Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reading the Bible

I'm reading The Bible for Hope right now. Not for fun, I must admit, but because its one of my textbooks. It's basically a Bible, written in American language, with articles interspersed written by different people. Like Tim LaHaye.

My professor seems like a nice guy. The class is Pastoral Care. His background is in psychology and he has a day job in a secular hospital.

But I am yet again made aware of our differences when he says something like, "Now they're (a pastoral care conference) not like us ... they make not come out and say, 'I think you're going to hell if you don't believe in Christ,' but don't think that those are my beliefs."

Unpacking that ... yes, he was really saying that students shouldn't hold it against him if the people at the conference don't condemn others for not being believers.

I'm not sure conservatives would be a fan of me reading the Bible. Because it's making me ask questions. Questions like, "Do you marry divorced people in your church? But you're against gay people. How do you reconcile that, when Jesus clearly said that someone who marries a divorced person is committing adultery?"

No, I haven't asked that in class yet. Not on the first day.

9 comments:

ms. kitty said...

Interesting comment from your prof. Wonder if his secular hospital bosses know that he proselytizes in a hospital room---for that's what I'm inferring. I guess I'm assuming his day job is as a chaplain. Maybe I'm wrong in my assumptions---what's the scoop? I'm probably assuming too much.

ms. kitty said...

PS. Tell you someone you can ask that question of: my nephew Joel is asking the reverse questions about same sex marriage. Go take him on---I told him I wouldn't argue with him about religion or politics. As far as I know, nobody has challenged him on his blog at ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com

But I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to---he's very facile and dogmatic.

ms. kitty said...

PPS. You have to scroll down to find the post.

Earthbound Spirit said...

Is this guy a member of ACPE (Assoc. for clinical pastoral education)? If so, it's unethical for him to proselytize on the job. That's what I was taught by both my CPE supervisor (Methodist) and in-house chaplain (American Baptist), too. One of my duties as an chaplain intern was to remove Chick tracts and other religious propaganda that were left in the chapel and hospital restrooms...

http://www.acpe.edu/acroread/Code_of_Professional_Ethics_for_ACPE.pdf

fausto said...

What kind of seminary are you attending? "You're going to hell if you don't believe in Christ" has not been the position of mainstream denominational Christianity for a long time. The consensus position, as I understand it, is that grace is never conditional or earned, and that God redeems whom He pleases. (In our own Universalist interpretation of the basic position, of course, it is His pleasure that all will ultimately be reconciled.)

ms. kitty said...

Wow, Ogre has just laid out the best arguments at ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com. Thanks, Ogre, for taking him on.

Lizard Eater said...

Ms. Kitty and EBSpirit -- he's basically the chaplain for the staff, not patients. And I have no reason to assume that he passes his theology on to others. Not saying he doesn't, but I have no reason to think so. He was inviting seminary students to a seminar being given elsewhere and I think was clumsily trying to prepare them for theologies more open than their own. But time will tell ...

Fausto -- you're not living in the Bible belt, are you? My seminary is "interdenominational" meaning any type of Christian can go. But the majority of professors are Southern Baptist. But not so SB they're allowed to be openly sexist. (Unlike the Southern Baptist seminary a couple of towns away, where women can't get M.Divs.)

Ogre, if you see this -- YAY, YOU. I didn't have the time or energy to engage him.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, LE, for following up on the question of "does he or doesn't he?" (only his clients know for sure). And Ogre did a masterful job, all right. It does take time and energy to take Joel on. What I don't tell him in refusing to argue is that he can talk rings around me; he knocked the top off of an IQ test at age 11 and is definitely one of those kids (at age 40) who is too smart for his own good.

fausto said...

Fausto -- you're not living in the Bible belt, are you?

No, LE, I live in the twin shadows of Harvard and Cardinal O'Malley. However, I woudn't classify the SBC as "mainstream" Christianity, nor most Evangelicals as either "denominational" or "mainstream" Christians. I'm thinking more of the Catholics, and the Protestant traditions that flowed directly from the Reformation -- the Anglicans, Lutherans, and various Presbyterian and Reformed bodies. We (or more precisely, our predecessor Congregationalists) even did some heavy experimenting with "decision theology" ourselves, back in the 1600's and again in the 1700's, when we were still an integral part of the Reformed mainstream, and we discovered both times that it didn't have much staying power.

The rest of the mainstream pack pretty much came around to the same conclusions we did. Even the Catholic Church these days teaches that God does not damn anyone, but that Hell is a place of lonely isolation to which only those souls voluntarily retreat who choose to reject God's love forever. (Hardly an iota of difference between that position and Universalism, if you think about it.)

That left the revivalists out on the fringe talking mostly to themselves, swooning under the tents and answering altar calls and gullibly buying their snake oil remedies from all the glib pitchmen and barkers outside, and they've been doing it for over 250 years now, but that has never been "mainstream" Christianity -- even if they may think there's no other kind.