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Gay Marriage: An Urgent Matter?

About the Author
David Wagschal

Now that the USA has finally legalized gay marriage, we’re seeing a new round of consternation and unsease among churches that object to full civil and religious equality for gay Christians. Reactions vary, of course, but a growing sense of urgency in conservative Christian circles is quite palpable – and along with it an understandable sense of anger and fear.

My own reaction has mostly been one of sadness – mixed with a certain anxiety.

On a civil level, of course, I’m quite happy that the US is now where it is, even if I’m a little bemused that it’s taken so long.

But on a church level, I can’t help but feel a sense of sorrow, and even trepidation, as I contemplate the long-term loss of credibility that the churches – and the Gospel itself – have suffered in the course of this debate. As I have argued at length over the last half a year or so, the traditional anti-homosexual position is not well founded theologically, biblically, ecclesiologically, or even spiritually. So it’s a hard pill for me to swallow to see “Christian” and “anti-gay” pretty much equated in the media coverage of the US decision. Truthfully, I feel a real sense of shame and embarrassment in Christianity’s association with the anti-gay position. And I worry: how long will this association linger?

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Doctrinal Quiz Time!

About the Author
David Wagschal

(“So wrong for so long?” Part Four)

My final thought on theological traditionalism relates to content – to what we believe. Here I want to make what is perhaps my boldest assertion, which is:

I’m not sure many people actually believe much of the old synthesis anymore.

If there is a definitive blow against the “tradition argument”, this may be it. If people are objecting to homosexuality on the basis of tradition, and yet not themselves adhering to that tradition on pretty fundamental levels, what are we to make of this?

This observation is born out of many conversations I’ve had with Christians in traditional churches where it becomes clear to me that the beliefs espoused by my friends often have only a superficial connection with the traditional Greco-Roman Christian synthesis. Their underlying, foundational beliefs are quite different. Sometimes people don’t seem to realize this disconnect and sometimes they do – they realize that they are actually creating something quite new, yet still wish to maintain a traditional identity.

Am I right?

Well, if you’ve had experience with traditional Christianity, take my “Doctrinal Quiz” and see what you think!

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Theology in Our Own Voice (The Problem with Tradition Part Three)

About the Author
David Wagschal

(“So Wrong for So Long?” Part 3)

Another weakness with traditionalism is that it can introduce a certain evasiveness, obfuscation and even deception into theological discourse.

Traditional theology insists on being in a conversation with past figures. This is not in itself a bad thing. The problem emerges when the next step is taken – which it usually is – and theology begins to be done through the voice of these figures.

The result is a theological discourse in which most authoritative claims are made beginning with phrases like “Martin Luther says….”, “Athanasius says…”, “Thomas Aquinas says…”, or, most commonly, and worse yet, with a traditional collective: “the tradition says…”, “the Fathers say…”, “the Church teaches…”, etc.

What is the problem with this? Well, it’s fourfold.

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