- Denny Burk points out that Al Mohler’s convocation address at Southern Seminary is available online. In the address titled “Which Way to the Future? Southern Baptists, Southern Seminary, and the Future of the Evangelical Movement in America” (audio here) Mohler calls on Southern Baptists to lead a conservative resurgence in evangelicalism similar to the one the SBC itself went through in the 80s and 90s.
- Brian follows up on his post about the reference to Quirinius in Luke 2:2 with a resounding “Hmmm, that’s a tough one.” (Actually, he gives a nice summary of key arguments on both sides.)
- Nick links to a lecture by Simon Gathercole on Christ’s pre-existence and several other resources on the topic.
- James McGrath offers a resource for assessing the credibility of a source.
- Kaplan is giving away free ebook study guides for tests like the ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and MCAT to anyone who uses an iPad, iPhone, or iPod.
- A woman suspected of throwing away a live cat has been placed under police protection because of threats to her life after a video of her dastardly deed was posted on YouTube. If only people would be so outraged when we abuse one another.
- The “Old Spice Guy” has now landed himself an Emmy, along with guest spots in two movies and an upcoming episode of Chuck. Many, I wish I smelled like Old Spice Guy.
According to Roger Olson, the reaction of many conservative evangelicals to open theism “was fueled by misinformation, misrepresentation and down right demagoguery.” He’s particularly irked that these critics routinely associated open theism with process theology and accused them doing things of limiting God, diminishing God’s glory, and undermining the atonement. He contends that open theism does none of these things, and that these conservative evangelical critics should have known better. And, this response demonstrates that “many conservative evangelicals are not really evangelicals in the post-fundamentalist, post-WW2 sense but really fundamentalists (which might be unfair to many fundamentalists!).”
Instead, Olson suggests that open theism should be viewed as “a legitimate evangelical option,” and states that he’s willing to stand alongside his open theist friends “over against the neo-fundamentalists who seem to be largely controlling the evangelical establishment today.”
On the one hand, I think Olson’s right. I thought at the time that many of the criticisms being leveled against open theism were not entirely fair. The argument that open theism is basically process theology in disguise was particularly pernicious – tarring open theism with a whole raft of positions that they all explicitly denied. (I don’t think they helped their case, though, by spending as much time as they did discussing process theology. Of course, their point was to demonstrate that they were not process theologians. But, the unintended consequence was to demonstrate to everyone that they were quite familiar with process theology. It was a short step from there to the implication that they were in fact influenced by process theology.)
On the other hand, though, we should recognize that the rhetoric flew strongly in both directions. As with many arguments, the intense heat of the debate led proponents of both positions to be less than fair to the opposite side. I well remember the frustration of reading and listening to the open theists’ blatant caricatures of classical theism, neglecting the best that this tradition has to offer, and focusing instead on its weakest aspects. (Note well, when critiquing another position, do not pit your strongest arguments against their weakest ones. If that’s the only way you can win, give up now.) So, focusing only on the missteps of the evangelical “establishment” is not entirely fair either.
I’d also be curious to hear more from Olson on what he thinks qualifies as real “evangelicalism” vs. “neo-fundamentalism.” Presumably he wouldn’t object to someone engaging in heated theological discourse (he does it all the time). And, I don’t think rhetorical “fairness” is really the issue, despite his focus on that problem in this essay, since we see those problems on both sides. I think it actually has more to do with drawing “boundaries.” At the end of his essay, he states that he sees both open theists and 5-point Calvinists as both being “within the evangelical movement” (despite the fact that he really does not like 5-point Calvinism). His real problem with these conservative evangelical critics, then, is their attempt to exclude, to draw the boundaries of evangelicalism such that open theists are declared nonevangelical. And, I think this boundary-drawing is Olson’s real concern; that’s what harkens back to the separatism of the fundamentalists.
But, of course, if we’re not supposed to be drawing boundaries, how does Olson explain his claim that these critics are “not really evangelicals”? That sounds a lot like a boundary to me. Maybe Olson has some fundamentalist leanings of his own.
- Zondervan is offering 50% off deal on their A Reader’s Hebrew & Greek Bible.
- Matt Flanagan discusses the epistemology of testimonies, arguing that we are justified in accepting testimony as an epistemological starting point (basic belief), but that we can’t stop there.
- Mark Stevens has started a Christian scholars smackdown series. (He actually calls it a “showdown,” but that seems to tame. How about “Christian cage match” or “Theologians in the Thunderdome”?) Anyway, it should be fun so head over there and cast your vote.
- James McGrath offers a nice set of links to recent posts about Christian conservatism.
- R. R. Reno offers an interesting response to criticisms the Catholic Church has received about its recent document on disciplining priests.
- Halden offers the conclusion to a paper he presented recently on “blogging as theological discourse.”
- And, Lindsey Lohan is back in court today. (Just kidding. I’d never actually post a link to a story like this. I’m actually very annoyed that I know she’s due back in court today.)