Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (5)

urban-public-ed-failure-reading-chart

This figure shows the utter failure of public education in large U.S. cities.  Note that the displayed percentages are of students who are not proficient in reading.

What Should be Done?

I certainly don’t expect Progressive individuals and organizations to embrace conservative ideas for welfare reform.  However, even this position doesn’t preclude the finding of common ground.  For example, the Progressive community could say something like this:

“While we believe that conservative ideas on welfare reform are fundamentally flawed, we yet agree that the current set of welfare policies has not achieved their intended results.  In fact, on numerous key measures of well-being the beneficiaries of welfare have significantly digressed over the past decades.  Therefore, we will support an open discussion on what has gone wrong and why.  From there we will support an open debate on the reforms necessary to correct past mistakes and increase the likelihood of future success.”

The tragic truth is that virtually no one finds this imagined statement by our Progressive elites to be in the slightest credible.  This is because their power rests on the false assumption of their intellectual and moral superiority. Thus they cannot survive if they ever admit to have been wrong.  Not surprisingly then, what we have observed is retreat into reactionary positions from which any criticism of the Welfare State or proposal for welfare/education reform is viciously attacked.  When “welfare reform” was passed in the 1990s the Progressive community pulled out all the stops to retard and ultimately reverse this initiative.  The Progressive community continues to be opposed to “school choice” even though a majority of disadvantaged parents support it.

In the 1960s and 70s Mainline denominational leadership tied itself to the secular Progressive movement as the vehicle for positive social change.  We can legitimately debate the wisdom of this decision within context of what was known at that time.  However, from the 1980s on it has become progressively more clear that the Great Society and associated policies have had the opposite effect of those claimed to be intended by their supporters.

We Mainline Christians must seriously ask ourselves what we really are accomplishing by our continuing support of these destructive social policies.  If we want an endless supply of people in poor and oppressed communities as recipients of our charity then by all means continue on.  In that direction lies the continued affirmation of a godless elite class who value us only to the extent that we slavishly uphold their power and follow their political line.  In that case Jesus’ words should burn in our souls.

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Matthew 6:1, 2 (NIV)

If we want to actually improve the lives of the people trapped in these communities then we must open our hearts and minds to the concept of reforms that challenge the current Progressive orthodoxy.  In that direction lies suffering, as we will be subjected to the full force of hatred that holds current policies in place.  We will be called terrible names.  Our motives will be attacked.  Our Christian faith will be denigrated.  Everything will be done that can be to make the world consider us pariahs.  But if we reject their power to destroy we may actually through God’s grace find new paths that lead towards renewal and hope.

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:18-27 (ESV)

 

Christianity’s Contemporary Headwinds (2)

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Twitter personality Titania McGrath (left) is really Andrew Doyle (right).

There is another person, Andrew Doyle, who has earned my high regard.  However, whereas Dr. McClay’s work is in the scholarly domain, Mr. Doyle’s is in bareknuckled satire through his ingenious Twitter creation, Titania McGrath.  That said, Mr. Doyle is a serious man who has obtained a deep and well rounded education.

Mr. Doyle is a man with whom I could enjoy long discussion on points of agreement and disagreement.  He is utterly committed to the concept of free speech, which makes him an ally on one of the most important issues of our time.  Therefore, the following criticisms are not intended to undermine his overall position, but rather to illuminate the  power of Christianity’s headwinds.

The source for this discussion is a long interview with the American Mind.  There is obviously much more of interest in this interview than I will here discuss.  My entry point is where Mr. Doyle (A.D.) is asked by the interviewer  (S.K.) about the “religious” nature of woke ideology.

S.K. That’s something I’d like to ask you more about: this mode of gaining power. On the one hand you suggested that there might be a strategy behind it, but you’ve also compared it to a kind of religion, as we have done also here at The American Mind. Which would suggest a more unconscious impulse, less than an explicit strategy.

A.D. Yes, that’s the theme of Tom Holland’s last book, Dominion. Holland makes that point that in the absence of Christianity, there’s something instinctive about finding these belief systems. And it does have the same hallmarks: it has the aspect of original sin, the Augustinian concept of original sin which now comes in through whiteness, or being heterosexual—having these immutable characteristics that make you a sinner. And then you’ve got the heresy concept, the idea that anyone who doesn’t think the right things is a heretic who needs to be cancelled, and then you get the metaphor of cancel culture, which is a lot like witch hunting, and burning people at the stake as the Inquisition might have done.

And of course so much of the theorizing behind woke ideas is based on entirely unsubstantiated, faith-based positions. They believe in unconscious bias, and institutional power structures—things that you can’t quantify or put your finger on that just sort of exist in the ether like spirits. And to ask them to prove any of these positions is to simply get the response that well, they do exist because we know they do. Which is what a religious zealot would say.

