There is a great deal of commendable observation in Burklo's article, provided of course it is read in isolation of his broader argument. In particular, his assertion that the Bible is not self-aware is a sermon that I never tire of preaching. His recognition that the full scope of Christianity with its manifold traditions, doctrines, and mythology is a hard pill to swallow for many modern seekers is perhaps the defining problem for Western evangelism in today's world. The reminder that Christianity is neither an ancient legal code nor a modern political ideology is among the most necessary messages for American Christians.
Nevertheless and unsurprisingly, I find most of Burklo's points as well as his overarching message to be severely flawed, both by his own internal logic and by legitimate external standards. I am certainly not one to suggest that the Bible should be confused with a history book or, worse still, a science book. Just the opposite. Moreover, I have never been one to use the forms of creeds as tests of fellowship. Barton Stone would turn over in his grave. I admit a great deal of latitude in recognizing and drawing conclusions from the human components of Scripture, at least by majority Christianity standards. With all that said, however, I have the following objections to Burklo's vision of Christianity.
- Burklo mistakenly implies an oppositional relationship between believing creeds, doctrines, and "fantastic stories" on the one hand and living like Christ on the other.
- Burklo fails to make any meaningful distinction between essential and non-essential data in Scripture when suggesting what might be disregarded as non-factual.
- Equating the "divine spark" in Christ with the divine spark in all is idolatrous, anachronistic, unbiblical, and reenforces the need for the Christological dogma found in the creeds.
- The desire to focus only one what Jesus said and not what he did is self-defeating.
- Burklo confuses ethics with religion, and thereby fails to grasp the comprehensiveness of Jesus' mission.
I will treat each of these more fully over the next few days, hopefully with uncharacteristic brevity, with the intent of moving toward a Christianity that can be forward thinking without divorcing itself from its past and, equally importantly, away from a Christianity which is comfortable with sentiments such as, "If [doctrines] don’t make sense to you, don’t worry about them."