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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Jones’

Some people call me “Sir Links A Lot.” Actually no one calls me that, because I don’t link a lot–I link a very very very little. Hopefully no one calls anyone “Sir Links A Lot” because that would be really lame. But anyway, for your enjoyment I am going to link a little today and point you to some interesting articles I have read this week and give you some of my thoughts. I used to do this thing called “The Cultural Thermometer”–it was all the rage amongst my 3 faithful readers. Basically I just link to some interesting articles I have read and share some mildly insightful thoughts–enjoy:

1. Richard Dawkins is not a Harry Potter fan! Like me, you probably don’t care what Children’s books Richard Dawkins fancies, but if you follow Dawkin’s much, you won’t be surprised that Dawkin’s took this interview as another opportunity to proclaim that teaching your child about Hell is worse than physically abusing your child. That my friends, is an unsubstantiated claim if I ever heard one. Actually I have read research that reports those who believe in God live happier, more fulfilled lives. Dawkins claims that we should always have evidence for what we believe and yet he often fails to give evidence for the audacious claims he so often makes.

Interestingly enough, Dawkins’ doesn’t like Harry Potter because it is fantastical, but loves Philip Pullman’s work because apparently he deems it to be free from “magic and fairytales.” Well, Dawkins claims to have read Pullman but I am not so sure, I have read all three of the books in Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and found tons of magic and fantasy–there are witches, angels, magical knives and compasses, parallel universes, and talking armored polar bears–all of which Dawkins apparently finds far from fantastical! Ok, so you get my point, Dawkins likes Pullman because Pullman is an atheist. I am not endorsing Harry Potter, but its worth noting that Dawkins has never read any of the Harry Potter books! Dawkins says he is working on a Children’s book of his own that will be a celebration of naturalism and surprise surprise–another attempt to debunk what Dawkins so fondly calls the “Judeo-Christian Myth”–think God Delusion for kids.

2. William P. Young, Author of The Shack speaks out against his critics. Young responds to numerous Christian bloggers who have criticized his book for its pluralistic bent by saying The Shack is simply a “God thing.” He also claims that those who have read it have failed to point out where the book is contrary to the Bible. While I have not read the book, I must disagree because I have heard portions of the book read that scream of pluralism if not full-on universalism both of which are contrary to Scripture (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). How is that not contrary to Scripture? Check out Dr. Mohler’s radio show on the book as well as Tim Challies review for examples. If Young wants to write from a universalistic point of view, he is free to do so, but it is mind boggling to me how in this interview, Young is allowed to get away with calling his book a “God-thing” and never actually responding seriously to any of the many serious objections Christian reviewers have brought against it.

3. A Bob Dylan Documentary Worth Watching? I don’t watch Bob Dylan documentaries because they are a dime a dozen. There are more Bob Dylan documentaries than I can shake a stick at. If I had a dime for every time someone made a Bob Dylan Documentary, I would have a lot of dimes! Ok, you get the idea, there are a lot of Dylan Documentaries out there. Why should you watch this one? Because its called Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus Years: Busy Being Born … Again! There was a period during the late 1970s when Dylan claimed to have been born again. He then proceeded to write a trilogy of Christian albums and even refused to play some of his more secular songs in concert. Dylan is believed by many to be the greatest living songwriter, I can’t say that I know where he stands spiritually, but he did produce some beautiful music in his “born again” days. I am not really interested in Dylan Documentaries, but I plan to check this one out.

4. What do you get when you throw John Piper, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Greg Boyd in the same city? . . . Minneapolis, Minnesota! Colin Hansen, Christianity Today editor and author of Young, Restless and Reformed wrote an interesting piece on the diverse and influential churches of Minneapolis Minnesota. It seems that Minneapolis is something of a microcosm of Christianity in America today. There are numerous expressions of it, some of which I am concerned about, others of which I find encouraging. Though I know Hansen has his leanings, he does an excellent job of being fair and balanced in this interesting piece about churches on far different ends of the spectrum, and in the process tells us something about where Christianity is headed in America today.

5. Two interesting Articles on Marriage: Apparently infidelity rates are rising, particularly among women and another article claims a link between economic recession and divorce rates. How about taking a few minutes today to pray for your marriage and your friend’s marriages–that we might display the glory of Christ in our marriages in the midst of a culture that is increasingly devaluing marriage!

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I wrote over the weekend about the dialogue on Christianity Today’s website between Tony Jones and Collin Hansen. The dialogue has continued and it’s been alright, though most of the questions being asked are going unanswered in what increasingly looks like nothing more than a good example of charity in conversation between “emergents” and “non-emergents” (if you’ll excuse my categorization). I wanted further clarity on Jones’ view of the inspiration and authority of Scripture, which has been a murky phrase in theological circles, especially in the past two centuries.

So on Wednesday, Jones had the following to say:

I’ve been reading some of the young, Reformed bloggers write about our conversation, and one sentiment has stood out. Several have written that my affirmation of God’s sovereignty, the inspiration of Scripture, and the Atonement is not good enough. “What does he really mean?” they ask. “I don’t think he really means what I mean!” So, I ask you, do you think that any affirmation of the historic, creedal beliefs of Christianity by an Emergent will be good enough for the young, restless Reformeds?

I’m not concerned with being appeased. I don’t harbor ill will against Jones and I appreciate his call for epistemic humility to a certain extent. Far too often, both the Reformed and the non-Reformed will attack one another’s positions viciously and it becomes a caricature of what brotherly Christian dialogue should look like. You really see this a lot with the language used in the polemics between Calvinists and Arminians (“they don’t believe in the sovereignty of God,” or “they don’t believe in prayer and evangelism,” etc.).