So I think that certainly the best way to understand the social justice movement is to see it as a cult. Because then it all makes sense, and it also makes sense why they’re able to behave so barbarically toward those who don’t subscribe to their belief system. Because the hallmark of many religions is tolerance to a degree. And then where things start going wrong, where witches start getting burned at the stake and heretics start getting executed is where that tolerance runs out. And I think that’s what happened here: the social justice movement is a fundamentally intolerant movement. And fundamentally illiberal. There’s nothing liberal about it.

To accept this discussion as an accurate commentary on the Christian religion one would have to assume that Christianity as practiced in the 17th century has continued unchanged into the 21st century!  I must ask Mr. Doyle when was the most recent “witch hunting” activity conducted under the auspices of a Western Christian denomination?  When was the most recent trial of a heretic?  If Mr. Doyle wishes to claim that 21st century woke ideology shares some of the worst aspects of 17th century Christianity then we may be able to find common ground.  But this is not his contention, which is odd for a man of such clear intellectual power and educational achievement.

Mr. Doyle then proceeds to explain the “totalizing system” that is capable of defeating wokeness in the absence of Christianity.

S.K. … do you think there is some other, more healthy totalizing system through which we can view the world? Something that can defeat and take the place of wokeness?

A.D. Yes, I’d call it liberalism. And I mean that in the classical sense of the word. The best way to build a humane society is from the liberal position: everyone is free to say and do whatever they want to do, to identify however they want to identify, to live their lives as they want, so long as it does not encroach on the freedoms of others. And that strikes me as the most sensible solution to anything.

So if you take the trans debate, the liberal position is that anyone has the right to do to their bodies whatever they want, to call themselves whatever they want, but they have no right to demand that others would use the language that they would like them to use. It has to be about individual freedom, and that strikes me as the best way to run a society.

Firstly, I’d argue that a better term for Mr. Doyle’s position is “libertarian.”  Be that as it may, one might erroneously conclude that “classical liberalism” arrived ex nihilo into Western Civilization.  In point of fact “classical liberalism” arose uniquely in a Western Civilization dominated by Christianity.  I am not here claiming that “classical liberalism” is a Christian ideology.  However, I am claiming that “classical liberalism” depended on the existence of  Western Christianity for its birth and persistence.  Only the fact that Christianity has receded in Western Civilization allows us to erroneously assume otherwise.

My point is this: Even a man of impeccable intelligence and learning such as Mr. Doyle is able, knowingly or not, to assume that “classical liberalism” exists independently from Western Christianity.  This assumption undermines the rightful place that Christianity holds as the means by which a humane theory for civilizational organization originated and grew.  By this error our “classical liberal” friends neglect their natural allies in the existential battle with totalitarian evil.

Christianity’s Contemporary Headwinds (1)

ship-headwinds

In the previous post I briefly discussed the cultural forces against which contemporary Western Christianity struggles.  Generally, what comes to mind are those people and institutions that aggressively attack Christianity out of ideological and/or personal hatred.  From my perspective the most effective opposition to Christianity has originated not from the pagan/atheistic/multicultural outside, but rather from the institutional Christian inside.  This concern has led to innumerable blog posts and ultimately to an eBook.

There is another identifiable group who, while not overtly opposing and sometimes clearly admiring Christianity, yet create headwinds against which it must struggle.  I have not previously commented on this group, the one minor exception being the profound meditation by Wilfred M. McClay on “The Strange Persistence of Guilt.”  Anyone familiar with my blogging and books knows that I have the highest regard for Professor McClay’s essay, as I consider it to be one of the most insightful and important of recent years.  However, even within this great admiration I yet voiced a brief but significant criticism of his perspective.

What Dr. McClay may not understand, and many of our denominational leaders certainly do not understand, is that Christianity’s power for advancing the social good is a consequence of actual, real belief. And, without that real belief as a first thing, Christianity can’t be anything more than a derivative, inefficient and unreliable vehicle for social change.
It is only through real belief in Christianity’s foundational truths made available to flesh and blood people that there is any hope for humane social change.

I was here responding to this section near the end of Dr. McClay’s essay (emphasis added).

What is to be done? One conclusion seems unavoidable. Those who have viewed the obliteration of religion, and particularly of Judeo-Christian metaphysics, as the modern age’s signal act of human liberation need to reconsider their dogmatic assurance on that point. Indeed, the persistent problem of guilt may open up an entirely different basis for reconsidering the enduring claims of religion. Perhaps human progress cannot be sustained without religion, or something like it, and specifically without something very like the moral economy of sin and absolution that has hitherto been secured by the religious traditions of the West.

