November 17, 2019

Evolving Faith

Evolving Faith

Pete Enns had a recent post about the Evolving Faith Conference that he recently attended and spoke at.  The Evolving Faith Conference looks to me like a gathering of Progressive Christians.  See their website here and their speaker biographies here .  Now lately some of the more conservative Imonk commentators have tried to label Chaplain Mike and myself as progressives or even liberals.  It is simply not true, both CM and I have deep streaks of conservatism running through us.  We are creedal Christians who affirm the orthodox creeds and both of us have a deep and abiding respect and affection for the Scriptures. Up until a few years ago, I wouldn’t have paid the slightest attention to an Evolving Faith conference.

But thanks in large part to the writings of Michael Spencer, we have come to see the deep flaws in conservative evangelicalism as well as conservative politics.  We have realized that the “other side” has some valid points to make and some valid criticisms to level.  Does acknowledging the good points the other side makes now make you one of the others?  I don’t think so and I kind of resent the implication, or the outright accusation, that it does.

What resonated with me in Pete’s post was this:

I spoke at last year’s conference as well, and what has once again left a great impression on me is the raw pain that many, if not most, of the attendees live with.  That pain, to get right to the heart of it, was generated by their experiences in Evangelical and Fundamentalist spaces. I am not suggesting that Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians do little else but make the lives of others a living nightmare—it’s not so much individuals as it is the ecclesiastical systems within which Evangelicals and Fundamentalists live out their faith.  These systems in particular offer the seductive promise of doctrinal certainty, impervious to critique from outside and within. Questions that threaten these systems must remain unasked, or the repercussions are swift. Anyone who has experienced the wrath of these systems doesn’t need me to elaborate.

Now I write at the intersection of faith and science, issues that are very important to me, as both a scientist and a Christian. I have a strong interest in helping Christians accept and appreciate science without feeling they have to give up their faith.  But for that to happen, as the Evolving Faith blurb says, one must be willing to accept some changes in their thought process.  There has to be a willingness to re-examine previous belief structures. In other words, by default, accept some Progressive Christian ideas.  Pete Enns notes:

As one speaker mentioned (I forgot who, I should have taken notes), Evolving Faith exposes the lie that so-called progressive Christians (I really don’t like the term but that’s another blog post) are only too eager to leave Scripture and theology behind so they can run naked through the streets. That simply is not true. They are calling out the failings of systems that have too long simply equated themselves with Christianity undefiled and used Scripture as a weapon to make their case.

Now I don’t want to undertake a full defense of Pete Enns in this post.  He is certainly capable of defending himself.  Just see this critique of How the Bible Actually Works with Pete’s response to that critique. But my point is that just as Enns is often accused of not respecting Scripture, so am I.  Because I try to give bible-believing Christians a way forward to remain bible-believing without rejecting the tenets and provisional conclusions of modern science, I’m accused of being a progressive while I am only in agreement with; “calling out the failings of systems that have too long simply equated themselves with Christianity undefiled and used Scripture as a weapon to make their case.”  In regards to modern science and literal interpretations of the bible, I’m in agreement with this particular progressive view.  Other aspects of the progressive view… not so much.  On those aspects I’m more in line with Richard Beck’s views as expressed in his series on being a post-progressive.

I know some people take the pathway from fundamentalist to evangelical to post-evangelical to progressive to agnostic to atheist.  I’m not on that pathway.  From time to time I examine my faith, or some horrifying crisis appears that prompts that re-examination.  But after reviewing the reasons and feelings that prompted me to leave atheism, I still find them valid and persuasive, and I remain committed to following Jesus.

I also want to encourage others to follow Jesus.  I want them to have a robust faith that accepts the inspiration and authority of the scriptures handed to us by the believing church to reveal Jesus, but not the type of biblio-centrism for which Evangelicalism is rightly criticized. In my opinion, too many Evangelicals tend to walk that thin line between respect for Scripture and idolizing it.  I want them to engage their minds and reason to love and embrace science as the “other book” that reveals God’s glory in his creation without having to look to phoney-baloney pseudo-science interpretations of scripture that, in essence, deny reality and saddle the scriptures with a burden the writers never intended for them to bear.

