturgical. We are not the stewards of Creation, we are its priests. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are performing a liturgy, every moment.
    – inerrantist . The Scriptures cannot be broken. If you think this conflicts with #2 you aren’t inerrantist enough

    Truth and Grace are never, ever opposed. All is Grace, especially Truth. I think what you wanted was a contrast between akribia “strictness”, and “economia”, the exercise of the Lesbian Rule.

    We should have had a very short Bible (ending at Genesis 3:6) otherwise.

    • Mule, as I read back over your comments it looks like we were hitting some of the same points.

      I stayed away from the topic of complementarianism, but I’ll say that it’s a hijacked term that really means “patriarchy” these days.

      I might agree with you that true complementarianism (if it exists) is true and beautiful, but must we insist that women not have a voice in church, nor any authority? Why not a celebration of our God-given differences without all the oppression and legalism? That would no longer be patriarchy, but could it still be complementarianism?
      .

  15. Mike,thanks for the chart (yet another Mike Bell chart!). I have a few comments.

    1. Michael Spencer had a few things to say about inerrancy, easily googleable. According to the Chicago statement, said Michael, “Inerrancy is asserted for the original autographs. We don’t have them.” “Plus,” said Michael, “I don’t like to be bullied. I get a rash.”

    2. Should you have used the term “continuationist” instead of “charismatic?” Those of us who aren’t quite charismatic but are in no way cessationist would have a home there.

    3. “Liturgical” and “Extemporaneous” seem flipped. Most of evangelicalism / fundamentalism that I know tries to be extemporaneous, and I agree with you that “Extemporaneous is rarely done well and ends up looking like a cheap version of Liturgical.” The Evang-Fundy crowd avoid liturgical because the Roman Catholics do it; and what’s worse, those liberal Episcopalians (in their rainbow vestments) do it too. So the evang-fundys insist that they’re non-liturgical, or “extemporaneous,” while achieving neither.

    4. Instead of Truth vs Grace, shouldn’t it be “Law” vs Grace? I mean, Grace IS Truth, is it not? John 1:14? You may have had “certainty” in mind, as you mentioned elsewhere that some crave that stuff.

    All good otherwise. Keep up the good work.

  16. Very interesting article. Thank you, Mike. I became a believer as a result of the ministry of a Fundamental Baptist Church. I’ve always understood the word “fundamentalist” came from a group formed in the early 1900s, to offer an opposing view to modernism and liberalism in the church. They believed in certain fundamentals of the faith, i.e, the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, the substitutionary death of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and modern miracles. Here’s a good reference: https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-92/who-were-fundamentalists.html

    Anyway, I didn’t see any political comments or arguments in Mile’s article. Why do some of you folks have to get your licks in at Trump and conservatives? I just don’t get it! Must you politicize everything? It’s quite annoying!

    • Vinny, I knew that the 5 Fundamentals included miracles, but I didn’t realize it was “modern” miracles. According to that, a lot of today’s fundamentalists wouldn’t qualify believing in cessationism. This would include followers of John MacArthur, who can’t seem to keep himself out of the news.