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Good Morning Nanty Glo!


Wednesday, April 27 2005
Jon Kennedy, webmaster

'Liberal' evangelicals

On one hand, "the Christian right," the left's favorite pejorative label for the "back to godliness" movement I often advocate, has been in the news for decades, back to and beyond the "Silent Majority" invoked by Richard Nixon in 1969. But on the other hand, it seems to have emerged in new strength and public visibility through the 2004 Presidential elections, and to have been recently bolstered by the outpouring of emotion and "values clarifying" self-examination attending the judicial killing of Terri Schiavo, the passing of Pope John Paul II, and the subsequent selection of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to succeed him. Even those of us who are not Roman Catholic have been inundated by the far-more-than-usual discussion of first principles and their defense—or their advocated dismantling—that has occurred through the course of these events. One proof of the claim that a breakthrough has taken place for the "Christian right" in recent months is that now for the first time in my memory the mass media can generally use the word "evangelical" without mis-stating it as "evangelism" or some other distortion of the adjective that covers the majority of America's non-Catholic professors of Christianity, almost all of whom have conservative social leanings.

Another evidence of the breakthrough is that now for the first time, instead of pitting evangelical or fundamentalist conservative Protestants against the old mainline liberal Protestants, more and more media and Democratic politicos are trying to find "liberal evangelicals" to bolster their claims that not all Christians oppose the liberal social agenda. This is a tacit admission that theologically liberal Christianity (with its acceptance of skepticism about everything supernatural about religion) hardly qualifies for the title "Christian" at all. Exhibit A in the quest to find "evangelical liberals" to endorse Democratic planks has been Jim Wallis, who emerged in the days of the "Jesus People Revival" of the 1970s as a pacifist advocating "progressive" (socialistic) government programs but who maintains a "high view" of the Bible as God's Word in written form and accepts evangelical rather than liberal interpretations of most of it. Thus far, Wallis seems to be the only articulate "liberal evangelical" the media can find, because he pops up everywhere these days. Finding politically liberal Catholics (even "pro-abortion nuns") and, of course, both politically and theologically liberal mainline Protestants, isn't as big a challenge.

The "liberal evangelical" critique of the Christian right always begins by saying abortion and "gay rights" are not the only social issues that should concern Christians. Next, it's always: What about poverty? What about justice in the workplace and affordable medical insurance for all Americans? And they usually throw in their pious opinion that allows no kind of justifiable international warfare or any government use of capital punishment.

Though all Christians, in our calling to be our brothers' keepers and good neighbors to all, are conscience-bound to be concerned about justice in every sphere of life, the Scriptures are hardly specific about what role governments should play in management-labor conflicts, medical insurance, and gainful employment for all. It's much easier to establish that Scriptures support governments going to war and executing murderers than it is that Scriptures mandate government welfare programs and socialized medicine. So here the "evangelical liberals" are found wanting.

And here I'll take up exploring a more detailed explanation next time.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Up against the wall

Father O'Malley walks into a pub in Donegal, and says to the first man he meets, "Do you want to go to heaven?" The man said, "I do Father." The priest said, "Then stand over there against the wall."

Then the priest asked the second man, "Do you want to got to heaven?" "Certainly, Father," was the man's reply. "Then stand over there against the wall," said the priest.

Then Father Murphy walked up to O'Toole and said, "Do you want to go to heaven?" O'Toole said, "No, I don't, Father." The priest said, "I don't believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don't want to go to heaven?" O'Toole said, "Oh, when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now."


Thought for today

Hard it is, very hard,
To travel up the slow and stony road
To Calvary, to redeem mankind; far better
To make but one resplendent miracle,
Lean through the cloud, lift the right hand of power
And with a sudden lightning smite the world perfect.
Yet this was not God's way, Who had the power,
But set it by, choosing the cross, the thorn,
The sorrowful wounds.
Something there is, perhaps,
That power destroys in passing, something supreme,
To whose great value in the eyes of God
That cross, that thorn, and those five wounds bear witness.

Dorothy Sayers  

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