Recent polls show 38% of Americans and 68% of Christians still believe that God created the earth less than 10,000 years ago.  So if you’ll pardon me… I’ve got work to do.

 

Comments

  1. “so-called progressive Christians (I really don’t like the term but that’s another blog post) are only too eager to leave Scripture and theology behind so they can run naked through the streets. That simply is not true.”

    I for one am totally NOT wanting to run naked through the streets. Even worse than getting arrested, I would get laughed at. 😉

  2. “I know some people take the pathway from fundamentalist to evangelical to post-evangelical to progressive to agnostic to atheist. I’m not on that pathway.”

    I sometimes wonder if I am. But every time the road turns in that direction, there’s a big, blood-stained Cross between me and the cliff’s edge.

    • Yes, it seems to me there are many pathways after post-evangelical rather than the one to atheism.

      • Absolutely. Many have turned to the mainstream church, many have become Dones but not atheists, many have become progressives who are clearly still Christians. Several people have told me that after they fell down the slippery slope they were warned against, what (or who) they found at the bottom was Jesus.

        Me, I’ve headed mainstream, Anglican currently, reading some Orthodox sources & ideas.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          After my burnout, I ended up mainstream (mellow RCC).

          The old liturgical churches (RCC, EO, Anglican, Lutheran) provide ready-made structure and solid historical trace.

          • Yeah, there is something very restful about walking in the grooves made by many other ordinary people as they walked with God through the decades & centuries.

  3. I am fascinated by the contrast of “progressive or even liberal” with “affirm the orthodox creeds and both of us have a deep and abiding respect and affection for the Scriptures.” I am a member of the ELCA: the woman-ordaining, gay-affirming version of American Lutheranism. We are about as liberal as you can get, this side of the UCC. Yet come to our Sunday morning worship and you can hear three substantial scripture readings, chant a psalm with us, and recite either the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. This is then followed by a sermon based on those readings. We do this every week. Yet we somehow get dismissed as not affirming the creeds or loving the Bible enough. Even more oddly, this dismissal often comes from churches that couldn’t recite the creeds to save their lives, and who get a snippet yanked from the Bible to support whatever it is that the pastor wants to talk about that week.

    “Progressive Christian,” so far as I can tell, means an Evangelical who seriously considers voting for a Democrat. It is a political rather than a theological distinction. “Liberal Christian” seems to be used as a synonym to “mainline Protestant.” There was such as thing as “liberal theology” but it is a dead letter, and has been for a long time. It mostly serves nowadays as a boogieman for conservatives, jumping out from behind the door shouting “Bishop Spong!” It is a crude caricature of actual mainline Protestantism. “Mainline Protestant” in turn is a grab bag of Protestant churches that have been around a long time. Many of them are Evangelicals who got reclassified about a century ago when the fundamentalists took over that word, and subsequently redefined “fundamentalist” to mean “Evangelical, but one of the crazies, not like me” while simultaneously expanding “Evangelical” to include Pentecostalists.

    • +1

    • Christiane says

      Good Morning Richard Hershberger,

      I do lately think that the ‘liberal’ ‘conservative’ divide may not be the best descriptions of what is going on.

      It seems one side is intent on fighting a war against LBGTQ people, against those of the Islamic faith, against showing compassion for those who seek asylum in our country . . . to the extent that they have supported a man for political office who has given Putin access to the Middle East and tried to let Putin off the hook for the cyber attack on our country in ’16 election as well as the man who has incarcerated over a thousand children who were taken away from their parents (including small infants) AND who has betrayed our allies and dishonored our country in doing so.

      I am not willing any longer to call these folks ‘conservative Christians’, no.

      Maybe it was the betrayal of the Kurds that did it. More than likely it was the treatment of the border infants that destroyed my faith in those who did not speak out against this inhumane brutality that is blatantly un-Christian and UN-AMERICAN.

