This is Part Two of A. Thomas Walker's article from the October 3, 2011 issue of the Weekly Standard.
I never know quite what to expect when I post a blog piece. More often than not, the expectations I have never come to pass. In posting "The Complicated, Contradictory World of Evangelicals," I frankly expected some blow back from those of you who are associated with evangelical or fundamental Christian groups. That didn't happen at all. Every comment I got was fully supportive of Mr. Walker's views.
Here is the second half of the article:
Good News Bears
The Complicated, Contradictory World of Evangelicals.
BY A. THOMAS WALKER a policy analyst Jor the Family Foundation
The Weekly Standard October 3, 2011
The criticism offered here is punctuated by a tone of dismissal and reliance on academic pedigree. Ken Ham is eviscerated as an uncredentialed profligate who peddles fear as he does homeschooling textbooks; David Barton of the "Christian America" thesis is a likable dunce preoccupied with theocracy; .and James Dobson is a colloquial, grandfatherly sap offering sage advice on how to prevent homosexuality in youth. All of them have "undermined the academic status quo" and deter intellectuals from embracing the Christian faith.
To be sure, the authors are not wrong in many of their assessments. As they state, A winsome preacher who can quote the Bible and tell heart-warming stories of God's blessings may possess more authority on global warming for believers than an informed climatologist ... from Harvard.
Not all evangelicals are rebuked here, Giberson and Stephens have little problem with what the sociologist and Gordon College president Michael Lindsay refers to as "cosmopolitan" evangelicals — the culturally literate, for example, who read the New York Times and accommodate evolution to their faith. The authors highlight laudable individuals such as the Anglican scholar N. T Wright, the geneticist and National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins, and the aforementioned Notre Dame historian Mark Noll as intellecmally minded evangelicals deserving of cultural and academic praise.
One can register uncertainty on issues such as origins, and the difficulty of navigating biblical genres, but modifications on other issues (as those quoted above) suggest a betrayal of long-held positions in Christian orthodoxy and sexual ethics, The authors assume that evangelicalism is a cultural and doctrinal monolith, which it is not. Young-Earth creationism is far from a settled issue within evangelicalism, Outside certain cloistered elements of evangelicalism, debate on the origins of the universe remains open. The same can be said for psychology.
What their paradigm cannot compute, however, is an individual like Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who couples intellectual acumen and columns in the Wall Street Journal with views unacceptable to prevailing academic opinion. Many other public intellectuals who are also Christian, dissent from secular opinion as well; and on issues political, cultural, theological, and social. Such evangelicals may hold unpopular positions, but one can hardly characterize differing opinion as uninformed opinion. The assumption here is that intellectual veracity will necessarily entail acceptance of the secular consensus on issues of psychology, science, and so on. The authors seem uncertain about how to handle that breed of evangelical academics with reputable degrees who still cling to positions outside the mainstream.
Secularism, for Stephens and Giberson, is not a devaluing of the sacred; but the informed opinion of scholarly consensus, and The Anointed raises questions about the extent to which secularism and evangelicalism can align with one another when competing truth claims conflict.
It has been said that if God didn't exist men would create Him. Even though I consider myself a Christian, I'm enough of an agnostic to consider the possibility that we, as the society of human beings have done exactly that.
We are told that God never changes, that He is constant. Yet it doesn't take too much scholarship to see that the God of the Old Testament is very different from the God of the New Testament Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This week the news wires are alive with the dust up between President Obama and the Catholic church over the matter of whether or not Catholic institutions should be forced by the Federal Government to provide insurance coverage for birth control pills and morning after pills for their employees. There is doubt it is a tough question and one that cannot be compromised in any way that will be acceptable by each side.
Yet, I think it is significant that, but hardly ever mentioned, that the stance of the Catholic Church, meaning the people who fill the pews, is much different from the Catholic hierarchy, meaning the Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and the Pope. Members of the Catholic hierarchy are vehemently opposed to birth control. However, on the contrary, Catholics in first world countries not only do not share the views and the demands of the hierarchy but ignore the whole teaching of the church in matters of birth control. When I asked one of my family members who is Catholic how he manages to use birth control in spite of the churches teaching, his answer was simple. I only confess my sins to the priest. I do not confess things that are not sins. That includes the use of birth control. The majority of Catholics in the U.S. agree.
As Walker suggests in his article above, intellect is trumping dogma in many of today's churches. True, some people who are well educated continue to espouse the traditional dogma, but they do so for one or two reasons. They choose to set aside their intellect in matters of dogma just to be on the safe side, or they espouse publicly what they do not believe privately.
I talk frequently with a Texas Catholic Priest on line. He is a homosexual man. This, of course, puts him at odds with much of Catholic teaching. He seems unconcerned. He feels that he can do much good in the church by being a sort of conscientious objector. I'm absolutely sure he is not the only such priest. There are many.
For the homosexual or bisexual man, the take away from this article is clear. All men are sinners. In God's eyes all sin is equal. No sin is greater than another and there is no unforgivable sin. It is craziness to subject yourself to all kinds of pain and to self-hatred because you are a homosexual or bisexual man. You might as well subject yourself to all that because you broke the speed limit on the way home from work. If homosexuality and bisexuality are sins, and I don't think they are, the sin is no greater that the sin of speeding or eating too much or telling a white lie.
As people become more and more educated, evangelicals and fundamentalists are going to die at the hand of the sword they have wielded, their own Bible. Those who insists that every word of the Bible is the word of God are the worst at separating the word of God from the word of men.
The Bible specifically tells each of us that we must work out our own salvation with God. No man is worthy to be our Priest. We are each our own priest and we can come to God just as we are at any time with out the need for anyone to intercede.