In varying circumstances, labels help us and they hurt us. They help our brain sort out the puzzle of life, but they irreparably prejudice our thoughts about what we’re labeling. Consider, for a minute: fishy aftertaste, used car salesman, feminist, Southern Baptist…
[Had to get in a denominational dig there. I’m sure I’ll write more about the poison of denominations at a later date!]
Anyway, McLaren writes at length about the things his detractors say about him, including the labels and terms used to discredit. My favorite among these, “heretic,” made its way into my blog’s title, because I’m sure I’m destined to be labeled the same way. Consider it some tongue-in-cheek truth in advertising.
So last night in the course of penning my first Truth and/or Heresy post, I wanted to check the date that Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus was published. My source became the all-knowing Wikipedia, and in the midst of fact-checking, my eyes were drawn to a quote from a critical review of the book:
Alex Beam, of the Boston Globe, wrote that the book is “a series of dramatic revelations for the ignorant”, and continues to say, “Ehrman notes that there have been a lot of changes to the Bible in the past 2,000 years. I don’t want to come between Mr. Ehrman and his payday, but this point has been made much more eloquently by … others.”
Now, I believe Ehrman’s intentions to be good and proper. He states quite plainly that he is agnostic, an ex-Christian who left the faith after wrestling with the question of suffering in the world. Fine and dandy! He notes, also, that among his goals is to educate lay people about the scholarly thought accepted by the large part of Biblical academia, a task that is very admirable and to which I also hold dear. But in the end, the reviewer takes offense because  he’s read better writers, and  Ehrman is getting (gasp) paid. As if the critique was written out of the benevolence of the writer’s heart.
Heretic and money-grubber. What isn’t to love about the path I’ve chosen?
My hope is that we could rise above categorizing one another by a handful of quotations or beliefs, to see more deeply the relative truths we speak within our narratives. That’s how the puzzle of life should be sorted.
2 thoughts on “Labels”
I look forward to a post on poisonous denominationalism, and am already readying my defensive “ecumenically focused denominationalism” arguments.
Then I will have to pre-empt your move by contending that denominationalism poisons far more than it benefits Christian unity and the ability to positively evangelize! Thanks for reading, Andrew, and your material sitting in my Facebook inbox may make its way here, eventually. Hope you’ll come back and grace me with your comments more often.