      So when someone points to the other side of this divide, all I can see in them is that they still have some compassion for those at the edges, the people who are wounded. ‘Liberal’ ? NO.
      I would say that their orthopraxy is more of Christ than the practice of those who support a monster who serves Putin uber alles.

      How am I missing what needs to be seen? Or is the fog clearing in my head and I am seeing trumpism for what it really is? And who are those 81% who supported him? And how did they come to this point that such a man is touted by their religious leaders as ‘anointed’ by God?

      I’m upset. I admit it. I guess I’ve seen enough from Trumputin.
      Thank God there IS a ‘liberal’ side in the Church that still cares about the wounded who live at the edges.
      Maybe I just call them ‘Christian’ from now on. Yep.

      • Phil Dickens says

        +1000

      • It’s so painful to see people ignore all this stuff & yet claim Christ. To care more about LGBTQ+ people than brutality against children is bonkers.

        I know many many atheists who would risk their lives to help the suffering, before some conservatives with their doctrines of inerrancy would.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      As another ‘conservative’ who will never receive the Eucharist from female hands, although the last fifty years have stripped me of the vocabulary i need to explain why, I second the recommendation of Richard Beck’s current writing. Especially his posts on ‘post-progressivism’

      The Universalists among you, of whom I also am one by temperament if not by confession, would do well to pay heed to his fiery version of that concept.

      • Mule,

        The vocabulary exists; for me, it’s best articulated within the understanding of Iconicity in Orthodoxy. Christos Yannaras was very, very helpful for me on this. (Also, thinking about what “priesthood” meant in Judaism as a religion, in contrast to the cultus of all the surrounding peoples, that was *not* based in fertility rites.) I think the bigger problem is trying to discuss this with people who aren’t able to grasp Iconicity.

        Dana

        • Or discussing it with people who aren’t impressed with gender bias simply because it’s institutional?

          • See my long reply to Jon, farther down.

            I am very sensitive to “institutionalized” gender bias, Stephen; I suffered under it for decades. If I believed that such bias were truly “institutional” in Orthodoxy, a matter of dogma and not simply manifested as an artifact of certain cultures, I WOULD NOT BE ORTHODOX. This issue was make-or-break for me as I was contemplating entering the Church.

            My lived experience is something else entirely. Please don’t deny or denigrate that experience, or tell me that what I know is not what I know. I’d appreciate it.

            Dana

            • Have I done that Dana? Really? Or is every question or criticism interpreted as a personal attack?

              • I don’t believe you’re attacking me, Stephen. Did I say that? Didn’t mean to imply it at all.

                All I want is for you to take my word for it that I KNOW right well – as a woman and by decades of experience – what institutional gender bias is, and that I have not experienced it as an Orthodox Christian, nor is it a feature of Orthodox doctrine.

                It’s about listening to other people tell of their experience and believing it, unlike what is so prevalent “out there” in the world with all its polarization. I think Michael Spencer and Chaplain Mike wanted and want this space to be different. Peace to you, and forgive me if I offended you.

                Dana

        • I think the bigger problem is trying to discuss this with people who aren’t able to grasp Iconicity.

          Dana, It’s one thing not to grasp iconicity; it’s another thing to grasp it, but not agree with the validity of using it to exclude women from the priesthood.

          • Iconicity isn’t “used to exclude”. It simply is a feature of reality in the depths of Christianity. One may not see that, or agree with it.

            Not every man is a priest.

            There is not a mass movement among Orthodox women pressing for ordination to the priesthood.

            We believe in the priesthood of all believers.

            Priesthood isn’t about power, and every good priest knows that.

            Orthodox Christianity is more like an organism than an “organization.”

            Now we all see through a glass darkly… and God meets people where they are.

            Dana

    • As part of a project when I was in seminary, my wife and I visited a suburban Episcopal church one Sunday. I was shocked at how much Scripture I heard during that service, as well as the creeds and the faith affirmed. I later met with the rector and his theology was more liberal that mine (at the time). But what struck me was that I heard more Scripture in that one service that I had heard read in a year at the SBC church we attended (at the time). And there was far more active participation by the worshippers than in my church.

