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Confidence and Slippery Slopes

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October 24, 2011 Tags: Pastoral Voices

Today's video features Brian McLaren. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Today's video is courtesy of filmmaker Ryan Pettey, director/editor of Satellite Pictures.

In today’s video, Pastor Brian McClaren discusses the idea of the “slippery slope”. As he notes, the metaphor itself is problematic, because we often assume that we are on the top of the slope to begin with, when in fact changing our views may help us ascend the slope, or to reach a new peak of understanding on the other side.

He also notes two dangers that face the science and faith dialogue. On one side is excessive confidence, when we are so sure of being right that we refuse to consider other ideas. But being too afraid of excessive confidence can lead to an insufficient confidence, where we feel incapable of knowing anything for sure. McClaren proposes that what Christians need, rather, is proper confidence, the confidence that we are moving ahead yet still willing to learn. This, he says, is what it means to be a disciple: to be interested in the truth and always learning, but always willing to be pensive again rather than set in our current knowledge.

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


Brian McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is an ecumenical global networker among innovative Christian leaders. He graduated from the University of Maryland with his degrees in English (Bachelor of Arts and Masters). In 2004, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Carey Theological Seminary in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and in 2010, he received a second honorary doctorate from Virginia Theological Seminary. Brian has been active in networking and mentoring church planters and pastors. He is a popular conference speaker and a frequent guest lecturer for denominational and ecumenical leadership gatherings around the world. He is also an accomplished writer and has authored books such as A New Kind of Christianity, The Secret Message of Jesus, and Finding Our Way Again.


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athanasius - #65717

October 24th 2011

Entertaining, but at the end of the day a slippery slope is a logical fallacy no matter how you frame it.


mq_wendland - #65994

November 3rd 2011

..especially when it is used by itself as if no further evidence needs to be considered. What these type of ‘arguments’ cannot admit is that there is any middle ground. Consequently, they frequently become a scare tactic. I like what McClaren is doing, however, with the metaphor. He is criticizing it by acknowledging it and then putting it into a larger context that shows why it is a logical fallacy.


Justme - #66780

December 24th 2011

A short video that is hard to make “real” sense of, but it sounds like him: More cloudy and confused talk from the poster boy of “Nothing can be Settled.” He talks just like Pilate, “What is truth?” John 18:38.


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