In the interest of fairness...

In regards to my earlier post on the Greg Boyd article in the New York Times, I received the following comment from Eric (no, not the singing handyman; a whole 'nother Eric):

Do you think the NYT would give the WHOLE story? Dr. Boyd preached these sermons in April of 2004. You can find them on the church website and archive. It might be a good idea to respond to what Dr. Boyd ACTUALLY said and not what the NYT quotes him as saying. The first message is "Taking America Back for God" http://www.whchurch.org/content/page_274.htm in case you are interested.

In the interest of fairness, I downloaded the audio that Eric referred to and listened to it last night, albeit in 3 sections, while working on benefit dinner programs, and before drifting off to sleep. Dr. Boyd probably deserves more attention than that, but I doubt he listens to my sermons front to back either. I'm just saying I didn't have the time to sit down with a notebook and jot down thougths as he taught. Nevertheless, I observed the following:

1) Regarding "what he ACTUALLY said..." per Eric, random capitalization his.
Not all the quotes in the NYT article were in the message. Of course, the NYT didn't say that, and in at least one of the quotes that I pulled, they stated it was in a Q&A session. No smoking gun here, but no absolution either.

2) Dr. Boyd seemed pretty ticked.
Not that this is good or bad. It's just something I observed. I expected a more calculated, cool approach and didn't find it. He actually presents with a fair amount of gusto to an often cheering crowd. This is Minneapolis. Norweigens don't cheer much. It doesn't seem like the hostile crowd the NYT suggested.

3) He presents a compelling picture of the kingdom.
He does a fantastic job of laying out the kingdom of God as compared to the kingdom of this world. I would have said it differently in a few places, but then again he's preaching to thousands and I'm....uh, writing a blog to....?

4) He doctors history a little.
In comparing Rwanda and the first Iraqi war, he refers to Iraq as (paraphrased here, but pretty close) "A place where a couple dozen people had been raped or beaten...". While none of us are arguing that Rwanda was anything other than a bloodbath, I would guess there are a "couple dozen" Kurds or Kuwatis who would have a different perspective of Iraq back then. And now.

5) He paints his adversaries with broad strokes.
It would seem from this message that I heard, that if one is not silent on politics or issues, than they are sign carrying, raving lunatics who yell mean things at small children and kick puppies. I didn't feel like I fit in either camp, and had I been there, might have felt compelled to just keep quiet for fear of being lumped in with the looney bin. So much for the open minded approach.

6) He appears to ride the fence on using legislation for righteousness sake.
He makes a comment about not being able to legislate people to do the right things, yet values the role of legislation to protect our rights (in other words, you can't make someone like you, but you can pass laws to make them quit smacking you with a two by four). He recognizes the value of that, but doesn't seem to extend that right to the unborn. The old adage "you can't legislate morality" comes to mind - because it's true - but you can legislate from a moral perspective.

While I don't feel bad quoting the NYT article without having heard the sermon, I'm glad Eric sent me the link, and I am sure I still don't have the full perspective as if I'd heard the whole series. Nevertheless, from what I heard, I didn't change my mind.

Taking Boyd's arguements to the fullest extent (not much further, if any further, than he takes them, because he is interestingly silent on how the church should react in these cases), we would reinact the crimes of passivity the church committed during the civil rights movement of the 60's and the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 30's.

Again, I feel like I've been told "Please be seated, Reverend Bonhoeffer. Der Furer is about to speak." It is Christlike to love unconditionally. It is not Christlike to watch the innocent abused or slain. I suggest that there is a reasonable course of action that embraces both of those realities.


Ronni said...

Oh boy. You started something with my pastor man. Warning. He has wild hair. And too much time on a computer.

eric wright said...

Thanks for taking a look. I certainly didn't mean to offend if I did. I have simply seen so much discussion on this article and Gregg Boyd's article on Out of Ur that responded with partial information.

As to Rev. Boyd, I didn't catch that he wanted Christians to disengage from the political system, only to stop placing their hope in the political system to change the world. I also felt he wanted his church to know that they were being used by the Republican party to win an election. I think he was focusing on the issues and trying to say that Christians are not party-line Republicans. He did end up having people walk out during the sermon and eventually lost over 1,000 people.

I didn't listen to the sermon on Abortion, but a few weeks later he does approach that topic.

Again, thanks for being humble enough to at least check it out. Those in the Christian faith don't necessarily have to agree with each other, but we do have to be willing to hear what each person is saying and try to understand them.

Randy Bohlender said...

In the further interest in fairness, it would appear from Ronni's postings on my blog and Eric's that she's overcooking this greatly.

Randy Bohlender said...

Eric - you seem be a heck of a reasonable guy for someone with wild hair and too much time on your computer. You need a better PR person, bro.

eric wright said...

I think she is trying to start something that is not really there.

I guess I get what I pay for in regard to my PR person. And, considering I don't pay her anything, I don't get very much.

Ronni said...

Hey! What about the coffee! He bribed me with coffee!

No really I just stir it...

And Randy... I'm KIDDING... geesh guys... settle down!

DErifter said...

I haven't listened to the sermons (yet) but I'm reading the book, and in my own humble yet accurate opinion, a lot of people are missing Boyd's point. As Eric said in his above comment, I don't think Boyd is against Christians being politically active although I can see where you could get that idea if you don't pay close attention.

What he's trying to say is that some of the issues the church has attached itself to boil down to what the pharisees were all about. Thinking that doing all the right things will bring glory to God. Modifying your behavior (or the behavior of others, via politics or even religion) doesn't make you (or the "others") Christians. Grace through faith does. Some of those issues are good things that we should work to achieve, but Boyd is saying we should realize that good works don't make Christians. Maybe I already said that. Christians do tend toward the conservative side of most issues, but holding to the conservative side of the issues doesn't equal Christianity. I bet I could think of even more ways to say the same thing, given enough time...

Also, at the risk of sounding like one of Boyd's PR people, I've read other books of his and heard him preach enough to know that his passion for Jesus really is an ocean compared to a tiny drop of whatever political leanings he may have. Take care.

Randy Bohlender said...

D wrote: I bet I could think of even more ways to say the same thing, given enough time...

I am completely sure you could.

If so many people really are missing Boyd's point, then he's communicating poorly for someone who should ostensibly be at the top of his game. Or maybe he's just not convincing people.

I'm sure you've heard and read more from him than I have. I was responding specifically to what I heard him say.