But simple definition of terms is never too much to ask, especially when you make it a point to be so ambiguous about a great many things and associate with people like Brian McLaren who have some ‘different’ takes on the gospel.

Nor is it too much to ask for clarification if he intends to use that phrase, “the inspiration and authority of Scripture.” The history of the doctrine of inerrancy in the 19th and 20th centuries illustrates this point well.

Many sought to do away with inerrancy, claiming that it was nothing but an overreaction to biblical criticism by American theologians like B.B. Warfield and A.A. Hodge. The late-nineteenth century trial of Charles Briggs by the General Assembly of the PCUSA and the outlandish Rogers/McKim proposal are two cases of this history. What was recognized as ridiculous in the 19th century became established liberal Protestantism’s creed in the late 20th century. They would (and many do today) espouse the “inspiration and authority of Scripture” but they held to bastardized views of inspiration and authority.

As Charles Hodge said in response to Darwinism, “When a drama is introduced in a theatre and universally condemned, and a little while afterward, with little change . . . it is received with rapturous applause, the natural conclusion is, that the change is in the audience and not in the drama.”

Such is the case with modern views against inerrancy and the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. This is important to remember today as the emergent crowd consistently promotes “new” ideas. In reality, many of these views are often re-painted 19th and 20th century liberalism.

So no, Tony Jones. I’m not asking you to affirm any creeds (nor should anyone else for that matter). You can affirm creeds all day long and reserve different interpretations of those creeds. All I’m asking is that you define your terms like any good theologian should. I’m not waiting here to denounce you as a heretic and pounce on any point I see as aberrant. You can hold to whatever view of Scripture you please, just be forthcoming. That’s all.

Epistemic humility? Certainly, but with a dose of conviction please. Clarity must characterize these interactions if there is to any genuine dialogue occurring. I’d like to see genuine dialogue.

For more information on the subjects discussed in this post, read this (where the quotes come from), this, and this. Or you can read a little bit about some of these things here.

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Collin Hansen, editor at large for Christianity Today and author of Young, Restless, and Reformed, is having a conversation with Tony Jones, national coordinator for Emergent Village and author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier. I believe Drew is cooking up a review sometime in the future of

Hansen’s book, which I have not read. From the little bit of Jones’ book that I have read, I can say it is very useful for understanding what Emergents believe, though I take issue with the tone of some of his comments towards some great men of the faith (and his caricatures thereof).

The following quote of Hansen is from Day 2 of their dialogue (see Day 1 here), and I found it particularly interesting:

I was encouraged to read that you are committed to the inspiration and authority of Scripture. I was also surprised, because in The New Christians you write that evangelicals are “destined to a life of establishing the veracity of the Bible in the face of contravening evidence and opinion.” You then deconstruct a conservative argument for the veracity of the Bible as an example of “infinite regression,” the futile exercise of foundationalism. How do you evade foundationalism and still affirm the inspiration and authority of Scripture?

Even more interesting is the fact that Tony Jones did not answer the question (and successfully dodges another question about the atonement in his reply). I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if the coming days’ dialogue provides us with one. But so what if Jones is committed to the “inspiration and authority” of Scripture? I liked Hansen’s question (and would have liked Jones to answer), but I probably would have taken a step back and asked Jones to tell us what he means by “inspiration” and “authority.” Inspired like Shakespeare was “inspired” or inspired like 2 Peter 1:21 would define inspired?

There Peter describes the “prophetic word” (v. 19) as not being produced by the will of man, “but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Paul himself says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 2:16). It should be mentioned that while Paul was referring to the OT in this passage, Peter equates Paul’s writings with Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). Indeed, a careful reading of 1 Corinthians 7 will yield the fact that Paul saw his own judgment to be on par with a command from the Lord (7:12, 25, 40)!! When you hold all that evidence together, along with passages such as Matt 1:22; 19:5, Mark 7:9-13, and Acts 2:16-17 that attribute writings of the OT to the speech of God, then Peter’s assertion that the apostles had the right to author Scripture (2 Peter 3:2) is a profound statement equating their writings with the speech of God.

Suffice to say, the authors of the Bible certainly had a very high view of their writings. I think we should too.

It’s vital that we understand the distinction between:

A) Paul having been inspired to write a general message that contained the overall idea of the gospel.

and B) Paul having written, under the authority and guidance of the Holy Spirit, a work that was both human and divine, in no way compromising the role of either Paul or the Holy Spirit, so that the end product was exactly what God wanted it to be: an inerrant, inspired, and authoritative word.

It’s necessary to demand clarity and erudition in these matters because of the topic at hand. What’s more, how are we supposed to effectively live without meaning in our words? Show me one person who denies meaning in words and I’ll gladly agree that they have nothing meaningful to say.

Now when we say “inerrant,” what do we mean? Paul Feinberg explains it plainly for us:

Inerrancy means that when all facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything that they affirm, whether that has to do with doctrine or morality or with the social, physical, or life sciences.

I don’t know what Tony Jones means by “inspired” or “authoritative” but I’d like to know, without any fudging of words, what he believes about inerrancy. What you believe about inerrancy dictates what you believe about authority. Is the Bible authoritative for everything or just for faith and practice? If you haven’t thought about this in a while, perhaps it’s time you did. What do you believe about Scripture? Is it a collection of writings that are a good moral guide or is it the “living and active” word of God, “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)?

Voltaire once said, “One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.” Just because two men call something the same thing doesn’t mean that they perceive it as the same thing.

Perhaps we’ll get clarification from Jones, but it’s unlikely. Such issues are often too black and white for emergents of his stripe, but I could be wrong. In this case, I’d love to be wrong.

(HT: JT)

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