Mere Fidelity: Is there a ‘Moral Orthodoxy’?

First things first: we have a new name.  Thanks to everyone who provided suggestions last week, and to my friend Jordan Ballor who came up with the one we decided on.  Our aim for the name was to make sure we have the long-term flexibility we need when Derek becomes a famous radio host.

Second, thanks to everyone who has asked about the RSS feed and iTunes feed.  The short answer is:  It’s coming, lo, as quickly as the Soundcloud gods approve us for it.  My apologies for the delay on that.  We weren’t sure whether this would turn into an ongoing project, but at this point we’re going for it.

Finally, this week’s conversation on moral orthodoxy takes its cue from Derek’s very smart post on the same subject.  If there’s something you would like us to discuss in the weeks to come…drop us a suggestion in the comments. 

As always, follow DerekAlastair, and Andrew for smart thoughts on this and much more.

Special thanks to Christopher Hutton for his sound editing work on it. 

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  • http://menliketreeswalking.blogspot.com/ Matthew Loftus

    Let’s read a Wendell Berry poem/short story/essay/novel and discuss it please.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      True story: reading/discussing both contemporary and classic essays is something that I actually proposed last week and that we will definitely discuss.

  • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

    It really says something that I can listen to four Calvinists talk for 30 minutes without throwing anything. :-) You’ve got a great dynamic going here. Hope you keep the podcast going.

    I appreciate what was said about how the heresy label (tossed around casually) immediately shuts down conversation, and how that’s not only bad for the person being called a heretic but also for the person making the pronouncement. It keeps us from thinking deeply and broadly about the issue at hand and only serves to divide and anger. Sometimes I get the idea people call me a heretic (for egalitarianism, theistic evolution, changing views on same sex marriage, etc.) as a way of “hanging up the phone,” if you will, and warning their people not to listen to me. It’s a way of cutting someone off so you don’t have to engage their arguments. But that strategy just isn’t going to work in the internet age. I actually get concerned when I see people saying “I follow you because we’re fellow heretics!” – the word has been so misused and abused and applied by conservatives to all liberal Christians (both those who affirm and those who are against same sex marriage) that people actually brag about it! I just thing that’s a huge problem. I take it very seriously when I’m called a heretic because I think it’s a serious accusation, not to be taken lightly or worn as a badge of honor.

    It should also be pointed out that there are not simply two views on same-sex attraction and marriage. I know a lot of very devoted gay and lesbian Christians who have chosen celibacy, for example. But they believe their sexual orientation is in fact a part of who they are and would never advocate for “reparative therapy” as attempt to make gay people straight. So are they heretics (or in grave theological error) for believing that sexual orientation can’t be changed? Furthermore, you classify shifting views on this issue as a wholesale rejection of traditional Christian ethics, but this misses the fact that a lot of Christians are changing their views on this **based* **on their Christian ethics – justice, equality, compassion, etc. They’re wondering if perhaps this is a bit like slavery in the sense that the traditional Christian teachings for thousands of years (and seemingly supported by Scripture) was that slavery is part of God’s design for humanity so long as slaves are treated well. And they’re wondering if – like with slavery, Jim Crow, Indian removal, etc. – this is just another example of Christians using the Bible to support oppression of other people. Basically, it boils down to: Does the Bible say that committed, monogamous same-sex relationships are sin or is the Bible being ***used*** to say that committed, monogamous same-sex relationships are sin. Because, let’s face it, historically, the answer to that often makes sense hindsight.

    Now, we can debate whether that’s the case or not – and both sides can make a good case. My own position was not arrived at lightly, with no regard for Scripture or tradition. I didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I’d like to throw out my Christian ethics because I saw an episode of Modern Family and now I think it’s fine to be gay.”

    That’s not really how it works.

    But I think throwing the heresy label at this is a way of shutting down this important conversation before it even begins, which leaves both sides totally disengaged and unwilling to learn from one another.

    I’m open to hearing from people who think I’m wrong about these issues; but when they start off with, “You’re a heretic,” it’s really, really hard to have a productive conversation.

    Anyway, great job on the podcast. Thanks for discussing this.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Rachel,

      Thanks for the kind words. Lots more here to discuss than I can at the moment, as I’m currently in enemy territory at a conference. (That is, I’m hanging out at Cambridge.)

