So I am uncharitable? Maybe you should grow a pair…

Thomas Jay Oord
Thomas Jay Oord (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catchy title huh? But it arises out of a really disappointing experience that I had recently. I am a theology junkie. I am committed to Orthodox Christian faith but I am not a fundamentalist. I am begrudgingly accepting of the label “evangelical” because to far too many evangelicals I am a “progressive”. I don’t buy into biblical inerrancy. I believe in evolution. I think that the Adam and Eve story are “true myth” as opposed to actual historical events. Maybe they were “real” people, it really doesn’t matter because their story is my story, your story, our story. I don’t see that it really matters all that much. We weren’t there at the time so we really don’t know do we? Yet it is pretty obvious that just like Adam and Eve we all inevitably chose the “forbidden fruit”, we listen to that slithering, snaky serpent, and we sin against God. We lose the “garden”. We try to hide our “nakedness”. And we die. So what’s the big deal? The Genesis story is true for each one of us whether it is true or not.

I am a Facebook junkie. I have met the coolest people via this medium of social networking. I have a wide range of friends and we have some really interesting discussions. One of the coolest people I “met” was Thomas Jay Oord. He is a Nazarene professor, preacher, and an advocate of Open Theism. He holds to a decidedly Wesleyan view of scripture and has been an important voice in resisting those in the Nazarene church who have been pushing the church to adopt the language of biblical inerrancy in the doctrinal statement. They recently rejected (again) an attempt to take their denomination down this road. I admire him for his stand for historical Wesleyanism and his resistance to committing his denomination to the brain draining commitment to biblical inerrancy.

I recently joined in a discussion that he and some of his Facebook friends were having. The discussion was pretty evenly divided. Yet there was this one fellow who was equating a “non-inerrant” view of scripture with compromise, slippery slopes, and not being quite “orthodox”.

I offered the Wesleyan view that “scripture is sufficient for the knowledge of salvation” (loose quote but you get the point) and that the idea of biblical inerrancy was not Wesleyan, nor was it historic. Rather, it is a fairly new view of scripture and that the Nazarenes should avoid it like the plague. I was getting “likes” (a whole bunch of them) from Oord and his friends.

The one fellow kept making broad statements and to be honest he may as well have said that we were all going to hell. He typed with lots of !!!!!!!!!!!!, so I jokingly said, “wow all those !!!!!! lends intellectual credibility to your argument, it worked, I am CONVINCED OF INERRANCY, NOT!

Well apparently that was too much. It was half joking, yet I guess it was a bit smart arsed. All of a sudden I couldn’t see the conversation. I had been BLOCKED (oh my lions, and tigers, and bears). It was the oddest feeling.

Oord a man of extraordinary intellect, who had been berated and beat upon by “good Christian brothers” like ole “fundy fellow” had blocked me. My comment was uncharitable. Hmmm ok, if I was a potty mouth I would type WTF, but I am not, so I didn’t. But it became ever so clear to me that we moderates are far too nice to those who want us to go away and speak to us as if we are heretics and heathens. We tolerate their crazy rants, we baby them, we pamper them, we lovingly caress them trying to soothe their fears, and then we come after “our own” with a vengeance.

I wonder just what the heck is wrong with us? Why do we do that? Was it uncharitable for me to poke fun of “ole fundy fellow”? Perhaps but maybe a good dose of reality is helpful. But it was more than Oord could tolerate.

I fumed for a day or so. I was frustrated. I even had “hurt feelings” (yuk, man up). I even emailed an apology with no response. Sometimes I don’t understand theologians, especially those who, like me self identify as moderates or take “moderate theological positions”. Why is it ok for Fundamentalists and left-wingers to be mean, yet we moderates slaughter one another for even the smallest hint of having “manned up and grown a pair”.

Oh well I will never know, at least from Oord because he didn’t respond….

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13 thoughts on “So I am uncharitable? Maybe you should grow a pair…”

  1. Welcome to the club. Having been around the web for the past quarter century, I have been booted from several forums because I often espouse nonconformist points of view. Based on my experiences, let me assure you, that the issue isn’t just confined to theology. Exile is rampant in the secular world as well.
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    The notion of biblical inerrancy, i.e. fundamentalism, is little more than a knee-jerk reactions to Darwin. In may ways, it has may of the attributes of the paranoia that inspired the Alien Registration (Smith) Act of 1940. As with the Smith Act, biblical inerrancy becomes a quickie litmus test to divide the world into friend and foe. Sadly, this line of thinking is predicated on profound insecurity in the strength of one’s own position. It may also be little more than prima facie evidence of an overactive or enlarged amygdala.

    1. agreed mostly, but fundamentalism is not JUST a response to Darwinism. It is a response to modernity, and plenary biblical inerrancy is an outcome of Sola scriptura.

