Monday, January 31, 2011

Ideas have consequences

There have been a few moments in recent weeks when my fingers have been poised over the keyboard, asking myself ‘will I or won’t I?’ Engaging with the world of blogs takes time and energy. I often find myself questioning the value of such exchanges, given that the blogging format itself constrains developed exchange of views, especially in the comment mode. Yet there are some excellent examples of thought-provoking blogs of a biblical-theological nature that convey stimulating insight and an enviable way with words. Such examples can be found here, here or here. My friend down south generates regular interaction over matters Anglican and maintains an impressive rate of production.

It was hearing just one deceptively straightforward statement that has changed my mind: ‘Ideas have consequences’. We underestimate how much prevailing thought and assertions shape expectations, attitudes and choices.

Two instances of theological jargon particularly irk me. They are increasingly used as short-hand for evangelical orthodoxy – the quick test of establishing one’s bona fides within the realms of evangelical reputation. The fact they seem to be more commonly adopted by a ‘younger generation’ of opinion-makers depresses me on two fronts:

1) that I am at all conscious of a ‘younger generation’, when I used to self-identify as such not so long ago… have I become one of the ‘olds’?!

2) more seriously, as someone who participated in such debates in the 1980’s and 90’s (and changed my mind as a result), I had hoped that such facile thinking was behind us (just as I used to wince at references to the great debates in the good old days of the 1960’s!)

The two terms: - ‘headship’ and ‘subordination’. Neither is conducive to providing clarity or helpful distinctions of views, and both are used as if their meaning is self-evident.

So my ‘poised fingers’ are set for action. In coming posts I set aside my better judgement and enter the fray – I will argue that both terms have outlived any usefulness they may have once provided, and should be dropped from any thoughtful theological discussion in such areas. The former is simply non-biblical, and the latter is so prone to ill-conceived conceptual baggage it obscures our appreciation of the transformation wrought by the gospel.