      But: I just wanted to note that I don’t even rise to the level of Reformed-ish. While I think I hang out and talk Calvin’s theology with a lot of folks, and have learned a ton from him, I don’t describe myself as an adherant. So it’s really three Reformed guys plus one who’s sympathetic with their aims…but no more. : )

      Best,

      Matt

    • Bislove

      Of course, you are a heretic. I don’t know why Tim Challis didn’t put you on his ‘Heretics’ list.

      • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

        I’ve got a pool going with some friends to guess who’s next. My money’s on Ann Voskamp or the kid who went to heaven.

        There’s money to be made. ;-)

    • Alastair J Roberts

      Thanks for the comment, Rachel, and for the kind wishes. Lord-willing, the podcast will be a longer term fixture. While I haven’t yet met Derek or Andrew in person (I met Matt for the first time last year), it has been great to share the sort of conversations and interactions that we have enjoyed in more private contexts with a wider audience. It is also encouraging to know that non-Calvinists can listen through our podcasts without severe risk to their blood pressure levels! :-)

      I see the current debates surrounding LGBT issues as matters for which we can’t just raise the traditional objections and be done with it. In many respects, we are faced with novel hermeneutical challenges and need the time to process the different dimensions of the issues involved. This means taking time to attend to the phenomena of same-sex relationships within their cultural context, researching the findings of the sciences, listening to the first hand experiences of LGBT persons, hearing out the critics of the Church’s traditional position, and revisiting the scriptural text (not just the ‘texts’ in isolation). While I am unpersuaded that there are arguments sufficient to overturn the fundamental claims of the traditional position of the Church (and it is in relation to these fundamental claims that the ‘two views’ would arise), if the Church’s position were to come through this engagement entirely unchanged, I would suspect that we hadn’t truly been listening.

      I don’t know where the Derek, Andrew, and Matt stand on reparative therapy. While I wouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of reparative therapy in certain cases, I really wouldn’t encourage people in that direction. I would make sure that they had considered their alternatives and were well aware of the failure rate of such therapy. I would challenge the association of holiness with straightness.

      I don’t think that ‘being gay’ is reducible to mere sexual desires. Rather, it is something that can affect a person’s personality, sensibilities, and approach to life on many levels. I would encourage anyone who wanted reparative therapy, in their urge to rip out this thread of their character, to first consider that it might be part of a richer fabric, with a great deal worth celebrating, fostering, and praising within it, even for a Christian who stands with the Church in its traditional opposition to same-sex relations. I would encourage and—to whatever degree I could—assist them in their particular form of the task of self-interpretation that stands before all of us, examining the meaning of their desires, rather than presuming that they know what they are for. I would also make them aware of ‘post-gay’ and celibate ‘gay Christians’, who seek to sublimate and explore their ‘orientations’, rather than escape them.

      That said, I wouldn’t simply affirm the ‘born this way’ narrative, which is problematic on several levels, not least because of its failure to grapple with just how fluid human sexuality is. I would also register concerns about the way that identity functions within these contexts and conversations.

      I believe that shifting views on the morality of sexual relations between two persons of the same sex does strike at the heart of key features of traditional Christian ethics. I would be cautious of using the language of ‘wholesale rejection’, though. On the one hand, since Christian ethics are integrated, if you remove a key part, the larger body of ethics can be completely undermined. If one removed this element wittingly, it would constitute a ‘wholesale rejection’. On the other hand, very few people appreciate or fully work out the consequences, thinking that one can have one dimension of traditional Christian ethics without another. There is a lot of blessed inconsistency out there, and I thank God for it.

      When it comes to accusations of heresy, I certainly don’t believe that most heretics come to their positions lightly, nor would I deny the fact that many heretics have been intellectually brilliant. Indeed, some heretics may even have stronger arguments for their positions than most of the orthodox do for theirs. Many heretics have suffered ostracization and cruel abuse for their beliefs. Heretics can be pious people (Pelagius was renowned for his piety) and are also often people of good intentions and will. When all of this has been appreciated, I think that we will be able to get a better grasp on what exactly we are and are not doing and saying when, after due process, we call someone a heretic.

      Finally, calling someone a heretic needn’t mark the absolute end of a conversation. I think that there is a great deal to gain from talking with certain insightful, principled, and/or experienced heretics and unbelievers. I often learn much more from such conversations than I learn from conversations with orthodox Christians. However, it does put an end to a certain form of conversation, to a conversation in which we are all playing upon the field, with the team, and according to the rules of historic Christianity and in which we all submit ourselves to the formation of these boundaries and requirements.

