Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Left Field Fundamentalism



Recently one of those way out in left field type scholars said that “sooner or later” Christians have to choose between the Bible and inerrancy. I won’t name this person, because I don’t think they deserve the respect or attention, but for the duration of this post, I will call them Lefty.

Let’s start by answering Lefty’s claim: No, you don’t – unless you define “inerrancy” as do certain modern Christians like Norman Geisler. Regular readers are aware that my own understanding of “inerrancy” is tailored to the world of the Bible – the eras of the Old and New Testament – and that the standard for “inerrant” in that context isn’t as harsh as it would be if we held to a modern, precision-oriented, and quite frankly anachronistic understanding of inerrancy.

But that’s not the reason for this post. The reason is to comment on the abject irony of someone like Lefty who resides in left field, on what some would call the “liberal” wing of Christianity, and tries to force a patently fundamentalist dichotomy on those on the far “right field” side. In terms of inerrancy as they understand it, Lefty is on one side, and the likes of Norman Geisler is on the other. And in this very dichotomy, Lefty is acting out his own part as a liberal fundamentalist who sees no shades of gray between black and white.

An example Lefty gave, the old “genealogies of Jesus” canard, is a classic one. Lefty tries to force us to accept a dichotomy between a) they are inerrant as Geisler would see them, so we must resort to saying, e.g., Luke has Mary’s genealogy; or b) we abandon inerrancy. 

Of course, it’s not as though that aren’t cogent arguments that Luke is indeed presenting Mary’s genealogy. And ironically, Lefty rejects this possibility on what amounts to fundamentalist grounds: That both Matthew and Luke “explicitly say that they are giving Joseph’s genealogy.” 

Um…he doesn’t think those who argue for it being Mary’s genealogy are aware of this? 

Glenn Miller retains one of better defenses of the idea (link below); though it is not my own option, it contains enough careful details to be a respectable option, and it isn’t answered by a plaintive neo-fundamentalist assertion that “Luke explicitly says it is Joseph.” That sort of rap we expect from a former fundy and apostate like Farrell Till – not from an alleged serious scholar.

My own answer is different (link below): Matthew’s genealogy is ideological, not biological, and he expected readers to know this. This is also in line with a contextualized understanding of inerrancy. But based on his retort above, I wonder if Lefty would say again, “But it explicitly says….!” He probably would, because further comments of his also sound the same: “you will deny that they mean what they say,” “you are in fact saying that one of them, taken at face value, is wrong,” etc.

Hmm. Kind of ironic, because that’s exactly the sort of answers Norman Geisler gave Mike Licona on Matthew 27. 

Clearly, the “left” has its own form of fundamentalism – and its own victims of it.

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