On Warfare and Weakness: Interlude, Weekend With Greg Boyd

Some of you have wanted Greg Boyd to take notice of this series. While I'm not on Twitter I get incoming links and can follow them back. Today Greg sent out a few tweets about this series.

So a head's up about that if you'd like to engage Greg on Twitter about this series. And thank you Greg for the social media attention.

Social media attention always brings in people who are unfamiliar with you or you blogging culture. Today I posted the following to a commenter who felt that my analysis of God at War was "shallow and superficial." Good grief. As a part of my response I wrote this:
And let me end with this by way of extending an olive branch.

Caputo's theology of weakness does bother me. I'm not totally on board. And if you are new to this blog you might not get me or the sort of blog this is. So being new, let me introduce you to the way things work around here. I'm just thinking out loud, seeing if Caputo (as problematic as he is) can--against all odds, which is the intellectual challenge in all this--connect with Boyd (as problematic as he is). And if you're not interested in thinking experimentally and hypothetically, if you aren't interested in pondering through a line of argument, to see how it looks and how it goes, then this really isn't a blog for you.

And there is more. I don't disagree with Boyd's vision in God at War as much as feel the need to create a bigger tent for his theology of revolt. This isn't an either/or in my mind. (Though it may be for you. You may feel the burning need to sort things into "right" and "wrong.") Because I have no problem with anyone positing angels and demons. This isn't an attempt to refute Boyd but a means to broaden the theological scope of his book. That might be foolish or impossible, but it can't be taken as anything other than the deepest compliment I could give a fellow academic.

Greg Boyd has made me think. So has John Caputo. And I am thinking. Enjoy the ride. Or not. 
I repost this here to underline that my goal in this series isn't to refute a literal belief in angels or demons. My goal is to broaden the appeal of God at War to Christians who struggle with these beliefs.

As a part of Greg's Twitter response this was a follow up Tweet he sent out:
Since I'm not on Twitter I'd like to say something about this here.

Really? Greg, you really don't get this?

Because where I sit the empathic, perspective-taking and imaginative capacities to get this aren't all that significant. For example, I can perfectly well imagine why somebody does believe in literal angels and demons. And I can perfectly well imagine why someone struggles with this belief. And I can perfectly well imagine why some people seem on the fence.

That is, I find it remarkable that someone couldn't imagine why this sort of belief is just a wee bit of struggle for many modern Christians.

But the thing is, I think Greg can imagine it. I think his disbelief in the Tweet is hyperbolic. He's pushing against the default metaphysical assumptions of modernity. And I get that. That's a battle worth fighting.

So let me repeat what I said in the comment above. This isn't an either/or for me. My goal in this series isn't to refute the belief in literal angels or demons but to create a bigger tent for Boyd's theology of revolt. Because like I'll argue in the last post of this series, getting Jesus right means getting his battle right. And I think God at War is a good articulation of that battle. True, while I'm more progressive than Greg, we both share a love of the Christus Victor paradigm. Can't I try to build a bridge between us?

And on a final note, Greg also Tweeted about this label "progressive":
For what it's worth, here are my definitions for the purposes of this series.

Progressive Christianity is the popular expression of liberal theology (e.g., Bultmann, Tillich). Emergent Christianity is an ecclesiology of progressive Christianity as an off-shoot of Evangelical Christianity (which is why emergents generally have the same theology as mainliners but usually start with Evangelical, rather than mainline, forms of church expression).

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4 thoughts on “On Warfare and Weakness: Interlude, Weekend With Greg Boyd”

  1. Interesting sermon from Nadia Boltz Webber on this very topic of deamons and if they are personal, or impersonal or metaphorical....but also how Jesus and daemons interact... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2013/06/demon-possession-and-why-i-named-my-depression-francis/

  2. As a long time enjoyer of your blog and first time commenter, thank you for your eclecticism, irenic approach and gift for unwrapping complex issues.

    As a full time research scientist, my temperament and habits sometimes draw me into interesting but doctrinally questionable speculations, so I resonate with your approach to theology.

    It seems to me that Jesus and Paul took pretty eclectic approaches. Perhaps that is why no particular school of thought prevails in those battles.

  3. Richard,

    I've enjoyed your book and reading your blog lately. Thanks for experimenting! I like the theological mash-up format - keep it up. As a part of the Churches of Christ, I think it's great to have more people from our heritage adding to the wider conversation.

    My family and I have been serving in Africa for close to 10 years now and the question of how to understand the demonic has been one of the more challenging ones for me personally. Walter Wink's trilogy on the powers has been helpful as it has given me an alternate way to think about the demonic in ways more consistent with my Western education. My hunch is that in order to get a solid grasp on this topic we will need to involve churches from the developing world in the conversation, gaining a more global perspective. Our friends here in Mozambique don't hesitate in their belief in demons and their reasons fit with their experiences. I recently wrote a post on how I've wrestled with the reality of the demonic as an American living in Africa here and trying to have a contextualized ministry - http://howellsinmoz.blogspot.com/2013/05/made-for-possession.html . I would love to hear you interact with that and share more specifically about this topic especially in regards to the experiences of the church in other parts of the world.

    Grace and Peace,

    Alan Howell
    Montepuez, Mozambique

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