      Thanks again for the comment!

    • Thursday1

      this misses the fact that a lot of Christians are changing their views on this **based* **on their Christian ethics – justice, equality, compassion

      I am really, really skeptical of this. Why do these “Christian” ethics always end up with exactly the same content as secular ethics?

      Incidently, you might want to read up on the psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who studies the psychology of morality: an exclusive reliance on justice, equality, and compassion as moral foundations is strongly correlated with secularism. Religious ethics, on the other hand, tend also to rely on the moral foundations of purity/holiness, authority/respect, and loyalty/ingroup.

      Inform thyself. Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind is a great read.

      • Edwin Woodruff Tait

        Your tone is patronizing. Haidt is not the be-all and end-all of knowledge. And there isn’t one “secular ethics.” RHE’s views are very different from those of Ayn Rand, for instance, while many “conservative” Christians love Rand. Yet Rand is as secular as they come. Christopher Hitchens supported the Iraq War. And so on and so forth. I do worry that Rachel and other “socially liberal” Christians wind up accepting cultural trends too uncritically and reading their faith (sincerely) in light of those trends, but this is a fault we are all prone to. That’s why I think we need each other (and in particular need the guidance of the historic Catholic Church, but that’s another debate).

        • Thursday1

          many “conservative” Christians love Rand.

          1. From my own experience, I don’t think it is actually true that conservative Christians are particularly into Ayn Rand.
          2. It is true that there seem to be two kinds of secular morality: left liberal/progressive, and right liberal/libertarian. What they share is a vast difference with religious morality. Again, Haidt has done a lot of research in this area.
          3. In any event, Haidt has actually done tons of research on all this, and he can’t easily be dismissed. The fact that religious progressives’ morality aligns so well, almost perfectly, with secular morality in his research should give them serious pause. In any event, even just eyeballing it could have told you much the same thing.

        • Andrew Dowling

          Thank you.

  • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

    One more thought: I find it fascinating that, in light of Matthew 25, 1 John 4, and 1 Corinthians 13, we never really talk about love and orthodoxy. “He that loves not knows not God…” “If I speak with the tongues of angels…if I have all knowledge and understanding…but don’t have love, I am but a clanging cymbal.”

    I think sometimes about Martin Luther and John Calvin who are (rightly) praised for their brilliant minds, which produced important, good theology. But Luther called for Jews to be rounded up and killed, and Calvin’s got the whole Servetus skeleton in his closet. (Nearly every tradition has those skeletons, of course. Even Yoder and Gandhi abused women.) And I can’t help but wonder – how good is your theology, really, if your life does not exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control? Why do we make this distinction between theology and works? – to the point that someone can be cruel and even violent, but if his/her theology is “sound,” we give them a pass.

    That may be a topic for another day….

    • http://www.chriskrycho.com/ Chris Krycho

      I suppose I’m curious who the “we” you refer to is. I don’t know any believers personally who would affirm any of that, and I go to a thoroughly Calvinistic SBC church whose lead pastor is on the TGC council. Our church has a weakness in “each-other-ing” (as an elder put it to me in a conversation last week), but is growing steadily in that—and the previous church we attended had exactly the same issue, despite being distinctly non-Calvinistic and completely disconnected from TGC, etc.

      That’s not to say that the issue you bring up doesn’t exist. I am sure there are places and times when it is an issue. But I pretty much *never* see or hear folks talking about orthodoxy without talking about the issue of love and asking whether we’re communicating in a loving way and backing that up with our deeds. Whether we’re succeeding is of course a different issue; but that certainly seems to be the aim of everyone I read and everyone I talk to.

      On Luther and Calvin: I haven’t read any modern hagiographies of either. Even as we hold up their theologies, every major interaction I’ve read with them—including by thoroughgoing fans of the Reformation, and including all the major biographies that have come out in the last few years—grapple quite seriously with their failings.

      So while we can definitely grow in this area—can’t we always?—I still want to know who this amorphous “we” is?

      • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

        Well, here’s an example, straight from TGC:

        I had a bit of a disagreement with Doug Wilson once, over his statement that men must preserve their authority over their wives during sex by “conquering and colonizing” them. I noted that this seemed inconsistent with 1 Corinthians 7 and that the language used by Wilson might strike victims of domestic violence in particular as problematic. In response, Wilson wrote a really crude and unkind blog post in which he referred to me and another woman as “dykes.” I was horrified, but when I mentioned it to folks at TGC they said “Oh, well. That’s just Doug’s way. He can be caustic but he makes some great points!” And I was just…baffled by that. A homophobic slur gets a pass because it’s in the context of making a point?

        So there’s one example.

        When I say “we,” I mean Christians in general. Because I find myself guilty on this front as well. I have a higher tolerance for cruelty or ad hominem attacks from someone who is making a point with which I agree. I’ve had to repent of that and pray about that a lot lately. So it’s a problem a lot of us have – particularly those of us who tend to idolize being “right” over being kind.

        • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

          To get the convo back on track, I’m just asking to what degree is right theology without love really right theology? Really orthodox? From a biblical perspective, it seems the two must go hand in hand.

          • Alastair J Roberts

            Good question. I think that lack of love is most definitely fundamentally inconsistent with right theology. If left unchecked, it can and will pervert the whole. This does not mean that someone’s theology is automatically wrong because they display a lack of love. We are all inconsistent creatures and the leaven of certain attitudes is often arrested before it has the time to work through our thinking.

            That said, the label of ‘unloving’ is far too readily applied without biblical warrant. The biblical vision of love doesn’t straightforwardly align with contemporary values of sensitivity and empathy. Often quite the opposite. On a number of occasions in Scripture leaders are praised for resisting the urge of pity and empathy and accused when they gave into it inappropriately. The true leader in Scripture needs to have the nerve to hurt people and is often called to do just that. Practically every biblical leader was called to take life as part of their vocation and most were marked out as men of violence when God called them. People like the Levites or Phinehas were set apart for special service precisely on account of their willingness to perform radical acts of violence in God’s service.

            Much of the language of Scripture is far from kind. Indeed, some of the language of the prophets is fairly brutal. Paul used a fair amount of unkind words in his letters when dealing with Judaizers and others. The Bible consistently and often purposefully uses rough language: for instance, Deuteronomy 23:17-18 doesn’t speak of ‘sex workers’, but of ‘whores’ and ‘dogs’. Biblical language is often calculated to hurt our feelings and offend our sensibilities, to tear away our palliating euphemisms and present us with the face of sin in all of its ugliness.

            The most common biblical picture of the leader is the shepherd. However, the biblical vision of the shepherd is quite different from ours. The biblical shepherd is, like our conception of the shepherd, a figure who is gentle, nurturing, and protective of the flock. However, a large proportion of the biblical images of the shepherd focus upon the shepherd as a figure of conflict and violence, someone who protects the sheep by killing wolves, bears, and lions, who fights off thieves, bandits, and rival shepherds, who lays down his life for the flock. The shepherd is clearly called to act out of love, but this love is far from a generic niceness. Rather, because the shepherd loves the sheep, he gives the wolves no quarter. Attacking wolves is the loving thing to do. The sheep are comforted by the rod with which the shepherd drives off or destroys enemies, like God brought the land of Egypt to its knees using the rods of the shepherds Moses and Aaron.

            Of course, supposed righteous anger and violence can be intoxicating and can only properly be exercised by those who do so, not out of any love for violence itself, but out of a principled love for the flock, commitment to its Chief Shepherd, and a prudent and wise employment of appropriate means for each situation. I have issues with key occasions and ways in which Wilson uses his rhetoric: indeed, I’ve said as much directly to him. I also get frustrated with many of his fans who use the biblical mandate for sharp language as an excuse for their love of fighting. I am also concerned that we make sure that we are dealing with wolves before we leap to attack mode.

            However, unlike many of his critics, Wilson is absolutely right to hold as a principle that, as a shepherd of a Christian congregation, it is appropriate to follow the example of Paul, Jesus, and the prophets and to use painful rhetorical barbs as a means of protecting the flock. Of course, such barbs need to be employed highly judiciously and it is in assessing the appropriate ways and sorts of barbs that are to be used that Wilson and I part ways. My more substantial concerns are with those who elevate generic ‘kindness’ and ‘empathy’ above most else and use these values to dissolve any biblical principles or teachings that might be experienced as hurtful by any party.

