Brad Littlejohn has been writing a very extensive series of posts reviewing and responding to Doug Jones’ recent book, Dismissing Jesus. It is seldom that one is treated to such detailed interaction with the argument of a book, exploring its positions and exposing their underlying assumptions and flaws. Wherever you come down on the issues in question, attending to this probing engagement will be rewarding of your patience and time. The issues raised have relevance beyond the circulation of the particular book that provoked them.
Dismissing Jesus: A Critical Assessment, Pt. 1—Introduction
Dismissing Jesus: A Critical Assessment, Pt. 2—Overview of the Way of the Cross
Dismissing Jesus: A Critical Assessment, Pt. 3—The Way of Weakness
Dismissing Jesus: A Critical Assessment, Pt. 4—The Way of Renunciation
Dismissing Jesus: A Critical Assessment, Pt. 5—Faith Working by Love
Brad is one of the most perceptive and thorough voices that I know of in the blogosphere. His posts are typically rich veins of insight. I highly commend that you follow him if you are not already doing so.
From reading the first two parts I conclude that one Littlejohn is quite wrong, the book is indeed an arrogant diatribe, and two there is nothing remotely new or interesting about it. Progressive theology since Luther has consisted of pointing and screaming “I’m good!!!!!! And you’re evil!!!!! Eeeeeeeevil!!!!” Lighten up. Francis. The last thing we need is another perfumed progressive Pharisee telling us we need to give up our comforts while he keeps his.
Reading Littlejohn’s review, I can see it would be easy to come to that sort of conclusion. However, having read the book myself and spoken personally with Jones, I assure you he no progressive, let alone a “perfumed” or Pharisaical one. His latest book is not long or careful enough to make all the critics happy, but it is far from the leftie drivel you assume it to be. I think it is still well worth considering, especially by those with a similar background in American Reformed evangelicism.
To give Jones a generous reading, I think that it would be important to take that background into account. Our words don’t materialize out of nowhere (even though they can be read as if they did online) and Jones’ words probably need to be contextualized by a fairly right wing and strident form of Reformed evangelical theology. It might be interesting to see how Jones would articulate his position in a progressive evangelical context, for instance.
I certainly know that I might come across as a leftie if right wing American Reformed evangelicals were my primary interlocutors.
Alastair: True! What’s funny is that I’ve seen Littlejohn himself accused of being a leftie sometimes when he comments on American Reformed blogs. 🙂