Friday, June 3, 2011

Short Response to Albert Mohler

I just read Albert Mohler's recent article regarding sexuality orientation and Christianity.   If you want to see what this is look here:

I can't help but respond to it, I don't like to respond to things just to argue with them, especially when it comes to people who I know are not going to have a discussion with me on the topic (such as I expect Mohler wouldn't).  Yet, I have to because what is done in this article is so wrong.
I don't know much about Jay Bakker's theology.  I'm sure we wouldn't agree on every point.  Based on Mohler's article, I'm left to assume a changing God, which I would disagree with.  Of course based on other things Mohler has to say, I'm not sure I trust his understanding of that, but even if it is true, it's not a point that would cause me to side with or against Bakker.

What I can say though is that Mohler doesn't present an argument here regarding Christianity and Sexuality Orientation, rather it is a series of personal attacks and unsupported statements leading to a predetermined conclusion.   While Bakker's parents lives influence his theology, that influence, that history has very little to do with Mohler's stance.  It seems it is only brought up in order to remind people of "The Sins of the Parents."  While "biblical,"  I'm pretty sure not even Mohler would actually preach such a thing.  It is one of those things that everyone rejects (unless you're a group like Westboro Baptist) because it doesn't make sense with the overall narrative of scripture and of creation.  Of course without holding to this theology Mohler's next point would seem illogical.  Mohler then presents Bakker's view of the Old Testament what I assume is fairly decently, but with wording which, as one would expect, leaves one thinking Mohler doesn't completely agree.  This though is essential, otherwise Mohler would have to argue that Bakker is up a creak because of his parents (again, Mohler seems to try to walk a fine line here, setting up fences where they work best for him).

So having spent the majority of his space talking about Bakker's family and regarding things that protect him from being called a "fundamentalist" or other such attacking term, finally we get to the crux of Bakker and Mohler's disagreement.  We're in for some great exegetical and theological work here.  Or. . .not?

Mohler claims that arguments that texts mean something other than what Mohler has understood them to mean as "not faithful to the texts."  Why does he feel this way?  I HAVE NO IDEA!  He makes no statements to what makes a translation or interpretation faithful, nor does he do any work to show why his view is faithful.  WHAT?  Okay, well maybe I should already know these things if I'm reading his work, so lets move on.
Mohler also claims that it's wrong to doubt historical views of scripture. . .you mean like slavery?  relationship between races?  gender equality?  Hold on, so maybe he wasn't so okay with Bakker's OT theology, and we are suffering from the sins of our forefathers in very personal ways!!!  I have no idea how he's doing this little balancing act, maybe he'll help by explaining the difference here . . . OR NOT?!?

Instead he turns back on the attack.  Claiming that the term "clobber" is problematic.  I'm not sure I argue with that fact, but his why is off base.  He doesn't argue that clobber is a reactionary term, but rather, that what is being done is right and shouldn't be considered bad in any way.  That we are called to point out when others do something wrong, and thus we all should be "clobbered" by scripture for doing THINGS THAT ARE WRONG.  This is where my theology comes in:  It's not the WHAT that is sinful, but the WHY.  Anything we do can be sinful when we do it for the wrong reasons, of course we are really the only ones who know if we did something for our selves or for God/others.  That is something that takes discernment and reflection.  Both of these things seem so far to be missing from Mohler's article.  But there's still a bit more.

Mohler's final argument has strong? and weak points:
The Bible’s condemnation of same-sex behaviors is comprehensive and clear. Really is it?  I see no support for that out of this article.
It is interwoven with the Bible’s message concerning God’s plan for humanity, marriage, and society. Really?  God states plans for marriage and society?  I seem to miss these clear and comprehensive scriptures as well.  I see some guidence on the subjects: That they are to be full of love and focus on others and not about ourselves.  Maybe that's what Mohler means.
Human flourishing is found only by living in obedience to God’s revealed plan. Hold on, we're back to "The Sins of the Parents" here aren't we?  No? Maybe it's just a prosperity gospel?  No?  What is your point here?  Maybe you mean this the way I'd say it "We find our deepest joys when we live in a state of faithfulness, seeking and discerning God within the world, and joining in where God is working."  Okay, maybe if that's what Mohler meant I can go with him here.
Our rebellion against the Creator is never so insidious as when we declare that our own plan is superior to his. Avoiding the male only God language issue (I struggle at times there too), I wouldn't argue too much with this.  Of course, I would say that "Sin is when we think we choose to think we know all the answers."  Careful Albert Mohler, I think you may have just pointed out the plank in your own eye.

When the Bible, in part or in whole, is dismissed as “clobber Scriptures,” it is not only the Bible that is subverted, but also the Gospel. The Church must recognize that fact clearly - and fast. Speaking of planks, I see nothing in how Bakker or others interpret these scriptures as dismissing them, only working to discern more about the nature of God through them.  So I agree with you, if you are simplifying God and Scripture to just something you can dismiss. (kind of like the arguments made by Mohler regarding this subject) then we should be aware and work harder at understanding the God who we are created in the image of and who calls us to stewardship of creation.

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