Saturday, March 28, 2009

The real slippery slope

The time could not be better for James Dunn to decide to publish a second edition of his The Living Word. Whoever did not get around to reading the first edition should make sure they get their hands on a copy of this updated work!

"...[T]hose who want to hear the word of God in and through scripture need to think long and hard about how they hear that word, before attitudes become hardened and decisions become irrevocable which do lasting damage to the church as the body of Christ, to the gospel as good news of liberation, and to a common concern for the truth of God. The crisis over scriptural authority within Christianity is a particular case of a more widespread malaise afflicting both religions and, because religions often affect poltics, also national and international politics. I refer to the fact of fundamentalism and to the often baleful effects fundamentalist views and fundamentalist-inspired policies have been having since the turn of the millenium...[A] primary feeder of fundamentalism is the lust of certainty and security. It is the certainty that God has spoken in particular words and formulations which are clear-cut and fixed for all time, which alone gives the fundamentalist the security (s)he craves for...

The ecumenical and political tragedy is that the craving for such certainty becomes itself a slippery slope which can quickly lead to disaster. The fundamentalist knows the truth in clear-cut terms. He or she sees issues in black-and-white terms...there is no room for disagreement or compromise. For the fundamentalist, I cannot be right unless you who disagree with me are wrong; those who compromise are blind and traitors...from a fundamentalist perspective, those who disagree with the fundamentalist position on any subject disagree with God. They are enemies of God. They are not simply wrong; they are evil. And if evil, opposed to God, then they are demonically motivated and should be opposed with the ruthlessness with which good must oppose evil. They can be treated with inhumanity because they have set themselves against God's truth for humankind. We don't have to go down that slippery slope before we come to the burning of heretics, the hanging of witches, and (who thought it possible in the twenty-first century) Guantanamo." (J. Dunn, The Living Word, vii-viii)

Is your conservative evangelical or Reformed school coming to mind?