In the February 9, 2009 edition of Newsweek, Richard Mouw, the President of Fuller Seminary and former Grand Rapidian, objected in a “My Turn” column to Newsweek’s incendiary cover story on the Bible and homosexuality. Mouw said that “one remark that hit especially close to home was made by the editor of this magazine. He wrote that anyone—anyone!—who tries to make a scriptural case against same-sex marriage is guilty of ‘the worst kind of fundamentalism.’”
Mouw continued: “That hurt. I have spent several decades of my life trying to spell out an evangelical alternative to ‘the worst kind of fundamentalism.’ My friends and I have argued that the Bible supports racial justice, gender equality, peacemaking and care for the environment—views that often draw the ire of the worst kind of fundamentalists.”
Given Mouw’s confessed chagrin at being labeled a fundamentalist, is it a coincidence that Lisa Miller, the author of the offending cover story on homosexuality, ended this week’s “Belief Watch” column (Newsweek, March 16, 2009, p. 18) by associating Mouw with fundamentalism? Her article is about people who prefer to be called “followers of Jesus” rather than “Christians,” but look how she places the term “fundamentals” next to a quote from Mouw (his only citation in the piece).
Miller wrote: “While many Christians applaud this effort to transcend labels and history, some also worry that ‘followers of Jesus’ diverts people from the fundamentals. ‘Two questions constantly come up,’ says Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary. ‘The first is Christology. What about the full divinity of Christ? How much can you keep that in the background? Second, what’s the role of the church in all this?’”
While my hermeneutic of suspicion may be reading into this more than is warranted, I doubt that an accomplished writer like Miller and her editors say anything by accident. What she writes is correct, but I wonder if her association of the term “fundamentals” with Mouw isn’t a subtle way for her to strike back. If so, she’s clever, but not nearly as charitable toward Mouw as Mouw is with her—and their homosexual friends.