Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On Being a Brother to a Heretic Dog

Miguel De La Torre has written a response to his critics (of which I am one) of his column about Jesus and the Canaanite woman. De La Torre uses the word heretic both in its etymological sense (in Greek hairesis means "to choose") and in the modern sense (to go against tradition) in an essay entitled "Why I am a heretic." In his response, he clearly demonstrates that he has a keen imagination, a sense of humor, and a willingness to receive constructive criticism with humility.

Miguel chose to interpret the passage about Jesus and the Canaanite woman literally. Literalism is the predominant hermeneutical tradition for most Southern Baptists. They apply it to nearly every passage of scripture except their understanding of the meaning of Christ's body in the Lord's Supper. Paradoxically, De La Torre received much of his harshest criticism from those who are most adamant about the requirement that scriptures be interpreted literally.

One the other hand, moderate Baptists like myself (not all moderate Baptists are like me), while not inclined to discard the literal meaning of scripture, do expect to find deeper meanings and higher levels of significance than surface readings achieve. Miguel got his share of criticism from us, but I hope he felt that we intended for it to be constructive.

De La Torre concludes with some sound advice and a question. He writes:

The good news is that Jesus is not afraid of our honest inquiry. He is also patient when we get it wrong (and we all do). The real question here today is if you are willing to be the sister or brother in Christ of a heretic dog like me?
Let there be no doubt that I consider Miguel my brother in Christ and I'm happy to find a place for him in the doghouse for Southern Baptist heretics. There are a lot of us in here already, but the Lord seems to add a room everytime another dog arrives.


civic literacy said...

ahh the perils of literalisms

Asinus Gravis said...

The attractiveness of literalism eludes me. If Jesus was not a literalist (and he was not), if "Matthew" was not a literalist (just look at what he did to "Mark"), if "Luke" was not a literalist (just look at what he did to "Mark" and Paul), if Paul was not a literalist (and he was not), why in hell should any of us be literalists?

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...


You said, "why in hell should any of us be literalists?"

Good question.

civic literacy said...

i smell a pun