One Dr Eric Reitan has chimed in here and here at Dr McGrath's blog.
He is apparently nothing more than another dime-a-dozen liberal religion professor type who likes to talk like an Emergent. Probably b/c "Emergent" usually just means "old-tyme liberalism wearing a soul patch and thick black-frame glasses, a progressive and awesome hairstyle, and typing his blog on a Mac".
But it really is remarkable how he has eviscerated any thought of a meaningful religion given to humanity from God. Rather, he apparently thinks the "man trying to reach God by means that man chooses" is the way to go. Yeah, good luck with that.
Dr Reitan said:
The gist of it is this: a God whose essence is love would not choose, as His primary vehicle of revelation, a static text.
Right off the bat, you are setting yourself up as an authority over the Bible, just like Dr McGrath.
Which means you don't accept the Bible as God's primary means of self-revelation. What will you put in its place? From reading the rest of your comment, you will put "people" in its place. Nice theory, but it only works when people are sorta like you, nice people who don't want to kill you and your kids for fun, who don't want to steal your car and use it for drug and drive-by shooting raids, who don't want to foist all sorts of legalistic requirements for salvation on others, who would never give up their Macs for Lenovos, who would never dream of attempting to subjugate the entire human race under one racist régime.
I don't know if you're a part of the Emergent Church, Dr Reitan, but what you have said here falls directly in line with their worst elements, and that's an awful shame. One of their fundamental problems is their backhanded ethnocentrism. You will no doubt swear up and down that it's actually those awful fundies who are racist, but wait a second. Our message, from the Bible, remains consistent. We call ALL people to repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, b/c ALL people are equally filthy and equally dead in their sins. You want this squishy "community" wherein people are able to "express themselves", but you only want some of that. You won't include the conservative Reformed person like me. You won't include the unrepentant jihadist or the Hindu church bomber, or the loner, or the repentant homosexual who is now happily married to a woman and has 4 kids and wants to help others to leave the homosexual lifestyle, or the sociopath, or the wife-beater. And you know what? There are an awful lot of people like that out there. They are sinners. We are sinners. We need a Savior. Our problem is not that we need community. Our problem is that we are sinful.
One of the points of that is that humans are wildly inconsistent and don't agree on much of anythg, but you naively make humans your yardstick. This boils down to nothing more than happy-happy subjective relativism, and it will fail you in the hard (or even moderately difficult) cases. Ground your morality in humans? What do you tell the guy who wants to murder you? You can't say it's morally wrong to do so! You might tell him it's wrong FOR YOU, but maybe it's perfectly right for him!
OK, back to a point by point refutation of your foolish premise.
a God whose essence is love would not choose, as His primary vehicle of revelation, a static text.
How do you know anything about God apart from His self-revelation in the Bible?
Also, you never interacted (much like your colleague Dr McGrath) with my questions. I invite you with all possible urgency to do so.
We learn most about love through loving and being loved.
Apart from God's revelation of the nature of love in the Bible, how do you know:
1) what love is, and
2) what loving looks like?
See how you've set yourself up over God, set yourself on the throne?
Christianity affirms this when it maintains that God's most fundamental revelation in history was in the PERSON of Jesus.
And if the biblical text is errant, you have a strong defeater for ANY proposition you might make about Him.
"He told us to love our neighbor." No, the text was errant at that point.
"He told us to turn the other cheek." No, the text was errant at that point.
You've cut yourself off from the source and you're left floundering. This is the fruit of liberalism.
He made disciples--PERSONS--whom He sent out into the world.
And you know nothing about them either apart from the Bible.
Will you appeal to church tradition? It looks nothing like what you're proposing here, sorry to say. In fact, it doesn't look like much of anythg - it's a mishmash of elements we'd today identify as Romanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, with all sorts of other elements thrown in the mix. One thing is for sure, it doesn't look like what you're expressing here. So I guess that appeal is right out for you, and we're right back to what is, in effect, "But I'm Eric Reitan, yo. Trust ME."
