Defensive Orthodoxy

Here is a little rant by an Evangelical over at Pantheos. First, a little background for my Jewish readers. After the public defeat of Fundamentalism in the 1930’s, they recoiled and became sectarian. Starting in the late 1940’s and 50’s, there was a new era of modern Evangelicals who rejected sectarianism went out into the world, they took on modern education, politics, and society. In the 1980’s and 1990’s they became the dominant religious force in the US of A and they are evangelicals, the F word is reserved for those who don’t engage with the modern world.

Here, Roger Olsen who calls himself a post-conservative evangelical decries that the evangelicals are beginning to sound like fundamentalists in these are intellectually inbred and spend all their time trying to correct drifts and mistakes in the community. He sees them as defensive of the received tradition and obsessed with fighting perceived liberals (whose existence he thinks is chimerical). He concludes by asking them to try their hand at something constructive.

Read it and let me know if anyone sees any Jewish parallels here? Do we have anyone or any groups that fit this bill?

rogereolson, July 6, 2011 3:53 pm
One hallmark I don’t think I’ve talked about here before is the neo-fundamentalists’ tendency to publish ONLY scholarship aimed at “correcting” doctrinal drift or declension among fellow evangelicals. For them, theology should not be creative or engage in reconstruction. Apparently, anyway, God does NOT (for them) have new light to break forth from his word. They are defensive of whatever they perceive as “the received evangelical tradition” and pump out books and articles attacking those evangelicals they regard as somehow departing from it. It always turns out that they see all those straying evangelicals as “on a liberal trajectory.” They (the neo-fundamentalists) are obsessed with liberal theology–as if it still poses a huge threat. (In fact, although it is still around, it has almost no real influence except in some of the mainline Protestant denominations.)

But what puzzles me is why these seemingly brilliant neo-fundamentalist scholars, many of who teach in very respectable evangelical institutions, don’t get to work on something more constructive theologically than criticism of fellow evangelicals. They seem always to be waiting and watching for an evangelical to write or publish something they consider less than fully orthodox so they can jump on it and write another book attacking it.

We have too many “morosely gloomy” evangelical theologians today. I’d like to challenge them to take a year off from their inquisitions to write something positive and constructive.
Read the Full Version Here

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