Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Think about what that means. One of the things it means is that Christ's suffering on the cross wasn't designed to atone for the sins of his people. He was not being punished in their stead. Most Neo-liberals have a very muddled theology of the Atonement, and most of the older liberals they read to get their inspiration categorically rejected the penal substitutionary model of the Atonement. Therefore, what was Christ doing on that cross? Well, he was proving that he was against suffering, and that he hasn't forgotten the sufferers. God is, in effect, saying "Fear not, oppressed gay man in San Francisco who can't have his medication at public expense. Fear not illegal immigrant who is in danger of being arrested and deported. Fear not Muslim woman living in Manchester England who still can't leave the house without her husband's permission, In your suffering, I am like all of you, and you are all like Me." A view of the cross used to make the sinner fall down in awe and wonder that God would pay such a price to rescue him. Now the cross teaches us how wonderful we already are, provided we can find a way to see ourselves as victims. Fortunately it's not hard for even the most pampered among us to find some small victim niche.
It also means that if we set a middle class American elect person at the table with a reprobate poor person and ask the question "Whom does God prefer?" We get a curious answer. God does not prefer the overfed, spoiled, bratty oaf of an American, even though God chose him from before the foundation of the world and Christ died to purchase him, and guarantees that he will see him safely home to heaven where he will be revealed as one of the most blessed creatures in the created order. No, no. God has a preference for the poor person.
How, exactly? He has not elected him, and saved him from hell. And God is not providing him with even those temporal blessings that he gave to Esau and many other reprobates throughout history. The Evil in the world is too strong for God to do that now, somehow. Here's how God has favored him. He has commanded the left wing theologians to agitate against the government of the overfed oaf of an American Christian until that government chisels some money out of the oaf, keeps a large portion of it for "government expenses" and give the remainder to the poor person, preferably in the way that is most destructive to his work ethic and human dignity, and creates dependence, thus depriving him of any real good from even this warped temporal blessing.
Of course God hasn't commanded that in the Bible, but nobody reads the Bible anymore in an intelligent and systematic way. When we actually examine what the prooftexts say in context, we find there is no divine mandate for such a thing, but that's ok. All it takes is someone with a PhD to say, "Thus saith the Lord..." and it's as if the Prophet Elijah, or even the Pope himself has spoken.
The interesting thing is that these Neo-liberal leaders generally don't get up in front of crowds of evangelicals and try to convince us that we ought to change our views. Safely ensconced in their tenured positions at XYZ Christian College, the pretend to be in us, but they are not of us. They write books that nobody will read, except their own students, because they will require them as textbooks for the courses they teach. They will therefore cheerfully pollute our childrens' minds when we send them to XYZ Christian College to get a Christian education, but they don't get in our faces. That might shut off the flow of money to XYZ Christian College.
They will, however, put articles in places like the NY Times. This is so that the world can applaud them. Because there's nothing safer and more rewarding than going to the group that hates the group you ostensibly belong to and saying, "Hey, I've been listening to what you've been saying about my group, and now I want to parrot it back to you and place myself at your disposal to use in your propaganda campaign against my group. I want to tell you how wonderful you all are, and how much my group sucks." Hence you get articles like this.
I would like to put the turncoats on notice that there are other evangelicals who aren't stupid and anti-intellectual. We also aren't pro-gay marriage and pro-theistic evolution. We are quite happy to say that the world might well be less than 10,000 years old. We've actually read Hegel. And history. And Isaac Watts on Logic. And theology. We see the epistemological quagmire you and the rest of the world is sinking down in. We're not jumping in with you. We're not "nice" in the wussy, middle class way that's expected of us. Most of all, we know what you're doing. We've seen it before and we know that healthy churches and people's souls are on the line.