Clearly Dr. McClay is here viewing Christianity from the perspective of its utilitarian impact on Western Civilization.  That is, rather than embracing Christianity itself he speaks about its positive impact on Western Civilization’s development.  Christianity isn’t a power for good because it’s the Truth about God and His purposes for humanity.  Rather we need Christianity “or something like it” to adequately deal with humanity’s “persistent problem of guilt.”

Dr. McClay is no enemy of Christianity.  For all I know he may be a Christian himself.  My point is that, by treating Christianity as something less than what it ultimately is he undermines the very foundation upon which he hopes to rebuild Western Civilization.  Thus, even in this most powerful meditation on the issues of sin and guilt whose persistence has driven our culture nearly mad, Dr. McClay adds to the headwinds against which Christianity must struggle.  This is part and parcel of the civilizational tragedy that continues to unfold before our tearful eyes.

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (2)

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Title: Psalm 11:3 (NIV)

Even were Western Christianity strong it would find itself struggling against the overwhelming tide of secular opposition.  Our mass culture is saturated with messages critical of organized religion in general and Christianity in particular.  Our educational institutions are dominated by a shallow scientism that pushes all questions to the materialist domain.  Our concepts of morality are increasingly sourced from a kaleidoscope of contemporary ideologies created by aggressive political activists.  And perhaps most significantly, anyone claiming Christian belief is held to the ultimate standards of that faith, thus exposing them to the apparently credible charge of hypocrisy.

So, I do credit Nietzsche for his prophetic insight that God had died as a foundational concept for Western Civilization’s morality.  I also give credit for his fearful premonitions of what would happen when the full effects of this moral void were felt.  One can only shudder when surveying the terrors visited upon Europe in the 20th century.

The nature of those terrors were predicted by another genius of the late 19th century, Fyodor Dostoevsky in his novel The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

“If God does not exist, everything is permitted.”

This idea was put into practice in the 20th century’s total war, genocides and totalitarian terror states.  It continues to animate the 21st century Progressive project of Intersectionality, abortion and Marxism.

However, this entire edifice of nihilism is built on the unproven assumption that God is a human creation.  The alternative is that God is real and exists utterly independently from human belief.  More particularly, that this objectively real God has chosen to reveal His nature and purposes through the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, that is, the Christian Bible.

This alternative likely seems nonsense to many in the younger cohort of Americans (i.e., Gen. X, Millennial and Gen. Z).  After all, they have been raised in the Progressive dominated mass media, education and political era.  Thus their exposure to the idea of God outside of a church is saturated with contempt for a figment of the ignorant or hateful human imagination.  For many who were raised in a church the prevailing attitude had little power to oppose godlessness and too often reinforced it.

The question thus arises: Is there a Book of the Bible that can testify afresh to generations permeated by ideologies of the Progressive era?  Many candidates come to mind, with one of the four Gospels seeming a natural answer.  Although I would never discourage anyone from reading these direct commentaries on the life and purposes of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I also wonder if they only indirectly address the specific intellectual barriers to faith.  Anything from the Old Testament seems right out given the impediments raised by time and culture.  It must be said that God’s Holy Spirit cannot be denied any means by which to bring broken sinners to faith.

Were I to choose one Book by which to challenge the prevailing contemporary ideologies of disbelief it must be the Romans Epistle.  No other Book so explicitly and methodically excavates the layers of human need for the Gospel down to the very foundation.  No other book is written to an audience as cosmopolitan and multicultural as were the citizens of Rome.  And no other Book addressed a congregation more oppressed by the ideologies of power and prestige as those living in the seat of power for the great Roman Empire.

So, if Western Christianity is going to reestablish its credibility as a source of God’s Good News then a great place to start is in the Romans Epistle.

 

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (1)

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Title: Psalm 11:3 (NIV)

We live in a contemporary world where Christian faith for many has become not difficult, but rather incomprehensible.  When in 1882 Friedrich Nietzsche had the perception to notice and the courage to say that “God is dead,” he was commenting on a civilizational process that, while then hidden, was already well established. 

“God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How can we console ourselves, the murderers of all murderers! The holiest and the mightiest thing the world has ever possessed has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood from us? With what water could we clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what holy games will we have to invent for ourselves? Is the magnitude of this deed not too great for us? Do we not ourselves have to become gods merely to appear worthy of it?”  [The Gay Science, Section 125]

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides necessary assistance in interpreting this assertion (references have been removed).

