Today I give you this post from Chaplain Mike at internetmonk.com as evidence of why I could never be a liberal: As strong as the culture war impulse is in conservative Christianity, it is equally strong if not more so on the other side. Chaplain Mike recounts the experience of the ELCA in negotiating the issue of homosexuality; in its public statements it attempts a reasonable via media on this contentious issue yet in real life it faces tremendous internal strife between conservatives fleeing to groups which uphold more traditional forms of morality and liberals who feel that the denomination’s public pronouncements do not go far enough to suit their tastes.
This is precisely why I could never be a liberal. My approach to dealing with racial prejudice is to have a few black friends and just be chill about it, but that would never pass muster with the guardians of purity over on the left in today’s world of white privilege, white guilt and being “woke”. I believe that gays are human beings created in the image of God and people for whom Christ died, yet the statements cited by Chaplain Mike indicate that I clearly have a long way to go if I ever want to gain acceptance in the liberal world.
Today I wish to direct your attention to a post by Benjamin L. Corey entitled “How Christian Fundamentalism Is Making A Concerning Comeback In America“. It first appeared during the height of the 2016 election season yet now is just as poignant as ever, if not more so.
Christian fundamentalism first appeared a century ago. That movement was rooted in fear–fear of the then-new concept of evolution (replace evolution with gay marriage and you’ll be right where we are today), fear that the nation was growing too liberal and drifting from God and that it would all come crashing down if they didn’t take the nation forcibly back for God–you get the idea. But fundamentalism eventually drifted to the lunatic fringe and was supplanted by evangelicalism which sought a kinder, gentler approach to attaining many of the same goals as the fundamentalists.
Now here we are a century later and the fundamentalists are suddenly back with a vengeance. Much is happening in the current climate yet Corey notes 3 items of concern: Many Christians believe they are “losing” and are panicked as to what that means. Right-wing extremists who would otherwise have nothing to do with Christian fundamentalism, or Christianity for that matter, are joining the ranks and giving them critical mass. The leaders of this new fundamentalist movement are telling their followers that they have to do something right now.
When Christian fundamentalism faded into the shadows and focused on building arks and trying to debate scientists, there was little cause for concern and much cause for amusement.
But when those people get panicked? When they begin broadcasting their racism, xenophobia, and homophobia to the masses, and begin finding like-minded people to join them? When they have leaders traveling the country, fanning the flames of fear and warning them that this is their last chance to take control? When they’re no longer content to debate the legitimacy of the King James Version versus the NIV, but instead are focused on how to control the Supreme Court?
Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I’d keep my eye on.
Today I direct your attention to a post by Morgan Guyton, a college pastor in New Orleans, Louisiana. Guyton blogs at Mercy Not Sacrifice.
Guyton’s post is about how the Neo-Calvinist universe handles doubt. His starting point is an article that recently appeared on the Desiring God website, he doesn’t link it because he doesn’t want to subsidize their pageviews (understandable) but I will. The author’s big idea is that doubt is dishonoring to God; a certain amount of doubt is acceptable early on in one’s Christian existence but one is expected to quickly grow out of it. The proper response to doubt is not to coddle it or to make any allowance for it but to make war against it.
Guyton objects on psychological grounds. The author marshaled a whole succession of proof-texts in support of his notion of the proper response to doubt, but his very approach is based on an 18th century Enlightenment, rationalistic view of how the human mind works. If doubts are giving you trouble it is because you have faulty programming inside your mind. Just reprogram it with the right Bible verses and your doubts will all magically disappear.
You and I both know that that is not how it works. Life is a very messy thing and the vast majority of the troubles we face cannot be solved by just throwing Bible verses at them. As humans, we are not rational creatures but instead creatures who rationalize. Thus the cure for doubt is not Bible verses but instead lived grace and graciousness within a community where said doubts can be safely expressed, that can give us the strength to carry on even with our doubts.
