Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The SMH, Gay Marriage and Keith Mascord

Again our secular culture has promoted the Gay Marriage / homosexual agenda in an Opinion piece by Rev Dr Keith Mascord in the Sydney Morning Herald, the 18th July 2012. Keith is no doubt a very intelligent man, and I look forward to reading his book 'Alvin Plantinga and Christian apologetics' 2006. I remember him at Moore when I was a student there. He went far ending up lecturing at Moore in Theology and Pastoral ministry until 2006.
However there is much in the SMH article that I disagree with. Of course I must be magnanimous in that his piece reads as if the editor has cut out significant pieces, as editors are liable to do in newspapers, but even so the thrust of what he argues I still believe is highly questionable and erroneous.
To interact substantially with his piece requires a great deal of study which will take some time as the core problem with it is his hermeneutics which is fashioned after the French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur's "hermeneutics of suspicion". I do not claim to be at all an expert on Ricouer but I do have some pertinent questions in regard to hermeneutics. I certainly think that his assumptions need to be carefully analysed.
In addition, Keith's philosophy of fact is no where stated but he assumes that facts are somehow determinative in themselves to countermand the declared Mind and Will of God as given in Scripture. Thus his problems with the Flood in Noah's day I believe have reasonable explanations and the so called scientific data do not present and impossible hurdle. His whole approach here raises the issue about where Authority and Truth are grounded? Is it in the declared Word of God or in the mind of man? He seems to assume reason as being a legislative Authority instead of a tool to be used by man, and thus commits the same mistake of the Enlightenment. This same problem raises itself again when he addresses Gay Marriage when asserting that "gays are born that way." It is no less problematic when he asserts that [Gay's ] are an example of God's creative handiwork. Again exegetically he would be pushed to justify this from Scripture where the actual opposite is proclaimed, namely that it is sin, just as gluttons, the greedy, thieves and slanders and adulterers etc will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 1 Cor 6:9f.

I will soon begin with a short blog on Keith's Hermeneutics as it follows Ricoeur, but for now one other thing needs to be mentioned. As the Opinion piece in the SMH acknowledge, Keith has just published another book called "A Restless Faith:leaving Fundamentalism in a quest for God, 2012". Here I would now make a few observations in regards to this.
To review this one needs to ascertain Keith's use of the term "fundamentalism. Is it the same as used by J Gresham Machen of the Christian fundamentals, or is it more coloured by North American present day fundamentalism which espouses things like 'it is a sin to drink alcohol'? In which sense was Keith a fundamentalist and could Moore Theological College ever be portrayed as following the latter North American type of fundamentalism? Has Keith left orthodoxy in the sense of leaving the self-legislative Authority of Scripture for the Authority of his own mind?
In regard to this book, Rowland Croucher of John Mark Ministries, or Rolly as we used to call him when I was in Melbourne and heard him speak on numerous occasions, delivers an unfair and uninformed diatribe against certain persons in the Sydney Diocese. He makes out that Sydney Anglicans fail to speak the truth in love and fail to ask hard questions.
To quote Rowland:
Back to what the Philip Jensenites do with all this: Read the book for the political stuff, whereby lesser qualified-but-’orthodox’ people are preferred over more talented freer thinkers. But, worse, ‘attitudinal’ adjectives like these describe how the protagonists of this sophisticated-but-bigoted ‘conservative evangelicalism’ come across to others: arrogant, combative, opinionated, abrasive, inflexible, deceptive, black-and-white… the list goes on. Rather than there being a commitment to ‘speak the truth (as one sees it) in love’ and humility there has developed an ‘us and them’ fortress mentality, where ‘questioning, doubt or dissent is discouraged and even punished’.
Remember Rowland I came from Melbourne and know the Melbourne Diocese scene and Christian scene having been involved from the age of 16 with God Squad and John Smith and Scripture Union and Theos and Melb Uni CU etc etc. It is not only Sydney where some cannot cope with having questions asked, but at the other end of the theological spectrum I have found just as many in Melbourne who fail to use intellectual acumen and question their underlying assumptions. I certainly have not shirked from asking questions in college and in the Diocese as my peers well know. But it has always been in an effort to garner the Truth and treating my brothers as friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Rowland, we really need to be fairer in this assessment of Sydney. I really need to speak more on this and I will but first I need to read up on Ricoeur.

In Christ,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting a grip on the Old Testament

The Old Testament is Jesus' Bible. We do well to understand it's flow and high points. Here is a chart with some of them which I have used to help people get a grip on the Old Testament.
In Christ