"Avoid abstraction," I was told as I prepared to speak to a group of junior high school students. "Seventh graders are still mostly concrete thinkers." The story of David seemed absolutely nonabstract and concrete, so I decided to use it as the basis of my talks.
Today, as the center of gravity of the Christian world moves ever southward, the conservative traditions prevailing in the global South matter more and more. To adapt a phrase from missions scholar Lamin Sanneh: Whose reading—whose Christianity—is normal now?
Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus has caused something of a sensation. This is no small achievement for an introduction to New Testament textual criticism, a field known for writing that is dry and inaccessible to non-specialists.
Christians of good heart and good faith sincerely disagree about whether or how biblical passages regarding homosexual behavior relate to the current debates. Exegesis is not solving the problem. What to do? One way is to seek help from a parallel situation in the Bible, like the one Israel faced following the exile. The question was how to reconstitute the nation. With its institutions shattered, how would Israel move forward?
It seems to me a wonderful irony that Christians in America are preoccupied with debates about biblical authority just when all parties to the debates are less knowledgeable about the content of scripture than many of our predecessors were.