… his doubts about the viability of Christian underpinnings for moral and cultural life are not offered in a sunny spirit of anticipated liberation, nor does he present a sober but basically confident call to develop a secular understanding of morality; instead, he launches the famous, aggressive and paradoxical pronouncement that “God is dead.” The idea is not so much that atheism is true— … he depicts this pronouncement arriving as fresh news to a group of atheists—but instead that because “the belief in the Christian God has become unbelievable”, everything that was “built upon this faith, propped up by it, grown into it”, including “the whole of our European morality”, is destined for “collapse.” Christianity no longer commands society-wide cultural allegiance as a framework grounding ethical commitments, and thus, a common basis for collective life that was supposed to have been immutable and invulnerable has turned out to be not only less stable than we assumed, but incomprehensibly mortal—and in fact, already lost.

We tend to focus on the contention of God’s loss as a foundation for Western Civilization’s morality.  But when we read his prophetic words again there is something even more subversive at play.  Nietzsche is here claiming that, to the extent that God ever lived, it was entirely due to our belief.  That is, we have the power to kill God because He is our creation.

If we wish to understand why contemporary Western Christianity is so irrelevant then this is one key.  We see this assumption at work in the Mainline denominations where “Christianity” is used as just another means by which to advance a secular and godless political ideology.  In the Catholic Church, what but a disbelief in God’s existence can explain the powerful and persistent clique of pederasty in its clergy? There is virtually no “fear of God” left in the Western Church, be it in the leadership or many in the pews.  For how can we “fear” something that we have created and that thus has lost its power to demand our allegiance?

 

The Travail of the United Methodist Church (3)

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The Methodist Church to Split

Chicago Tribune Article

If you read the Chicago Tribune you’d be forgiven for thinking that the United Methodist Church (UMC) has worked our an amicable plan to split.  The article in question is titled “United Methodist churches that oppose gay marriage and clergy will break away, form new religion: ‘We came to an impasse that can’t be bridged’” was published on January 3.

The article’s title is one that only someone ignorant and/or vicious could have written.  The reason it’s so long is to highlight this cruel hit statement: “United Methodist churches that oppose gay marriage and clergy will break away, form new religion.”  Note that it is those churches who oppose gay marriage who are “breaking away” to “form a new religion.”  A new religion?!  So “real” Christianity supports gay marriage and thus those in opposition need to form a “new religion” distinct from Christianity!?  The mind boggles.  Perhaps long time readers will recall this figure from my April 13, 2015 post.

Gay-Marriage-US-Denom

All Christian denomination membership in the United States (left) vs. membership of denominations who oppose gay marriage (right).

The reason for this result is that Christianity has from its founding by Jesus Christ Himself defined marriage as between a man and a woman.  The “new religion” being founded is by the Progressives and its certainly post-Christian if not yet overtly pagan.

Now that we’re past the awful title, here’s the core information from the Chicago Tribune article.

The separation plan calls for the creation of a “traditionalist Methodist denomination” that will be distinct from the UMC. While the new denomination, which has yet to be named, will continue to practice the ban on gay marriage and clergy, the UMC will begin the process of removing restrictive language from its bylaws.

Recall that it was the “traditionalist Methodists” (i.e., oppose gay marriage) who won at the last world-wide denominational conference.  And yet the Tribune article says it is this winning group who are expected to exit the UMC.

UMC Pastor Post

However, it’s not as simple as the Chicago Tribune article leads you to believe.  I recently found a post written by a UMC pastor that is likely far closer to the truth, and also deeply troubling.  The author is Donald Sensing.

To begin, the document (called the Protocol by this author) upon which the Tribune article is based in not a statement of official policy.  It is rather a working document that proposes a specific solution.

In fact, nothing has been decided and no actual actions have been taken to split the UMC. That a split is nearly certain to come before this summer is not much in doubt. But what the details will be no one can predict.

The UMC’s only body that can determine policy denomination-wide is the General Conference. Presided over by bishops, who can speak to issues but may not vote, the GC convenes once per four years and does not exist in between. It will convene again on May 5. The “gay issue” will certainly be the priority matter. Voting delegates come from the church’s conferences, which is what the UMC calls dioceses. The number of delegates is fixed; how many come from each conference is based on their membership number. Delegates per conference must be both laity and clergy.

Pastor Sensing has low expectations for the to be formed “Traditionalist” and “Progressive” UMC denominations.

The UM Right has been defining itself mainly by its opposition to the UM Left. Once the divorce is finalized, then what? They do not yet know and it will be conflict-riven to find out. It will splinter the traditionalists’ merely-apparent monolith a lot. Purity codes inherent in religious conservatism will be fought over and will be their own source of energetic dissension. Unity there will not be.

Progressives, whether religious or political simply must have an enemy. There is always an oppressor who must be subdued, always and -ism to be overcome, always a class war that must be fought.

