GLOBAL AND ECUMENICAL IN SCOPE
CANADIAN IN PERSPECTIVE
Wayne A. Holst, Editor
My E-Mail Address:
Colleagues List Web Site:
"Quicklinks" are included with many items
at the beginning of this issue. To get a more
complete picture, however, scroll down to
find your special selection in the body of
This week I share with you my notes from
a lecture I recently heard at my university.
It is entitled:
"Holy Minded -
Evangelicals and the Problem
It was presented by a very nuanced and
perceptive thinker and historian, who
teaches at the University of North Carolina,
Dr. Molly Worthen. I hope you enjoy it.
This week we hear from friends
Ron Rolheiser, Robert Ellsberg
and Martin Marty
"Alas, Poor Vatican II" - a reflection on
how many Catholics have moved beyond
Vatican II in spite of their hierarchies
"A President Who Sought Peace" - we
are just arriving at the fiftieth anniversary
of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Here is a reglection on his contribution
Thousands of books have been written
on subjects related to JFK. Here are
some of the most noteworthy
(Christian Science Monitor)
"Major Christian Massacre in Syria" -
many Christians are being displaced,
even killed, as a result of the Syrian
political situation (Catholicculture.org)
in spite of all the bad persecution news,
this article suggests that an outright
war on Christians is not reality
(Catholic Herald, UK)
the philosopher has returned to his real
love, writing and speaking. Here is a
most revealing book on his experience
in Canadian politics (The Tablet, UK)
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber is foul-mouthed,
tattooed and left-leaning - hardly your
typical Lutheran pastor, yet she is very
popular among modern American youth
culture (Washington Post)
- Canadian Sider has contributed much to
evangelical, and Christian justice work
(Faith Today) http://tinyurl.com/qxa4n5x
- in spite of our prosperity, large numbers
of Canadians, especially in our cities, depend
on food banks - a most revealing story
- for the first time in many decades, this
group feels abandoned by their pope in Rome
(New York Times) http://tinyurl.com/nhftxgx
Wisdom of the Week:
Morihei Ueshiba. Marian Wright Edelman,
Zora Neale Hurston and Monica Jyotsna
Melanchthon share their insights with us,
courtesy of Sojourners Online.
On This Day:
Russian Revolution Begins
Lincoln Elected US President
Obama Elected First Black US President
Are provided once more from
the Bruderhof Community website:
Vincent Van Gogh
Blessings on your week!
HOLY MINDED -
EVANGELICALS AND THE PROBLEM
Notes from a Presentation by
Dr. Molly Worthen,
Assistant Professor of History
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Presented as part of a Lebel Lecture Series
Sponsored by the Chair of Christian Thought
University of Calgary
November 5th, 2013
An evangelical Christian, according to the
Bebbington Quadrilateral, honors biblical
authority, the born again experience, is
committed to evangelism and to Christ's
saving work on the cross.
Not all evangelicals agree to the equal
significance of these four themes but they
remain the constellations of belief for most.
Some prefer to discuss the four as questions
rather than definitive answers and some
worry that evangelicals do not have some
kind of magisterial authority to define and
interpret doctrine as do the Roman
Catholics or Orthodox.
The three concerns of this lecture deal with:
1. How to repair the rupture between
reason and faith
2. How to be assured of salvation
3. How to relate personal faith with
witness in the secular public square
These are all modern issues which emerged
in the Christian Protestant West during the
17th and 18th centuries. They help to shape
distinct communities of faith even though
they are not unique to evangelicals.
Roman Catholics have their own special
Roman bent. Liberal Protestants trust
reason, but evangelicals have a conflict
between faith and intellectual authority.
Authoritarianism has been a big factor
in evangelical communities but there has
tended always to be a crisis of authority,
with differing groups pulling in different
directions. Human reason is important to
them, but they are frequently guilty of
twisting intelligence to serve what they
consider the faith essentials.
We will focus on three key issues to
reveal problems between faith and
reason among evangelical Christians.
Creationism and Science
A. Creationism and Science
At first, there was an openness to certain
"non-literal" readings of the Genesis stories.
Gradually, however, the doctrine of
inerrancy grew among evangelicals.
Scientific respectability was important to
evangelicals and they created some latitude
around such things as the Genesis flood
story. There was a sincere attempt to find
reconciliation between the Bible and science.
But as the struggles between the Bible and
science increased, and many scientists
became more critical of the biblical sources
for their theories, movements like young
earth creationism emerged in evangelicalism.
Scientific reason was twisted so that biblical
authority on scientific matters was maintained.
This tended to very seriously compromise the
debates between evangelicals and scientists.
As intellectual challenges continued to confront
all Christians in their dealings with science,
evangelicals developed a highly logical "pseudo-
scientific" approach. They maintained that
God and God's key revelation in the scriptures
were unchangeable. That is at the core of
The Princeton Seminary debates in the early
twentieth century took place mainly over
an "errorless" Bible. In all of this, those who
chose (what became known as fundamentalism
and evangelicalism) claimed to be "very scientific."
A lot of discussion around history centered on
Francis Schaeffer and his L'Abri Fellowship
in Switzerland. (1960s-80s) Schaeffer was
convinced of the immanent collapse of Western
civilization and he sought to preach the gospel
to moderns in light of this.
He believed evangelicals could make a major
contribution to the understanding of history
in light of the decline of Christian culture in
the West. Christians could bring a unique
message - especially to ethical debates and
in terms of a special understanding of history.
