Saturday, July 24, 2010

False Certainties Preferred Over True Uncertainties

With what seems to be the requisite substitution of what should be a verb ("prophesies") for the noun ("prophecies"), Kansas City Star religion writer Helen T. Gray notes for weekend readers that not all Christian biblical scholars understand "the end of days" identically. The article is unremarkable though decently balanced, so we don't recommend reading it unless there remains a Gentle Reader or two who hasn't thought about this issue.

Instead, we want to discourse from this to a wider topic. In discussing the highly specific apocalyptic scenarios that are widely correlated with contemporary events, Gray's article reflects the lust many Christians have for certainties. Some folks would rather have their biblical and theological teaching be clear (and wrong) than fuzzy (and true).

So they are attracted variously to specific certainties on which the Bible ought to be judged less than certain. Hence and variously: young-earth creationism, dispensational premillennial eschatology, Reformed anthropology and soteriology, finding capitalism/socialism/pacifism/the Second Amendment in the Bible, and probably adherence to the Roman Catholic magesterium too. Call this dogmatism about all things that aren't historic dogma.

SWNID favors Christian confidence about matters that are addressed directly in Holy Writ. We ask for patience and suspended judgment about other matters. We insist on a sanctified ignorance about such things that are explicitly closed to us--like knowing the time, even approximately, when God brings final justice.

We figure that makes us a Campbellite Christian who thinks unity in essentials and liberty in opinions is worth insisting on.

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