Saturday, June 05, 2010

Re-Rant: Liberal Christian Hierarchies.

Reprinted from almost four years ago. I thought it was a little angry and over-the-top at the time. Maybe it is, but it rather grabs me still.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Liberal Christian Hierarchies

It's fairly commonly known that the seminaries and headquarters of American denominations are staffed with folks who are significantly more politically liberal than the rank-and-file. Part of this is distancing themselves from the Religious Right, because their dominant peer group is academics, liberal professionals, and the staff of nonprofits, not the members of their denominations. I doubt very much that this is calculated - it's instinctive. They identify with the former, and see themselves as somewhat in charge of the latter. They consider it their bounden duty to expose their generally nice but uninformed co-religionists of the other ways of looking at the gospel. As they are quite certain in their gut - justified by a great deal of post-hoc reasoning - that Christianity should overlap with political liberalism a lot more, these "other ways" invariably involve some evangelism for their politics.

The official attitude of the denominational hierarchies toward Israel is going to be interesting to observe. No, actually it isn't, I take that back. It is utterly predictable how this will play out. They will gradually betray Israel, though with a great show of the wringing of hands. They will of course continue to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, and deplore the evils of her enemies - for about five minutes. The rest of the time will be spent agonizing over any of Israel's military actions, always finding that she should have done something else. A great deal of stress will be laid on the bad public relations and the eroding of support in the "international community" that results from everything they do.

Let me translate this bad PR and international community stuff for you. They mean their friends, and the cultural groups their friends identify with. They don't mean Polish plumbers or Indian businessmen. They mean academic, issue activist, and journo figures in North America and Western Europe, plus a smaller percentage of similar elites (they believe) in the remaining countries.

It is intolerable to liberal Christians that someone else get the inside track on righteousness, getting to look down on them for not being on the real moral cutting edge. The denominational hierarchies will continue to advocate for (mostly) good works in Africa, South Asia, and South America. But their discussion energy, their conferences, their official statements, their invited speakers, their special programs, with increasingly focus on Israel, and increasingly find her actions more worthy of discussion than those of Pakistan, or Venezuela, or North Korea.

We already know the rhetoric. We will be cautioned not to automatically defend all of Israel's actions (Yeah, nice false choice there.) We will be encouraged to consider the plight of Palestinians - because of Israel - with the actions of other nations in the region, historical and current, strangely unmentioned. Because we are supposed to be churchy and Biblical, there will be frequent returns to selected OT and NT passages - and we know which they will select and which they will definitely not. It will all trend increasingly to "Yes, but..."

No matter what the other ME nations do. Their provocations will be increasingly seen as understandable - we must strive to understand them - and spun in the most innocent light.

9 comments:

Boxty said...

Can't disagree with your essay.

Would it be true to say that all or nearly all liberal denominations are from post-modern societies and all conservative denominations are from pre-modernist societies like Africa, Latin America, and Asia?

Donna B. said...

Not over the top or angry. Unfortunately it seems to be simply true. I wish you'd been wrong.

Retriever said...

Too true...I thought my seminary was PC enough when I went there years ago, but now it's got WICCA covens meeting openly and the altar and pews stripped out of the chapel in favor of chairs in a circle...No longer Christian either...

jlbussey said...

This is looking disturbingly more and more like the 1930's and it's starting to really scare me.

Kurt said...

I'd just echo what everyone else said (except the Chinese commenter, which I suspect is spam). You've nicely classified the position of the folks in the seminaries as wanting to identify with and be accepted by the academic left. In fact, a college and graduate school friend of mine who recently graduated from a seminary in the Northeast fits this description perfectly. What's ironic is that these people are so completely incapable of seeing that their politics is based in reactionary modern liberalism wrapped in the language of faith. They don't even think of themselves as being political.

For some reason, we were once talking about Facebook, and this particular friend remarked that she never posted anything political on Facebook. And yet, a month or two after that, there were various posts about global warming and climate change, and a little while later, there was a clip of a video of Barney Frank responding to someone in a town hall meeting last summer (which was noted with approval by this friend of course), and then there were the reflections on the Kennedy funeral, and so on.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Boxty - actually, all the liberal denominations come from conservative denominations, and all those from Europe and America. The usual path is a gradual loss of grip. The African, Latin American, and Asian versions of our current denominations tend to be holding the doctrinal line much better.

Kurt, as I read that fascinating bit of FB observation, I realised I have seen the same many times. Here we were having just a regular conversation on global warming and Mr. Fanatic over here goes off and tries to drag us all into a political discussion. It reinforces once again my contention that liberalism is primarily a social phenomenon, an expression of being one of those who knows what bird chirps identify you as part of the species. Religious people experience the same thing, when folks make some comment about Bringing Positive Energy to a situation, but you're the nutcase for taking that further. There's enough here to warrant a post of its own, I'll reckon. Thanks.

Kurt said...

AVI--Another example of what you refer to occurred frequently during the last administration. You didn't even have to make a point of defending the administration. All you had to do was point out some piece of evidence that contradicted the predominant left-wing narratives about anything during the Bush years, and you were guilty of some sort of crazed heresy.

Ned Young said...

As true as ever. I just posted it again over on FaceBook.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thanks Ned. Just liked it on your FB page as a thank-you