Saturday, December 03, 2016

Tony And Shane's Adventures In Missing The Point

I am not sure how I missed this, The Evangelicalism of Old White Men Is Dead. Maybe because I generally don't have time to waste reading the New York Times, all the liberal news that's fit to print. Anyway, two noted non-partisans, Tony Campolo of Sojourners and Shane Claiborne, have declared that the evangelicalism of old, white men is dead. That might come as a surprise to many old, white male evangelicals who have and are and continue to serve Jesus Christ as their Lord and loving their neighbor as themselves.

Now there are some decent points being made in their editorial. It is absolutely true that evangelical Christianity is far too deeply embedded with Republican politics, even when those politics run counter to Biblical teaching (I would point to the love of all things militaristic in the GOP but not to declining to take from some by force to give to others). I have written a lot about that very issue. Unfortunately as is often the case with people like Tony and Shane, the diagnosis is one thing, the cure is another.

Here is one example:

As white male evangelists, we have no problem admitting that the future does not lie with us. It lies with groups like the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, led by Gabriel Salguero, or the Moral Monday movement, led by William Barber II, who has challenged the news media on its narrow portrayal of evangelicals. For decades, we have worked within evangelicalism to lift up the voices of these “other evangelicals.”

But we cannot continue to allow sisters and brothers who are leading God’s movement to be considered “other.” We are not confident that evangelicalism is a community in which younger, nonwhite voices can flourish. And we are not willing to let our faith be the collateral damage of evangelicalism.

Weird. I thought that the future lies with Jesus Christ and His people around the globe from every tribe, nation and tongue. I am not interested in being told that the future has no place for people like me by people who complain about people who don't look like me being described as "others". Which is it? Should we all seek to work together regardless of race or ethnicity to serve our Lord or should we replace one alleged system that divides the church based on race with another system that divides the church based on race? When Claiborne and Campolo laud an ethnicity identified group like the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, they get applauded by the readership of the New York Times or at least are given a bemused pat on the head. If I were to form a group and call it the National White Evangelical Coalition I would be branded a racist, a member of the "alt-right" and a likely reader of Breitbart. What is the difference? Many would say that evangelicalism has always been identified with whites and having a Latino branded group helps to give them a voice but I say that it is nothing less than ethnic identification that serves no purpose other than cementing the divide between the racial and ethnic communities in the church.

Here is another, emphasis mine.

We want to be clear: We are not suggesting a new kind of Christianity that simply backs the Democratic Party. Jesus is neither a Democrat nor a Republican — even if, as William Sloane Coffin Jr. once said, his heart leans left. Many faithful Christians did not vote for Hillary Clinton because of their commitment to a consistent pro-life agenda. True faith can never pledge allegiance to anything less than Jesus.

Did you catch that? Sure, we have to say that Jesus isn't conservative or liberal but we all know He is kind of liberal. If you can read the New Testament and come away with the impression that Jesus Christ was in favor of homosexual "marriage", the church subcontracting our calling to aid the poor to Caesar and his thugs, to abortion on demand, the replacement of worship of God as Creator with the creation as God, then one of us is reading the wrong way. There is nothing quite so sneaky as making a great show of being politically non-partisan while slipping in politically partisan statements. A lot of Christians didn't vote for Hillary Clinton because she was an unapologetic cheerleader for infanticide and on top of that every single policy proposal she put forward was bad for America. Notice also the dig at "a consistent pro-life agenda", which I assume is code for only accepting your reasons for voting against Hillary if your pro-life agenda includes more than abortion. I agree that it should but I also think that opposing someone for no other reason than her slavish devotion to the death cult called "Choice" is sufficient reason by itself. As I have said before, if your idea of social justice doesn't start with justice for the unborn, you have no idea what the word justice means.

Then there is this:

Next year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, one of the most significant moments in the history of Christianity. The reformers were navigating many of the same currents and contradictions that we face today. Perhaps we need a new reformation — one that invites Christians to return to the teachings of Jesus and offers our neighbors a truer vision of how he lived and moved in the world.

I suppose it would be in poor taste to point out that the Reformers were uniformly white men so I won't. Finally there is this:

The words of Jesus — which are printed in red in many Bibles — could not be more relevant today. Despite the terrible things done in the name of Jesus, a Christianity that stays true to his words has survived for 2,000 years. Maybe this is a moment in our history for evangelicals to repent and be “born again” again as Red Letter Christians.

There are few movements more arrogant than the "Red Letter Christian" movement, a movement which by their very name presumes that they and they alone are "truly" following the teachings of Christ, as if His teachings for the church are only found in the red letters and presuming further that only their decidedly leftist interpretation of very selective passages in red are correct. In fact with this final paragraph it becomes apparent that the entire op-ed is little more than a thinly veiled recruitment ad for their "progressive" "ministries". One of the sure signs of a cult is an assumption that they alone have a monopoly on truth and also a demonizing those who disagree with them. I am not saying that the Red Letter Christians are a cult but I am saying that if the shoe sort of fits.....

The calling of the church is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a Gospel that is not a "social gospel" of sexual libertinism, gender confusion and forcible income redistribution just as it is not a "gospel" of militarism, capital gains tax cuts and crony capitalism. Being born again is a theologically critical doctrine, one that ought not be clumsily hijacked to imply that the rest of the church needs to get on the social justice warrior bandwagon to save us from THE TRUMP. Being born again is not a shift of political allegiances or a change of racial identity politics, it is a completely unmaking of the old man (oops, that sounds patriarchal, the old person) into a new creation in Christ. The church will survive Donald Trump just as it has survived Barack Obama and would have survived Hillary Clinton. 

It is precisely the sort of identity politics being engaged in by Campolo and Claiborne that is decried by them in the editorial. Being old and white and male is bad, being a "person of color" and a woman is great. I am sure the irony is lost on them because they are every bit as intractably dogmatic as Jerry Falwell, Jr., a man who I have very little respect for. Telling people that identity politics are bad and then engaging in identity politics on the pages of the New York Times of all places is wantonly hypocritical and that is something else people catch on to pretty easily.

The real future of the church is found wherever Jesus Christ is declared to be Lord. Jesus is Lord in a church that is entirely white, led by old, white men. Jesus is Lord in a multi-ethnic church. Jesus is Lord in a predominantly black or Latino church. Jesus is Lord everywhere and for all time. Where His Holy Name is lifted up in love and in truth, there He is among them and there His church is found. Our Lord has His winnowing fork in His hand and the chaff is being separated from the wheat even now before our eyes. While some play identity politics and seek the bemused approval of man, the rest of the church has a mission to carry out.

No comments: