Theology: January 2004 Archives

This email discussion is continuing. I got a response back, I've sent off a response to that, and I've gotten another one back already. It's venturing into broader issues of interpretation and inerrancy. I've included it in the original file and in the Arguments About Sex and Sexuality collection.

Update: Now that I've got an extended entry feature, the second part of the file linked to above is here. The first part is in the previous post.

I received an email from someone who I assume would prefer to remain anonymous, in response to some of what I've said about homosexuality. His basic thrust was that he couldn't understand how I could take passages about homosexuality literally to conclude that there's something bad about homosexuality despite all the evidence against that view, especially when I wouldn't take other passages literally, e.g. Joshua with the sun standing still in the sky and Genesis 9 with its once-common interpretation that the curse on Canaan justified slavery of all blacks. There are so many things with this argument that I find mistaken that it wasn't easy to work through it step-by-step, but here's my response.

Update: I've added the response into the extended entry now that I'm on Movable Type and can do such things.

Realized millenialism

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That's the new name some people are trying to use for what has traditionally been called amillenialism, which is the view that I think does the most justice to the biblical accounts of the end times. I've seen at least two links to this piece in the last week or so (from Andrew Warnock and Discoshaman), and I've finally gotten around to reading it. People often ask me what they should read about the end times, and this is a great place to start. He explains all the terms well, and he gives reasons for the view he ends up taking. In other words, it's really good, despite the seven or eight minor inaccuracies in the first half that explains the differences between the views (though the people who hold those views might not consider them so minor). The reasons he gives are organized well, do justice to the texts he's looking at, and don't seem to me to be easily objectionable.

What is supposed to be so harmful about gay marriage? What turns out to be the main reason Christians should want to safeguard the term 'marriage' has to do with the biblical concept of marriage, and it's something almost no one I've been reading on the topic mentions. It's no wonder that Andrew Sullivan can't find any argument for why Christians are so opposed to gay marriage. The main biblical reason never shows up on his radar.

President Bush has gotten in trouble with some of his fellow evangelicals. They don't think he's a real evangelical because of his comments about other religions. He says Islam is a good religion, that Muslims, Jews, and Christians worship the same God, and that the beliefs of other good religions like Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. will help contribute to a better society. Meanwhile, Christianity (at least any Christianity that takes the scriptures as authoritative) states quite clearly that there's no other way to the Father except through Jesus. It says that God is three persons in one being, a Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), while Islam and contemporary Judaism insist that God is one in every way possible and that Jesus, a mere creation of God, is not to be identified or confused with God. Islam does believe he's a prophet and will return. They don't believe he died, never mind that he was resurrected. Judaism (except for Messianic Jews, if you count them) don't even believe that much about him.

What do we make of this? I want to explain what I think President Bush means when he says these things and why I think it's not just consistent with evangelicalism but it's what evangelicals should say. What the evangelicals who resist saying these things want to avoid is the kind of pluralism that attributes one reality to the multiple beliefs systems in world religions. They're all getting at the same reality but in different ways. I don't think that's at all what Bush has in mind, and I think a careful look at the nature of the language will show that the many repeated claims against Bush�s statements are assuming an implausible view of how names function in natural languages like English.

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