Monthly Archives: November 2011

How to do theology?

A while ago I was encouraged that Newfrontiers had started to do some theology in public. This is what they say about it:
the·ol·o·gy – noun, the study of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into the existence and nature of the divine.

The Theology Forum was originally set up simply as an informal group of Bible teachers who were also friends – meeting to discuss and debate theological and biblical issues of interest. It didn’t take long to realise that this group’s activity had potential to help others in the wider christian community.
  
Mick Taylor leads the Theology Forum on behalf of the Newfrontiers Team. Adrian Birks, Matthew Hosier and Andrew Wilson are the other members of the core team meeting together regularly to help shape theological thought. The current arrangement involves selecting a couple of topics each year that we feel are of particular relevance at that time. These papers are then written and subjected to serious reflection and debate before they are presented to teams across the UK and published on the web for others to access.
  
In addition to the more substantial papers we’ve also wanted to be able to publish regular pithy comment on a range of theological areas; responding more quickly to topical issues. Therefore we’ve set up what you think matters as a home for both our papers and blog content.

However, yesterday there was a sad reminder that the intention to "to help others in the wider christian community" is a long way from being achieved.

A new article appeared yesterday: Mutual Submission? | Newfrontiers UK. I have been trying to think of an appropriate way to describe this and am still struggling to find ways to express my dismay that Newfrontiers are putting put stuff like this on their official theology website.
The most destructive part of the article is in the second paragraph and reads:
Within evangelicalism, four main lines of interpretation can be discerned. (Outside of evangelicalism, the response is fairly simple – Paul was a sexist simpleton who didn’t know any better; we’ve been enlightened now, so we should ignore him – although one wonders if the catastrophic track record of post-1960s white people when it comes to marriage will cause this approach to lose its lustre). 
So Newfrontiers claim "Outside of evangelicalism, the response is fairly simple – Paul was a sexist simpleton".
This claim is quite simply barking mad.
I am sure it is possible to find a few people who believe Paul to be a sexist simpleton. But I have not met many. Yet Newfrontiers are claiming that everyone they do not believe to be an evangelical thinks this. What absolute insulting tosh!
Sadly the rest of the article is no better in quality. The Newfrontiers views on gender continue to rely on a combination of poor translation, poor exegesis, no academic research and ignorant/simplistic thinking. It makes it very hard to engage wityh in any detail as there is so much wrong with it.
So this is the way Newfrontiers do theology "to help others in the wider christian community."
It turns out that their idea of helping is to insult & dismiss other Christians while failing to actually do any quality theology themselves.
The article ends with the statement "Maybe complementarians and egalitarians agree about more than we think!" I suppose that at least both complementarians and egalitarians can agree on the quality of this article!