I can’t say that I’ve ever been impressed by the theological insights of Newsweek editor Jon Meacham. After his recent editorial, in response to Lisa Miller’s lousy cover story article on gay marriage, I’m left with the conclusion that Jon just doesn’t get religion or at least Jon doesn’t get traditional Christianity. Here’s Meacham:
“No matter what one thinks about gay rights—for, against or somewhere in between —this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt—it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.”
First, as my readers know, I’m no fan of the Religious Right. Nor am I a theologically conservative Christian. Politically, I’m quite friendly to gay rights and civil marriage equality.
But Meacham’s conclusion in the paragraph above is just downright offensive. Argument from the Bible is the worst kind of fundamentalism? What?
Fundamentalists are not the only type of Christian that appeals to biblical authority. More than a few theological progressives and liberals throughout history and even today make arguments based on biblical injunctions on a regular basis, especially in the political arena.
Has Meacham not read Dr. King on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or Walter Rauschenbusch on the Hebrew prophets? Would Meacham argue that these great modern-day prophets are intellectually bankrupt because they too argued that “something is so because it is in the Bible”?
To suggest that one is a fundamentalist simply because their argument invokes Scripture is just nonsense. Meacham doesn’t seem to get religion, nor does he seem to take religion very seriously.
For Meacham, the Bible is simply a book—a book that offers no insight into how we should live our lives and deal with problems in the 21st century. And, if you disagree with Meacham’s extremely low view of Scripture, you’re an intellectually bankrupt fundamentalist.
Aaron Weaver is a graduate student at BaylorUniversity. This column first appeared on his blog.
Communications director for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, where he is editor of fellowship! magazine and the CBFblog. Weaver is a member of the Commission on Creation Care of the Baptist World Alliance.