Once more on Paul Holloway and N.T. Wright’s Honorary Doctorate

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by Neil Godfrey

Otagosh: See Theology, hairdressing and Huns

One parenthetical comment in particular caught my eye:

(My impression is that, rather than appealing to hard core fundamentalists, Wright’s following consists of many thoughtful but compromised evangelicals who are looking for a hero, someone who can provide a much-needed intellectually sound defence of their faith. . . .  The writer also points out that this sort of evangelical fan-theology has a long track record. . . .)

I’m reminded of an online talk and Q&A session scholars on a Crosstalk discussion list were having with “special guest” John Dominic Crossan some years ago. What I was expecting was to hear a bunch of scholars engaging in an open debate as equals. I was looking forward to it. But the experience was quite different from anything I anticipated. Suddenly all these scholars who regularly engaged with each other’s views and arguments as equals were sitting there in what felt like reverential awe before “the great scholar”. It reminded me of days I sat submissively in church listening dutifully to the great apostle of the day and respectfully keeping any mildly critical thoughts very much to myself. The Q&A was equally reverential in atmosphere and style. The discussion was scarcely an open free-for-all debate that I had seen conducted among themselves so often. They would return to that after the great scholar had left the room. Now I certainly have a very high regard for Crossan’s learning and contributions to biblical studies. But what shocked me a little was that his supposedly academic peers, at least in his presence, seemed to treat him as a higher class of guru. Very strange for an academic forum, I thought. Or was that more an American thing? I’m used to the Westminster Parliamentary system and can’t help but be dismayed at the reverential way members of the American Congress speak with each other.

But more fun: Theology is bracketed with Hairdressing as an expendable course in New Zealand colleges.






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Neil Godfrey

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