Friday, August 21, 2009

Release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi: Repugnant or a Manifestation of Biblical Mercy?

Hardly any American voices have been raised in support of the Scottish decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted for the Lockerbie bombing. Political response from the White House through the Secretary of State and politicians galore have deplored the decision. Yet many of them are Jews and Christians who surely know of the biblical injunction to be merciful. That the man is terminally ill and expected to live only a short time did not seem mitigate any of the righteous indignation that greeted his release.

Not only is Abdelbaset al-Megrahi near death with cancer, there is serious doubt about his guilt. Knowledgeable and responsible persons in Great Britain have called his conviction a great miscarriage of justice.

Given all this, surely the mercy shown him can be commended by Christians and Jews, as well as other morally sensitive people.

For doubts about his guilt see:

Have we forgotten this news item?

Sunday July 3, 1988
The USA shot down an Iranian civil aircraft with the loss of 290 passengers and crew, including 66 children.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Scripture and Culture: Same-Sex Love

We are asked to affirm a description of sexuality based on a reality that's shaped not by Scripture but by today's culture.
This is the comment of a disappointed delegate to a church convention regarding his denomination's new open stance toward homosexuality. Unfortunately for this point of view, Scripture and culture cannot be dichotomized sharply in this fashion. The Bible was written in a cultural context and is interpreted in a cultural context. The culture of the time influences both text and interpretation, not only in form but also in substance.

There is more biblical support for slavery than condemnation of homosexuality. So why is the latter binding on us today but not the former?

If Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is not a moral imperative for us today, why is Leviticus 20:13?

I Timothy 2:11-12 is not authoritative for us today, why is Romans 1:26-27?

No, it is not a simple matter of obeying Scripture or culture, it is much more complicated than that. Sometimes enlightened culture is right against time-bound Scripture, e. g. in rejecting slavery and granting equality to women.

As I used to say to my students about the Bible-culture problem:
Some things abide, some things change. Which is which, and how do we know?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Prescient Me: Obama as Post-Partisan

On January 28, 2008, I wrote in a blog to Obama as a post-partisan candidate:

"You are inspiring, idealistic, and hopeful, and your message of partisan-transcending politics sure makes for a good speech and may even be a good strategy to get elected, but you are naive if you think the Republicans are suddenly going to play nice if you are elected president."