James Dobson should read the Bible! (2 of 2)

Just to recap, this is the quote from James Dobson that got me thinking about God, society, alleged judgement, and who gets to say stuff like this just for the heck of it.

I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me, and we have killed fifty-four million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition.  Believe me, that is going to have consequences too.

And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us.  I think that’s what’s going on.

There are a few additional facts that I want to point out regarding the expertise of Dr. Dobson.  First, he is NOT a trained theologian.  He holds a PhD in Child Development, and did attend a Christian university, but formal theological training isn’t among his long list of accomplishments.  Secondly, he is NOT a biblical scholar.  That is to say, he is not an expert in the exegetical or hermeneutical (meaning or determined message) process.  Thirdly, he is NOT a pastor.  This one might seem strange to some, because he has functioned “pastorally” in the lives of many, but he has never been ordained or deemed by any Christian community a “pastor”.

I don’t want to make a big deal about his qualifications for the purpose of attacking him on some sort of elitist platform. To say that  just because someone doesn’t have certain letters after their name also means they can’t read the Bible correctly would be ridiculous.    I’m just simply pointing out that he is a psychologist speaking about theological and biblical matters and so we should rightly ask, where his perspective comes from.  We should always consider the source and ask if their perspective is informed by anything other than their own personal opinions.  I’ve encouraged several people toward such a consideration when they tell me about some well-known pastor’s new book on some issue that doesn’t seem to fall under that pastor’s area of expertise.

When speaking about the judgement of God it’s helpful to remember that every time God prepares to judge a people group he sends a prophet a head of time with a warning.  The prophet gives specific consequences that will follow in the coming days or years.  Within the biblical narrative, God’s planned and executed judgement is NOT hidden from the judged people.  The horrible events we’ve recently experienced as a country should not be so easily and callously equated to a black and white plan of judgement.  Such a claim supposes to know too much and further stands to place unnecessary barriers between the Church and the lost world.

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2 thoughts on “James Dobson should read the Bible! (2 of 2)

  1. While pushback on Dobson’s comment(s) are valid, I think some of your stuff here is very slippery….:

    “First, he is NOT a trained theologian. ” You need to define “trained.” Do you have to have letters from an accredited seminary to be trained? My fear here is that the Apostle Peter (who wrote scripture) also wouldn’t be a trained theologian. My fear is this thinking, applied elsewhere in the church, can lead to ivory tower isolation. My fear is the indigenous African Pastor who was trained by missionaries in theology/pastoring and is now raising up other trained pastors planting churches and pastoring people wouldn’t be considered “trained” according to you comment “NOT a trained theologian”…. slippery.

    “Secondly, he is NOT a biblical scholar.” Same as previous… Can a mechanic by day and book loving guy by night be a biblical scholar, or only someone who has an accredited degree?

    “Thirdly, he is NOT a pastor. … has never been ordained or deemed by any Christian community a “pastor”.” – Again, if being a “pastor” is a formal title that gets put on someone and poof there you go…then I guess you are right. But being a pastor is about “are you shepherding folks?”. I know many “ordained folks” who seem to have no sheep under their care, and many “non-ordained folks” who are active pastors/shepherds all the time…. also, if elders are shepherds in 1Timothy, many churches don’t “ordain” elders, and they still fulfil that role. To say someone is NOT a pastor because they’re not “ordained” is …. missing the role of pastor vs. title of pastor.

    I know you then qualify with, “To say that just because someone doesn’t have certain letters after their name also means they can’t read the Bible correctly would be ridiculous. I’m just simply pointing out that he is a psychologist speaking about theological and biblical matters and so we should rightly ask, where his perspective comes from.” … but I would assume Dobson has pastored more folks than you and I combined, read more scripture, been around more folks and challenged by more folks with many more letters after their name than you/I….

    Just seems like some of these comments, applied to my church or pastors I know who are in the trenches, would belittle/trivilize/disqualify the work they do. I know that’s not your intention, but if this thinking is reapplied broader, …. yikes.

    love you man….

  2. Joel, sleek look on the blog. I dig it. I too was deeply disturbed by Dobson’s comments. It is interesting, to say the least, that so many ultra conservatives look to Dobson as their “authoritative” voice on all matters biblical and theological when in fact, as you point out, he carries none of the necessary qualifications to be such an authority. That is not to say he can’t contribute thoughtfully to the conversation. But it is to say that perhaps he should not be the go-to authoritative voice on issues not in his area of expertise. I for one am tired of the sky-is-falling rhetoric from the far Right. I’m just not as cynical about the future or God’s work in the world as they seem to be.

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