            Finally, I think that there is profound danger in making the heightened sensitivities of some persons the measure of all appropriate speech. I think such persons should be protected as much as possible from rougher contexts of speech for the sake of all parties. It is not our desire to wound the weak. When a book like Wilson’s (written in the days before the Internet was anything like what it is today), with an explicit warning at the beginning that it is written for men and that some of the rougher language used—the objectionable sentence in question was a softened version of a C.S. Lewis passage—was not written for women’s ears, has to be judged by the way that it will be heard by victims of domestic violence, I think that we have a problem. This doesn’t make his description or Lewis’ an appropriate or accurate one or mean that it cannot be challenged on that basis. It just means that some contexts of discourse should be off-limits to those who, for whatever reason, have thinner skins.

            Thanks for the comment.

          • C. Quinn-Jones

            ‘The biblical vision of love does not straightforwardly align with contemporary values of sensitivity and empathy.’ Amen
            ‘The Lord disciplines those he loves…No discipline seems pleasant at the time,but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace, for those who have been trained by it.’ Hebrews 12: 6 & 1.
            Personally, I welcome the discipline of the Lord in my life.In my experience, the above verses from Hebrews are profoundly true.
            I also say Amen to what you have said about ‘the biblical vision of the shepherd.’
            Jesus, who showed so much compassion for broken-hearted people, sick people and disadvantaged people was also ‘The Lion of Judah’.

          • C. Quinn-Jones

            Correction: Hebrews 12: 6 & 11

        • Thursday1

          I think it only fair to point out that you behaved pretty badly yourself in that particular brouhaha. I suspect TGC was rather reluctant to adjudicate a dispute between two monkeys throwing feces at each other.

          • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

            I did not think it was “behaving badly” to point out that this teaching seemed contrary to 1 Corinthians 7. And I have yet to hear a single explanation from anyone on how exerting authority over a woman during sex is consistent with biblical teaching.

          • Thursday1

            I wasn’t talking about the substance of your complaint. You can be right on substance and still behave like a massive jerk, which you did.

          • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

            Can you show me, specifically, how I behaved like a massive jerk?

          • Thursday1

            Alastair covered the whole brouhaha rather exhaustively in his Triggering and Triggered series. It is easily available.

          • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

            Thursday1, I’ve been in a conference the past three days and so not able to keep up. But I’d note (a) Rachel already admitted above her own complicity in the point she’s making, (b) ‘massive jerk’ is the kind of ad hominem that gets by both by being underspecified and so by being able to be applied to just about anyone at any time, and (c) this kind of tu quoque approach doesn’t fit our comment ethos at all. If you have those kinds of complaints, I’d argue that you should take them elsewhere (if you must make them).

          • Thursday1

            1. I did suggest she go to Alistair’s posts for the specific details. He may be too polite to use the words I used, but the behaviour of Ms. Evans enumerated there was very bad behaviour indeed. You may, of course, object to the rhetorical effect of “massive jerk”, and deem it inappropriate for your own site. However, given the specific behaviours to which it refers, I don’t think the term is in any way inaccurate or used in too general a way for this case.
            2. Ms. Evans was complaining about Doug Wilson’s harsh rhetoric in that controversy, and suggested that TGC was culpable for not censuring him. I suggested that maybe they just didn’t want to adjudicate the equivalent of a high school food fight. That, as much as bias towards a friend and ally, may have been just as much of a factor in that case.
            3. While I think it good that she is recognizing some of her (and our) unfortunate tendencies, I don’t think she’s taken much responsibility for her behaviour in that mess at all.

    • Thursday1

      I have a saying: Nothing is more contested than the meaning of love.

      I’ll unpack this a bit: love means to will and desire the good of another. But that just brings up the question “What is the good?” Is the good reducible to subjective happiness, the absence of suffering, and the proper distribution of those things, or is it living out our purposes as expressed in our sexed bodies? Depending on what assumptions you start out with, you’re going to come to some very different conclusions.

      All too often “love” is raised simply to impose a purely utilitarian conception of the good on others, when that is precisely the issue in dispute.

      Love can’t be the standard for resolving a dispute about what exactly love means.

  • Thursday1

    It is true that a lot of self identified progressive or liberal Christians are now making the creed the standard to rally around. But, to be honest, I don’t think this goes very deep. For example, in the past, Ms. Evans and others, despite their proclaimed adherence to the creeds, have been reluctant to label as heretics even those who diverge from the creed in the most flagrant ways. A stance that says “I personally believe in the articles of the creed, but I don’t think it all that important that others believe in them” isn’t the slightest bit persuasive. I suspect that, should they get their way on moral issues, many progressives would immediately revert to questioning the creedal core. So, IMO, this is expediency, a desperate hail mary attempt to find some common ground with theological conservatives so as to maintain at least some influence within their communities.

