Monday, April 20, 2009

Some Thoughts on Disagreement

Since we bloggers and blog commenters often disagree I thought we might need some outside instruction on how to disagree.

Or maybe I should say, And now for something completely different:

For you more serious folks out there, these were all examples of now NOT to do it.

Pastor Bob

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter and humanity: a response to Michael Adee

Presbyweb today linked to an interesting article by Michael Adee entitled "On Being Human & Divine: Reflections & blessing at Easter." While I have disagreed with Dr. Adee in the past and don't agree with everything he says in this article I find the article food for thought and well worth reading and commenting upon. The following is an email I sent to Dr. Adee in response to the article.

Dear Michael

First in the interest of total disclosure let me say that I am one of those people that think that God does not approve of sex between people of the same sex. However I’m not going to comment on that because I think there is much in your article that is worth chewing upon. I liked much of what you said in your article and want to interact with it. Also I’m going to post this on my blog.

I read your article today with interest. I found your talk about theological tension helpful, part of what I think we all need to hold on to. I do have some comments about your dualities:

  1. I will admit I don’t particularly like the word dualities or dualism as you said in one paragraph. I’m not sure paradox says it either although I like creative tension. I actually prefer dialectic as being a better word to talk about creative tension than paradox.
  2. I try to hold on to the Hebrew idea that we are unitive beings, not flesh and spirit, at least that we are not created that way. If you use the terms as Paul does, flesh meaning sinful and spirit meaning obedience to God or faith I would agree with you. I think the Greek split between flesh and spirit, rejecting flesh and thus physicality as bad is a total misreading of the Bible. From you article I suspect you agree with me. God created us to in the image of God and thus our bodies, minds and spirits are all one and all reflect, or should reflect the God as God’s image.
  3. I too have strong reactions against the idea that after we die we are bodiless spirits floating around. The Kingdom of God both present and future is for embodied creatures. Thus as you said, (at least in this time) we are sexual beings in relation to God and our sexuality somehow images God. How is a very interesting question.
  4. God did indeed create us good. The problem is we sin. Thus our goodness is, if not broken, at the very least stained with our sinfulness. We live in a sinful world and are sinners ourselves. I suspect, given your seeking of justice, you would also agree with this.
  5. I don’t know that I would put faith and reason as a duality. Following Augustine and, I think, Calvin, I would suggest that faith comes first, that is faith seeking understanding. Reason is also tinged by our sinful natures. Thus I am suspicious of Natural Theology and from other things you have written I suspect you would agree with me.
  6. I am not quite sure that you are suggesting that we are human and divine as or at least in analogy to Jesus Christ being fully human and fully divine. This, as I am sure you know, is a theme in Eastern Orthodox theology that has been abandoned by the Western Church. I admit I have not examined this much at all but know it is a theme of Athanasius’ work. Are you talking out of this tradition and if so would you comment on it?
  7. I really like your comments on the Jesus who interferes with everything. May he interfere with all of us the more and when we resist him may he push us and pull us until he has our attention. Or maybe in traditional Calvinist terms, may he drag us, kicking and screaming, into his ways and not our ways of being human citizens of the Kingdom!

Thank you for your article. It provides great food for thought

He is Risen!

Bob Campbell

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spiritual Violence 2

While no one commented directly on my last blog several referred to me over on John Shuck's blog. Some of the criticism is directed specifically directed to my limited definition of the word "violence." One person even quoted from an online dictionary! Seeing the definition I have to say I have indeed so limited the definition of the word that I have excluded some potential definitions.

Alan specifically invited me to come and speak at his blog. What follows, for the most part, is what I said on Alan's blog. Changes are in italics

Let's take a look at snad's list: (snad was the one who quoted from the dictionary)


1. swift and intense force: the violence of a storm.

2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence.

3. an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence.

4. a violent act or proceeding.

5. rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language: the violence of his hatred.

6. damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration: to do editorial violence to a text.

#1 I HAVE defined this one out as I use the word violence only to describe human behavior. I clearly need to change my definition to include non human violence as well.

#2 Clearly what I'm talking about

#3 This one could or not be physical violence depending on what actually happens. If the taking over of a government happens without anyone being hurt but is done by force of arms it is still violence. On the other hand if someone gets hurt it is physical violence

#4 I hear violent act and someone gets hurt. As far as I can tell from definitions online a violent proceeding is a violent act against a person or a community.

#5 Here you are correct. Violent language would not physically harm someone. Clearly I need to change my definition in relation to this definition. I take this to mean one who uses immoderate or extreme language that either insults others or goes beyond the language suited for the situation. So if I tell a bad pun and someone calls me a (several explicatives deleted) idiot that person has spoken violently. There may well be one to one correspondence between violent language and spiritual violence if one is spoken to with violent language at church because of one's sexual orientation.

A serious question: is there a difference between saying or suggesting you are not welcome here because of your sexual orientation or you are going to hell because of your sexual behavior and "I think the Bible says what you are doing is wrong?" Are all spiritual violence or not?

#6 This clearly is NOT physical violence but I am not sure it applies to what we are talking about. It seems to me that this means intentionally misquoting someone or so radically editing a text that it means something different than the author intended it to mean.

So #1 may or may not result in a physical injury and is not committed by one human against another.

#2 Does result in physical injury and is committed by one human against another.

#3 May or may not result in physical injury depending on the level of force used. It also may or may not result in a restriction of human freedoms depending on the nature of the previous government and/or the nature of the resulting government. At the very least there is the threat of physical force.

#4 I think this means that someone is physically injured. Please tell me if you think I have misunderstood.

#5 Clearly I am wrong and need to change my definition. This may also include spiritual abuse. I will post this whole response as a new blog.

#6 Also not physical violence.

(Alan asked me to respond to his husband)


I am heterosexual. I suspect you would think that I don't get the gay rights issue. If you by spiritual violence you mean you have been told or treated like you don't belong in a church or that you are less than human because you are gay I would certainly agree that Christians should not talk to or treat anyone that way. All are to be welcomed with love.

Question: is it spiritual violence to simply say I think what you are doing is wrong? If that is true, Alan, you and those who agree with you should work to make sure I am removed from my privileged position.

Like I said, this will all be posted on my blog with an introduction to explain why I'm doing it.

Pastor Bob