The Only Thing Evangelicals Will Never Forgive Is Not Hating the ?Other?

14 Dec


The only thing evangelicals will never forgive is not hating the “other” sufficiently.  That is one of arguments Frank Schaeffer makes in his book, “Patience with God: Faith for People Who Dont Like Religion (or Atheism)


My friend Matt sent me the link to an excerpt of the book that appeared here.  He wanted to know what I thought.  In this section, Schaeffer has a harsh critique of modern-day, mega-church evangelicalism — and particularly for people like Rick Warren… but more specifically, the whole paradigm of modern evangelicalism. (And for the record, while I am absolutely an evangelical, that does not mean I buy into the paradigm for church that is modern evangelicalism.  Being an evangelical is a statement of theology and praxis; modern evangelicalism is a sub-culture.)


In one stinging critique, Schaeffer writes this:


“I can’t prove this, but I think that any person who remains a “professional Christian” in the evangelical/fundamentalist world for a lifetime, especially any pastor, risks becoming an atheist and/or a liar. Such individuals put on an act of certainty. Sooner or later they become flakes faking it, or quit. Worse yet, some just stop asking questions. The very fact that a preacher can fool others when he or she has so many doubts makes the self-appointed mediator of faith the deepest cynic of all if, that is, he or she doesn’t embrace paradox.”


You should really read the whole post from Schaeffer.  While his critique is harsh, sadly, I also think it is accurate.  While I am a fan of Rick Warren (strange language, I admit, to talk about a local church pastor!), in many ways, he has become a caricature of himself.  So often, American Evangelicalism looks much more American than evangelical.


One of the implications of this, according to Schaeffer, is the important of “hating the other” to modern American Evangelicalism.  Here is what he writes:


[Rick] Warren knows that he must park his conscience at the door of his golden cage, or his empire will melt away under the intolerable weight of the gossip of the Church Ladies. Warren got a whiff of this when he was foolish enough to go on Larry King Live in the spring of 2009, and mention that maybe he wasn’t as firmly against gay marriage as he was said to have been in the wake of the battle over gay marriage in California last year. As the Washington Times reported on April 11, 2009, “I was extremely troubled,” said Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. “Absolutely baffling,” huffed Wendy Wright, president of the far-right Concerned Women of America organization. Warren learned, if he didn’t already know, that the only thing evangelicals will never forgive is any letting up on hating the “other.”

That’s what my friend Richard Cizik, former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, learned. He was being interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air in 2009 and mentioned that maybe he wasn’t against gay civil unions. He didn’t even mention gay marriage. He was fired within days. Rich told me that he was never even asked by the board what he’d meant by his remarks and was never given a chance to respond.

Cizik had almost been forced out several years before when James Dobson, of Focus on the Family fame, wrote to the NAE board demanding Cizik’s dismissal for saying that he thought global warming was real. Cizik got away with that apostasy against the Republican Party, which had long since come to be a stand-in for the “true church” for power-hungry evangelical/fundamentalist leaders such as Dobson. But when Cizik didn’t hate gays enough, game over!

It is worth reading the whole post here.  I would love to hear what you think…  both about the “hating the other” idea, as well as Schaeffer’s fuller critique of modern American Evangelicalism.

Looking forward to your comments…

1 Comment

Posted by on December 14, 2009 in Uncategorized


One response to “The Only Thing Evangelicals Will Never Forgive Is Not Hating the ?Other?

  1. Rick Berger

    December 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    <p>Does the ‘salvation’ offered by Warren take the burden off of the entire parish in the modern Evangelical movement? <br>Having a set a rules to live by makes life "easy". Do what I am told, ask questions IF I get confused. I will probably be one of the ‘normal’ and have small questions like ‘I am worried about my child and want to know how to discipline them according to what Christ would do?" "Why did X die at such an inconvenient time and leave me sad?"), and in the end, I get the great "retirement" package and those who chose not to pray along side me…. well….. And since I chose the right company/faith and thus am right and just, I deserve the rewards and am superior in my experience and ‘true’ knowledge to anyone who questions me. Must be nice to live a life where the access to being right sits so close to the heart. (yes, I am being about as ironic as I can)<br>I will never be a size Medium Christian and would not want to be. I could never, ever do it. Never.<br>More importantly, I don’t think Jesus would want to spend much more than 10 minutes at Saddleback, Notre Dame, the Crystal Cathedral, or St. Peter’s. Nice tourist stops, but isn’t there more important work to do? Does everyone have to agree on the same work? Does division and dissent reflect a true spiritual journey? Should there be THE Church or should people attend A Church that provides the message they need and realize that there are folks who focus on the Mess and miss the Message?<br>I’ve always liked the Message and have seldom be impressed by the Messengers or the Mess.</p>



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