Thursday, August 26, 2010

A thought on the Mohler – Spong video

Some very interesting comments on the video below – and they prompted me to ponder the sort of claims thrown around by both Spong and Mohler once again. What struck me was the either-or thinking of both of them. For example, Spong claims you are either an 'adult' or you speak about being 'born again'; 'authority' or 'uncertainty'. Mohler agreed with the last and added that one has either total inerrancy of the bible or no ability to trust the Bible and no basis for any faith etc.

I would suggest, at the very least, that if we were to take the shape of the canon of scripture seriously, we will resist these either-ors. It should not surprise us that those who write theologies of the New Testament always struggle to articulate the unity of scripture's message, in light of the diversity of theological claims in the text. And this is not even to consider some of the subversive theological implications of OT texts.

What is more, think of the plurality of witnesses in both testaments: the histories in the OT diverge at various points, providing effectively at least two view points on the rise and decline of the monarchy. Take King David’s census, for example – according to 2 Sam., the business was God’s idea (‘And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah’ 24:1), yet 1 Chron. says that it wasn’t God’s idea, but rather ... satan’s! (‘And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel’ 21:1).Turn to the NT and we have four Gospels. Here, think simply of the different perspectives evident in relation to Jerusalem, geography, the timing of the crucifixion and resurrection and the events surrounding them, and, more importantly, the portrayal of Jesus (have a look at Richard Burridge's helpful Four Gospels, One Jesus?: A Symbolic Reading. London: SPCK, 1994).

Either-or theology certainly has a place; it needs to be deployed in terms of the truth of the gospel (I think here of Paul's curses in his letter to the Galatians! - Barth put it like this: "The gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question mark against all truths"). But once this way of thinking resists room for acceptance of 'the plurality of truth' (I take this from the subtitle of John Franke's bok, Manifold Witness), we end up in the over-realised theological trouble of both Spong and Mohler.


At 8/26/2010 5:00 PM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

Isn't Mohler an inerrantist and a young-earth creationist? How can he and Spong even UNDERSTAND one another?

At 8/27/2010 9:22 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Yes, a key question.


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