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From: Jaq (3psb128.psbnewton.com)
Subject:         Well, that was lovely, Razz. I think that it would be
Date: February 18, 2007 at 8:48 am PST

In Reply to: Re: What do you think about it? posted by Razz on January 23, 2007 at 10:13 am:

very genuine if it included soowrong's favorite people who she calls "mooslimes".

I've been a long time Christian and have seen entire church's dismantled by G@d because of the arrogance and judgemental attitudes. Sure it was only one church at a time, but what if the entire body becomes laden with what Obama calls "empathy deficit"? Never in my years of working in social services, nonprofits and community projects for the poor have I seen as much apathy and outright hatred in the church as I see now. It makes me so sad.

Razz, you appear to reject that particular destructive mindset. I'm taking a chance here by posting this essay in hopes that you will understand my concerns.

For what shall it profit Christianity,
if it shall gain the whole world,
and lose its own soul?

In a few years Christians will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Barmen Declaration. In 1934 the Confessing Church in Germany gave unforgettable voice to its central allegiance. Confronted by a "German Christian" reinterpretation of the gospel, Barmen asserted:

Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death. We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and beside this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God's revelation.

These things must be said again a half century later in another land. No "blood and soil" philosophy or nationalist movement comparable to German Nazism imperils the United States right now, contrary to the inflated rhetoric of some critics of the right. But the perennial temptation of confusing God's word with one or another human word is very much with us in the Religious Right.

In this book I have tried to lay bare the theological presuppositions of the political and moral programs of the Religious Right. In every doctrinal area we have seen loyalty to important aspects of classical Christian conviction. At the same time, each of the chapters of the Christian story has told of basic distortions which warrant Senator Mark Hatfield's evangelical indictment:

As a Christian, there is no other part of the New Right ideology that concerns me more than its self-serving misuse of religious faith. What is at stake here is the very integrity of biblical truth. The New Right, in many cases, is doing nothing less than placing a heretical claim on Christian faith that distorts, confuses, and destroys the opportunity for a biblical understanding of Jesus Christ and of his gospel for millions of people.

By examining a series of basic Christian beliefs we have seen that there is more than one kind of secular humanism to be reckoned with in our time. The substitution of human opinion for God's Word, Jesus Christ, can take place under the most pious of auspices. The implicit secular humanism of the Religious Right which imports partisan political judgments and culture-bound mores into the proclamation of the gospel, is as anthropocentric as the explicitly self-congratulatory humanisms of the secular left. The "perspective" we have seen at work in many points of Christian doctrine--not all, by any means--rises out of one sector of contemporary secular experience, the politics and culture of the right. It is processed through a small, hospitable sector of ecclesial experience. Finally it takes charge of the purported biblical source and norm through a highly selective use and interpretation of texts. In many areas of Christian teaching this theological method arrives at conclusions that diverge from classical Christian teaching with its christological norm, inclusive biblical source, and full-orbed ecclesial response.

The response to the Religious Right from within the Christian community must be resolute commitment to its own fundamental framework of faith. As with Barmen, we must call ourselves and our brothers and sisters to attend to the one word, Jesus Christ, and to tell our own tale, the Christian story, without addition or subtraction.

In the light of that Word we too shall make our political decisions. But that light illuminates the gift of Christian freedom. We are freed from the illusion that our frail judgments, whether on the right or left end of the political spectrum, can be identified with the Word of God. Christian liberty means that we are free of the ideologies of the right or left, and even free enough to say a human "Yes" or "No" or "Yes and No" to the passions and proposals of one or another when faith and facts warrant it. "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1).

Gabriel Fackre, The Religious Right and Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982), pp. 104-106 (Conclusion).


Gabriel Fackre
About the Author

Fackre is professor of theology at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Christian Story.
IVP Books by Gabriel Fackre

What About Those Who Have Never Heard?
ed. Gabriel Fackre , Ronald H. Nash and John Sanders

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