The triumph of dogmatism

Dogmatism is on a roll.

Westminster Theological Seminary suspended Peter Enns, professor of Old Testament after he ‘wrote a book urging wobbly believers to embrace [humans’] role in shaping the Bible’ and is going to hold a hearing to decide if he should be fired.

Some of his supporters are condemning the hearing, due to begin Aug. 25, as a “heresy trial.” They say the trustees want to harden the school’s national reputation as a fortress of ultra-orthodox Calvinism, and purge perceived “liberals” from the faculty…The real issue, administrators say, is whether Enns violated the oath he took when he joined the faculty 14 years ago. The oath requires all faculty members to pledge they will not “inculcate, teach or insinuate anything” contrary to the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith, the core creed of the Presbyterian faith. That lengthy creed begins by proclaiming the “infallible truth” and “entire perfection” of Holy Scripture, whose sole author is God.

Which means, of course, that Westminster Theological Seminary is not engaged in education (much less research or inquiry) at all. Any putative educational outfit that requires faculty to sign an oath that they will not deviate from any particular given, much less a ‘Confession of Faith’ dated 1646 which in turn declares a much older book infallible and entirely perfect, is not doing anything related to actual education. It’s doing indoctrination, which is a different enterprise.

And the tribunal’s ruling in the case of the Christian registrar who refused to perform same-sex marriages is a blow against the ability of secular government institutions to ask people to perform their assigned jobs.

Lillian Ladele, who said the civil partnership ceremonies went against her Christian faith, hailed the decision as a “victory for religious liberty”. The tribunal ruled that Miss Ladele was discriminated against on grounds of religious beliefs and was harassed…”Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs,” she said.

But ‘religious beliefs’ should be used as an excuse to exclude and deny services to people over their sexual orientation? Because why?

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said…”Lillian Ladele claims she has won a victory for religious liberty. No, she has not. She has won a victory for the right to discriminate,” he said. “Public servants like registrars have a duty to serve all members of the public without fear or favour. Once society lets some people opt out of upholding the law, where will it end?” Condemning the “catastrophic judgement” the National Secular Society said: “This decision appears to show that religious rights trump gay rights…”

Ladele already had ‘religious liberty,’ of course; what she didn’t have was liberty to discriminate on the job. Now she does. Some triumph.

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