      • The first time I attended an Evangelical service as an adult, I was shocked by the nearly complete absence of scripture reading. I was not so naive as to expect anything like the Eucharist, but I expected that a church that so prominently avowed its love of the Bible would include the Bible in its worship.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The first time I attended an Evangelical service as an adult, I was shocked by the nearly complete absence of scripture reading.

          The only SCRIPTURE(TM) being Weaponized Proof Texts?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > “Progressive Christian,” so far as I can tell,

      Or Not-Evangelical = Progressive. As Not-Right-Wing = Leftist.

      These labels are a most often a sign of illiteracy. Minds with only room for two categories.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It mostly serves nowadays as a boogieman for conservatives, jumping out from behind the door shouting “Bishop Spong!”

      Is Spong the Christianese bogeyman equivalent of “HILLARY CLINTON! HILLARY CLINTON! HILLARY’S COMING TO EAT YOUR CHILDREN! AAAAAGH! AAAAAGH!”?

      (Spong is just WEIRD, but no weirder than a lot of the Fundagelicals and Charismatics and Calvies that get scrutinized on these watchblogs Just he’s weird in a different direction.)

  4. Richard Beck in his blog does several posts on progressive Christianity which are worth reading. His premise isn’t a running in the streets naked but a loss of enchantment.He also identifies as a progressive or post progressive. Interesting reading.

    • I don’t see much “enchantment” in evangelicalism or fundamentalism either. They can be just as rationalistic and this-worldly as the most secular “progressive’.

      • Eeyore, did you actually read Richard Beck and see how he describes enchantment ? Perhaps you should

        • Yes, and I stand by my assertion. We should not expect, nor ask for, miracles in the sense of floating axe heads and signs in the heavens. If God gives us our daily bread and the power to love our enemies, that is miracle enough. (And nowadays, the latter would indeed be miraculous).

          Sorry, I am not a charismatic. 😉

          • “Enchantment” isn’t about expecting the miraculous all the time. It’s about seeing all of creation as having the ability to mediate our experience of God. For me, it’s basically another way to say “sacramentality”.

            Dana

        • Burro (Mule) says

          To be fair, Dr Beck, or one of his commenters, condemns Biblical literalism as every bit as ‘disenchanting’ as progressivism. Nothing takes the ‘oomph’ out of the Bible more than someone who demands that you stick to the view of ‘Bible as journalism’.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      As another ‘conservative’ who will never receive the Eucharist from female hands, although the last fifty years have stripped me of the vocabulary i need to explain why, I second the recommendation of Richard Beck’s current writing. Especially his posts on ‘post-progressivism’

      The Universalists among you, of whom I also am one by temperament if not by confession, would do well to pay heed to his fiery version of that concept.

      • Now I am curious. My church shares a husband and wife team of pastors with another congregation. Either could show up on any given Sunday. Were you to attend a service, would you take the Eucharist if it was the husband that day?

        • Burro (Mule) says

          I could not take the Eucharist in your church, period. You are not subject to our bishops.
          I could ask for a blessing from either the husband or the wife, and receive it. I could sit under her preaching.

  5. “Does acknowledging the good points the other side makes now make you one of the others?”

    In today’s society, Yes. It has unfortunately become all-or-nothing in politics, theology, etc… One is either on this team or that team. Nuance, degrees, gray areas are skipped over and ignored- to our own detriment.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > In today’s society, Yes.

      I really do not believe our society is one-sided all-or-nothing. There is a vast and complex middle.

      The issue is more that that middle lacks institutions; it is unorganized. And there are lots of pressures arrayed against its become so.

      It isn’t so much all-or-nothing as that the unaffiliated don’t count, they are ineffective.

      • Well said. The loudest voices are demanding full “allegiance”.

      • Yes. I remind my ultra-conservative friends that less than 1% of Americans watch Fox News in any given week, and even less watch MSNBC. ABC Nightly news has 3 times as many viewers (in 10% of the time) as Fox. Most of us are in the middle of some sort, but the fringes are where are all the noise comes from.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Remember that Loud Crazies have a way of defining reality for everyone else.

          As Kipling put it in “McDonough’s Song”,
          “Led by the loudest throat”.

          And even a 1% can do a lot of damage if they are Fanatical enough.
          (Remember that “The 1%” is also a term for “The Rich and Powerful who control everything”.)

          • I just looked up that poem – scary and pertinent to today’s world though written nearly 100 years ago.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Kipling wrote that as background lore for one of his few forays into what’s now called SF, a short titled “Easy as ABC”.

              I always thought the last four lines made a great epitaph for the USSR:

              Once there was The People–Terror gave it birth;
              Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth
              Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, 0 ye slain!
              Once there was The People–it shall never be again!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “Stark raving Pinkos and mobs that are lawless,
          Right Wing Fanatics parading for Wallace;
          Gun-toting Nazis all out on a binge,
          These are just some of The Lunatic Fringe…”
          — Filk of “My Favorite Things” from a Sixties-era MAD Magazine

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In today’s society, Yes. It has unfortunately become all-or-nothing in politics, theology, etc… One is either on this team or that team.

      “When you play the Game of Thrones, You Win or You Die. There is NO middle ground.”
      — Cersei Lannister

  6. Iain Lovejoy says

    Is that 68% of Christians or 68% of *American* Christians? (There is a difference, you know, and YECism is very much an American-born idea). I suspect very much that the majority of Christians worldwide are not YEC.

    • Mike the Geologist says

      Yeah, I meant American.

      • So I did the math: Assuming that all 38% of Americans who are YEC are Christians, and that 68% of American Christians are YEC, then 55% of Americans are Christians. In spite of the “nones” and “dones” that seems a bit low. Are there and non-Christian YEC folks in America?

    • Burro (Mule) says

      I think you’d be surprised. In the Global South, the churches founded by the Anglo-American evangelical bodies after the modernist/fundamentalist split are usually vociferously YEC,

      Although it is more that they are not yet YEC, not having risen to a level of scientific understanding that allows it to become an issue. My wife, a Pentecostal from South America, is very much pre-Monkey Trial in her thinking,

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        So no need to argue it or fight for it, it’s Just The Way Things Are?

        • Burro (Mule) says

          Yeah. Depending on how much education they got growing up, they still kinda live in the Punyverse. I’ve learned not to poke that hive.

    • The part I wonder about is if this is a survey of all American Christians, or of Evangelical Protestants. Catholics and mainline Protestants comprise about half of American Christians. That number seems high, if we are including everyone.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Ah, but Catholics and Mainline Protestants are not REAL Christians. They’re Counterfeit Apostates and Heretics controlled by SATAN himself.

        “Christian” without any modifiers has been redefined to mean Fundagelical and Fundagelical alone, My Dear Wormwood.

  7. I agree with much here, but I will say that Enns (and many progressive Christians) often comes across as assigning people to a certain team as well, so this problem is not one-sided.

    • Mike the Geologist says

      No, it’s not one-sided at all. As you say above, “One is either on this team or that team. Nuance, degrees, gray areas are skipped over and ignored- to our own detriment.” And I am sick of it

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I like the name of Enns’ blogsite and podcast:

      “THE BIBLE FOR NORMAL PEOPLE.”

  8. “That pain, to get right to the heart of it, was generated by their experiences in Evangelical and Fundamentalist spaces.” I guess that is one of the major differences between myself and many of the post-evangelicals here. I never experienced this pain. I’ve read some crazy stories on here that have left me scratching my head wondering what world y’all come from, but maybe I’m the anomaly. But then again I’ve never been part of a mega church, or a church where the pastor could rule like a dictator. Most of my church experiences have been positive. Some have been negative, but not enough to make me turn away. However, even with the positive experience, and even though my theology is still about as conservative evangelical as it gets, I still find myself not quite at home at a typical evangelical church anymore, and I think it is largely because of the worship service. It seems, to me at least, that much of evangelical worship is self-centered rather than God centered. I think we need the liturgy to help us keep the focus on God. We need the songs that have stood the test of time rather than the latest popular thing on ccm radio. We need the creeds to remind us who we are. It has been to the detriment of the evangelical church that these things have been largely ignored or rejected.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Repudiation of tradition, and of man as a tradition-ed creature, is the common theme in both progressivism and contemporary Evangelicalism. Last week’s mindset is a horror to avoided at all costs.

