Truth, Or Truths? Dialog Begins In Church

boblog041130b:

TRUTH, OR TRUTHS? RESPONSES TO MY PROGRESSIVE CONFESSION

by BOB CRAMER

A double dose of David Brooks in this morning’s New York Times (Nov. 30,
2004) makes me want to report some discomfort over “My Life With the
Bible,” which I recently shared here. I certainly do not mean to retract
my flat-out contention that there is no Truth; instead, there are truths.
I told my adult class I was not _teaching_ that; I was telling them what I
believe, and sharing that there are lots of Christian progressives who
would say that if they were being honest.

My progressive pastor, David, quarreled not a bit with my presentation
on scripture and belief in its authority, except that he entered a
demurrer about truth being relative. Again, we were not in argumentation
mode, although I did remind him and the class that I was describing my
philosophical orientation, not prescribing belief in a proposition. David
believes there is indeed Truth that can be defended as such, but we both
left it there — appropriately, I think, for the moment. I’d hope that
some in the class might want to have a go at that at some time, but we’re
doing a basic introduction to progressive thought, or just a tiny window
on it, right now.

Another David, surnamed Brooks, first turned up in the Times today on
the editorial page, in three letters all differing to some degree with
Brooks’ earlier column saying we ought not to buy totally into a growing
sentiment that globalization does _not_ substantially reduce poverty. Give
the three piece pinstriped “suits” some credit, Brooks says. But if The
Times still follows a policy of choosing letters to the editor in direct
proportion to the viewpoints expressed in their total mail on a subject,
then all the reponses from the public, to Brooks’ defense of globalization
efforts, must have been negative, or partially so.

Brooks tells us in his new column, running today, that as a Jew he dares
to correct liberals and other supposedly non-religious people on the
subject of those who call themselves evangelicals. It would appear, he
says, that the public would have to think Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton
represent the current state of religion in America. He decries the
appearance, on “Meet the Press,” of “those two bozos.” If anyone is
prepared to present a clear (?) picture of Christian evangelicalism, he
says, it would be the rather obscure (to the public) John Stott of
England, who is calm and somehow rational although Stott always
synthesizes the pre-Easter Jesus (human) with the post-Easter (and, to
evangelical, always) Christ, just as the gospels and creeds do.

And Stott is clear about there being immutable Truth, including the
assertion that Jesus Christ is, in Stott’s words, “unique [in his] glory
and absolute sufficiency.” This, Brooks says, to an intellectual Jew,
“[an] authentic representive of ‘the faith’.”

It is nice to have Brooks teaching (not confessing his own) faith, I
suppose. Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal cover
religion as a subject more than they used to (but nowhere near as
thoroughly as National Public Radio’s coverage, supported by the Pew
Charitable Trusts). But I don’t think progressive religion — progressive
thought across the spectrum of world religions — is covered nearly
enough. Aren’t you glad you can read this progressive here?

Bob Cramer.