Give me some pointers on debating moderate theologians with 
A "feel good" message and elastic use of scripture....

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Tell them that they are shit christians if they can't stick to their rulebook. Ask them what is the mechanism for determining which places are metaphor and which are literal, and then use that method to dig up horrible things from the bible. Remind them that Jesus wants them to cut of their balls (Matthew 19:12).

I don't know, I feel helpless when faced with people who will bold facedly lie even when buried neck deep in evidence to the contrary.
Agreed here...
Cut off the berries you say?
I'll get that verse down. 
Also see Matthew 5:29 and 30. Cutting of your hands and gouging your eyes. Good stuff.
Who are some of their"" best"?
Inquiring minds want to know...
And tear those arguements and philosophies down too!
The fundamentalists are easy, they hang themselves on 
Taking scripture literally. 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a good one, although really hard to understand. Lewis was not a fan of Bonhoeffer's philosophy... probably because Bonhoeffer wasn't so liberal with his interpretations of the Bible. It's been so long since I read Ethics, though, that I can barely remember just what his philosophy was.
Nelson: cafeteria christians- those with an elastic use of scripture- are undermined by their own method of picking and choosing verses to concentrate on while ignoring others they find distasteful.

Actually that makes more sense to me than relying on an authoritative source that wasn't set in stone centuries after the Christ's own death. I have more respect for self-professed mystics who choose to interpret religious texts according to their own sense of morality, than for those who let scripture tell them what morality should be. Simone Weil and Etty Hillesum come to mind. Neither is an 'academic' theologian, but they're examples of what theology should be. Not that I really bother with theology.
I have to disagree - to claim that a book is a source of moral guidance, but you have to use your morals to get the right guidance out of it is like saying that a map is a source of spatial guidance, you just have to use your knowledge of the area to know which of the roads on the map are actually really there and which ones are metaphor.

Bullshit. They know good from bad, but are afraid of death, so they pretend that sky daddy told them what is good and what is bad.
you are, since the bible is supposed to be THE source for objective morals

Who said that? Certainly not the people I'm referring to. Those use the Bible to fuel their own reflections, and to give shape and substance to their sense of morals, but the ultimate source is within themselves.

moreover, it says something about god (etc.)

Again, this one follows from the same false premise. You should have a quick look at Etty Hillesum's view of god for instance, it doesn't look like anything you could deduce from a conventional reading of the Bible (Hillesum saw God as a powerless being you had to actively help to make the world better, and this god has none of the traditional attributes of the biblical god. I see it as a kind of metaphor and justification for altruism.)

And you both don't take me wrong. When I write "I have more respect for A than B" it doesn't mean I'm in agreement with A, only that I find the way they arrived at their conclusion more sensible (I also have more sympathy for Sufism than I do for Wahabbism, but I'd rather lose an arm than become a sufi soon ;-)
Nelson: the premise is that "they" are Christians who believe in a Christianity that we would recognize as Christianity in any sense.

The premise I referred to was actually your assumption that "the bible is supposed to be THE source for objective morals", even for those who practice a selective reading of the Bible. That's not always true. Indeed, some just read what they want to read and turn an hypocritical blind eye on everything that annoys them, and on those I agree with you. But I'd dump them in the other category I listed earlier ("those who let scripture tell them what morality should be", to quote myself - whether these choose to accept the Bible in its totality or not.)

Some do it in a more critical way, they're the most interesting of the bunch, and the ones I've been talking about all along. And, since the discussion is about theologians (people who're supposed to reflect on biblical issues), I think their views are more worth considering here than the cafeteria cherry-picking Christians' you're thinking about - who often don't have any of their own.

what does Etty Hillesum's personal view of god have to do with this when that god clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity?

Because Hillesum was heavily influenced by Christian thought and thus can't easily be written off as a non-Christian thinker, because ideas evolve, and because one doesn't have to assume that a fundamentalist view of Christianity, based on a corpus of texts that weren't assembled before Constantine, is the only correct one (or one would have to assume that early Christians weren't true Christians as well.)

how does it undermine what i was saying about Christians who do what i described to

It doesn't really undermine it, I just think you over-generalized, and you did put different kinds of people in the same bag. What you described (cherry picking) can be done for different motives. That was my point.
They don't believe that they are using "their own moral intuitions" but that god has 'spoken' to them to 'know' what is proper.
Lately, it seems to me that religion and philosophy are just simmering in their own juices while science takes bigger and bigger chunks of reality away from their influence.
The difference between Spirit and religion is that whereas in Spirit All are Equal, in religion the dogma is that None are Equal! None are equal to those at the top the pyramid, none are equal to those on the second level except those at the top, none are equal to those at the next level down except those that are above, and so on to the bottom. It is important to note that all of the entities on the pyramid are males. Religion, therefore, is a fraud developed by the human male and only for the human male. Religions No. ! enemy, No. 1 target and No. 1 victim is the human female and their children.


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