All posts in this series refer back to the conversation found here.
“There is literally so much in that that I disagree with, I neither know how to nor will begin to respond. All I can say is that I got whiplash when I got to the last paragraph. I literally have no idea how you made that connection. I liked the paragraph before it, but then something exploded…or something.”
This is where things fall apart. Following a great deal of discussion regarding whether Jesus was legally bound to uphold the letter of the Law in addition to the spirit of it, I finally reached the point where I made Damon’s head explode (that wasn’t intentional at all, and I apologize to anyone whose head has been exploded because of my writing; clearly I am a danger to people and need to stop publishing things if that’s the case). It’s rather unfortunate that we got here, because up until this point I honestly felt like the conversation was going somewhere, even though we still hadn’t found a whole lot to agree on.
Not so much anymore.
From this point forward in the conversation, things get a lot more heated, and I’m still trying to make sense of how it happened. In my response prior to the one from Damon that I quoted up at the top here, I tried to tie together the idea of Jesus’ ministry being about moral obligation trumping apparent legalities with why I am not an inerrantist. Then I pointed out that I think it’s sinful and immoral (which are equivalent terms in my mind) to try to spread information that I don’t believe is true, hence my support of evolution as the best available explanation for the ascendancy of life.
Perhaps I didn’t make a strong enough link in my original writing to explain that train of thought. I’m certainly not immune to making logical leaps on the page without explaining how I got there in my mind.
Nonetheless, I feel like Damon’s response is unwarranted and ungracious here. He writes,
“I hold the Bible, all of it, as my top authority in every realm it touches. You do not. I can explain why my perspective is not only viable but the best approach, but you won’t accept it, likely rejecting it with non-Biblical reasoning, which I simply don’t care about. Much of what you say is flat-out heretical to what the Bible expressly states, but that’s fine to you because you don’t care about the Bible.”
This kind of accusation hurts deeply, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that these words and many more that came from Damon afterwards distressed me. Anyone who’s been following my blog since its inception should understand (I hope) that though I don’t identify as evangelical anymore, I still take my faith as a Christian very seriously. I treat the Bible differently from most evangelicals (it’s one of the main reasons I don’t identify as such anymore), but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about it. I certainly care enough to be cautious in making absolute statements about what it does and does not declare heretical. I also care enough to explore and understand as best as I can what foundation lies underneath my faith in the gospel (rather than zooming around a Mobius strip of “the Bible is reliable because the Bible says it’s reliable because the Bible says it’s reliable because the Bible…”). I’m not going to disrespect Scripture by making it look like a holy hamster wheel.
The accusation that I don’t care about the Bible is really just a side issue here. The worse one is how Damon has buried in the midst of his accusations one shining confession: “I simply don’t care.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue saying it.
This is bad evangelism.
Yes, I am quoting Damon out of context here. There’s a whole lot of sentence before that specially trimmed quotation that sheds light on what he really means by it. I admit freely and clearly that in this particular instance, I am prooftexting Damon’s words to make a point. It’s not fair to him, and it’s more than a little disrespectful of me to do it, but that is how I feel about the way he and many other evangelicals approach the Bible.
It is not a book that you should manipulate for the sake of your own opinions and then pass them off as objective truth.
Take more care than that.