Monday, July 25, 2011

An Arrogant Theology

It’s important for people to be right… or, if I’m honest, it’s important for me to be right.

As I’ve studied and taught philosophy and logic, I’ve begun to learn the “art of argumentation”, and the honing of this skill has certainly infiltrated my quest for biblical/theological expertise.

Over these last few months, as I’ve patrolled the blogosphere, I’ve noticed that this is a primary preoccupation amongst bloggers and those commenting.

Whether the conversation is about God…

…or hell…

…or homosexuality…

…or salvation.

We want to be right.

It seems, though, that the two primary camps at the forefront of biblical/theological argumentation (the neo-liberals and the neo-Calvinists [I’m painting broadly here]) have vastly different ways of expressing their claim(s) to accurately interpreting the Bible.

For instance, those within the neo-Calvinist camp (which I would generally place myself within) seem fixated on making propositional statements; whereas, the neo-liberal camp seem fixated on asking questions.

But don’t be fooled; winsome and provocative questions can be just as affirming of truth and accuracy as are propositional statements.  Consider what Kevin DeYoung has to say on the matter:

Don’t think for a second the questions don’t communicate something…Words mean something and words do something. Whether the sentences end in question marks or not…who could think for a moment that I am not teaching something? This is not mere provocation. It is not an expression of searching inquiry or humble wrestling. My questions pack a rhetorical punch. They tell you what I think is foolish and what is wise. They suggest that some beliefs are noble and others are not. They tell you what God is like and what you should believe about him. My questions teach.

Often, those within the neo-Calvinist camp are accused, by those in the neo-liberal camp, of arrogantly claiming their confidence in their biblical exegesis (which is usually demonstrated via propositional statements).  And, although I am willing to admit that I can, at times, struggle with this claimed theological arrogance, can we be sure that a similar form of arrogance is not found in winsomely and provocatively posing questions?  In other words, regardless of which camp we fall in, we ought to be cautious in disparaging someone because of their assumed arrogance, when we might be akin to the same form of arrogance in our assertions of biblical superiority.

Perhaps this is a prefacing post, as my plan for the next few posts is to think through an issue that is becoming heavily discussed in the media and the blogosphere. 

The issue…is homosexuality.

Is it a sin?

Was Paul only talking about man/boy pedophilia?

Is the Bible even clear on this issue?

How are Christians supposed to relate to homosexuals?

Can a homosexual be a Christian?

These are going to be some of the questions that I plan on thinking through over these next few weeks and months.  And, although my intention will be to eventually make propositional statements regarding what I see as biblical truth claims, my hope is that those who would want to disparage me for “arrogantly” stating such-and-such, would instead consider their hearts before disparaging, and, in the end, if an attack is necessary, attack the argument, rather than the arguer.

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