Why John Dominic Crossan Cannot Be Taken Seriously
This video serves as a great wrap-up to my week of meditations on Fundamentalism. I am not a Fundamentalist, but I have friends that are self-described Fundamentalists. I am more positive towards Fundamentalism than probably any of my friends on the internet, though not uncritically so. So I write this post in defense of my friends, the Fundamentalists, just as I would defend the orthodoxy of my online friends to the Fundamentalists.
Dom Crossan is an entertaining scholar. He is generally a lot of fun to listen to. Better is one hour in a Crossan lecture than thousands elsewhere. But in this video, Dom demonstrates that he is a schmuck. He has created a straw man of Fundamentalism. No Fundamentalist believes that “true” Christians should persecute “false” Christians. This is because, as Dom so aptly points out, all Fundamentalists are (so-called) literalists. And it is difficult to mistake “turn the other cheek” or “love your enemy”, especially when you are committed to a hermeneutic of literalism. Fundamentalists are quite fond of the Bible, so this is not likely to be a point that is missed. The Fundamentalist way to deal with unbelievers is to preach the gospel to them. So while Crossan may find their behavior obnoxious, it can hardly be described as persecution of unbelievers.
It’s not as if this is the first time Crossan has overstated his point. A few years ago in a lecture in Madison he stated that if Jesus were in the US today we would crucify him again. Now if you believe Jesus was predestined to be a sacrifice for sin, you have reason to agree (as Fundamentalists would be inclined to do). But apart from theological reasons, I find it very unlikely that Jesus would be crucified today. During the Q&A time I challenged him on this and he quickly backpeddled. Okay, he admitted, Jesus wouldn’t be executed but he would be marginalized; we would put him on Oprah with a whole panel of people who believe they are the Messiah. Everyone laughed. But being marginalized is a far cry from being executed.
The fact is that nuanced comments to the public don’t get much publicity. That’s why Rush Limbaugh gets so much press. It’s what makes Dom Crossan so fun to listen to, but it also makes it hard to take him seriously.