This began what has become known as the
"culture wars" and abortion became a
major issue for evangelicals.
Other results of this evangelical intention
to "re-write history" was an attempt to
link it with evangelical beliefs. Thus,
many of the founding fathers of America
were no longer deists, but evangelical
Christians who sought to shape a nation.
The authority of history was linked to
the authority of the Bible.
Today, the key issue is gun control, with
the same theory of biblical interpretation
operating as served the abortion debate.
The right to bear arms was linked to the
"biblical principle" of your right to defend
This approach attempted to affirm history
while denying historical relativism.
C. Emergent Church
In modern times, evangelicals have been
concerned that their younger members
have been drifting due to secular education
and the secular society around them.
Evangelicals of the emergent church school
view these realities as opportunities, not
problems. Young evangelicals are challenged
to "think like missionaries" and "join the scrum."
A strong social justice theme is part of their
message and many of the young reject their
parents conservative politics in favor of
more compassionate approaches.
There is a call to Christian authenticity, much
like the message of the megachurch pastors
a generation ago.
Worship is viewed as "godly play" - a
therapeutic experience. Classic biblical/theological
images are blended with current social needs.
History is viewed as a resource, not a focused
following of tradition.
Still, there is a "clashing of authorities" and
a weak ecclesiology to much of their message.
There is no top-tier evangelical research
university and little agreed upon authority
respected by secular society.
1. Evangelicals, over time, do not seem to
"act rationally" and are often subject to
considerable criticism for this.
Yet, are non-evangelicals alway unbiased and
rational? Modern evangelicals, like their
ancestors, disparage modern critique.
They respond - "are secular universities
all that unbiased themselves?"
2. Evangelicals obey authority, but at the
same time, they honor multiple authorities.
This human problem takes an extreme
form in modern evangelicalism, however,
as some honor Orthodox Church Tradition
as well as their own. It's called a blend of
"tradition" and "tongues" by some.
The modern nexus of faith, reason and
secularity costs evangelicals intellectually;
but at the same time, evangelicals continue
to exhibit a kind of genius in spite of it all.
Read Molly Worthen's latest book:
"Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of
Authority in Modern Evangelicalism"
Oxford University Press, November 2013
Hardcover $20.00 CAD. Kindle $10.00 CAD
Read more -
A Catholic evaluation of evangelicals
and their impact on Latin America
San Antonio, TX
Personal Web Site
November 3rd, 2013
"Dying Into Safe Hands"
Long Island, NY
Englewood Review of Books (Video)
November 8th, 2013
"On Dorothy Day"
Colleague Speaks of a Favourite Spiritual Guide
November 4th, 2013
"Mormons and Native Americans"
ALAS, POOR VATICAN II
The People Have Moved Beyond You!
November 7th, 2013
A PRESIDENT WHO SOUGHT PEACE
His Vision Brought About His Demise
November 18th, 2013
BEST KENNEDY BOOKS OF ALL TIME
At the Fiftieth Anniversary of His Death
Christian Science Moniter
November 8th, 2013
MAJOR CHRISTIAN MASSACRE IN SYRIA
Worst Killings of Current Syrian Conflict
November 4th, 2013
GLOBAL WAR ON CHRISTIANS A FICTION
Persecution Exists in Places, but Not General Warfare
Catholic Herald, UK
October 31st, 2013
FIRE AND ASHES - MICHAEL IGNATIEF
Review of New Book by Ex-Liberal Leader
The Tablet, UK
November 7th, 2013
LUTHERAN PREACHER A YOUNG STAR
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Foul-Mouthed
Tattooed and Left-Leaning
November 5th, 2013
EVANGELICALS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
Canadian Founder was Ron Sider
800,000 CANADIANS RELY ON FOOD BANKS
In a Land of Plenty, a Major Misfortune
November 4th, 2013
CONSERVATIVE US CATHOLICS FEEL LEFT OUT
Pope Francis' Comments Not Like His Predecessors
New York Times
November 10th, 2013
WISDOM OF THE WEEK
Peace originates with the flow of things -
its heart is like the movement of the wind
and waves. The Way is like the veins that
circulate blood through our bodies,
following the natural flow of the life force.
If you are separated in the slightest from
that divine essence, you are far off the path.
- Morihei Ueshiba
Learn to be quiet enough to hear the genuine
within yourself so that you can hear it in others.
- Marian Wright Edelman
"Love makes your soul crawl out
from its hiding place."
- Zora Neale Hurston
"The Word of God is not found in the letter
of scripture but in the mutual relationship
between community and scripture. Thus
the meaning of scripture - the Word of God -
can only be understood within the context
of the living community, namely, the church."
- Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon
"The world is not to be put in order; the world is order,
incarnate. It is for us to harmonize with this order."
- Henry Miller
ON THIS DAY
From the Archives of
The New York Times
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION BEGINS
LINCOLN ELECTED US PRESIDENT
OBAMA ELECTED FIRST BLACK US PRESIDENT
The human mind is not capable of grasping the universe.
It is like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are
covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues.
The child knows that someone must have written these books.
It does not know who or how. It does not understand the
languages in which they are written. But the child notes
a definite plan in the arrangement of the books…a mysterious
order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects…
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this
emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder
and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
Vincent Van Gogh:
I tell you, if you want to be active, you
must not be afraid of failures, and you
must not be afraid of making mistakes.
People think they will become good by
doing no harm, but that’s a lie.
Such a frame of mind leads to stagnation and mediocrity.