Until religious people understand the spirit of the Word, especially the nature of unconditional love, they are trapped in an ethical prison. In the meantime, people can use Scripture to support any opinion. Why bother? Why not just go directly to what is right?
— Shepherd Hoodwin, in response to Krista’s recent interview with Richard Mouw in “Restoring Political Civility.”
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Yet another post from staff here attacking conservative Christianity, and showing deep ignorance of it. Is this a conscious plan to post uninformed, negative comments about conservative spirituality and positive ones about liberal spirituality, or is it something the staff is willfully overlooking?
Where does Mr. Hoodwin get his idea about the spirit of the Word? It seems from the wording as though he gets it from scripture, or rather a particular interpretation of scripture. Others read the same scripture differently. While that may illustrate his complaint about scripture, that it can support any opinion, it hardly gives him a good basis for criticizing those who read it differently than he does.
He's essentially calling for people to dump what scripture says, except for the point he wants to draw from it, and "go directly to what is right." But that's what those who rely on scripture believe they're doing. They believe scripture to be God's direct word to them about what is right. And so it seems Hoodwin does as well, at least on the point he likes.
What would it entail to go directly to what is right apart from relying on scripture? It would seem to involve some direct revelation or intuition of the Good, which I can assure Hoodwin can be used just as effectively to support any opinion.
Mouw believes his views are entailed by unconditional love. Until Being (the show) can figure this out, and start to uncover and dismantle its deep and overpowering bias, no discussion about this will go very far, and the show will not be living up to its pretensions about exploring "Being." It will rather continue to promote a partisan, partial, and polarizing view.
The comment provides nothing meaningful, nor helpful to the subject at hand. He asks the question "Why bother?" presumably to suggest that the use of Scripture to defend a position is irrelevant because it can be used to support any opinion (a claim that is suspect, but we will grant it for argument's sake). He then asks, "Why not just go directly to what is right?" which seems to suggest that either what is right is so plainly obvious that it does not need Scriptural basis, or that what is right is the "Spirit of the Word" which is somehow above the use of Scripture in articulating an opinion. If the former, then we have solved nothing because just going directly to what is right is the problem that is searched after in the first place, namely, what is right (that is to say, no one has the same "plainly obvious")? If the later, then how does one know what the "Spirit of the Word" is unless one uses that "Word" to articulate an opinion about what it's spirit is? There doesn't seem anything meaningful here.
Further, it seems that Hoodwin wants to suggest that the nature of unconditional love is what is most important and not the "letter of the law." Unfortunately this is still of no help because we still have yet to define what "unconditional love" is, and by what authority ought we to make that definition. Is it just what I think it means? Is it what Scripture says it is (and we are back to articulating an opinion based on scripture here)?
So while the comment sounds meaningful and possibly even helpful, it appears it is neither.
Partly it comes down to the show's editorial stance, a reflection of popular culture, that love trumps all other values. Of course, as was pointed out by Krista in her unedited version with Dr. Mouw, many words now no longer carry the freight they used to carry across borders. Love would be one of these words. Krista means one thing by it, Dr. Mouw -- probably -- means another.