What I Read Online – 05/07/2013 (a.m.)

07 May
    • Unfortunately, being an apologist for the faith does not always lead one to uphold the faith.  Indeed, there is a long history of folks who have sought to defend Christianity from critical attacks by simply changing the problematic portions of the faith. In other words, apologetics is not always about defending what we believe, but is sometimes about modifying what we believe.  Apologetics is sometimes about giving Christianity an extreme makeover. 
    • Bell’s makeover method is to change Christianity into a broad “spirituality.”  His book downplays (and in some instances, simply ignores) many of the key doctrines that make Christianity distinctive. He simply turns Christianity into vague, general, theism.
    • It is clear that Bell is using this chapter to set the stage for his makeover. If words about God are unclear, and we can never really be certain about anything, then we should not feel bound by certain limitations about God. This allows Bell to scold those “fundamentalist” types who are all too certain about their theology, and it allows him to suggest that we should think of God differently. In particular, Bell hones in on the issue of God’s gender. He argues that masculine language in the Bible about God is just the product of primitive cultures that couldn’t help but think of their “god” as male (p.88-89).
    • Entirely missing in this chapter–indeed entirely missing in the whole book–is any meaningful discussion of the cross and atonement. Absent is discussion about our sin, God’s wrath on our sin, and how Christ’s death on the cross paid that penalty. Absent is the clarification that without the cross, God is definitely not for us and that his wrath remains on us
    • In the final two chapters, Bell continues to talk about key Christian themes such as Jesus, repentance, confession, forgiveness, and so on. But, incredibly, he empties each of these terms of their biblical meaning and simply replaces them with a meaning that fits with postmodern spirituality. His “detheologizing” of Christianity is complete
    • In the end, my overall concern about this volume is a simple one: it is not Christian. Bell’s makeover of Christianity has changed it into something entirely different. It is not Christianity at all, it is modern liberalism.
    • I don’t think we can even call this a ‘consensus’, since that would imply the voluntaristic coming together of different elements in concord. It’s better described as conformism, the slow but sure sacrifice of critical thinking and dissenting opinion under pressure to accept that which has been defined as a good by the upper echelons of society: gay marriage
    • In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one’s mind or sticking with one’s beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. Gay marriage brilliantly shows how political narratives are forged these days, and how people are made to accept them. This is a campaign that is elitist in nature, in the sense that, in direct contrast to those civil-rights agitators of old, it came from the top of society down; and it is a campaign which is extremely unforgiving of dissent or disagreement, implicitly, softly demanding acquiescence to its agenda.
    • This is how conformism is forged and enforced today: elites devise an idea or campaign, far away from what one gay-marriage proponent calls ‘the tyranny of the majority’; that idea or campaign gets disingenuously depicted as something that protesters and campaigners demanded and actually put pressure on the elites to come up with; and through a process of debate-demonisation and pathologisation of dissent, through the treatment of acceptance as normal and criticism as abnormal, the idea or campaign is spread more widely through society.
    • That’s why God gave us a life-cycle, from dependence to dependence. We don’t pay our parents or interview them or recruit them. They are just there when we are born, and we are helpless. And, at the end, despite all our technology, there is something right about falling back on the kindness of friends and family, who are motivated not by our ability to pay them back but by love and fidelity and community.
    • One of the key data points in any discussion of canon is something called the Muratorian fragment (also known as the Muratorian canon).  This fragment, named after its discoverer Ludovico Antonio Muratori, contains our earliest list of the books in the New Testament.  While the fragment itself dates from the 7th or 8th century, the list it contains was originally written in Greek and dates back to the end of the second century (c.180)
    • Second, if there was a core collection of New Testament books, then the theological trajectory of early Christianity had already been determined prior to the debates about the peripheral books being resolved.  So, regardless of the outcome of discussion over books like 2 Peter or James, Christianity’s core doctrines of the person of Christ, the work of Christ, the means of salvation, etc., were already in place and already established.  The acceptance or rejection of books like 2 Peter would not change that fact

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 07/05/2013 in Current Issues


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