So, after a fully-progressive UM church is formed there will be a period of sweetness and light, and then the in-fighting will begin, then the purges will begin. The only way forward will be ever-more leftward (see: Democrat party). No one will count the casualties because Leftism has never cared about casualties, either literal or figurative. The Left has its own purity codes, too, and enforces them at least as vigorously as the Right does.

As has always happened when the Left attains power, a self-appointed revolutionary vanguard will cement its position and focus primarily on retaining control. The Progressive UM church will become effectively a social-justice-driven political party that uses religious language.

I hope that Pastor Sensing is proved to be too pessimistic.  In any case the UMC is likely to find itself in a travail at least as painful as the PCUSA, and perhaps much worse.  These are just specific instances of our nation’s disintegration into tribalism.

May God have mercy on the UMC, the PCUSA and the United States.

Clarity about What Divides Us: Biblical Authority

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The Authority of Scripture

Every once in a while I come across a book or article that provides substantial clarification regarding those things that divide us.  One of these is an article published in Theology Matters by Robert P. Mills titled “The Priority of Authority: Holy Scripture and Human Sexuality.”  Rev. Mills openes his article by paraphrasing a common claim made by Progressive Christians that:

“We all agree on the authority of Scripture. We just disagree about interpretation.”

Rev. Mills’ contention is that this claim is false.  My own paraphrase of his position is that “Because we fundamentally disagree on the authority of Scripture we therefore also fundamentally disagree on its interpretation.”

Rev. Mills develops his argument in three areas, those being:

Part 1, Authority and Humanity, will discuss the nature of authority, contexts in which authority is exercised, the human need for authority both individually and collectively, and the decline of authority in Western culture.

Part 2, Authority and Scripture, will start with the doctrine of revelation then look at what the Bible says about authority. It will then consider the nature of Scripture’s authority, giving special attention to the loss of authority that has come with liberalism’s denial of God as the Author of Scripture, and to the loss of Christian community that has resulted from this denial.

Part 3, Authority and Interpretation, will explain why and how evangelical Christians can and must uphold the historic Christian understanding of the nature and function of authority in general and the authority of Scripture in particular. It will conclude with a constructive proposal for reuniting the authority of Scripture with the interpretation of Scripture, with specific reference to current conversations in mainline Protestant denominations concerning human sexuality.

It should go without saying that “you should read the whole thing.”  However, if this isn’t possible here are the key clarifying passages.

With regard to “Part 1: Authority and Humanity,” this quote well summarizes our contemporary situation.

The prevailing understanding of many in the mainline seems to be that the individual is the ultimate authority in any and all matters of faith and practice, whether the issue is the interpretation of Scripture or the ordination of church leaders. This is the flight Jeffrey Stout describes as being from authority to autonomy.

Yes, this is precisely the claim of ultimate personal autonomy that underlies Progressive Christian arguments.

With regard to “Part 2: Authority and Scripture,”  the following excerpt is of critical importance.

Anyone who has been even tangentially involved in discussions of Scripture with liberals recognizes that there are those in our congregations and denominations who refuse to recognize the authority of Scripture precisely because they refuse to recognize God as its author. There are those in positions of leadership in our congregations, governing bodies, denominations, and seminaries who quite casually declare that the Bible is entirely of human origin; that the Bible is a record of human efforts to reach out and touch “the divine” and that the Bible may not, indeed must not, be considered God’s revelation of himself to his human creation.

Calvin reminds us that Scripture is our authority for Christian faith and life because God is the ultimate author of Scripture. Scripture derives its authority from its author—God.

This is to where the Confession of 1967 pointed.  And we have arrived at the intended destination where each individual human is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture:

Deconstructionists dogmatically declare that any written work—whether a student essay, the U.S. Constitution, or the Bible—means only what the reader, never what the writer, thinks it means. As a result, any written work may have as many meanings as it has readers, even if the meanings are contradictory. Similarly, a single reader may assign a different meaning to a text every time he reads it.

With regard to “Part 3: Authority and Interpretation,” the Rev. Mills connects the crisis of Scriptural interpretation to the Progressive demand for ultimate personal autonomy.

By rigidly separating interpretation from revelation, liberalism attempts to relocate authority from God as the author of Scripture to each individual who reads Scripture. Uncritically accepting the deconstructionist dogma that there is no such thing as “authorial intent,” that it is impossible to convey an intended meaning to a reader, liberalism insists that there is no authority higher than the individual, which is, of course, the definition of autonomy.

Near the article’s end the Rev. Mills states the ultimate point of conflict that divides the Progressive (liberal) and orthodox camps.

Liberals cannot accept the authority of Scripture because it would supersede their authority to impose their views … To put it bluntly, if God is the ultimate authority, liberals are not. And for liberals openly to acknowledge that reality would be to acknowledge that the beliefs and practices they propose constitute a counterfeit Christianity.

