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Jan
03
2013

Building a Boyd of Straw with Sound Bite Scholarship

1. Historical Setting:

 The Openness of God was published in 19941 and made significant waves in evangelical theological scholarship circles. The view detailed in that book wasn't new; it had been held by many Christian theologians throughout Church history2, but what made the book so significant is that the evangelical theological landscape in the United States had shifted and a new regime was in power: Neo-Calvinists3. These conservative evangelical scholars viewed Open theology as a threat to their new found hegemony, so they sought to discredit and marginalize Open theists. Two of the clearest examples of this were the attempt in 2000 by John Piper to have Greg Boyd ousted from the faculty of Bethel Seminary, the denominational seminary of the Baptist General Conference (now "Converge"), and the 2002 attempt to expel John Sanders and Clark Pinnock from the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS).4 In both cases the complaints were brought by Neo-Calvinists. Another casualty of these Neo-Calvinist inquisitions was Roger Olson, a classical Arminian scholar. He has written candidly about the dishonest and dishonorable ways he was treated by Neo-Calvinists simply for suggesting Open theists were not heretics and that Open theism deserves to be consider a legitimate evangelical position.5 In 2010, Dr. Olson had this to say,
"The controversy has largely died down now.  But there are many stories yet to be told about it.  I believe much of the controversy over open theism among evangelicals was fueled by misinformation, misrepresentation and down right demagoguery.  In many places and at many times open theism and open theists did not receive a fair hearing.  And I know of cases in which evangelical critics knowingly misrepresented open theism in order to create fear of it among the untutored (i.e., people who would never pick up and read a book by an open theist).
 
As I look back on that decade long controversy now, my heart is heavy for evangelicalism.  I was profoundly disillusioned by the dishonesty and lack of sincerity of many evangelical luminaries who I know read books by open theists and often talked with open theists about their views and nevertheless went public with blatant misrepresentations.  I was also profoundly disillusioned by the heat of the controversy in which some evangelical scholars and leaders hurled accusations and charges against open theists that were completely out of proportion to the amount of time and effort they had spent in dialogue with their fellow evangelicals who either were open theists or sympathized with them."6
The beginning of the decade Olson describes is the setting in which an author with whom I am unfamiliar, named Paul Kjoss Helseth, wrote a critique of Greg Boyd's Open theism for the Journal of the ETS (the very group that would vote to investigate Pinnock and Sanders a year later). There is no doubt Helseth's work helped to fuel the flames of discord that led to the 2002 ETS witch hunt. The claim of the article is that Boyd's Open theism describes and promotes an arbitrary and malevolent conception of God over and against all his own claims to the contrary. The article is titled, "ON DIVINE AMBIVALENCE: OPEN THEISM AND THE PROBLEM OF PARTICULAR EVILS".7 As Dr. Olson so poignantly put it, Helseth's article is filled with "misinformation, misrepresentation and down right demagoguery." In this brief refutation, I will address many of the caricatures and fallacies contained in the article, though an exhaustive reckoning is far beyond the scope of this piece. I'm certain a book-length treatment would scarcely provide space. Instead, I must limit myself to exposing only a portion of the many Man of Straw arguments, logical fallacies, and dirty scholarship tricks this article includes. To start, I will detail many of the foundational errors this article makes.
 

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Dec
29
2012

The Future of Christian Theology in the US—A Review of Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction

Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction 

Editors: Brint Montgomery, Thomas Jay Oord, and Karen Winslow
Paperback: 115 pages
Publisher: Point Loma Press (Wipf & Stock) - 2012
Language: English

Amazon
Wipf & Stock

(Special thanks to Thomas Jay Oord for a copy of this book!)

 

Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction (hereafter RT) is a collection of very brief essays written by a sizable group of diverse scholars on a wide variety of subjects related to "Relational Theology." As Thomas Jay Oord, one of the book's editors, explains in the introduction, Relational Theology is an umbrella term that covers a broad spectrum of theologies that are all related to one another by their common values of relationship, freedom, and love. Examples of Relational theologies include, but are not limited to:

  • missional theologies
  • feminist and/or womanist theologies
  • Pentecostal and/or charismatic theologies
  • liberation and/or postcolonial theologies
  • Wesleyan theology
  • process theology
  • open theology
  • Arminian and/or holiness theologies
  • trinitarian theologies

I must admit, in addition to the table of contents, this list made me very excited to begin reading this book. Much of the most courageous Christian scholarship being produced today falls into one or more of these categories.

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Dec
24
2012

Merry Christmas!

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Dec
20
2012

Advent Offering: Worship & the Birth of Something New!

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Dec
16
2012

"T. C. Moore - Transformed" by Leibniz Alexandre

I became friends with Leibniz Alexandre when we were co-workers at the Cambridgeside Galleria Apple Store. He is a photography student and asked if I would be the subject of a project in one of his courses. The assignment was to tell someone's story in photos, video, and audio. I agreed and he shadowed me for a few days. He came over to our house and watched me put the kids to bed. He went with us trick-or-treating on Halloween. He joined us for a communion service we held the night before Election Day. And he went with me to a prayer gathering of ministers from all over Boston. After that, he filmed me telling parts of my story. When he had everything he needed, he put it all together in this brief video. It's the story of how the love of Jesus demonstrated in a community of believers taught me what true family was, transformed my life, and started me on a journey to church planting. Enjoy!

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Dec
15
2012

Darkness, Advent, and Newtown CT

There are no words when beautiful little children are mercilessly slaughtered. Darkness like this is not only unthinkable, it's paralyzing. Evil has slapped us in the face and we feel as if we can do nothing to defend ourselves. Only words like "demonic" begin to describe it.

Understandably, people want answers. "Why did this happen?!" But the Materialism that dominates the Western mind, refusing to acknowledge unseen spiritual realities, will not let in explanations that shed light on this darkness. So the media will go on and on about how this can be explained by a lack of mental health care, parental failure, failure to see the 'warning signs.' These answers are inadequate because they are incomplete.

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Dec
12
2012

...And People Think *I'm* Hard on Calvinism!

Whenever I voice any opposition to Calvinism whatsoever, I get emails. Apparently Calvinists love to email people who disagee with their views. I've been accused of being too harsh towards Calvinism. Then, I ran accross this quote from Frank Schaeffer and I feel like I've let Calvinism off easy!


"It was no coincidence that the farther I traveled away from my fundamentalist evangelical Calvinist background the more open I became to imitating forgiving behavior. In my mind my dominating and controlling actions had been “justified” by my “call” to “lead” a family as a patriarchal practitioner of the biblical misogyny that all-too conveniently fit my selfish male primate desire to control those around me.

Calvinism is the perfect religion
for males who are real bastards
and want an excuse to stay that way

I’d been told that “God’s plan” included a directive for men to dominate “their” women and children. Calvinism — and all other forms of patriarchal religion Islam included — is tailor made by male primates for other male primates who are mean. selfish and insecure It gives them guilt-free a pat on the head to do what comes most naturally: be jerks. It is too [sic] human relations what Ayn Rand is to teenage boys and billionaires of the nastier kind: justification to never feel empathy, in other words to never grow up."

- Frank Schaeffer,
"How to Keep Your Mate Even if You are a Semi-Evolved Recovering Evangelical Controlling Bastard" 
 


Wow. 

[Slow Clapping]

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Dec
10
2012

Crossocracy: What Does Kingdom Leadership Look Like?

When it comes to relationships inside and outside the Church, every believer brings a multiplicity of presuppositions. We of course bring our backgrounds and experiences, but we also bring philosophies we've been taught and have accepted. Some believers think true Kingdom leadership will just be one big, hippie drum circle! Have we considered every philosophy we've been taught critically in light of Jesus's Way? If we were to compare our assumptions of how relationships should work with the teachings of Jesus, the example of Jesus, and the way the early church applied his Way, how would our presuppositions hold up? My suspicion is that many Westerners, particularly US Americans, would find that their expectations don't match up with those of Jesus. In this brief post, I'd like to consider a few concepts: democracy, egalitarianism, and hierarchy. My guiding question is: What does Kingdom leadership look like?

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Dec
08
2012

Hipsters, Humility, and Radical Hospitality: Why Chasing "Cool" isn't Kingdom

I've got tons of hipster friends, but you've probably never heard of them. In fact, I had hipster friends before calling them 'hipsters' was cool. Back then they were just geeks, misfits, the kids who didn't fit into any of the cliques in high school. I knew a lot of them, but back then they didn't think they were "cool." In those days the definition of "cool" was to be part of the in-crowd—the "preps," the "jocks". Labels like that raise the hairs on the back of histers' necks. Then, one day, culture shifted, and the more different you were, the more "cool" you were. Suddenly, it wasn't "cool" to be defined by a category like "preps" or "jocks". In fact, it became "cool" to put labels like that in "air quotes". This shift resulted in a generation that sought to break out of every box, to not let anyone else define them. Even as I write this, I can hear the hipster voices disagreeing with my version of their hipster origins. The last thing they want is someone else telling them were they came from. The problem is, that generation simply created a new box in which to fit. As a church planter, my interest in this group begins with whether hipsterism is beneficial or detrimental to the Jesus movement called the Church.

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Nov
26
2012

Obedience, Illumination, and Liberation

The only way to truly understand the will of God, or God's written word, is by obeying Jesus.

Scholars can spend their entire lives mining the depths of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament for its truth without satisfaction. Devout believers routinely wrestle with "knowing God's will," yet remain disappointed. Neither academic analysis of the Scriptures, nor soul-wrenching angst, can illuminate God's will or God's word more than simple obedience of Jesus's teachings.

This thought is so simple it may be dismissed out of hand. How could simple obedience serve as a tool to illuminate God's will or God's word? At least part of the answer can be summed up with two ideas: 1) The Superiority of Experiential Knowledge; and 2) Faith as Relational Trust.

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Welcome to TheologicalGraffiti.com

T. C. and Tyson Moore

Theological Graffiti is the offical blog of T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, urban church planter @NewCityCovenant, designer @NewCityPro, teacher, student, and friend. Discussion is welcome, so long as it is conducted in a spirit of charity. First and foremost, this blog is for self-expression—then community. More About.Me

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