Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pre-Order Your Paperback Copy of GOD'S FINAL VICTORY

The paperback edition of God's Final Victory (considerably more affordable than the hardback edition) is coming out soon--and it's now available for pre-order on Amazon. 

So, order your copy by clicking here, and get ready to read what Thomas Talbott says may be "the most complete discussion to date of the relevant philosophical and theological issues" which "no philosopher or theologian who in the future addresses the issue of universalism will be able to ignore".

On Slippery Slopes and Polyamory

In my last post I argued that same-sex marriage is not a new phenomenon but, rather, the act of applying an old institution to couples who have historically been denied access to it. In an interesting comment on that post, blannphinella asked whether the marital kind of relationship can also be had by groups of more than two.

Put another way, does conferring a marriage on parties of three or more people involving simply making marriage as ordinarily conceived available to more seekers than have historically had access to it? Or does "marrying" a group of more than two necessarily involve changing the kind of relationship at issue? Can a triad possess a "marital" relationship that is the same in kind as what a pair possesses?

Now this question is important, because a common challenge to marriage equality is that it is a slippery slope to polygamy/polyandry. If we make marriage available to same-sex couples, then what's to stop us from making it available to groups?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Is Same-Sex Marriage "Newer than Cell Phones"?

One of the most common and reasonable-sounding objections to marriage equality goes something like this: "Marriage has traditionally been a relationship between a man and a woman, and extending it to same-sex couples is a major change. Because marriage is such a core social institution, major changes should be approached with caution and nothing should be done quickly."

Justice Samuel Alito offered just such an argument during oral arguments yesterday, as the Supreme Court began to consider California's Proposition 8. "Traditional marriage," he said, "has been around for thousands of years." Same-sex marriage, by contrast, "is newer than cell phones or the internet." He expressed the worry that because it is so new, there "isn't a lot of data about its effects" and "we do not have the ability to see the future."

On the surface, this will sound to many like a reasonable expression of concern. But there are several rather serious problems with this "newer than cell phones" objection--problems that expose the objection as little more than a smoke screen. Here are three, arranged from the least significant to the most:

Friday, March 22, 2013

An Open Letter to a Gay Sister in Christ, from a Progressive Christian Who Accepts You as You Are

Yesterday, the Gospel Coalition reprinted an Open Letter to the Church from a Lesbian (it appeared a few days earlier on Hunter Baker's blog, under the more appealing title, "An Astonishing Message from a Gay Sister in Christ"). Although the letter's author doesn't use these terms, her message is a plea for the Christian community to follow Christ's example of "loving the sinner" even while continuing to "hate the sin." 

There is eloquence in her account of what Christian love looks like, even in the face of what is seen as sinful. And there is insight in her account of how singling out homosexuality as a sin of special significance leads Christians to ignore their own shortcoming. But when it comes to her treatment of those Christians who oppose the traditional condemnation of homosexuality, there is misunderstanding.

And so I offer an open letter of my own.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pediatricians Agree: Marriage Equality is Good for Kids

Just today the American Academy of Pediatrics officially came out in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. And what business does the AAP have making pronouncements on this controversial social issue? Well, their business. Marriage equality is good for children.

The argument is really very simple: As any conservative will tell you, a stable family is good for the welfare of children. As any conservative will tell you, marriage promotes family stability. From these two conservative premises--premises that every faculty member at Liberty University is likely to wholeheartedly endorse--it follows that marriage equality is good for those children being raised by same-sex couples.

Well, sure, a critic will respond. All else being equal this would follow. But all else is not equal.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Hopeful" vs "Dogmatic" Universalism: Some Thoughts on Terminology

There's a common distinction today between two broad species of universalism within Christianity: "hopeful" universalism and "dogmatic" (or "confident") universalism. The former holds, roughly, that given broader Christian teachings we have reason to hope that all will be saved. The latter holds that given broader Christian teachings it follows that God will save all--that God has both the resources and the will to achieve this end without thereby compromising  other divine objectives or values.

I suspect, however, that the terminology here may lead to some confusion. The language of hopefulness suggests humility in a way that the language of confidence/dogmatism does not. The latter suggests a certainty  about matters that many will find unsuitable to the subject matter. Many Christians with universalist leanings may gravitate towards the "hopeful" species for precisely this reason.

In fact, I think that those who are drawn towards universalism also tend to be the very people who are suspicious of "dogmatism" in the modern sense of the word, and who have a broad aversion to the kind of unquestioning certainty that characterizes fundamentalism.