Al Mohler, Presedent of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a blog that I have followed regularly for some time. He recently posted a great write up about some of the most recent and prominent attacks on the Bible. The most distressing part of Mohler’s post is towards the end. He states:
Borg and Crossan don’t like what Paul writes in his letters about the roles of men and women, about homosexuality, and any number of issues. So, they propose that Paul actually didn’t write those letters, and that a conservative conspiracy within the early church successfully changed Paul into a conservative himself. Like the infamous Jesus Seminar did with Jesus, Borg and Crossan do with Paul — they create him in their own image, ready for tenure review at the local college’s religious studies faculty.
I find this to be more than a bit disturbing. Unless you have studied religion in an academic setting, the odds are you haven’t heard of the Jesus Seminar. Well, I would wager you have seen the results of it. The Seminar attempted to emasculate Christ academically by esentially stripping him of anything “controversial” (i.e. offensive to liberal theologians). The views puported by the Seminar have been absorbed into the popular conception about Jesus and today if you were to ask someone about Jesus who has not spend much time in the church or Scripture, their response would likely be a simpler and popularized version of the views put forth by the Seminar.
Borg and Crossan are now going to try and do to Paul was the Seminar did for Jesus. Paul is troublesome for liberal theologians because of his outright condemnation of homosexuality and unpopular statements about how a Christian home should be structured. Those two things alone are enough to get some people worked up into a foaming frenzy about the intolerance and mysogyny of Paul. Well, the solution for Borg and Crossan is to do what the Seminar did to Jesus. You know those blatant condemnations of homosexuality found in the first chapter of Romans? Paul didn’t write those. It was a group of conservative nut-jobs who penned them under the guise of Paul.
You can see how this would be damaging. It effectively allows a person to pick and choose the verses they like. Instead of seeing the world through the lens of Scripture, you see Scripture through the lens of the world. This is never good and ultimately destroys any authority of Scripture.
Christians are going to have to be on their guard as Borg and Crossan go after Paul. Liberal theologians and institutions will undoubtedly embrace the work and spread the ideas as broadly as possible. The best thing Christian laity and pastors can do is to equip themselves with a firm grasp of the Bible and a broad reading of various orthodox books and commentaries on Paul.
Also, I recommend reading up on the various “quests” to understand Jesus. N.T. Wright wrote a great (and short) overview called The Contemporary Quest for Jesus that would be worth picking up.