Read: Doubt and Neo-Calvinist Psychology by Morgan Guyton
Today I wish to direct your attention to a feature at Christianity Today on Rachel Denhollander, the first of disgraced doctor Larry Nassar’s victims to come forward and the last to give her impact statement at his trial. The piece includes a lengthy interview with Denhollander in which she discusses her ordeal and how it affected her faith.
Denhollander’s statement drew significant attention in evangelical circles because it included an offer of forgiveness to Nassar. Yet this was couched within the larger context of a plea for justice and repentance, which went largely unnoticed in the evangelical world. This is one of the failings of evangelicalism with respect to sexual abuse: Forgiveness is all that is discussed, as if the only thing that matters is the victim’s ability/willingness to forgive. Little if any attention is given to justice or repentance on the part of the perpetrator. The Sovereign Grace scandal was an example of this par excellence as many Neo-Reformed heavyweights rallied to the defense of C. J. Mahaney with no calls whatsoever for justice or repentance on his part.
Read: My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness
Today I wish to direct your attention to a piece by Charles Featherstone entitled “Conversion Stories“.
The dominant narrative in evangelicalism regarding conversion is that you make a decision to receive Jesus Christ into your life. Life breaks cleanly into two separate compartments at that point of decision: A time of darkness and sin before you knew Christ and the time during which you knew Christ, when all is light and peace and clarity, sunshine and roses. But for some people that conversion narrative just doesn’t fit. For some people the moment of “decision” is a time when Jesus says “Follow me” and you have no choice in the matter. For some people following Jesus does not lead to light and peace and clarity, but only to darkness, confusion, and trouble. Yet you keep following just the same.
Jesus doesn’t ask us softly and tenderly. He comes up to us — at least some of us — and smacks us across the side of the head, strikes us blind, and commands “follow me,” after which we leave everything and follow Jesus. There’s no please, no request, just a demand that we cannot say no to. And we leave everything to follow Jesus.
Today I wish to direct your attention to a post on Rachel Held Evans’ blog from a couple of years back. She begins with a well-known story from Genesis in which Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham goes through with it, but God intervenes at the last moment to spare Isaac. A ram caught in a nearby thicket was sacrificed instead.
Abraham passed this test, proving himself faithful by not holding back even his firstborn son. But how many of us would have failed this test?
This story is deeply troubling to anyone with even an ounce of conscience. Yet there it is. Those who set themselves up as defenders of the Almighty argue that whatever God orders, we have no business questioning it because He is God. “It is right for God to slaughter women and children anytime He pleases…God is God!” “Take your emotions out of it. Don’t let your sense of justice be clouded by the man-centered humanism of our modernistic, relativistic culture.” “It is not for you to elevate yourself to the place of God and pass judgment on His ways. God is God. You worship God because He is God!”
God is love, yet those who argue thusly would say in essence that in reality God is power, because God gets to define love however He pleases and it is not for us to question. Even if such love looks nothing like what we would consider love. Even if it looks like rape or abuse or genocide or child sacrifice.
If that is so, then everything is relativized. Our moral compass is rendered completely unreliable.
RHE goes on to give several examples of people of strong religious conviction who nevertheless defied the rules–or found creative ways to work around them–for the sake of love. She comes around at the end to the idea that the real test is not whether you would drive the knife through your child’s heart, as Abraham was poised to do with Isaac, but whether you would refuse.
Read: I would fail Abraham’s test (and I bet you would too) by Rachel Held Evans
Today I wish to direct your attention to Warren Throckmorton. Throckmorton is a psychology professor at Grove City College, and was one of the leading advocates of “sexual reorientation” or “reparative therapy”, which basically sought to turn gays straight. But as he looked at the scientific evidence and at the harm that was being done to people, he turned against it.
Throckmorton is part of a deeper and growing trend in evangelicalism nowadays, an increasing number of people who are coming to hold scientific truth and Bible truth together in tension, and live to tell about it to college classes. You can read a profile of Throckmorton and his journey here.