An open question to Paul Blowers

I posted this here… but I thought I would do so here. I mean the second here is my blog. The first here is clearly there. (cleaned up tho)

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Paul,

Actually, I am in Appalachia (I hope you pronounce it correctly). As such, I know that doing what is right, regardless of “representation” is what is expected in our hills. As you are clearly concerned with representation, I will take this as an affirmation that you do indeed represent ECS whenever, wherever you post.

But, let us talk about representation for a minute, if you will.

As a firm believer in Christ, I like all Christians, represent Christ to the world. Do you? Are you representing the questioning minds? Are you representing Grace? Do you defend those who you think have wronged you in some way?

As a student of Scripture, I represent those who believe that, like the author of Job, to question is to live.

As an academic, I represent those who seek the truth and all truth is God’s truth, even if it upsets us, or causes us to consider the work we have done in the field as now worthless.

As a future teacher, I represent those who hope to teach in academic freedom, to follow Luther, Calvin, Barton, Campbell, and Wesley, in challenging what we know from Tradition, in challenging what we’ve been taught – taught how to read Scripture – and to, by this, encourage others.

I represent equally those who doubt, because in my doubt – doubt over the purity of Scripture, doubt in the “biblical values” – my faith in Christ has grown.

Paul, I want to now know – in your push to terminate, have you used more than your physical voice, and instead, as one who sits in an endowed chair, and related to those who have endowed chairs, some how become the oppressor you have sought to hide in Scripture?

Let’s talk theology, Paul. Are you, in all of this, in all of your interactions with Dr. Rollston, with students, those like us – with Scripture – have you exhibited the open table of your heritage, the grace of Jesus?

Tell us, Paul, theologically, who do you represent?

Post By Joel Watts (10,074 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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5 thoughts on An open question to Paul Blowers

  1. Dear Joel:

    I think that Dr. Blowers made it fairly clear that he was tired of engaging comments from onlookers in the stands because it was distracting him from coaching the game on the field, so to speak. But perhaps I can address some of your concerns, speaking as just another person looking with interest on what Dr. Rollston has done.

    At http://www.ecs.edu/HEA/general.aspx the first sentence states:

    “Emmanuel Christian Seminary is a Graduate Christian Seminary committed to the lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of Scripture and to the vision of the unity of world Christianity as arising from the work of such thinkers as Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone.”

    Thus it is a real problem when a professor at a school which has presented itself as an institution /committed to the authority of Scripture/ openly states that a particular doctrine taught in Scripture is incorrect and should not be valued by anyone.

    In addition to some specific shortcomings in his interpretations of some passages of Scripture, I see two problems in general with what Dr. Rollston has done. First, his interpretive approach is flawed by a tendency to define Biblical teachings as anything taught in the Bible to anyone at any time (without regard for covenants/dispensations, special circumstances, etc.). Instead, he should define Biblical teachings as what the Bible teaches to us at this end of the continuum of revelation. Any doctrine can be vindicated via anecdote. If one is not teaching what the Bible, taken as a whole, reveals to the church, for the church, then one is not teaching Biblical doctrine, any more than a person with paints has a painting.

    Second, although he is an employee of an institution that presents itself as a school committed to the authority of Scripture, the title of his Huffington Post article describes the marginalization of women as a Biblical value, and as he concludes the article he states, “To embrace the dominant biblical view of women would be to embrace the marginalization of women,” and, “The Bible often marginalized women and that’s not something anyone should value.” Thus it seems clear (to me) that he has no reservations about rejecting a Biblical teaching. To the extent that this is the case, it contradicts the self-description of Emmanuel Christian Seminary as a school committed to the authority of the Bible.

    So: who does Dr. Blowers represent? It looks to me like he has spoken for himself. But I suspect that his situation may be shared by other school-stewards who do not want to contradict the way they have described their school; that is, he represents some people who feel obligated to maintain the integrity of the school and their own integrity.

    I hope that they can get this worked out.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    • James,

      His insistance came after I posed my question. And, as I have shown, I am not in the stands. Other agree. His cliche is nothing more than an attempt to deflect.

      Your take on the article is from a confessional standpoint, but not the academic standpoint – something ECS also claims to see. What exactly is wrong about Rollston’s article? Or, another way. Slavery is a biblical value. Should we embrace that? So is kidnapping and raping wives. Do we equally embrace this, or do we turn a blind eye? Perhaps we should simply speak where Scripture speaks and be silent where Scripture is silent? So that we embrace slavery, we embrace polygamy, and we embrace the stoning of unruly children.

      As you said, Blowers wants to coach. Therefore, he does not represent himself. He represents ECS, although it may be that ECS will soon find this representation unwanted.

    • James,

      I have to agree with Joel’s assessment here, as it appears that the issue of authority and interpretation have been conflated (or as Joel states–“confessional” vs. “academic”). There are many universities that rigorously embrace the authority of Scripture, yet would agree with Rollston’s conclusions. The issue it seems is the fundamental difference between the authority of Scripture and the “authority” of a particular interpretation of Scripture. Rollston’s conclusion does not speak to the inherent authority of Scripture–but does challenge a certain interpretation of Scripture. While one may not agree with Rollston’s conclusion, one is hard pressed to allege Rollston has denied the authority of Scripture. In other words, you may not like his interpretation, but to accuse him of not holding to the authority of Scripture is a completely different matter altogether.

      In the end, matters of interpretation need to be handled as such and not escalated into challenges of absolute “Biblical” authority.

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