Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Interesting Logic

Wade Burleson's latest post has some interesting and frightening logic in it.

First, Burleson exhibits a dismissive attitude toward religious exemptions from federal employment guidelines, offering only the bizarre and cryptic "every good principle that forms the basis for government protecting her citizens is a principle that can be found in the Word of God." Hmmm... Let's see... Seventeen states bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (including California, where we have a seminary), so I guess Burleson would be in favor of employment protection for lesbians on the faculty at Golden Gate, if he would be consistent. In the federal code quoted, religion is one of the criteria, so I guess if (heaven forbid!) Dr. Emir Caner returns to Islam, his job would be safe from Burleson, if he would consistently apply what he has written. I don't think that Burleson really believes this (or, so I hope!), but if his logic does not apply to those situations, then it does not apply to SWBTS's situation, either.

At a moment when religious exemption from such onerous federal legislation is already dangerously tenuous, for a Southern Baptist with Burleson's public exposure to undermine this important principle is wantonly reckless and competely at odds with historic Baptist convictions about religious liberty.

An off-line discussion with Bro. Burleson (I emailed him the text of this post) clarifies that, in at least some circumstances, Burleson believes that internal SBC decisions about employment policy ought to be beyond the bounds of federal employment law.

Second, Burleson draws a false parallel between criteria for receiving a degree at SWBTS and criteria for teaching at SWBTS. Does Burleson realize that SWBTS accepts students of a wide variety of denominational persuasions into all of the degree programs at SWBTS? I studied in Ph.D. seminars with several students who were not Baptist. By Burleson's logic, I suppose he would favor the employ of everyone from Pentecostals to Presbyterians on the faculty of our Southern Baptist seminaries (then again, given the discussions of the past year, he very well might).

Finally, Burleson's exegesis discussion regarding 1 Timothy 2:12 is beyond interesting. Because authentein "cannot be found in any place where Greek is used. It is not in the Septuagint, nor in classical Greek, nor any other literature of the day" (funny... the Liddell-Scott-Jones knows about nine appearances, but I digress), Burleson seems to suggest that we shouldn't bother to try to exegete the passage at all, except maybe to eisegete speculations about slang terms and Ephesian prostitutes (guess how many of the nine references listed in LSJ have anything at all to do with Ephesian prostitutes?). The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae database has revealed more than three hundred occurrances of this term and its cognates. Yes, there's a discussion to be had between liberals and conservatives on this issue, and there is more than enough linguistic evidence to fuel it. The possibility for this discussion to occur with civility is inversely proportionate to the number of times that folks like Bro. Burleson try to tie to Islamic fundamentalism those people who actually go ahead and exegete 1 Timothy 2:12.

In conclusion, an article in the latest Reader's Digest suggests that it takes at least twenty positive comments to undo a single slap in the face. Maybe Burleson ought to lengthen his obligatory sections of "now I want you to know how much I actually love <insert target of the week here> and appreciate all that they do for the convention" if he's doing that to actually try to establish some sense of balance in his blogging.

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