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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Al Mohler Strikes Again

Stop sending children to non-religious, liberal colleges. Stop the historical criticism of the Bible. Stop encouraging cross-cultural learning. Discourage interfaith marriage. Raise barriers between the denominational faith community and other people in society.

Then people would know who is in and who is out, and boundaries would reappear.In sum, move the Protestant communities away from the culture of higher education today, toward the encapsulated faith communities of the past

What Al Mohler quotes approvingly is a proposal which would mean the death of the mainline. Because it would, ironically enough, abolish a significant distinction of the mainline, one which has always defined the church.

Which is to say that the culture this quote is describing has always marked the mainline. There never was a time in which such groups were "encapsulated". If the goal was to set the mainline apart, this would go into the opposite direction. Would it gain members this way?

I'm not sure. A good many folks attend the mainline because of this openness, remove it, and you've lost them. But it's the evangelical churches which are growing not us. If we could prove that there would be a net gain, would it be worth it? I don't think so, for two reasons.

First, it effectively blocks us from the fastest growing segment of Americans, those who do not identify with any religion and who will not join a group that calls for intellectual suicide, as this proposal does. Second, it would be unfaithful to monotheism.

When the group takes on the central role this proposal has it take, when certainty over one's beliefs becomes absolute, when increasing knowledge of God's world is to be shunned, when any mechanism for self correction is thrown out, the ability for us to remove the focus from ourselves is shot.

While this vision relishes in the boundaries of who is in and who is out, God is the one who tears down those barriers, who declares that we will not worship on this mountain or that mountain, who says that the whole cosmos is God's. Our boundaries end up defying the logic of monotheism's expansive vision.

One other article by Mohler goes after Evolution Sunday, which many congregations around the country celebrated. He asks, should we have a Marx or a Nietzsche Sunday? I'll admit, I don't see that being a problem. I don't think Christianity benefits from ignoring the insights of either figure.

Both articles seemed united in trying to shield the church from ideas different from it's own, as if the church's ideas were absolute and therefore nothing more, by God or anyone, could be said on the subject. The God is Still Speaking campaign by the UCC, is helpful in pointing us away from such a view.


At 10:34 AM , Blogger Alan said...

Any appeal for people to move their kids out and away from higher education is doomed to fail on purely economic grounds. Is there a parent in the country who would take such a call seriously? Even if they put their kids in religious institutions, it'll be a long, long time before companies start hiring candidates from Moody Bible Institute instead of Stanford or Harvard.

Articles like this simply show how out of touch folks like Mohler are.


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