But it will cease to be valuable if we come to pay more attention to this text than we do to our neighbors.
This has ceased being an argument for an alternative foundation for epistemology and morality and is evolving into a complaint that modern conservative Christians can be meanies. And who denies that? We're sinners.
If the text is errant, I'd like to know why I *SHOULD* pay attention to my neighbor. Can you tell me?
the place where Christ is present, embodied, on Earth today. Not in a book. In persons.
Persons who have no knowledge of the historical Christ outside of that book.
It's not like I'm denying the importance of people or the church, but the church is cut off from her moorings without God's guidance.
When the biblical witness is treated as the proxy voice of persons who lived long ago,
Oh, like a history book is a "proxy" of dead guys who fought wars, drew borders, made peace, etc?
the biblical witness becomes an invaluable partner in our efforts to understand what God is saying to us
Even though Jesus Christ Himself taught us to test all things by the standard of His Word? Mark 7:1-13.
it trumps the voice of the neighbor and is used as a conversation-ender.
Precisely. Let all human voices cease before the voice of God. Let Him, in His infinite love and wisdom, define the universe for us and let us bow before our Sovereign Creator.
HE defines sin. HE defines righteousness. HE provides for our salvation. HE commands. HE is the final authority. This is Christianity. I wish you were part of it.
It becomes an excuse not to listen to the lived experience of the neighbor.
Oh, I'll be happy to listen all day long if necessary. But for actual finding the answer to tough questions, God has defined them, and our puny human efforts fail miserably. I'd be willing to bet you only think that "human experience" is important when most things are going right for you in the world. What happens when you're faced with a church split? A divorce? The murder (God forbid) of a family member? Temptation to do something and you can't decide which way to go? Death? What does "human experience" have to say about the question of life after death?
And since compassionate listening is one of the most essential acts of neighbor love
Which you have no way of knowing outside of an objective revelation from God.
In closing on this, you have no case. Your mouth is closed before the Lord. Submit yourself to God.
But why pay attention to fallible people when you think you've got an infallible book?
Maybe b/c I love those fallible people? And b/c the infallible book told me to?
What am I listening to them FOR? You'd say I should go to them for EVERYthing. The Bible tells me to give TO them from the truth that God has already given. See how God would have us be generous, and on your view more selfish?
The tendency is to silence them by quoting chapter and verse: "It's (sic) says so here. It's never wrong. So you must be wrong. Now shut up."
Depends on what we're talking about. If this person wants to know the truth and the Scripture speaks to that issue, yes, God is right and you're wrong. You are obligated to agree, and furthermore, agreeing with God is right in and of itself. That doesn't mean I say "shut up" to people. I only say that to false teachers (much like Dr McGrath) and other destructive influences in the church who are willfully distorting the truth. Not to people who just have questions. And not on every question, either. The Bible allows for diversity of belief on many, many issues. Dr Reitan would lump all questions in under the same category, and he should know better.
the anguished cries of gays and lesbians who are excluded from full participation in the life of the community are ignored in favor of Romans 1:26-27.
And what of when the anguished cries of thieves and child molesters who are excluded from full participation in the life of the community are ignored in favor of Revelation 22:15? You would judge them?!?!?!?!
The church of Jesus Christ is for REPENTANT SINNERS, not unrepentant sinners who want to turn a nation to greater perversity and acceptance of sin. But see again how Dr Reitan is focusing on the loud, gay-agenda, "We're here, we're queer, get used to it" type crowd and ignoring the many homosexuals and former homosexuals in the world and in the US who neither want "civil rights" nor support the gay rights political agenda, nor want to destroy the institution of marriage for everyone else, nor even want to keep being homosexual. Doesn't mean they'll all be able to overcome their same-sex attraction, but it does mean they have actually repented of their sin.
Wow, imagine that - people who honestly and authentically realise they are sinful and bow the knee before a perfect Savior and His revelation.
Dr Reitan will never see that as long as he continues in his stubbornly unChristian views.