Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Evangelical Blogger Takes on the Prophet of CRCDS: Dr. Bill Herzog

Today I included a piece on the ABE message board dealing with a funeral homily by Dr. William Herzog II of Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School. CRCDS bills itself as the place for an inquiring student to savor "a diverse ecumenical community where women and men from many different backgrounds and denominations can pursue an education that is pastoral, prophetic, and learned."

In the most recent issue of the "Bulletin from the Hill" (
http://www.crcds.edu/orgMain.asp?orgid=147&storyTypeID=&storyID=&sid=&), professor Herzog is quoted from the funeral service for a CRCDS student. Glenn Layne blogged the entire address (http://www.durabledata.blogspot.com/) and introduced it with the following comments:

"Bill Herzog, that paragon of orthodoxy, strikes again. In a truly moving euology for a deceased student (whose name I have removed) Dr. Bill equates Taoist writings with Scripture and imagines Lao Tzu and Mark (as in the Gospel of) welcoming the student to the heavenly shore. His biennial outburst wasn't an aberration; he truly is heterodox in so many varied ways."

The piece reveals all of the artistry and craftsmanship of the literature major from Harvard that Herzog was coupled with the seasoned theologizing of an ABSW (M.Div.) and Claremont (Ph.D.) educated scholar with a lifetime in the classroom. But . . . WOW!

Speaking of the use of Mark's Gospel and Tao Teh Ching, Herzog opined:
"[the student Herzog was eulogizing] gave a creative, original presentation to the class, and for a few glorious minutes East met West in a framework of mutual mystery and respect. It was one of the highest moments I have experienced in classroom. Truly, on that day, in Christ there was both East and West, and in the Tao there was neither East nor West, but we were bound together in serenity and wisdom."

While Mark says that there are "different ways to approach truth," he and Lao Tzu await the arrival of the student on the "other shore of the great divide" (i.e., "heaven," eternity, whatever). To Mark ’s great surprise, Lao Tzu walked up to the student and bowed before him as sign of respect. He spoke softly,

The Way of Heaven is like stretching a bow.
The top is pulled down,
The bottom pulled up.

The student bowed, gazed at the master and replied, the last shall be first and the first last.””

Mark smiled; Then Mark and Lao Tzu joined him. Then Mark and Lao Tzu threw their arms around [the student who Herzog was eulogizing] and welcomed him to the eternal domains. In spite of their considerable differences, honed and explored throughout the ages, they agreed on one thing. It was clear to them both that [the student] bore the mark of a true champion."

Wow! After seeing an example of how Dr. Herzog approaches the uniqueness of the Christian faith (it isn't), the dangers of syncretism (what, me worry?), and the proper interpretation of the New Testament (reader response hermeneutics at best), the American Baptist teacher extraordinaire at CRCDS places himself well outside normative orthodoxy.

No wonder Dr. Herzog took evangelicals to task in his Roger Williams Fellowship address at the Denver Biennial. We stand for everything he opposes. Viewed against this background, the indictment of Bill Nicoson as a Judaizer makes perfect sense. So does the excoriation of the West Virginia Baptists. A belief in the exclusivity of the Christian faith, the conviction that correct interpretation should discover what the original author intended, and the idea that being "born again" might be more desired than to be ridiculed put the evangelical wing of the ABC far from the theology of Dr. Herzog and his co-religionists.

Dennis E. McFadden

[too simple minded to comprehend Lao Tzu or to speak for the good people in the PSW Hdqtrs]

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