Dear Dr. McSwain --
First, let me say this about your recent article at HuffPo: it's more than a little disingenuous to tweet this after publishing that essay:
@sarahflashing You are right.I do not mean to be mean-spirited as so many of my Christian friends can be who disagree.I'll try todo better.
— Dr. Steve McSwain (@DrSteveMcSwain) March 3, 2013
My friend Sarah called you out on this point already, but here's the thing: there's no edit to your piece afterward, or a footnote to point out that you have used tactics you now would abhor from those who would respond to you. But of course, to make sure the gate is closed on the other side of the conversation, you make this apology and note that replying in kind would be "mean-spirited".
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Bauckham comes to mind; The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism by Beale is another; Jesus Outside the New Testament by Van Voorst is lesser-known but compelling; the classic King James Only Controversy by James White ought to be on your reading list this year since you have obviously never encountered decent history of the text we receive for the modern English Bible; Did the Resurrection Happen by Flew and Habermas would be the last one for you simply because it shows that non-Christians don't have to be impenetrably ignorant of what conservative [or even historically-traditional] Christians believe), me spending my time refuting it on a blog isn't going to change your mind. It's probably not even going to get you to revise your flippant complaints into something a little more circumspect.
But I do have a great idea.
It turns out I am also a contributor to HuffPo -- over at HuffPoLive. I'm one of the conservative evangelicals they call on from time to time to represent when the question of what the man-in-the-street conservative evangelical believes and would say to their adversaries in other camps. My contact over there is Shelley Thomas, and I think that you and I discussing this with a HuffPo moderator keeping the conversation between the ditches would be educational for your readers, to say the least.
Here's all I ask: that our exchange have the smallest appearance of balance. That is: you ask a question; I'll answer it; then I can ask a question; you have to answer it. Questions need to be brief (~150 words, about 1 minute) and answers need to be cogent without filibustering or grandstanding (~500 words, about 4 minutes). We could do 5 exchanges, or 10 if HuffPoLive could stand a segment that long. The point for me would not be to convince you of anything -- my goal would be to compare your caricatures of conservative Christian faith with the actual Christian faith held literally by hundreds of millions of people for almost 2000 years.
What I expect is that you'll ignore this request because you have nothing to gain from it. However, you might be a better man than my assessment of you, and you might find this opportunity to demonstrate what you were talking about this weekend a great way to make your point to your targets in conservative Christianity. If you are, I look forward to hearing from either you or Shelley at your convenience.
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