A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Reform, an evangelical group in England is promising guerilla warfare against liberal bishops by working to prevent funds from supporting such dioceses and by bringing in conservative bishops from other dioceses to perform church functions. The eight bishops who publically supported a celibate gay man, Jeffrey John, as bishop of Reading, are on the top list of targets.

And the Institute on Religion and Democracy had a glowing report on the right wing turn in the United Methodists. But it also provides a chilling picture of their vision for the future of the church, including "reforming" seminaries and the church boards, which is pretty much how the southern baptist right took over. In that context reform of seminaries was done by firing liberal professors, instituting doctrinal litmus tests, and scrapping the practices which make for academic freedom.

And what of liberal ministers, parishes and lay people? IRD has a vision for them as well:

1.We recommend allowing a gracious exit for those who cannot or will not accept the essential beliefs on which the UMC is founded. This is to say that when the right takes over the church, those who disagree will now be considered to be in opposition to the newly defined essential beliefs.

2.The UMC should adopt a fair plan to permit their voluntary, peaceful departure. Their beliefs are strong and sincere. They have a right to believe and worship as they choose, but they do not have the right to divide a Christian Church by undermining its basic beliefs. Again as a mainline church, there has always been room for folks across the spectrum, but now liberals working in the church by definition undermines the right's beliefs.

3.Some of the unfaithful are now talking about leaving; the UMC should aid their departure. They don't want to diaglogue, they want us liberals out of the church as quick as possible. We're the unfaithful, anti-Christian and the like. This is the dynamic that we face in many of the mainline churches. In such a context, what possibilities exist in terms of the church holding together. I'm not sure, but am pessimistic these days.


At 11:12 AM , Blogger Marcus said...

The long time pastor of the UMC church my wife and I have attended for some time, now, will not be thrilled. He is a fan of Marcus Borg, which is enough to put him on the hit list, I think, for this gang.

While I personally do regret the rise of atheism and materialism in the guise of "liberal" theology among clergy and theologians, I am not at all happy with their replacement by contemporary fundamentalism.

Lets say that I agree with the liberals far too much on their understanding of the nature and role of the Bible and its various parts to be happy with the fundys.

But I agree far too much with anti-materialist philsophers of religion like Alvin Plantinga - or even John Hick! - and many others to be happy with the atheism and materialism of so many liberals.

Still, if I had to choose, I would surely go for a broad enough church to encompass all on condition it was broad enough to encompass me, rather than merely narrow on the side of the atheists. So I have to regret all this fundy insurgency.

At 7:27 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

I agree with you that a broad church is better then a one sided one. I also share your opposition to materialism. I think terms like matter and spirit are abstractions, not directly experienced but terms we use to classify kinds of experiences and ways of relating to it.

I suspect much of what is passing as a-theism, folks like Spong, etc. are finding themselves in opposition to a particular kind of theism, of a supernatural deity located above the clouds. But what they replace with it is a God without form or content.

But I think it's possible to avoid both conceptions if instead we look for concrete processes at work in this world which have a salvific character to them. A God which is knowable and experiencable (without claiming exhaustive knowledge) seems to bypass both Spong and fundamentalism.


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