‘All critics cherish their independence.’ So begins this piece in yesterday’s Guardian about an initiative to fund a music critic. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/nov/01/boston-globe-subsidised-classical-music-critic-dangerous
The article is interesting, but it was the opening line that made me think about theology and biblical scholarship.
Perhaps we should rewrite the opening line as ‘All theologians cherish their independence’ or ‘All biblical scholars cherish their independence.’ It seems to me that it is only from a position of independence that good theology and biblical scholarship can take place.
(Here comes the gripe) A lot of what passes for theology and biblical scholarship (including my own at many points) arises it seems to me directly from a perspective that is not independent. That is: there are things that cannot be said because the theologian/scholar may lose their jobs, be passed over for promotion etc. We hear these stories increasingly…. And yet, surely the theologian and/or biblical scholar must be released to critique the biblical text, religious culture, other theology and scholarship with a degree of freedom, not worrying about what others might think.
The theologian and biblical scholar who cherishes their independence should be able to think seriously about LGBQ issues without worrying about the fallout – or at least not from those who claim to be the scholar’s side.
The freedom to critique western marriage, to say that what we know as traditional marriage is not necessarily what we find in the bible, is crucial if our theology and biblical scholarship is going to do its job – lead us toward Jesus and the source of all truth.
Ditto issues about salvation – universalism, who gets saved etc. Is there a hell, or a purgatory, where people go after death? Freedom/independence to think and reflect- free from restrictive confessional straitjackets is a necessary aspect of good scholarship. How vast is the love of God? Surely if God’s love is as vast as we say it is then, of course, everyone may well be saved in the end…?
Ditto the violence of the Cross and concerns about the wrath of God.
Ditto the issues about the bible: inerrant? Infallible? etc
Ditto reflections on the nature of Jesus of Nazareth. Was he human? Was he divine? Did he have a preexistence? Or did he become divine upon his resurrection from the dead?
You get the point…