      • Time is not the issue. The structure and results of the traditions in question – or as I would rather put it, the Christ-shaped-ness of it – are. If a tradition bars believers from sharing communion because they don’t have the same ecclesiastical structure, away with it. If a tradition inculcates care for the poor, keep it.

        • +1

        • Burro (Mule) says

          Oh yeah. I Forgot. Autonomy and the arrogant self-anointing that allows us to determine for ourselves what is and what is not Christlike out of the material received from our elders and betters play a greater role than mere time. The modern must above all else preserve the right of self-definition.

          ‘Away with it” Spoken like a true Jacobin.

          Oh, Christiane. I wasn’t aware Rome had dispensed with closed communion. Or do you part company with your bishops on this as well?

          • I would ask how *you* read the passages where Jesus severely deconstructs tradition, but I guess that would be too “autonomous”? 😉 So I will ask instead, how does the tradition you subscribe to read the passages where Jesus severely deconstructs tradition? More specifically, how do they prove it doesn’t apply to them?

            • Burro (Mule) says

              The answers to your questions are all over the Internet, but it basically boils down to ‘who has the Holy Spirit’?

              We all have to make that choice. Lord, where else shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.

              As for proof, like faith itself, there is none. There is evidence, but evidence isn’t proof. ‘Proof’ is a coercive category anyway.

              You yourself admitted you weren’t a charismatic. More’s the pity.

          • Christiane says

            Burro (Mule) . . . where did you get that from?

            I would want open communion but I know that it won’t happen as long as when the priest says ‘Body of Christ’ the person receiving can’t respond in the affirmative.

            Small steps.

            When I was in school, the nuns told us that IF we got hit by a bus on the main street in town in front of the Greek Orthodox Church, that the priest COULD come out and give us the last rites of the Church if need be . . . so there is some hope for a walk-back someday to a kind of reconciliation between schism and the split into thousands of denominations . . . small steps, sure

            I’d just be happy if fundamentalist evangelicals started to hold the Lord’s Supper more regularly and use ‘the words’ from sacred Scripture that Our Lord used . . . well, to me, the Holy Spirit cares for people in spite of their divisions in ways unforeseen and invisible, but we ARE cared for, yes.

            What do I want? Healing, reconciliation, but done in accordance with respect for those who see things differently. So I leave this to God and I am at peace about it. All shall be well in the Kingdom of Our Lord. 🙂

            • Burro (Mule) says

              I know I can confess to a Roman priest in extremis, but we were one communion once and we shall be again. The Mother of God will see to it.

              In the meantime, I’m not going to break the rules to prove I’m right and everybody else is wrong.

          • Iain Lovejoy says

            How do you decide that the tradition you hold to is the true tradition, the religion you believe the one that is true? You turn up at church on Sunday on the arrogant assumption that your church is the true one because you have chosen it. We all go to church seeking God, and must at the end of the day make the decision, autonomously, whether God is there or not.
            It’s no good citing “tradition” to get out of this dilemma either, because, as Christiane points out, the Christian church itself is schismatic and heretic from the Jewish tradition, and even that tradition is derived from Abraham, a schismatic from the traditions of Ur. We are all heretics since Adam.

            • Burro (Mule) says

              Come and see.

              • Iain Lovejoy says

                That would be a little tricky since I don’t believe we are on the same continent as each other. (I’m in the UK.)
                Just to be clear, I have little doubt that God is in your church and you find him there. I am just pointing out that it is you evaluating your own personal experience in finding God there that draws you and keeps you, as arrogantly, autonomously and self-determinedly as any church-hopping schismatic Protestant heretic.

                • It is indeed next to impossible to get around the agency of the self when it comes to choosing what religious beliefs one embraces. The only alternative is to be compelled by someone else choosing for you.