    I also suspect a lot of this switch has to do with the pressure progressive Christians feel from the secular world to get with the program on the gay issue. You can nominally affirm the Christian creeds (the secular world doesn’t give tinker’s damn about theology per se) and still be a bona fide progressive, but you are most certainly not allowed to dissent on full affirmation of gay sexual relationships. So, since there needs to be at least the appearance of common ground with theological conservatives, and it can’t be traditional sexual morality, the creeds it is!

    To be fair, most of these progressives already had their hearts genuinely on the side of affirmation, but the vehement opposition of theological conservatives made them hold off on expressing that. The pressure from the secular world was only the last straw.

    • Thursday1

      Why did this sudden newfound concern about rallying around the creeds pop up at just this moment?

      • Edwin Woodruff Tait

        I think it’s true that socially liberal Christians are proclaiming creedal orthodoxy more than they used to, but I think there are a bunch of explanations for this, any one of which makes more sense than your cynical account:

        1. Many “progressive” Christians, like RHE, are coming from an evangelical perspective and are not simply part of “traditional” liberalism. That is to say, they care deeply about the core affirmations of evangelical faith but question some of the social teachings identified with conservative evangelicalism. They are acting in good faith in insisting that they aren’t challenging creedal orthodoxy. It’s unfair to lump them in with, say, John Shelby Spong.

        2. In the denomination I’ve belonged to for 16 years now, the Episcopal Church, I’ve seen a definite move back toward creedal orthodoxy, together with a steady trend toward social liberalism. Some of that is due to consideration 1–the influx of young evangelicals who are drawn to an “inclusive” stance but also to the liturgical conservatism and creedal heritage of Anglicanism. But I think it’s also due to the fact that the folks who don’t care about creedal orthodoxy are increasingly leaving Christianity altogether. Just as Reform Jews have begun moving back toward the practice of halakha to some extent, liberal Christians have, I think, finally begun to realize that endless openness on doctrine is counterproductive.

        3. Finally, I think that the cultural environment is different. In the 20th century the great worry of liberal Christians was expressed by Bultmann–that Christian faith was too “mythological” and wasn’t believable by secular “modern man.” That’s not really the issue to the same extent today. So, insofar as I’d agree with your cynical account, I’d say that liberal Christians don’t feel the same anxiety about creedal orthodoxy that liberals of the 50s and 60s did. They do feel anxiety about the widespread identification of Christianity with sexual conservatism as well as with capitalism and nationalism (I worry about the last two as well, as well as about the forms of sexual conservatism that are present in the popular mind and advocated by many vocal conservatives).

        • Thursday1

          Doubtless some of what you say is true, particularly the influx of people from more conservative backgrounds, but I’m cynical because this newfound adherence to the creeds is usually pretty loose.

          A stance that says “I personally believe in the articles of the creed, but I don’t think it all that important that others believe in them” is typical.

        • Thursday1

          While it might arguably be unfair to lump people like Ms. Evans in with the likes of Spong and Bultmann, it is most certainly not unfair to lump her in with, say, Pete Rollins or Brian McLaren.

          • Thursday1

            Found a nice little quote from Scot McKnight that’s relevant:

            “Unfortunately, this book [McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity] lacks the “generosity” of genuine orthodoxy and, frankly, I find little space in it for orthodoxy itself. Orthodoxy for too many today means little more than the absence of denying what’s in the creeds. [my emphasis]”

  • Thursday1

    The limitation of the term heresy to things that have been, for example, condemned by a church council or something similar seems hyper-technical. The colloquial use of the term to refer to “gross errors in theology” does not seem to me wrong in any obvious way, and therefore I would be reluctant to proscribe that use of the term. Now, reaching for the h-word is not always the most effective rhetorical move, so we might ask that people sit down and think a bit before they throw it into the mix, but I don’t think the real problem is that people are using the word inaccurately.

  • Brian Watson

    It’s not online to read, but James Spiegel wrote an essay called “Moral Heresy” in the most recent edition of Philosophia Christi. If you can find it, it’s certainly worth reading.

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