The authority of Scripture and the interpretation of those passages of Scripture that deal with human sexuality cannot be separated. That is because the rejection of the authority of Scripture and the embrace of sexual behaviors that Scripture calls sin share the same root causes: the desire of individuals for ultimate autonomy; the consequent rejection of God’s authority as a constructive good; the willful yielding to the serpent’s temptation, “You will be like God.”

Can there be any greater proof of interpretation of Scripture from the position of ultimate human autonomy than the recent PCUSA debate on the definition of Christian Marriage?  In the 24,000+ words written in Rationales supporting same-gender marriage I find only three direct references to Scripture (i.e., text with chapter and verse) and Jesus Christ is not quoted even once. If actual Scripture is so utterly ignored then what is the nature of Rationale text in which Scripture is discussed? It is the authors telling us what they believe Scripture teaches, often in the most general and/or selective terms, without the slightest attempt at demonstration.  So completely have they internalized the idea of interpretation from human autonomy that they don’t even pretend that Scripture has authority over their opinions or beliefs.

The issue that now confronts us is fundamental to our identity as Christians saved and beloved by a sovereign Triune God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  To reject this God as Scripture’s Author and thus to remove Scripture’s authority from this God will lead only to despair and destruction.  If we fail to stand on this ground there will be no end to the apostasy we will be demanded to embrace, and to which we will eventually succumb.

The U.S. Christian Church in Crisis

us-flag-bible

religious-USThe United States will remain a Christian majority nation for the foreseeable future.  However the Pew Research Center predicts that over the forty years between 2010 and 2050 the proportion of Christians will fall from over three-fourths (78.3%) to barely two-thirds (66.4%).  Of this predicted 12 percentage point drop over 9 points will be due to the growth of “Unaffiliated” to more than a quarter of the nation’s population (from 16.4% to 26.6%).

However, it’s possible that the change in Christianity’s nature will dwarf its change in numbers.  Anyone who has been reading this blog can’t miss my documentation of the PCUSA’s transformation from a denomination that was recognizably Christian to one that is at best led by post-Christian if not pagans.  Of course many solid Christians and churches remain in the PCUSA, but they represent a shrinking minority.

Other Protestant denominations are also being challenged by the dominant secular culture. For example, the United Methodist Church is currently being riven by the same issues associated with gay ordination and marriage that split the PCUSA.

Another visible instance is the  Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran church in San Francisco CA. This church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a Mainline denomination that is in “full communion” with the PCUSA. This means that these denominations can share clergy and officially claim a “common calling.”   The following excerpt (misspelling not corrected) is one of many radical statements that have been pulled from the herchurch website. The photograph that accompanied this text is included, though the caption is by this author.

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This photograph from the herchurch web site shows a young lady (face hidden for privacy) holding a version of the neopagan Spiral Goddess among other non-Christian statues.

Embodying the Goddess

The liturgy, community and ministry of the congregation reflects diverse thealogical works and voices hoping to be a part of the prophetic voice of the divine feminine that will deconstruct Christianity and other patriarchal religions so that both a new paradigm and worldview may emerge that truly creates an egalitarian, just, society and eco-sensitivies that tend to mending the web of life.

Many Christians, even those who are a part of the progressive movement, often question the congregation’s Goddess focus. But more important are the voices of persons who had felt alienated and isolated by the church prior to learning about the work of herchurch. Pastor Stacy and the congregation who are embodying the Goddess are convinced that the nature of the sacred and divine presented in feminist-inclusive understandings can and will help facilitate a caring culture.

Perhaps the most radical denomination at this point is the Episcopal Church.  For example, “The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church”  preached a stunning sermon on Acts 16:16-2.  In it the Most Reverend Jefferts Schori commented thusly on the Apostle Paul’s exorcism of a demon possessed girl:

But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.  Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.  It gets him thrown in prison.  That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!

There you have it!  The concept of Christian inclusion means that a demon possessed girl’s spirituality is likely of a higher quality than that of the Apostle Paul’s!

Even the supposedly conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has recently accepted “critical race theory and intersectionality” as “analytical tools” to be used in fostering racial reconciliation in the church. As discussed in this article excerpt, the resolution in question had been completely changed from one opposing these ideological tools to one in support and then rushed to a vote without due debate. This event should be a big Red Flag to orthodox Christians in the SBC.

In the original resolution, the language condemns critical race theory and intersectionality in no uncertain terms:

“critical race theory and intersectionality are founded upon unbiblical presuppositions descended from Marxist theories and categories, and therefore are inherently opposed to the Scriptures as the true center of Christian union…both critical race theory and intersectionality as ideologies have infiltrated some Southern Baptist churches and institutions—institutions funded by the Cooperative Program…critical race theory upholds postmodern relativistic understandings of truth and…divides humanity into groups of oppressors and oppressed, and is used to encourage biblical, transcendental truth claims to be considered suspect when communicated from groups labeled as oppressors.”

