The Arrival of the Evangelical Left
Poster Boys and Liberal Theologians
Mark Tooley of The Weekly Standard wrote an article on Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz fame. In case you’re not one of the Emergent church movement’s “initiated,” Blue Like Jazz is The Shack lite. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but it is truly a pitiful apologetic for the Christian faith. What rubs salt in the wound is the fact that Campus Crusade for Christ spent a ton of money placing copies of BLJ in the packets for incoming freshmen on college campuses.
Great! That’s just what we need. A lion’s share of these kids are just coming out of public schools (Note to parents: Send your kids to Caesar and you will get Romans back! And, please, spare me the totally specious “They’re there to be salt and light” fiasco.) and now they’re being thrown to liberal tenured ideologues and instead of something truly solid, the freshmen are given more fluff. But I digress.
In case you missed the invocation at the 2008 Democratic Convention, it was delivered by Miller, who also actively campaigned for Mr. O’Bama. Some might be asking themselves why a Christian would actively campaign for a man who has a 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and every other pro-abortion group on the planet. That’s a good question. Miller’s reply, according to Tooley’s article went like this: “Barack is the only candidate willing to talk about his faith in Jesus.” It must be nice to be on a first name basis with the President. It still remains a mystery to some of us how Mr. O’Bama could sit for twenty years under the preaching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and not know that the man is an advocate of the kind of “liberation theology” that liberates no one because it is Marxist. Rev. Wright parrots James Cone and Gustavo Gutierrez. It is also a bit of an enigma why the President has not found time to attend worship since his inauguration. He must be too busy talking about his faith. As a matter of fact, those of us on the Right—as well as those on the Left—would be hard pressed to indicate when Mr. O’Bama has made serious reference to his faith since being in office.
Miller’s further explanation stated that he supported Barack “because he is my Christian brother and other Christians are rejecting him.” I’m not certain what that is supposed to mean, but there are others who claim to be Christians that I think are all wet and are basically biblically illiterate. Names like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Ted Kennedy come to mind. Oh yeah, I almost forgot George Bush’s statement about Muslims being saved. Add him to the list.
One of Miller’s big hang ups with conservatives is that they are/were parrots for the GOP. Well, that’s not good. Seriously. One has to wonder if being a parrot for the Left is any better or more acceptable though. On a more mundane note (Miller and his ilk find crass language cutting edge), Miller complains that Republicans “did not give a crap about the causes of Christ.” And does Miller want us now to believe that Democrats do? They must be using a kind of reverse logic, because a huge number of those who vote Democrat do not attend church at all. One might conclude from this fact that Democrats care little about the causes of Christ either. Admittedly, some do, but certainly Miller’s accusation is just as true—if not more true—about the Democrats as it is the Republicans.
Miller seems impervious to his own internal contradictions. Here’s a case in point: He quipped, “I just felt like in order to be part of the family, I had to think George W. Bush was Jesus.” Right. Most of us in the conservative camp have that one figured out. We’re just waiting for those who voted for O’Bama to discover that he’s really not the Messiah. There’s a point where Miller and I agree: our dislike of the politics of John McCain. It was embarrassing that McCain was the best the Republican Party could trot out. There were a number of us who believed that there was a viable candidate in the last race and it was Sarah Palin. The manner in which the Left vilified her gave me the impression that she was good. She wasn’t a socialist, was for closed borders to protect our security, was pro-life, pro-death penalty, a fiscal conservative, a good shot, pro-Second Amendment, and was almost as pretty as Janet Reno, Madeline Albright, Cindy Sheehan, and Helen Thomas. She stood by her pregnant daughter, her youngest son, and her husband.
But young church-goers are less enchanted with Republicans and more in favor of the ideas and ideologies of the Democrats. Are we surprised? Where to begin? Let me start with mom and dad, who happily were pleased to be entertained to death at what passed as “worship,” never thinking that Johnnie and Mary just might need a little catechism to help them understand the Word of God. Dad and mom did little or nothing at home during the week, thereby passing no spiritual legacy on to themselves or their family. These same biblically illiterate young people, who were Ignatius the Youth Leader knockoffs or had Mr. Tattoo or Mr. Slime as their leaders, heard lots of “Christian Rock,” but what they received as a biblical worldview was non-existent. Are we surprised that their spiritual brains are mush? Really, what do we expect?
Back in the day, 1545 to be exact, John Calvin wrote this to the reader of his new Geneva Catechism: “What we set before you, therefore, is nothing else than the use of things which from ancient times were observed among Christians, and which has never been neglected except when the Church has been wholly corrupted.” What the old 500-year-old boy was saying is that the norm in the Church was not “programs” and “entertainment,” but rather catechizing the congregation. There is a clear reference to the Roman Catholic Church and its failure to teach and equip its members, but there is a broader, stinging accusation leveled at our modern evangelical churches as well. In Calvin’s view, a “corrupt” church is one that does not preach, teach, and equip its people, starting with the young children.
This is not what Miller has in mind, though. He now attends a “socially conscious church in Seattle.” Ah! There are the magic words: socially conscious. Of course, any student of history and of the Reformation will tell you that the Reformers were very socially conscious and had scriptural reasons why they were that way. The early Puritans built universities (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and a host of others), hospitals, orphanages, as well as providing for the poor and needy. So exactly what kind of social consciousness is Miller talking about? In all likelihood, it’s the Social Gospel nonsense of Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, and other Emergent church movement gurus. Reading Wallis’s and McLaren’s “ethics” books, you have to laugh and wonder if anyone takes the slipshod or non-existent exegesis they pretend to do seriously. Apparently, Miller does.
But Miller is a notch above the rest of us. He wants to reach the post-modernist. In fact, Miller believes that the Emergent church is “trying to transcend polemics and speak to post-modernity.” Really? What’s the message? Let me put this in a contemporary context. I just returned from the 37th General Assembly of my church affiliation. Part of the assembly was spent discussing the issue of deaconesses. It was proffered that we need to address the culture and manifest that we are not Neo-Neanderthals. You mean we’re not? Anyway, does the PCA really and truly think that the Neo-Barbaric, Neo-Pagan society is going to think we’re doing good work if we have deaconesses? If I were a Neo-Barbarian, I’d want to know why the PCA doesn’t have women Elders and Pastors. Deaconesses are small (feminine) potatoes. Miller doesn’t get it that there will be very little that will appease the Neo-Barbarian except full and complete capitulation, and the Emergent church movement has a good leg up on that already. McLaren, Wallis, and the other non-leader leaders are willing to jettison fundamental Christian doctrines for their less that veiled universalism.In our next installment, we’ll go into Miller’s assessment of abortion and same-sex marriage. The Evangelical Left is more than a little ambivalent on these issues and are more than willing to minimize them. For anyone to make such an assertion is a clear example that their biblical discernment is in the toilet. I will demonstrate that in point of fact Miller and others like him land with both feet firmly implanted in liberal theology, the Social Gospel, and a full-orbed embracing of the views of the Left—sometimes the far left. It is disconcerting that there are so few with biblical discernment and maturity these days, but what do we expect?
Labels: Emergent Church