In the wake of the allegations against Judge Roy Moore, many American evangelicals are pulling out the defences, excuses, and verbal acrobatics that they used in the face of the myriad sexual allegations against then candidate Donald Trump, especially in the wake of the Access Hollywood recording in which Trump confesses his predatory habits and even identifies the approaching female host as a potential victim should the opportunity arise. Alongside multiple accusations of inappropriate sexual advances, Moore has been accused of assaulting women as young as 14 years old. The accusations against Moore come amidst a wave of such allegations that hopefully reflect a sea change in American culture that will allow women and girls to come forward more quickly and while the cases may still be prosecuted. I hope this trend in the U.S. spills across the border into Canada as well.
As they do in relation to Trump, many self-professing American evangelicals are taking comfort in and finding refuge behind ill applied biblical passages to diminish the voices of Moore’s accusers and maintain their loyalty to the Republican Party. In a culture in which being Republican and being an evangelical Christian are often treated as synonymous, one’s loyalty to the party now trumps (pun intended) one’s loyalty to creed or historic standards of Christian morality. For many people (including some white male evangelical Christians like myself), the level of hypocrisy is so patently obvious that I’m surprised it does not produce a detectable stench. If I read the Psalms and prophets correctly, it is a stench in God’s nostrils.
In the current climate, with perhaps the most bizarre run up to a Federal Election in U.S. history, now seems a good time to re-read Jacques Ellul’s study of modern scientific propaganda which is helpfully titled Propaganda. In this important work, Ellul examines the techniques of the Russian, Chinese, and Nazi propagandists. Many of these techniques are regularly employed throughout the world. Propagandists (whether they call themselves that or not or whether they are aware that they are or not) continue to employ and perfect these techniques.
We are constantly bombarded with propaganda. In the (post)modern world, many of us in technological societies are so immersed in propaganda that we are like flying-fish who momentarily discover that they are wet before they are pulled back into the water. Perhaps, it is more like moving through a warm spot in the pool, noticing the temperature change and hoping that it’s not what you think it is. That is, we may not realize that we are immersed we may only notice that we have encountered someone else’s propaganda.
In Matthew’s Gospel, he states that the birth of Jesus fulfills Isaiah 7:14.
Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:20-23
Fulfillment in Matthew:
Matthew employs the phrase “this was to fulfill” a number of times in his gospel before citing a passage from the Old Testament. While his fulfillment language can sometimes refer to a rather direct prediction, like the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, the city of David, this prediction/fulfillment scenario does not exhaust the phrase.
While those of you who have read my previous posts are scrambling to put together a model of a first century Bethlehemite home complete with guest room and attached stable, I am departing slightly from the Nativity scene itself as I turn to Matthew’s genealogy which precedes his passing reference to Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.
In his genealogy of Joseph’s line, Matthew includes references to four women from Abrahamic/Davidic line. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah (or Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon).
Why does Matthew mention these women at the beginning of his gospel? As with most good storytelling, there is no single right answer to this question. That is, I think Matthew likely had multiple reasons for highlighting these women at the beginning of his gospel. In this post, I have no intention of being exhaustive because that would be exhausting.
A recent conversation with a family member who was a little disturbed by me describing myself as an Evangelical Christian inspired this post. In this conversation, it was clear that the term Evangelical is often seen as and used as a synonym for Fundamentalist.
I am an Evangelical Christian but I am neither a Fundamentalist nor a Dispensationalist (nor a Young Earth Creationist — but I have written enough about that in other posts).
I wonder if the folks at Answers in Genesis have thought of this radical off the wall approach to dialogue. Do the writers at AiG consider actually engaging in conversation with the scholars that they so readily judge and condemn? I have it on good authority that Wright and other scholars do receive mail from Young Earthers, hate mail, that is.
In my view, scholarship is engaging in an ongoing conversation. Conversation requires listening and responding. Moreover, as the word itself suggests true conversation allows for the possibility of conversion. That is, when one enters into a conversation it is possible that you or your conversation partner may have a change of mind. (see “The Discipline of Study” in Richard Foster’s The Celebration of Discipline) In Academics, this dialogue is often carried out by reading one another’s writings and seriously engaging with and responding to each other’s arguments and thoughts.
Now, I have met Wright a few times at Regent College and at Society of Biblical Literature meetings. He likely does not remember me but we do have some mutual friends who could vouch for me. So, I re-introduced myself and asked him the following questions:
I keep encountering facebook posts, articles, and tweets that seems to assume that I as a Christian would be or ought to be opposed to the death penalty. Of course, as a white North American evangelical, many will not be surprised that I am not opposed to the death penalty. For many, I fit neatly into their box and do not challenge their prejudices. Everything remains neatly black and white. You’re welcome.
For that reason, I hesitate to write a blog post on the death penalty but if you are reading this post, then I have apparently only hesitated.
In my recycled posts about aliens in the Bible, I poke fun at some popular Christian authors who argue that UFOs are real, aliens are really demons in disguise, and therefore suggest that the Bible tells us we will be deceived by these demon-aliens. Often UFO and alien abduction enthusiasts read alien visitation into ancient texts, ancient artifacts, and structures. Who really built the pyramids? Why are gods from the heavens?
While I highly recommend Michael Cosby’s Intepreting Biblical Literature (see my post on this textbook), I have yet to read a textbook where I agree with everything in it. In his chapter on the Primeval History or Genesis 1-11, Cosby writes the following, “The talking snake in Genesis 3:1-5 is merely that — a snake.”
So, when we get to this moment in a classroom setting, I usually put this quote on the screen followed by the question in my title: