Post # 1
I was wondering if you could suggest online or FB groups which are quite active in discussing theological issues. Perhaps I am looking for the impossible, but what I’m looking for is:
– A group which is very knowledgeable, loves debate and learning for its own sake, and also loves to contextualise issues geographically and historically.
– A group which is liberal leaning… by this I mean that they are not Biblical literalists, they do not believe in sola fide, and they don’t think that homosexuality and abortion are the biggest issues facing the faith. They also don’t feel the need to endlessly debate these issues. They are taken as read, and then we move on.
– A group composed of a variety of different denominations and ages.
I was thinking perhaps a group which focused on liberation theology might be a good fit, although I’m not after a group which is solely composed of Catholics. Perhaps a combination of liberation theology and European reformism (in the 19th century sense of the term)? Does anyone have any good suggestions? I should also say that it doesn’t have to be a group which is solely open to Christians… although I would like the main focus to be on Christian theology, I would still be interested in hearing the opinions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists etc. However, it can’t be one of these groups in which the discussion regularly moves away from polite and respectful debate, and nor can it be a group where the sole interests of the group are to pat themselves on the back about how progressive they are. I would like to learn from people, and I would like to have my assumptions challenged, but in a way which isn’t personal.
Any ideas? Advice is much appreciated.
Post # 2
Sounds interesting. Althoug this isn’t a group, I think the bios logos website/group has a lot of interesting information/discussion. It is geared toward reconciling what science shows (i.e. that evolution happened) with Christian belief. I find the articles very interesting, as I am not a young earth creationist, and I believe the God reveals himself through nature.
Anyway, hope someone can suggest something interesting for you.
Post # 3
I would be intersted to see what is suggested. It’s been my experience that people simply cannot really discuss these things politely in an open setting (such as the anonymous internet), because a lot of these issues you are wanting to discuss are deeply held and personal interpretations.
I have seen churches split over what color to re-upholster the fabric on the pews, so of course issues like homosexuality, abortion, predestination, original sin, the age of the Earth, etc are going to be hotly contested. It’s the great downfall of the church: arguing incessantly and publicly over things that have no purpose other than to be divisive.
Post # 4
I’ll come clean… I used to belong to a great group composed of people from all over the world (although they did have a comparatively large number of Europeans). They would debate the history of things such as Trinitarian thought, suggest philosophers to debate and apply their works to contemporary problems, and they loved comparing translations of the Bible. They were also very kind to me, because whilst my Latin is OK, I can’t read Ancient Greek, so I had to rely on their explanations (as a junior member). Often the debate was too complicated for me to completely follow, but every day then I really felt I was learning something. For example, the history of Paul’s epistles and the politics behind their canonical inclusion was really interesting.
Sadly this didn’t last… a new admin set a whole new tone, and new members started wanting to debate how we should be more welcomong to LGBT people in our society, and why we shouldn’t condemn abortion. I’m not saying that these aren’t important ideas, but they are not the sum total of the interesting things to discuss. Nor are they (to be brutally frank) of particularly special interest to many non-US members, because they are simply not part of our political landscape in the same way. I wan’t even particularly aware that they were Christian issues at all (as opposed to political issues more generally), growing up… I can probably count the number of times I heard them mentioned in a religious context on the fingers of one hand, and I come from a family of ministers and preachers (in the European Reformist tradition).
What finally turned me off, however, was that there was no opportunity to debate any more. People just got defensive and seemed more interested in proving how “modern” and “liberal” they were. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being liberal… or gnostic… or post-modern… different ideas can be inspirational. But in this case, any time a non-post-modernist voiced an opinion, it was implied that this was shameful fundamentalism. It started to feel extremely toxic… not because there were differences of opinion, but because of the way it was done. I suppose I should say that I would love to hear more about mysticism and post-modernist Biblical theology, but in an environment where people feel they have less to prove. I would also like somewhere where modernists can feel free to play with ideas as well…
Post # 5
Bump… can anyone suggest something suitable? The kinds of topics I am particularly interested in include:
– The development of a centralised theology in the early church
– The history of the Bible as we know it today… core texts, in context
– The writings of medieval Christian women
– New takes on modernist theology… how do we define a common theology in a postmodern era?