According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" by Pete Enns

The Deeper Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: We Are Not Allowed to Use It
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/01/the-deeper-scandal-of-the-evangelical-mind-we-are-not-allowed-to-use-it/
 
by Pete Enns
January 25, 2013
Comments
 
Mark Noll’s 1995 book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind hit a raw nerve when he declared ”The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” He argued that Evangelical scholarship had a minimal presence in doing serious academic research, and that they need to–and can–do better.
 
His followup book in 2011, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, is Noll’s theological vision for how to move forward–and I don’t mind adding that Noll devoted about 15 pages discussing my 2005 book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament as a (not “the”) constructive model for moving forward.
 
Noll’s books have been a wake up call for many and I think his comments are perceptive and penetrating.
 
Recently, Rachel Held Evans added an important dimension to this discussion. She posted that a deeper problem than the evangelical mind is the scandal of the evangelical heart.
 
What rocked Rachel’s faith wasn’t the failure of the evangelical intellectual project, but the “failure to maintain emotional integrity”–seen, for example, in the emotional detachment some show toward Canaanite genocide in the Bible. Why are so many Evangelicals “fine” with it? Because it’s in the Bible. End of discussion.
 
Rachel has a solid point. I would add the scandal of the evangelical heart includes the manner in which controversies are handled–by which I mean differences of opinion that quickly become “controversies” with a giddy sense of anticipation for the hunt.
 
Back to Noll. I have felt for years that, as right as he is, Noll may be too optimistic.
 
In my experience, the real problem isn’t simply a failure on the part of Evangelicals to engage the world of thought. Evangelicals earning higher degrees and publishing their findings in the wider intellectual community isn’t what’s needed.
 
The real scandal of the Evangelical mind is that we are not allowed to use it.
 
Calling for Evangelical involvement in public academic discourse is useless if trained Evangelicals are legitimately afraid of what will happen to them if they do.
 
A more basic need is the creation of an Evangelical culture where the exercise of the Evangelical mind is expected and encouraged.
 
But, with few exceptions, that culture does not exist. The scandal of the Evangelical mind is that degrees, books, papers, and other marks of prestige are valued–provided you come to predetermined conclusions.
 
Biblical scholarship is the recurring focal point of this type of scandal.
 
*Sure, dig into evolution and the ancient context of Genesis, but by golly you’d better give me an Adam when you’re done.
 
*Knock yourself out with scholarship on the Pentateuch, but make sure at the end of it all you affirm that Moses basically wrote it.
 
*Be part of cutting edge archaeological studies, but when you’re done we want to see you affirm the historicity of the exodus and conquest of Canaan pretty much as the Bible [literally] describes them, regardless of what others say.
 
*Do whatever work you need to do, but when the dust settles, explain how your conclusions fit with inerrancy.
 
The scandal of the Evangelical mind is that doctrine determines academic conclusions.
 
Behind all this is a deeper problem. Evangelicalism is not fundamentally an intellectual organism but an apologetic one. It did not come to be in order to inspire academic exploration but to maintain certain theological distinctives by intellectual means. These intellectual means are circumscribed by Evangelical dogma, though avoiding Fundamentalist anti-intellectualism.
 
As an intellectual phenomenon, the Evangelical experiment is a defensive movement. This raises some obvious questions for me.
 
Is the Evangelical movement able to create the safe space necessary for the exercise of the Evangelical mind–or, does the adjective “Evangelical” already draw clear limits for any intellectual pursuit?
 
Is Evangelicalism self-corrective enough to not only allow but to encourage the exercise of mind, to risk the possibility of discovering that theological change is needed?
 
Can a movement defined by theological defense transform to a movement that willingly accommodates theological change?
 
If not, the deeper scandal of the Evangelical mind will continue.
 
 

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