One of the emergent leaders of years past, Tony Jones, has been creeping further and further away from classical Christian orthodoxy and into some territory that Christian history does not look on with favor. Besides denying the doctrine of the Trinity, Jones is obsessed with aberrant sexuality. One glance at the larger blog will serve as evidence. There is nothing un-Christian about paying attention to a theology and anthropology of sexuality, but I’m not sure he is looking at the issues from an angle that will produce useful conclusions.
In any event, his positions on sexuality have been accused of being the first steps in a slippery slope, and in this video he responds.
To the matter that slippery-slope argumentation is fallacious, I think we need to be careful about what we mean. I know it is a form of argument that can be pulled out of a person’s pocket at any moment to be used as a scare tactic, and that often the reasoning is rather non sequitor, but that does not make the argument automatically fallacious. There is work out there that establishes forms of “slippery-slope” argumentation that is not fallacious, but in the sense in which Jones is using it the real proof is in the pudding. Can we point to actual, real-world examples of slipping slopes when a society’s attitude toward sexuality, family and marriage change? I think so. Slippery slopes do exist.
But a more fundamental error he makes is to shift the biblical and ethical burden to “monogamy” from “heterosexual.” Despite the machinations of some theologians, Scripture is abundantly clear both in the text and the context that God’s design for sexual expression is within monogamous heterosexual marriage. Jones has reached a point where “monogamous” is the key ethical term, and the words “homosexual” and “heterosexual” are either synonymous or superfluous. They can be swapped out without any change in the rightness/wrongness of the concept. I think he has put all his ethical eggs in the wrong basket.
Ironically, Jones’ current position may be an example of the result of a slippery slope. I think it can be argued that his original and laudable impulse to read our current culture and learn from it has turned into one of the classic theological mistakes: his cultural sensitivity may have slipped into culturally-driven exegesis.
HT: Constructive Curmudgeon