The X-Files Is Better Than Scooby-Doo

Interesting post from Brian Zahnd on the absence of mystery in today’s approach to faith: The X-Files Is Better Than Scooby-Doo.  I particularly like the opening paragraph:

Fundamentalism was born as the wrongheaded reaction to the crisis of modernity. Ironically, fundamentalism is an approach to faith that accepts modernity’s now discredited claim that empiricism is the sole source of knowledge. Feeling intimidated by the Scientific Revolution, fundamentalism takes a “scientific” approach to the Bible — which is perhaps the worst of all ways to approach Scripture. The Bible is not interested in giving or even competing with scientific explanations. What Scripture gives us is inspired glimpses of the Divine Mystery. The point is never to “prove” the Bible, but to enter into the mystery through the portal of Scripture. The Bible has no interest in “proving” itself — it has no need to do this and makes no attempt to do so. What the Bible is, is the Spirit-inspired sign that points us to the true Word of God — the Word made flesh. And the Word made flesh is the greatest of all sacred mysteries. Any approach to the Incarnation that does not treat it as a sacred mystery is an act of desecration. If we insist on explaining the mysteries of faith — the bane of fundamentalism — mysteries like the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Parousia, the new birth, baptism, the Eucharist — we inevitably reduce rich mysteries to cheap certitudes. In the search for certitude and a penchant for Bible-Answer-Man explanation, the intrinsically artistic nature of the Christian mystery is turned into gift shop simulacra. Fundamentalism is to Christianity what paint-by-numbers is to art.

I think you can take the mystery aspect too far, and I am increasingly of the belief that something along the lines of Andrew Perriman’s Narrative-Historical approach is the best way to get out of this modernist cul-de-sac evangelicals are trapped in, but Brian makes some good points and adds a valuable perspective.

I also really like this sentence:

Freed from the shackles of scientific positivism, the postmodern soul not only accepts the presence of mystery, it craves it.

Read the whole thing to see where Scooby-Doo and the X-Files comes in.

The gospel of our age

Live in the moment. This is the gospel of our age – live for today. Eat, drink, buy, travel – experience. Sex, drugs and rock and roll has become sex, pharmaceuticals and immersive digital content. YOLO, LOL.

I can see the appeal, and there is a sliver of truth there; if only to enjoy the everyday graces. Dappled sunshine, a cool breeze, the smell of fresh coffee, the tender yet intense embrace of a child just before bedtime … And I am deeply thankful for these moments that have been given to me.

But doubt pursues me. Regret lingers, coming into my vision with a disorienting pang of sorrow; a fog that too easily curdles into melancholy.

Or hardens into stoicism; not faith or hope or love but mere perseverance. This too shall pass. Vanity, vanity …

In this space I seek not a fortress of doctrine or intellectual architecture but peace; not the cold stones of a systematic belief that must be defended at any cost, and yet whose fragility is evidenced by its inability to adapt or change or speak outside its own self-selected club, but a place of rest.

Green pastures, still waters. The still small voice. Mercy, and not sacrifice …

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I believe; help my unbelief.


Some rough and ready “rules” for doing a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament

Some rough and ready “rules” for doing a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament

I find Andrew Perriman’s work fascinating, engaging, challenging and even inspiring. If you have any interest in theology and the struggle to wrestle with what you might call the post-modern era of the church and a post-Christendom perspective, I recommend his writing.

How will United Methodists respond to Gosnell horror?

Matt O’Reilly tackles the important but admittedly difficult question of How will United Methodists respond to Gosnell horror?

First, O’Reilly makes the connection between Roe and Gosnell clear:

We must begin by recognizing that this tragic situation follows from the widespread efforts to normalize abortion in the United States. Not all will agree with that conclusion, but a variety of factors suggest its accuracy. Since abortion was declared a constitutional right in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, the pro-choice movement has worked hard to undermine the full personhood of the preborn. We have been told again and again that the child in the womb is a fetus, not a baby. We are told that abortion is not the ending of a life; it is the termination of a pregnancy. This cold and detached terminology is intended to downplay any emotional reaction to abortion.

The problem is that if a preborn child in the eighth or ninth month of gestation does not have the moral status of a person, why should we think a change of geography from inside the womb to outside the womb suddenly establishes personhood? There is no substantive difference between the preborn and the newly born. If we are desensitized to the death of the former, it will lead us to be decreasingly sensitive to the latter. The road from Roe to Gosnell is a downhill slope.


United Methodists need to recognize that we are where we are because the Roe decision started us on a path of devaluing the sacred worth of human life. That path has led us to the trial of Kermit Gosnell.


Sheep and wolves

This world hungers, and we parents weep, and we pray that our pleading is heard, that if there is something in us that can be altered so they can be spared, God will alter it; that if our flesh might be torn in place of theirs, God might rend it; that if sheep must be slain, God will pass over our own, because the cost is more than we can bear.

Tony Woodlief.

Whatever happened to the faith in the power of truth?

Whatever happened to the faith in the power of truth? If the evangelical understanding of the faith is genuinely true and strong and anchored in Scripture, then it shouldn’t need to protect people from exposure to dissenting ideas. Children, maybe, but grad students? See, I’m old-fashioned. I have so much faith in the power of truth, the power of orthodoxy, that I believe that strong, well-nourished, well-grounded faith, that clings to Jesus Christ and knows how to think critically, will not go far astray for long. Arm your students with the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, and then give them a long leash. They might charge off for a bit in some scary directions, but you should rest assured that whatever they bring back from their intellectual adventures will be fruitful new insights that nourish and strengthen the faith, rather than destroying it.

Brad Littlejohn