On his blog Reignite, Stephen Lingwood recently posted a video of Marc Driscoll explaining the four strands of the Emerging (Christian) Church. While affirming the first three (Evangelicals, House Church and Reformers), Driscoll fears that the fourth strand, the Emerging Liberals, threatens to theologically undercut the foundation of Christianity, by calling into question the literal veracity of the New Testament and the supernatural state of Jesus Christ. At one point, Driscoll reads the decision to welcome the LGBTQ community to church as a form of "outright dismissing the Christian doctrine that has been established for a really long time." This, he submits, is disastrous.
Aside from the fact that literalist proof-texting fails to take into account the inherent (human) fallibility in scriptures themselves (consider, for example, KJV's misinterpretation of the term 'almah,' which transformed an eligible bachelorette into a superhuman miracle-birther), I find Driscoll's comment intriguing and worthy of further consideration for the non-textualists among us. Of course, every reading serves as an interpretation, and thus an 'absolutely truthful' reading proves nonsensical, meaningless. However, the very notion that a single text could claim absolute authority (not to be confused with the claim that the text is absolutely true) challenges Unitarian Universalism in many ways. Do we hold certain texts to be authoritative? Entirely authoritative? What role does our hymnal play? Our seven principles? Or congregational covenants? Further, if we do not hold any of these suppositions to be true, where do we turn for guidance, and why? What do we mistrust about texts? Their static nature? Their inevitable universalizing subjectivity?
In my experience, certain texts deserve considerable respect and authority, contextualized (!) of course by their innate fluidity and hermeneutical ambiguity. The issue, I believe, is less the suggestion that no text is fully 'truthful' and more the realization that no text is fully 'complete' - that no text has figured everything out. One of the reasons that Unitarian Universalism encourages its flock of faith to engage differing viewpoints and differing prophetic material is precisely this acknowledgement. For me, at least, reading the Bible 'rabbinically' as mytho-poetic literature does not threaten my faith. Rather, I would take issue with the idea that the Bible represents the only mytho-poetic literature deserving of to be read.
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