The latter is yet another blog by a cleric, this time Presbyterian. The other day he posted on a new book by Marcus Borg, the co-author of the book on Jesus that I blogged about last spring and summer. Marvin describes a mixed review of the book:
Brueggemann lauds Borg for offering a vision of Christianity that may win over recovering fundamentalists. At the same time Brueggemann wonders whether Borg's neat division of Christianity into an old paradigm and a new paradigm is accurate or helpful:
In (Borg's) reading, the Bible is either a human document or the divine word. God is either a demanding lawgiver or a generous giver of transformative energy. Jesus must be seen as either a metaphor and sacrament of God or we are stuck with irrelevent formulae cast in inpenetrable rhetoric.
Satan. The Church of Law believes Satan is a real creature from whom only true Christians are protected. The Church of Love sees Satan as a metaphor for the potential for evil that exists in each person, Christian or not, which must be recognized and resisted.
The Bible. The Church of Law reads the Bible literally and considers it the ultimate source of all truth. The Church of Love views the Bible as an inspired but human document that must be read with a critical understanding of its historical and cultural contexts.
This matter has been weighing on my mind because in my Bible study the conversation seems to have a way of turning to criticism of other churches a lot. I remarked on this to my pastor once, and he tried to tone it down, but it really isn't his doing. As I mentioned in my comment at such small hands recently, part of the problem is the presence of an embittered ex-Catholic, who is an interesting guy in a lot of ways but who constantly puts me in a bind. But that's not all of it ... I'm not really sure where it comes from.
The funny thing is, in the more conservative Pentecostal church I used to go to I never heard this. Part of this was no doubt insularity -- they weren't much concerned with ecumenicism either. But it also just seemed to be an attitude that accentuated the positive. Jesus loved them. The church was big and growing. Why worry about what other churches were doing wrong?
I understand, though, that a lot of liberal Christians can find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On some non-Christian blogs I've seen Christians in comment boxes rising to defend their faith against atheists' stereotypes, saying look, we're not all fundies. Which almost always brings somebody to complain, so why don't you nice Christians ever criticize the fundies then? Which is an absurd charge, but shows the kind of pressure that's out there to pick a side in the culture war. Attack the unity of the faith, or be assumed to side with loons -- great choice.