After publishing some thoughts this morning on Adam Hamilton’s recent post, “Homosexuality, the Bible, and the United Methodist Church,” I received a note from Rev. Hamilton. (Apparently he had tried to leave a comment, but they didn’t come through. C’mon, Blogger! Don’t make me switch to WordPress!) He offered this gracious response to my comments. I appreciate the spirit of Christian charity and respectful dialogue that characterizes his remarks.
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my post on The Bible, Homosexuality and the United Methodist Church. I actually agree with everything you’ve written here. Unfortunately it is the nature of a blog – 500 to 800 words – that you have room for a key idea without much background or supporting arguments. The three buckets metaphor is a small part, two paragraphs in one chapter of my new book, Making Sense of the Bible.
The book is meant to foster a conversation among Christians and in the church about the nature of scripture, how God influenced or inspired the biblical authors, its canonization and authority, and how we might read it with greater understanding. Following 18 chapters devoted to these questions, the last 14 chapters focus on concrete questions I’m regularly asked by lay people confused about what they read in the Bible.
My experience suggests that many Christians have a view of scripture that is not carefully examined in the light of the actual phenomenon of Scripture. If our view of scripture is overly simplistic, we find ourselves stuck when we face some of the Bible’s complex and challenging questions. Some of these folks leave the church because we as pastors have not adequately helped them see the Bible’s complexity. I think we can do better. My proposals in the book are a conversation starter. They may not be the right answers, but I’m hoping they help us find the right answers.
You rightly note that what was missing was the theological foundation that leads me to speak of the three buckets, and, I would add, the criteria by which we determine which bucket a scripture goes in. I devote a fair amount of space to fleshing that out in the book.
I appreciate you and your work, David. Thanks for your thoughtful critique of my post!