Peter Enns posted a three part blog series written by Eric Seibert of Messiah College.

  1. When the “Good Book” is Bad: Challenging the Bible’s Violent Portrayals of God
  2. When the Bible Sanctions Violence, Must We?
  3. Learning to Read the Bible Nonviolently

Hold On To Your Butts!

When a major evangelical blog posts a series like this, some people will stand up and take note. Christianity Today did a piece on their blog entitled, Is the Bible Immoral? Messiah College Professor Says Yes, Sometimes. Even Jesus himself joined in on the action! However, without his own blog, Jesus was forced to simply leave a comment on Enns’ blog. Peter responded with a small piece called, It’s Not Every Day Jesus Comments on Your Blog.

The Big One

While these responses were to be interesting, it was the response from Owen Strachan that has garnered the most attention. He dedicated two blog posts to the topic, but instead of addressing Seibert’s arguments, he took a different approach. He called down the thunder. Not literally, but questioned how Messiah College could allow a teaching such as this. Here’s the links to his two posts.

  1. Can a Messiah College OT Professor Really Teach the Bible’s “Immoral”?
  2. Christianity Today on the Seibert Controversy and the “Downright Unhealthy” Bible

In the second post, Strachan practically demands a response from Messiah College.

Responding To The Response

I found three responses to this response, but this is a developing situation, and more may come.

James McGrath, in his post called, When the Good Book Isn’t Good, asks when will people see that conservatives have taken the Bible hostage rather than defended it.

Fred Clark sees the response as an example of “evangelical gatekeeping.”

It’s about using the Bible to enforce the boundaries of the tribe and the hierarchies within it.

He calls Owen Strachan out on his tactic with these two posts. (And Owen tweets Evil White Gatekeeper: you know how I roll. in response.)

  1. White evangelical gatekeeping: A particularly ugly example in real time
  2. Tribal gatekeeper Owen Strachan wants a scalp, doubles-down on dickitude

John Hawthorne wrote a piece entitled, The Opposite of Critical Thinking is Fear, where he laments the fearful response of critics like Strachan and praises the virtues of asking thoughtful questions.

Let Me Sum Up… No There Is Too Much

This is an interesting development that highlights one battleground within Evangelicalism. It’s the question of how does one understand how the Bible is to be understood.

Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not simply a debate over a particular interpretation or a set of interpretations. No, this debate is about a question that precedes interpretation altogether.

It’s about our view of how the Bible should be read, about what it can tell us, about how it is to be viewed. In short, it’s a debate about the way Christians ought to see and use the Bible. And no matter what you might believe about the Bible, it can’t answer that question for you – and there is the rub.


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