Clearly, all such condemnatory language was struck, and the “analytical tools” were held up and codified as “useful” by the committee so long as they were subordinate to the Bible. Put simply, Feinstein’s original resolution—condemning these philosophies—was transformed by the committee to endorse them.

Thus no Protestant Christian denomination is immune from this assault of deception, subversion and seduction.

The Catholic Church is experiencing an existential crisis in the area of sexual morality.  As state Attorney Generals have become more aggressive in pursuing sexually deviant Catholic clergy it has become undeniable that there has been a longstanding, wide and deep coverup of pederasty.  This scandal directly involves Catholic leaders at the top of the hierarchy.  Potentially even Pope Francis has been credibly implicated in the protection of criminal clergy to advance the coverup.  Unless the Catholic Church fundamentally reforms we could be heading for a crisis on the order of the Protestant Reformation.

Although most local churches operate outside direct influence of these issues, they are not immune from the same powerful cultural forces that have caused them.  Nor are these scandalous situations isolated from the rank and file.

These (and many other) examples indicate that the Western Christian Church is in a crisis.  In too many cases our leadership has become corrupt and heretical.  Too few pastors and parishioners are paying the attention necessary to understand what’s happening, let alone to create effective counter-strategies.

So, even if in 2050 two-thirds of Americans call themselves Christian, the content of that characterization may have so radically changed that it is unrecognizable to a Christian of 2019.

iBooks Publish Announcement: A Denomination’s Debacle

I have published my fourth eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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A Denomination’s Debacle

This book is an indictment of the leadership elite who have driven the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or PCUSA, into an utter debacle.

The most visible aspect of this debacle is the unprecedented loss of membership and churches that occurred between 2011 and 2017. Over that time span the PCUSA experienced a net loss of 601,000 members and 1146 churches, which is almost 30% of its membership and almost 12% of its churches. But these numbers don’t capture the human cost in broken trust, lost faith and shattered relationships that has occurred behind the scenes.

What remains is a denomination dominated by a post-Christian elite who use their power to advance a social gospel that is virtually indistinguishable from the secular Progressive political project. To some readers this charge against the PCUSA leadership will seem to be not just extraordinary, but also unbelievable. This book contains the extraordinary evidence that justifies the charge.

Preface Excerpt

The reader may well ask why I feel compelled to tell this story. I do so for three reasons.

First, the elite denominational leadership has obtained this end under the cloak of purposeful deception. This deception is not found in their policy and theological positions. No, they have aggressively advanced their cause with general honesty. The deception is that they claim to have been doing so as a legitimate expression of orthodox Reformed Christianity. By so doing they have preyed with premeditation and malice upon the trust of the denomination’s parishioners. We will never recover from this spell unless the truth is exposed.

Second, there are still many faithful members and churches in the PCUSA. However, unless they fully understand the forces arrayed against them they will likely eventually succumb. Only if they understand that their presence in the denomination is as a light shining in the darkness can they be protected from the apostasy and heresy that surrounds them. That understanding is what sustained the Apostles and early Christians as they proclaimed the Gospel as isolated individuals and churches in the pagan Roman Empire. The challenge we face is far less extreme. Yet, if we prioritize the comfort and peace of our lives over our responsibilities as followers of Christ even the small courage required will elude us.

Finally, the forces that have corrupted the PCUSA act upon our general culture and thus are not unique to this denomination. Therefore, we can expect that other churches and denominations are struggling under the same theological onslaught as has laid the PCUSA low. Thus this book attempts to explain these forces and how a corrupt leadership can by deception and seduction smuggle false theology into an otherwise orthodox Christian fellowship.

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Taking Stock at the 500th Post

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General Comments

So here I am writing the 500th post on this blog!  The first post is dated November 25, 2014 and titled “Opening Thoughts.”  My first paragraph is:

This blog will focus on my sense of sojourning through a foreign land as an orthodox, Reformed Christian.  This sense has been a longstanding one with regard to the popular culture here in the United States. I am by no means isolated from this country’s entertainment, political and business cultures.  In fact, I am an active participant in them all.  Though many aspects of these cultures are troubling, I am accustomed to dealing with the challenges and benefits that they provide.

Looking back 499 posts later I’m reasonably comfortable with my adherence to this framework.  That being the responses of an orthodox Reformed Christian to a wide variety of issues within the United States.

