Saturday, June 18, 2011

At Conference End...

The conference has come and gone, and thankfully I'll be home for a while now.  Interestingly, Monday after next begins the "Pedagogy of Science and Faith in the Classroom" conference at IWU.  As I mentioned before, it is on pedagogy rather than positions or content.

I ended up really enjoying the Christian Scholars Conference.  I got here too late to hear Polkinghorne, but nabbed a copy of his presentation to read.  I heard Collins. The other plenary speakers spoke on the dangers of genetically-modified food and on the ethical landscape with regard to stem cell research.  I was well prepared for this last talk because of a presentation Burt Webb gave at IWU a few years back.

And of course I gave my paper on Hebrews.  Jerry Pattengale of IWU was hear talking about the Green Collection.  And IWU's Wim Van de Merwe was here.

Pepperdine and the conference turn out to be Church of Christ (non-instrumental).  It struck me as we finished singing three hymns at the end of a dinner/celebration of Thomas Olbricht that we were singing a cappella and that it had significance in context.  I was reminded of our little enclaves as Christian groups, each with our own idiosyncrasies.  Biblical scholarship is very important (on one level) to the children of the Stone-Campbell revivals like the Disciples and Churches of Christ.  They are part of the Restorationist Movement that puts such a high premium on getting back to the early church.

And they have their quibbles like whether you should have instruments in church.  I talked to a Christian minister working on his PhD in church history yesterday and he suggested that the reason Christian churches in the south went non-instrumental were because they were poorer and couldn't afford organs like the churches in the north, who won the Civil War.

The ideological debate was thus, as almost always, an epiphenomenon of social dynamics going on between people.  The pretense is thus that there are no organs in the Bible.  The reality is that we live in the South, are poor, and have slaves.  You are wealthy abolitionists in the north.

And of course the scholars who grow up in these enclaves usually recognize the idiosyncrasies, but there is enough that is true or that they agree with to stay with their movement.  I saw the same when I was at the Seventh Day Adventist Andrews University a few months back.  And I experienced the same growing up Wesleyan, one of the many Methodist splinter groups.

There is a current in America that says education makes you liberal.  I think it would be more accurate to say that education causes you to see the idiosyncrasies of your group, your starting point, which almost always broadens you in relation to your group.  That means that education should also broaden those who grow up in "liberal" circles. ;-)

So it's not so much that truth tends toward the liberal.  It's that education tends to unravel the simplistic assumptions of your starting point, whatever simplistic assumptions you may start out with.   As Socrates once allegedly said, the wise person is the one who realizes at some point how much he or she does not know.

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