Thursday, July 19, 2007

Skewed Theologies, Dangerous Movements, and other Bad Ideas that Threaten to Discredit Christianity in the 21st Century

1. The Evangelical Take on Biblical Inerrancy (e.g., The Chicago Statement)

Any idea or doctrine that must die a death of a thousand qualifications for the sake of plausibility is ... well ... not very plausible. For a better understanding of inerrancy, study Sections 105-107 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2. Penal Substitution Theory of the Atonement

Lying somewhere between a case of divine child abuse and a gross miscarriage of cosmic justice, it’s high time for this monstrous understanding of the atonement to be abandoned. For a more biblical and patristic alternative, read Gustav Aulen’s Christus Victor.

3. Belief in a Young Earth

Face it, the earth’s years are properly measured in the billions, not the thousands. It is time for Christians to admit and accept this fact as a "given," just like other "givens" once disputed by theologians (such as the fact that our spherical earth rotates on its axis while revolving around the sun).

4. Creation Science

Have you checked out any science reviews lately? Creationist polemics notwithstanding, the fossil evidence is actually mounting in favor of biological evolution. But I predict that Genetics, not Archeology, will pound the final nail into the coffin of Creation Pseudo-science.

5. Intelligent Design (related to, but not the same as, above)

What does it say about the state of contemporary evangelical theology that its best argument against Charles Darwin's century-and-a-half old theory rests on a Deistic rehashing of the age-old “god of the gaps” fallacy? For that matter, what does it say about Darwin's theory? Read Ken Miller’s In Search of Darwin’s God.

6. Dispensationalism and the Modern State of Israel

Where does Scripture teach that Israel has an unrestricted, unconditional deed to prime coastal real estate in the Middle East? There is no telling how much political, domestic, and foreign policy damage has been done by Dispensational theology. Remedy: Study the BIBLE, not Scofield's notes, to show thyself approved.

7. The term "Born-Again Christian"

Redundant, misleading, anti-sacramental, ecclesiologically nonsensical, and much too often a blatant oxymoron.

8. MegaChurches

Rather than challenging narcissism, the MegaChurch embraces and institutionalizes it, thus turning narcissism into a Christian virtue. The resulting paradox is a hugely successful message that is profoundly vacuous of any objective content.

9. TULIP Calvinism

Once upon a time there was Isaac Newton, and then came Albert Einstein. Once upon a time there was Theodore Beza, and then came Karl Barth.

10. The “Imminent” Rapture

It’s been 2000 years folks! The end may be a bit closer, but don’t cash in your pension or stop paying your life insurance premiums just yet!


Thomas said...

What is your take on the charismatic movement? Would you group it here?

Third Mill Catholic said...

The charismatic movement is too multifarious to include in this list without condemning the good along with the bad.

There are times when I am simply in awe of the Azusa Street Revival of 1909, with its mixing of socio-economic and racial groups, led by a one-eyed African American, with every national newspaper villifying them at the time. It's hard to deny that the Spirit was doing something.

That being said, my list could have been twice as long if I included certain elements of "charismania" out there.

dmartin said...

Excellent commentary Dan. I'm sure some would put the new statement by Benedict. What do you think? (not whether you agree with it or not, but should it make this list, and if not, would it be in the top 20?)

Third Mill Catholic said...

Benedict's recent statement is simply a restatement of the position of V2 and what is clearly stated in the Catechism (which was written under JP2's watch). So I don't know what the recent fuss was all about. It's not like he changed the teaching of the Church.

And, no, it wouldn't make my top twenty. The debate over the nature of the Church is one that Christians have been having since day one. Not that the scandal of disunity isn't discrediting to the faith; indeed, it is! But I think there is enough blame to go around, and I wouldn't presume to pronounce on an issue of such universal significance to the Body of Christ.

Brett said...

I like to call myself a 'Water and Spirit Christian' around the 'Born Again Christian' crowd. Jesus said we must be born again? Indeed, He also said we must be born of Water and the Spirit.

I would explain that as all of life was created through water, and brought forth out of water (Genesis 1) the new life in Christ is also brought forth through the waters of baptism, and we are made a new Creation.

That really sends them into a tithy, as it sets off the gnostic distaste for the Sacraments ('Ordinances', as they like to say) amongst so many evangelicals.

They usually start handing me tracts again, as apparently I've apostasized..