I am shocked by the speed that this “foreign land” has expanded over these mere four and a half years.  At the start my sense of alienation was clear but not central. Now I find myself fundamentally alienated from my Christian denomination, the culture and the political environment.  Therefore this blog has transformed from one  centered on exploration to one focused on identifying and exposing the myriad of insane ideas that are driving our civilization towards destruction.

Thus what began as an exploration focused on the PCUSA has expanded into areas such as environmentalism, philosophy, economic systems, politics, heresy, literature, abortion and anti-Semitism, among many others.  I have published three eBooks, all focused on topical issues addressed through Biblical exposition and meditation.  Most recently I have added satire as a means of communicating my concerns.

I have identified the prime driver of civilizational destruction to be Progressive ideology as practiced by both secular and religious institutions.  Therefore I have focused strongly on a critique of this ideology’s foundations, strategies and results.  Some of the major themes of this critique are:

I’ve also attempted to understand and then explain the philosophical underpinnings of the Progressive project (e.g., postmodernism, nihilism, Marxism, multiculturalism, intersectionality, pacifism, Gnosticism, identity, etc.).  My goal is to enhance our ability to counter their positions and to unmask the shocking evil that hides beneath that wafer-thin veneer of moral and intellectual posturing (many people who parrot the Progressive ideology have no idea what they are actually supporting).

Although I have expanded my scope far beyond the PCUSA, I still maintain a regular focus on this my denomination. The only way that I can maintain my Christian conscience is by a posture of opposition and rejection.  Yes, there remain many faithful pastors, elders, deacons and members in the denomination.  However, the theology and behavior of the dominant Progressive leadership has been so outrageously apostate and dishonorable that to remain silent is tantamount to support.  My voice is small, yet I will not choose silence.  So, as long as I’m in this denomination I will speak out as necessary.

I’m currently working on a new eBook provisionally titled A Denomination’s Debacle.  The book pulls together much of the PCUSA information and associated commentary from this blog with the addition of new material to fill-out the story.  It’s currently over 300 pages long, which is almost twice the length of my previous longest eBook.  It troubles me that through exclusive use of publicly available information such a substantial case for the PCUSA elite’s apostasy and corruption can be made.

the-truth-about-truth-a-nietzsche-feature-darwin-festival-version-3-638The “God is Dead” Christian Elite

Throughout this blog’s existence I have occasionally paused to discuss why our elite Christian leadership believes and behaves as it does.  Along these lines I have explored postmodern Christianity, the Social Gospel, Gnosticism and raw power politics, among others.  However, identification of a single unifying principle for this phenomena has to this point eluded me.

Perhaps the foundational principle is that these “Christian” elites agree with Nietzsche that belief in “God” as a reality upon which Western Civilization can base its religious/moral world view, “is dead.”  Let’s think through the consequences of this hypothesis.

Let’s say that you are a pastor or elder who has personally lost faith in the Christian God (or any god for that matter). And, you find that there are many others in the church who hold similar views.  So, you all find yourselves in an organization (i.e., the church) whose fundamental reason for existing has, in your opinion, vanished.  Yet the church has many remaining members and wields moral power in the civilization.  What then to do?

Well, you could work to dissolve the church by openly arguing that it has become obsolete and useless.  However, given that tens of millions still (foolishly in your opinion) believe in God’s existence you would likely fail and be expelled.  Therefore you would have to create a new organization to advance your philosophy.  That’s a very heavy lift with a small likelihood of success.  Far better to remain in the church but work for its transformation into an institution that does “social good.”

Of course, if “God is dead” and the Bible is thus null and void, how to find the social good to pursue?  The answer was found in the most aggressive, organized and presumptive human ideology supposedly pursuing the “social good,” that being what we now call Progressivism (which has its roots in Marxism, as contemporary Progressives are finally admitting).  Thus the elite Christian leadership of Mainline Denominations turned their churches from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “the gospel of social change and justice” as defined by the secular Progressive political project.

chasmFor decades this stealth-coup was hidden behind multiple complex theological smoke screens that orthodox Christians had great difficulty penetrating.  However, with the advent of gay ordination and marriage the chasm between orthodoxy and heterodoxy became so vast that no amount of smoke could obscure it.  Thus we have seen the parting of ways where so many orthodox members and churches have exited.

Yet some orthodox members and churches have so far decided to remain.  If they do so with the clear understanding that they are missionaries to a now pagan, post-Christian denomination then perhaps they can successfully maintain their orthodox Christian identity.

However, if they pretend that they remain part of a “Christian” denomination then they will almost certainly be eventually converted and then absorbed.  This will occur because they grant legitimacy to the denomination’s dominant post-Christian ideology and thus will increasingly fall prey to its influence.  If that be their end then they have no excuse, for they have been warned and their consciences will testify against them at the time of accounting.