Monday, February 22, 2010

Greg Boyd makes my logic hurt

Apparently I must have had the need for some sort of self flagellation because I found myself listening to recent podcasts from Woodland Hills Church. I was listening to Dr. Boyd’s recent sermons because, I must confess, I’m awfully curious to find out how he deals with the Crucifixion of Christ and the doctrine of justification when he comes to that part of Luke’s gospel. I also read Dr. Boyd’s blog or listen to his sermons to keep some tabs on one of the twin cities emergent-style leaders as well as for a quick reference to all things open-theistic. One of my most recent encounter with a wacky view of Dr. Boyd’s was when he articulated something that I called “The reverse psychology of Greg Boyd”. No, I’m not kidding. (link)

The messages that I listened to today were, if nothing else, what I have come to expect from Dr. Boyd’s preaching and theology. However, my point of logic-ache is not primarily directed at his poor treatment of “so that the Scripture would be fulfilled” references in the gospels or his Kingdom, open theism, or Christus victor Theologies. In his sermon about Judas Christianity, Dr. Boyd used a personal illustration to articulate his point. A few years back, an organization was requesting that pastors sign a petition to send to President Bush to oppose a two-state solution to the problems in Israel and Palestine. Boyd understood the petition as coming from those Christians who believe that the nation of Israel will have a future roll to play before Christ returns. Boyd then articulated his response to that petition with the following statements,

“We who are called to be peace makers in the name of the Peace Maker are preventing peace from happening. Two problems with that at least. One is that it is never good to set political policy on the basis of your interpretation of the Bible. Secondly, if it was prophesied and fated [that Israel would return to the land in the course of events related to the 2nd coming of Christ], then God really doesn’t need your help now, does He? So if God wants to take care of it, let God take care of it – stay out of His business [responded to with loud applause from the congregation].” (WHC – Lessons from the Betrayer, 2/7/10, comment ends @ 39:19)
Once again, my contention in this article is not with his theological stances that I object to, it is primarily with the statement, “that it is never good to set political policy on the basis of your interpretation of the Bible.” I’m sorry…what? Now I am not in favor of creating a Christian government or monarchy as in the kingdom of old, so don’t mistake me. The only way that laws will be changed for the better is if the hearts and minds of the voters are changed and renewed, not the other way around. But, Dr. Boyd, upon what basis ought Christians make decisions, political or otherwise? Should my decision on whether to support or oppose legislation be based on everything except my understanding of the Bible? Do you do that with “justice” issues? Do you, or would you, leave your doctrine at the door when it comes to voting or making decisions about taxation, racism, murder, or theft? Do you really want Christians to check their theology at the door and vote? Really? Wasn’t your rejection, Dr. Boyd, of the very petition you referred to in your illustration based in your theological conclusions of what the Bible says about love, peace, and eschatology?

If anyone objects to my criticism as being too harsh or that I’ve taken Dr. Boyd’s statement out of context, I think you’d be wrong. Dr. Boyd’s comment was in the context of rejecting a political petition that was by individuals who I can only assume were pre-millennialists. And Dr. Boyd’s own eschatology is, roughly (as I understand it) that the kingdom needs to come to earth through a peace and love, but regardless his eschatology is not the same as pre-millennialists. That means that Dr. Boyd did the very thing he urged others not to do – he took a political stance based on his theological convictions which are based on his understanding of the Bible.

Simply put – it is ridiculously non-Christian to urge Christians to refrain from making political decisions based on how they understand the Bible. The only sure guide we have to make decisions – whether they are, political, moral, social, economical, or relational – is Scripture. And in order to use Scripture, we must interpret it. Therefore, it is always the best idea to base your decision and your input into a political policy on your interpretation of Scripture. That does not mean that every single individual will have the same conclusions. This just means that interpreters are fallible but it doesn’t invalidate the principle of using the infallible guide.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Did something change with broadcast TV standards when I wasn’t looking?

I try not to watch too much TV, but honestly I watch way too much for all that I’ve got to do on a daily basis. But be that is it may, did I miss something? I had the Superbaal on yesterday while my family and I were cooped up in the house but I noticed that the 3rd Matrix movie was on at the same time. Now, I’ve never seen that movie before. I saw the first one in the theater and may have been the only one that I know who found it unentertaining and I was very thoroughly unimpressed. Well, I don’t know why, but my wife and I ended up getting the 2nd movie on DVD. We watched it once – and only once – and it was worse than the first one. It was at that point that I told my wife that I was not going to waste money to get the third when it came out even though there was a small part of me that wanted to see how the story ends (I’m usually a sucker for sagas). So when I saw that the local Ion Television channel was running this movie during the weekend, I decided to set my PVR to record it and watch it. Hey, it’s free, so I’m not out any money, right?

The movie was horrible, absolutely horrible. I didn’t know if I could like it less than the first two, but I most definitely did. I fast-forwarded through the emotional (anti) climactic scenes of the movie because they were just…unbearable. The death of Neo’s girlfriend, the final stand of the man-robot-guys (seriously…seriously?), and the triple or quadruple fake ending of the final duel between Smith and Neo were so over done and tiring that I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

But my primary concern is not over the worthlessness of the movie, and it was most definitely worthless, or over the fact that it was an absolute life-draining waste of time even though I fast forwarded through some of it. My primary concern was the many times that I heard hard profanity and blasphemy on broadcast TV. I must admit, to my shame, that much of the casual and ordinary blasphemy that so dominates TV and other media now hits a callous point in my mind and heart when it should disturb me greatly enough to turn off whatever program I’m watching. So that is a different issue that I’ve got to look into, but I was totally shocked to hear compound blasphemous swearing on broadcast TV.

In case my terminology befuddles you, a compound blasphemy would be any curse or exclamation that uses the name of God along with another course or curse word. The last time I checked, I thought that these phrases were not allowed on broadcast TV. Whether or not that has changed in the TV standard books, I don’t know, but I was unaware that I would be hearing what I did. I know that cable channels have different standards, but I thought there were still some restrictions on broadcast TV.

Those who know me know that my wife and I very vigilantly monitor the programming that my children watch because we’re very aware of much of the corrosive and cancerous effect that TV (or other) garbage has on the mind and heart, and we desperately want to reduce that whenever possible when it comes to our children. But now, I am seriously reconsidering the radical notion of completely dropping TV. I’ve often wondered about what men did 100 years ago when they were trying to calm a screaming baby? I sit in my comfy chair in front of the tube, turn on something for the light and noise in hopes that it will lull my little guy to sleep, and that’s that. What did they do? I don’t know, but I bet I could tell you what I’d end up doing. A fair more amount of praying for my family and other things, singing to my son more, or so many more things. Sure, I’d probably have to work on my patience during those times, but seriously…what am I giving up and missing out on because of the convenience and seduction of TV?

If I decide to get rid of TV, it wouldn’t be a financial motive because I don’t pay $50 - $100 per month for TV now. It would be a health issue because I don’t want to be more calloused to important things than I already am and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunities for really important things.

I don’t pipe sewer water into my home because I like the feel of cool liquid at times, so why do I bring the TV in? I’m really starting to seriously ask that question again.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson