Tony Jones has been the face and voice of emergent in the USA for a while. He is a prolific author, Ph.d student and former youth minister.
He also blogs. A recent blog post regarding a debate on homosexuality he writes (you read the whole post HERE:
Like many conservatives, Rod’s fall-back position is, essentially, “This is what the church has always held.” He defers to tradition, to the conventional reading of scripture, etc. The problem that conservatives have when they do this is that they’re inevitably selective in their cherrypicking of tradition. The immediate response has to do with slavery, head coverings, etc. This has been my response, as well, in many cases. It’s a big hermeneutical conundrum: which passages are eternally normative, and which are culturally bound? Make no mistake, 150 years ago, pro-slavery churches argued that slavery was acceptable in 19th century American because is was normative in the Old and New Testaments. And there are a lot more passages regarding slavery than homosexuality in the Bible.
It’s comments like the one I have placed in bold which frustrate me so much.It is only a big hermeneutical conundrum when you are trying to re-interpret scripture. Tony almost uses tradition and scripture interchangeably, which is a huge problem. Not every thing which is traditional is right. But everything which is in scripture IS right – and not to accept a teaching of scripture places on the onus on those who seek not to accept it.
The classic reformed theological position on homosexuality is very well thought out and argued. You don’t have to agree with it (by the way I do agree with it) – but guys like tony and other emergent guys do have to engage with it as a well thought out position (the same goes for slavery in scripture and head coverings). William Webb’s excellent book – Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis. is a must read on this and as far as I can recall, Tony Jones does not engage with Webb’s thesis that there is a hermeneutical redemption with slaves and women in the Old Testament, but not homosexuality.
Yes, some christians used scripture to defend the indefensible. But the error of past christians or the collective error of the church should not cast aspersions upon scripture but on the error of men and their interpretations. Tony talks of the error of pro-slavery churches arguing their position from scripture – well I argue for the modern error of trying to usurp the scriptural creation principle of marriage being between one man and one woman with the acceptability of same sex marriages and their attempt to justify it in scripture.