      1. It is perfectly acceptable to argue that fundamentalism was a reaction of the modernist theology or even the Enlightenment. After all, this position was neatly summarized in 1922 by E. J. Pace in his The Descent of the Modernists illustration.
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        Yet, the idea that “man descended from a monkey” rather than being “created in the image of God” really gets old-line fundamentalists worked up. In this regard, it is worth pointing out that “man not made in God’s image” is the second step from Christianity in Pace’s analysis of modernism.
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        Actually, however, the claim that “man descended from a monkey” may be little more than a fundamentalist red herring. The real issue may be that acceptance of Darwin means that God did not create woman from the rib of a man! In turn, this shatters notions of male superiority as man being created in the image of God and then presumably inferior woman being created in the image of man. Instead, woman may be a parallel creature walking beside man rather than behind him.
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        Carried to its logical conclusion, Darwin’s theory raises questions of whether woman could be responsible for bringing “sin” into the world. This, in turn, sends the concept of a wife being under the thumb of her husband skating on some very thin ice. Move a step further, and women may not be on this earth merely to serve men and crank out kids. This can really turn a man’s vanity into vexation!
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        In many ways, Darwinian effects on Protestantism rivals the impact of the Copernican Revolution on Catholicism. in that their observations of the natural world contradicted the Bronze Age concepts on which the Bible is based. Darwin rearranged the orderly hierarchy of God, man, and woman in much the same way that the trinity of Copernican geometry, Galilean observation, and Newtonian theory demolished the Bible’s portrayal of a geocentric universe.

        1. Yep I agree totally with that. Perhaps I should have said that modernity includes evolution of course.
          I do think evolution creates a challenge for protestantism more than catholicism, partly to do because of the spread of protestantism to the american north. I would posit that the rise of “manifest destiny” in the american psyche created the background where fundamentalism of the anti-evolutionary type emerged.
          I would go as far as saying that it is this idea that america is somewhat God’s country BECAUSE of it’s protestantism that is at the heart of biblical inerrancy. Of course the belief needs a literal OT thus the US usurps Israel’s place in the story just like the Brits did during Queen Elizabeth down to Victoria.
          I might be wrong though.

          1. While it may be largely a matter of semantics, I see Darwin as the centerpiece in the fundamentalist cosmology of modernism in that it dwarfs everything else in the manner of an oak tree on a dining room table!
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            The United States is a religion-made culture in which fundamentalism is merely one of native born quirky religions. In this regard, fundamentalism may only differ in that it didn’t spring from the Burned-over District of New York.
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            While fundamentalism may have given Manifest Destiny feet and turned America into a globe hopping imperialist empire, the seminal concept was present in the wake of the American Revolution. Reading between the lines of The Constitution of the United States, the idea was most certainly accepted fact during the Philadelphia Convention in 1787.
            .
            The notion that white people as God’s chosen people requires both a curious historical rewrite as well as subscribing to a mountain of junk science. Back when the sun never set on the British empire, the concept was known as British Israelism. Later, until the house of cards collapsed, Herbert W. Armstrong was a tireless promoter of an Americanized version.

  2. Jason, I also see myself as moderate. And we seem to share similar views. I do remember blocking someone, but I thought it was someone who was using ad hominen attacks. I don’t remember it being you, but you may be right. In any case, I didn’t mean to offend you. I encourage constructive conservation, and I’m sorry if I wrongly cut you off from that. I Applogize.

    Tom

    1. Then I imagine that with a history of constructive and insightful conversations that we have had (you have really helped me with hell, Open Theism, and scriptural authority; perhaps an unblock might be in order)?

      1. Jason,

        I did several searches on facebook (among my friends and in general), and I can’t find you anywhere! Really weird! This confirms my suspicion that I didn’t “block” you (otherwise, you’d still be listed among my friends). But it also confirms your statements that we are no longer capable of posting on each other’s website. Again, this is weird! I don’t know what happened. (Incidentally, I still have our private message history, but your name is now no longer a link to your page. This must mean our friendship was somehow disconnected electronically.)

        In any case, could you send yet another friend request so I can accept? Sorry for the inconvenience!

        Tom

        1. Yes you did indeed My FB user name is Jason Douglas Greene. I inboxed you an email and you never responded. It was probably 3 or 4 weeks ago. I thought it strange. Check your blocked person list. You even referred to it after, calling me by name. June 25th 3:03 p.m. on your page:

          Thomas Jay Oord Jonathan – I have no problem with disagreement. But I don’t allow uncharitable comments. So I blocked Jason.

          It really is ok, yet at 2:58 you had said to Jonathan, Thomas Jay Oord Jonathan – I think its uncharitable to call inerrantists false prophets.

          This makes my point. You tolerated him, you called him out, You liked my comments, yet you blocked me because I called out this fellow. It really is ok. My well-being doesn’t stand or fall on whether I am your FB friend, but this dialogue which is still on your FB page makes my point…

          1. Thanks, Jason. I’ll check the “blocked person list” (if I can figure out where it is!).

            Thanks for the short history of the matter. It helps jog my memory. I probably wasn’t thinking clearly in this, because I remember not knowing what was the proper response to me being called a false prophet!

            I suppose this whole situation gets at one of my ongoing struggles: what’s the correct way to respond to personal attacks? I want to act lovingly, but it’s not clear to me what is most loving in each case. I blocked one person (and I guess I blocked you too), but I didn’t block others who were equally uncharitable.

            In general, I find it easier to “call out” those who are acting uncharitably toward others. When some uncharitably toward me, I worry that whatever action I take will come across self-serving rather than simply the proper thing to do in response to personal attacks.

            Tom

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