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.

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