Saturday, October 08, 2005

[Top paragraph edited lightly a couple of days after posting to remove exaggerated rhetoric]

A few of them say that New Orleans was destroyed by God - and more seem to assent by their silence. Others among them said the same about the 9/11 attacks. Many would say it's futile to ask why they hate us, but some say the destiny of our nation depends on it. Fortunately English is the first language of the vast majority of them, so we can read their blogs to help us understand how they think.

I refer, of course, to red state Evangelicals.

I've googled my way through a fair number of them. My unscientific sampling technique is to keep reading those I find interesting and readable. I'm not sure what biases this introduces, but I'm pretty sure neither the ones I am closest to agreeing with or the ones I disagree with most strongly.

This post from Baylyblog caught my eye first, since it combines strong religious belief with an interesting fair mindedness:

Sadly, were it not for the secular media's reporting, we would not likely know of Dollar's twin Rolls Royces, Warren's "mentoring" of Jack Welch or Jenkin's penchant for asking Left Behind readers on planes if they think he looks like one of the authors, then informing them, "Well, I really am the author!"

The sadness is of two sorts: first, there's the sadness of such Christian gullibility and vanity displayed before the world. But then, as well, there is the sadness of truly sinful behaviour and heterodox belief being exposed first (and sometimes solely) in the secular press.

Christian leaders and Christian media do a terrible job of judging within the House of God. We are excellent at calling out the obvious sins of the world yet blinkered when it comes to our own. Where is the Christian leader, who like Paul confronting Peter at Antioch, has stood publicly to call another prominent Christian leader to account? It happens so rarely that more often than not the first we read of the failures of our Christian leaders is in the secular media.

Where is the Christian leader who has stood to condemn the false ecclesiology and corrupt Gospel at the heart of Willow Creek? Where is the Christian leader who has opposed Bill Hybels for preaching a man-centered Gospel as Paul opposed Peter? Is there any question that Willow Creek's seeker-sensitive worship is a corruption of Biblical worship, that Willow Creek's Gospel is human salvation accomplished by human agency with the aid of Divine grace?

Clearly very different beliefs than mine - but not an ideologue or a broken record. Starting from the top (more recent then the post I just quoted which first caused me to bookmark this blog) I read many standard red state ideas - but also posts which make me feel the gap was not unbridgeable. Can a train hobbyist who reads the New Yorker and likes the Beatles really have no common ground with the rest of us at all? If he knows how railroad workers talk, it's a tiny step to feeling the Beatles had something worthwhile even if they may have committed fornication once in awhile. Tim Bayley doesn't take it explicitly but ...

So this comes as a bit of a shock.

And when deniers of God's wrath in the elements of nature tell us that all have sinned and fallen under Divine judgment, not just the citizens of New Orleans or San Francisco, we must be able to say, "Yes, but..." and quickly point to the lessons inherent in the stories of Sodom, Gomorrah, Nineveh and Jerusalem.


Proof that cities are judged corporately for sin, and that the sins of one city can provoke greater Divine wrath than the sins of another:

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:21-24, NASB95)

The ellipses between paragraphs are mine: you can click through to read the whole post.

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