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A Response to Benjamin Corey’s “10 Reasons Why Reading The Bible Makes Us More Progressive”

???????????????????????????????Benjamin Corey is a once upon a time “fundamentalist” who shifted to being a “Christian Progressive” when he began attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2008. He accredits this shift not to GCTS, which is conservative, generally, but to his increased reading of Scripture, citing a recent Christianity Today article titled “Survey: Frequent Bible Reading Can Turn You Liberal.”[1]

First, I applaud Corey’s seeming willingness to have an open discussion on topics that are normally tripwired in the modern mind. It is much easier to address ideas when one can actually discuss the issues.

This can be a bit tricksy, however, for a sense of open discussion often blinds one to the foundational ideology driving various sides of the conversation… i.e. the discussion only appears to be open, when it is, in point of fact, more often than not, a double monologue where each side logically unpacks his own, often personally-unknown, foundational visions of reality and rudimentary reasoning processes… visions and processes that inoculate each to the other’s ideas. Imagine two people discussing the concept of equality when defines equality in terms of legal process and essence and the other defines it in terms of cosmic rectifying and final outcomes. We actually need to discuss the issues behind the issues before we can meaningfully discuss the issues most often on the table.

Second, while I will not deny here the potential legitimacy of either Corey’s claims to being moved left by reading Scripture, nor of the survey referenced by Christianity today, I would like to deny what seems to be an underlying assumption by both… that the reason people today move left by reading more Bible is because the Bible actually supports leftist ideas or inclination.

So, while I am willing to concede that in this era, increased bible reading seems to push many people left, it is not coming from the Scriptures by design. Serious Bible reading has certainly has NOT consistently produced this result over the millennia.

The more important question for the future of the church is why is an increased reading of Scripture pushing certain modern readers left today?

The equation is not (Bible = Left). Though this seems to be the thought of Aaron B. Franzen, author of the Christianity Today article.[3]

I would suggest a better equation: (Bible + Modern Reasoning Processes + Common Hermeneutic = A Push to the Political Left).  There are several aspects to our present social dynamic embodied in modern reasoning processes and commonly practiced hermeneutics that explain why so many drift left as a reaction to increased Bible reading.

1. Modern reasoning processes represent a dialogical pursuit of truth that has been hamstrung by an overwhelming and fictitious narrative from the left. This means that many are limited in their ability to track the real results of actions in order to evaluate them because they have armored their minds against the past with a vicious prejudice and cut themselves off from a very long discussion on the practical and spiritual results of certain thoughts and actions. The all pervasive media overwhelms any natural discovery of cause-effect by bombarding our society with a scripted presentation of cause-effect based on ideological wishes rather than reality. They are re-inventing the social wheel, convinced that all the patterns of the past are the product of calculated gender and racial prejudice; thus, they want no truck with the “white, patriarchal, racist cultural visions” of that past, and share a general compulsion to reason their way to Biblical claims in order to validate them before they will accept them. This stands diametrically opposed to the ancient wisdom reasoning process in which the humble worshiper accepts prophetically revealed truth as truth and then reasonably enters into the discussion of the ages in order to fully understand those truths through an observation of the way of things as revealed over generations.

2. A significant part of this overwhelming and fictitious narrative of the left, is the insidious idea that anything that should be done, should be done by the government. The false equation of entitlement programs with charity clouds every discussion. It does not matter that each concept has radically different impacts on both the giver and receiver… if you don’t support a government solution then you just don’t care about the poor… Oh! and you’re racist too.

3. The narcissistic and, at times, nearly solipsistic mentality of many renders interpretation of Scripture a game of “How does that make you feel?” They raise reader centered interpretation to new levels, lacking any sense of the vitality of author centered interpretation, the historical, grammatical, literary hermeneutic that supports it, and the proper relationship of the testaments. I suspect this is because in that historical & grammatical context they see nothing but patriarchal oppression, sweeping prejudice, and war mongering, and regard New Testament spirituality as some reparation to Old Testament Law. For many, acceptance & functional equality have replaced righteousness & Holiness as primary virtues and, thus, as primary interpretive lenses.

4. Cut off from the past through vicious prejudice and a narcissistic hermeneutic,  the all pervasive thrum of left wing ideology, social vision and practical agenda shapes the reading of scripture. Certain elements, like concern for the poor and down trodden & forgiving those who sin against you, strike a chord with us because they seem to harmonize with the incessant and so reasonable rap pouring from almost every electronic device we encounter. “The Death Penalty is cruel,” & “Only the Government can really help the poor.” There is a serious lack of skill and compunction to understand either the unity of both forgiveness and legal judgment, or the different demands of spirituality and social order. Unities and demands that I hope to continue unpacking from Scripture in light of Corey’s and Franzen’s writings in the future.


[1] http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/october/survey-bible-reading-liberal.html?paging=off

[2] I’m guessing at his age based on pics.

[3] He writes, “But frequent Bible readers don’t just see the Bible as personal. They also see it as authoritative, written by an author who had a specific context and intent, and they want to conform to its message. After all, why read the Bible with no desire to embrace what it teaches? In short, sometimes reading the Bible can change views and attitudes because readers are surprised by what’s in it. Other times, it’s just a matter of discipleship.”;  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/october/survey-bible-reading-liberal.html?paging=off.

[4] Media pic from sxc.hu

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