27 September 2006

Luke Timothy Johnson: The Dual Failures of Evangelicalism and Liberalism

John Armstrong cites a penetrating statement by Luke Timothy Johnson (right), a biblically faithful catholic NT scholar at Emory, on the failures of both evangelical conservatism and theological liberalism. It resonates with me partly because of what I posted below about human trafficking.

"[Conservatives] pay a remarkable amount of attention to some small point of self-definition, compared to the attention they give to the heart of the gospel. Worse, they are often preoccupied with external signs of conformity but neglect the evidence of abuse and corruption around them. The classic example is their public opposition to sexual immorality accompanied by their blindness toward economic injustice. And because they set their boundaries by what is nonessential rather than what is essential, they repel those outside (and some of those within) who despair at their consistent habit of straining the gnat while swallowing the camel.

"At the other extreme, some groups lack any real sense of boundaries. They do not answer the question 'What does it mean to be a Christian?' clearly, and offer little sense of what is demanded of the individual Christian. They have explicitly or implicitly assimilated to the world of Modernity, have resisted the creation of strong boundaries in favor of openness to the world, and have aligned themselves politically with the forces of change within culture rather than with the forces of resistance. They define Christainity in terms of acceptance and inclusion, and regard boundaries as barriers."

Here's a link to Johnson's book from which the quote is taken, The Creed.

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