Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Refuse to be "intimidated by claims about the relativism of interpretation"

"When people talk about Scripture and divine revelation, it's all about interpretation:  You've got your interpretation.  I've got my interpretation.  And then you develop a set of buckets or whatever set of images you've got.

"Here is where we must stand firm.  When God speaks to us in Scripture, God is not incompetent.  When he says 'yes,' we understand it.  When he says 'no,' we can understand it.  And otherwise we've got a totally incompetent deity.  We have a God who didn't make us in such a way [that] we can hear him and understand him, and when he speaks to us in his word, he can't get through to us.  That's not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And that's why we're not intimidated by claims about the relativism of interpretation.

"God is not incompetent.  He's spoken to us and we're going to stand by the revelation that's given in Scripture."

     William J. Abraham, address to the Fourth Global Gathering of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, as reproduced in "Turning point," Good news:  leading United Methodists to a faithful future, January/February 2020, 19 (18-20).  Cf. this.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Harvard's List Professor of Jewish Studies on inclusive language for Jesus Christ

Source:  Harvard Divinity School
"Imagine:  in an institution once explicitly and formally Christian and still culturally so, largely dedicated to the education of ministers, one can deny with utter impunity that Jesus was born of a virgin or raised from the dead.  But if one says that he was the son of God the father, one runs afoul of the institution’s deepest commitments.  If the ancient christological confession is to be retained at all—and this, presumably, is only a matter of personal preference—it must be recast in gender-neutral terms.  Though our dinner companion did not say so, I assume that the older formulation may still be employed for purposes of critique, to show the alleged androcentrism of the early church, but not for purposes of affirmation, at least not without an immediate qualification to the effect that the traditional language is a historically conditioned convention and an unhappy one at that."

Sunday, February 2, 2020

"Only a very determined thoughtlessness could believe what is now common opinion"

"Only a very determined thoughtlessness could believe what is now common opinion:  'What someone does in bed is not the law's business, so long as no one is hurt.'  On the contrary, what I do in bed is the area of my action in which the community has the most urgent interest, the area for which it must legislate if it is to legislate at all."

     Robert W. Jenson, Systematic theology, vol. 2, The works of God (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1999), 90.

"the shape of the body I am"

"my femaleness or maleness is constituted not in malleable or contingent psychology or social construction but in the shape of the body I am, which can be hated and even mutilated but cannot actually be given the shape of its counterpart, not even by the most sophisticated technology."

     Robert W. Jenson, Systematic theology, vol. 2, The works of God (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1999), 89-90.  "Thus sexuality is the fact of that identity of subject and object that is the peculiar structure of humanity."

"no gesture left for final commitment"

     "Intercourse is the ultimate creaturely gesture of this sort, the movement of my body to the other that cannot be surpassed without harmful consequences.  For here the one body actually engulfs the other and that body enters the first, only in this active abolition of distance to be mutually the bodies they are.  Therefore if intercourse is a gesture and not a mere technique of sensation or reproduction, it can be the embodiment of an ultimate promise:  the promise of myself if it kills me, of share life 'until death do us part.' . . .
     "We can of course stipulate together that intercourse shall be the sign of a lesser address.  We can make it be the gestural embodiment of 'I am yours forever, maybe,' or 'I am yours for this pleasant weekend.'  But then we have no gesture left for final commitment, and so become incapable of it.  A society in which this was a widespread condition could not long cohere."

     Robert W. Jenson, Systematic theology, vol. 2, The works of God (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1999), 92.