            • Christiane says

              well, I can say we are all ‘wounded’ and that in the faith, Christ came to reconcile us to God
              and to reconcile us to one another

              it works, this reconciliation

              remember a time of crisis when in your community something bad happened and people came together to help out regardless of ‘differences’ because the PEOPLE affected were more to them than those divisive differences?

              ‘caring’ took over and the divisions faded in importance because of the moral calling of our consciences to do the ‘right thing’ to help our brothers and sisters who are in trouble, even though there has been a family feud raging for centuries . . . . a truce? or something more lasting?
              but this kind of thing happens because people are called to ‘care’

              even those of us who do not ‘know’ of the concepts found in theology feel called to help out

              and those of us who do ‘know’ are reminded of the bond that is deeper than any division that is man-made, this:

              “from the Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
              ““” We now know that we have been taken up and borne in the humanity of Jesus, and therefore that new nature we now enjoy means that we too must bear the sins and sorrows of others. The incarnate lord makes his followers the brothers and sisters of all humanity. The “philanthropy” of God (Titus 3:4) revealed in the Incarnation is the ground of Christian love towrd all on earth that bear the name of human.”

              • Burro (Mule) says

                This happened after Hurricane Andrew blew through Miami in 1992. Race, national origin, and immigration status became irrelevant in the face of so much raw suffering. Once the crisis past, business as usual resumed.

                Now Miami has always been a tribal, fractious, superficial, pleasure-oriented city, but somehow after the storm it didn’t seem to revert entirely to the abyss in which it submerged previously. Charitable giving, for example remained higher even five years later.

                It is something to meditate on.

          • Mule, You are undoubtedly one of the most religiously self-defined people around on the internet, a true individualist. You just can’t escape it.

    • I have had several wounding church experiences in the past. I’ve also been put down or marginalized by churches and individual believers because I’ve never been married. Yet I don’t consider myself a progressive Christian and have plenty of sharp disagreements with some of the speakers listed in the Evolving Faith conference roster. I’m not sure what label I would wear today other than being a Christian who affirms the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. I also belong to an evangelical liturgical church even though I don’t attend services as frequently as I once did.

    • Jon, good points made by you. I am not a member of any church and live in Ga., in the Bible belt. My wife and I are Christians and attend church with relatives and friends as we travel. Many a Sunday we will go to a local church if it is a denomination we are familiar with or not a fringe church, as best we can ascertain. We attend Mass with my Mother in law and a SBC church with my Sister. All I can say is I think I agree with Jon If I get his meaning. I have never felt the fundamentalist do not study or teach with the Bible. My sister goes Sunday night and Wed night she calls Bible study. Many of the sermons I have heard though the years are from the Bible and the Bible used extensively , so I do not get the impression that many here have. In any case we all have different life experiences and beliefs that we bring to the table. Where you go to church and what you believe will of course influence your political and social views. It does seem to me that many today look Jesus as a teacher not a Savior. The Bible is about Jesus the Savior not Jesus the social activist or status quo defender but Jesus the personal Savior. That is the message.

    • Jon,

      my experience as an Evangelical was much like yours. In 30 years in churches at the conservative end of the spectrum, there were very few instances – I can count them on one hand – of individuals who, knowingly or not, actually caused me pain in my personal interactions with them. I’m convinced most of them, even, had no such intention; the problem was in their not understanding how their own woundings and faults drove their side of things in those interactions.

      But there was pain. There was the constant dull pulsing of the implication that because I was female I was somehow “less than”, of the pressure to conform to “Biblical roles”. This was all done very kindly, out of concern for being faithful to Scripture and the well-being of women and families; I didn’t have abusive pastors, thank God. I basically tried to ignore this pressure for 20 years, all the while praying that God would make me more submissive to my husband. It was spiritually schizophrenic for me as a woman. That pain ultimately came from a certain interpretation of Scripture. It was not only this issue, but other – I suppose one could say more directly theological – issues that started to arise for me when I was in my 40s. I couldn’t reconcile the whole of the theology of Evangelicalism, both expressed and implicit, with my lived experience and my further study of Scripture.

      That’s why I harp so much about Interpretation. Nobody here argues that Scripture is unimportant or should be thrown out or any such thing. Everyone accepts the text of Scripture as it is. All our struggles (and arguments) come about with regard to the ***interpretation*** of that text. I finally figured that out. While intending to always remain a little-o orthodox Christian, I went in search of a theology – an interpretation of Scripture – that made better sense for me. And so I was in “the Evangelical wilderness” for more than a decade. The tradition of Evangelicalism – that which is handed down within it – couldn’t support my questions and supply me with Jesus-centered answers about some really important things. I found what I think is a better theology, but more importantly, I found a deeper – and at the same time less emotionally-driven – experience of my Savior Jesus.

      I believe God meets people where they are, and if they find God in Evangelicalism, I don’t need to judge that. I still have dear Evangelical friends, most of whom are better Christians than I. I just can’t live in that theological house anymore, because for me that structure has indeed been the source of a kind of real spiritual and intellectual pain.

      Dana

      • Dana, what church(denomination) are you a part of now?

        • I’m Eastern Orthodox, My parish is of Russian heritage (Orthodox Church in America) – though I’m not Russian – my ethnicity is Savoyard, German, British & Irish 🙂

          D.

    • You should check out a LCMS congregation…

  9. Here is a video of Enns having a discussion with a YouTube atheist. Posted yesterday.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnKRwqWO1lE

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      That was a good listen, thanks Stephen!

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Indeed. My estimation of Dr Enns (and of internet atheists) has risen a couple of points as a result of listening to that gentlemanly riposte.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Isn’t that just the thing? Controversy, aggression, notoriety will dominate headlines and perception. Doesn’t mean those people are representative of the rest.

      • Dr Enns is a real tonic for those who would caricature those who have left evangelicalism – he was part of that establishment, deeply part of it, until his work on the Scriptures caused him to change. He hasn’t left his wife, or rampaged his way through drugs, alcohol or illicit liaisons, so he wasn’t looking for an excuse to sin.

        He’s still working out a lot of the consequences of his shift – but it has come out of taking the Bible seriously, rather than the opposite. And I think that when that penny drops for people it can break down a lot of stereotypes.

  10. senecagriggs says

    Last Wednesday night, my church met for 1 1/2 hours to solely read thru half of the Book of John. We had several readers, we took brief breaks to sing a hymn and then we continued on.

    The purpose of the whole service was simply to read aloud thru the first half of the Book of John.

    We are very serious about affirming he authority of Scripture.. We try to live out what we affirm.
    _______________–

    I do like Geo Mike’s article.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      We are very serious about affirming he authority of Scripture…

      The critical question is: Have you Weaponized it like so many others have done?
      A weapon at hand in the “More Christian Than Thou” One-Upmanship game?

    • “my church met for 1 1/2 hours to solely read thru half of the Book of John. We had several readers, we took brief breaks to sing a hymn and then we continued on.

      The purpose of the whole service was simply to read aloud thru the first half of the Book of John.”

      I like that idea.

      • Christiane says

        to HEAR the Word read aloud . . . . that is always an important part of a Christian service of the Word

        I like Seneca’s experience in Church also . . .

    • Burro (Mule) says

      I applaud your church, Seneca. What a marvelous idea.

      Come to any Orthodox Church on Holy and Great Saturday. After the priests finish the service, volunteers will gather to read aloud the entire book of Acts.

      • senecagriggs says

        I will make every effort to do that Mule.

        When is “Holy and Great Saturday?”

        • Burro (Mule) says

          The day before Orthodox Easter, which you will probably have to google since we are entering a period of being out of sync with the West.

        • Sen,

          If you go for the service beforehand, you will experience the greatest vision and affirmation of the Resurrection – with echoes particularly of Passover, but also Jonah and other Resurrection-themed OT Scriptures – you will ever have seen. It’s my favorite service of the three days of Pascha – ties Friday and Sunday together. It’s completely awesome.

          Dana