Saturday, December 17, 2011

The folly of liberalism mercilessly exposed

Christopher Hitchens' famous columnist, author of books and 'New Atheist' has lost a long and public fight with cancer. His recent collection of columns, Arguably is part of my bedside book collection.

Bryan Owen has posted on a brilliant interview between Hitchens and someone who seems to render liberal theology in perfect stereotype.

I love the report about Barth on Tillich ... and Tillich, may readers here never forget, was Spong's teacher. Like a sponge the latter absorbed all the moisture present in the fog.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have just watched the Craig vs Hitchens debate at Biola University in 2009 on youtube and encourage readers to check this out. Hitchens is wonderful;ly voluble, while Craig stands shoulders above him with questions that Hitchens doesn't grasp until the end, when the subject turns to the Q & A.
Few peole know that Hitchens' brother is the devout Anglican Peter Hitchens.

Martin

Suem said...

Hmmmmmm. You do, of course, know that some "liberal Christians" do believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God and died for our sins and rose again"?

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for the link and for your posting, Peter.

Douglas Wilson, in an article for Christianity Today, offers good insight into the side of Hitchens highlighted in my posting at Creedal Christian:

"Eugene Genovese, before he became a believer, once commented on the tendency that some have to try to garner respect by giving away portions, big or small, of what they profess to believe. 'If other religions offer equally valid ways to salvation and if Christianity itself may be understood solely as a code of morals and ethics, then we may as well all become Buddhists or, better, atheists. I intend no offense, but it takes one to know one. And when I read much Protestant theology and religious history today, I have the warm feeling that I am in the company of fellow unbelievers' (The Southern Front, pp. 9–10). Ironically, the branch of the faith most interested in getting the 'cultured despisers' to pay us some respect is really not that effective, and this is a strategy that can frequently be found on the pointed end of its own petard. Respectability depends on not caring too much about respectability. Unbelievers can smell accommodation, and when someone like Christopher meets someone who actually believes all the articles in the Creed, including that part about Jesus coming back from the dead, it delights him. Here is someone actually willing to defend what is being attacked. Militant atheists are often exasperated with opponents whose strategy appears to be 'surrender slowly.'"

Father Ron Smith said...

So many theologians - and each with their own biassed opinion. Steer clear of all of 'em, I say. Prayer, the pursuit of justice and kindness, and regular practise of the Presence of Christ in The Eucharist can be a good antidote to all theological waffle! Redeem the time given to you!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem
I take your point: there are full-blown liberals and half-hearted ones! It is the full-blown version which Hitchens mercilessly exposed.

Bryden Black said...

I hope Ron you do not include the author(s) of the Fourth Gospel, of Hebrews, Paul, Matthew, Luke, even Mark - to say nothing of the Apocalypse! Theologians all, and all firmly to be embraced, I trust!

Shawn said...

"Prayer, the pursuit of justice and kindness, and regular practise of the Presence of Christ in The Eucharist can be a good antidote to all theological waffle"

You have just articulated a set of theological views, which makes your statement about theologians contradictory.

We are all theologians. As soon as we make any statement about Christian faith and practice, we are engaging in theology. So theology and theologians are important to the life of the Church.

Well, at least those theolgians who are godly and under submission to God's Word are good for the life of the Church.

Bryan,

Spot on. One of the arguments used by Spong, Geering, and many other liberal propagandists is that the Church must change or die, and this change is all about appeasing Western secular liberals and "progressivists", the politically correct in other words, or what British Libertarian activist Sean Gabb brilliantly calls 'The Enemy Class'. Gabb is not one to shrink from calling a spade a spade.

What is so ironic about this claim is that it has so clearly been proven wrong. All those churches that adopted various kinds of liberalism have experienced catastrophic decline. Far from being more relevant, they are less relevant than ever.

On the other hand Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches have seen staggering growth around the world, and in the West if you want to find large churches filled with young people and young families, they are almost always Evangelical/Pentecostal.

Yet Spong, Geering and the rest continue to spout the same failed ideology, blindly following a path that has done nothing for the Church. And they call us "unthinking fundamentalists"?

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches have seen staggering growth around the world, and in the West if you want to find large churches filled with young people and young families, they are almost always Evangelical/Pentecostal."

Yes, but let's be wary of any triumphalism, brother. A river can be a mile wide and 3" deep. Too many young Christians are not that morally different from their secular confreres as they endure the same immoral TV and edu-pap as the rest of the world, and liberalism counts on this for the future. Look at the parasitic rubbish emanating from the oh-so-edgy St Matthew's in the City. A lot of young people at St Paul's Symonds Street looks good too, but the real question is not the popularity of modern worship and music (evident in any kind of mass culture) but the strength of individual devotional lives and the pursuit of Christlikeness. A deep Christian counter-culture has to be learned the hard way.
Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden, the people you mention were Apostles - bearers of Good New of Jesus Christ - not mere theologians.
They had each experienced the total love of God in their lives - they were not just speculating about the possibility. They lived to spend themselves in living out the implications of Christ's redemption.
They were not just tellers of the story, they became the story!

Suem said...

There's nothing "half hearted" about my faith or my liberalism, so I am going to take exception to that as well because I think it is rather a rather pejorative choice of adjective. Aren't I being touchy today?:)

Peter Carrell said...

Would "lukewarm" be better than "half-hearted", Suem? :)

Seriously: yes, "half-hearted" is provocative; but a "liberal" who believes what you believe is not wholly liberal in my view; which is, in my view, a good thing!! :)

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, the word 'liberal' does not have to mean 'licentious'. To brand us liberals in that way is to denigrate the liberality of Christ in the Gospel, who gave Himself for the sake of the world. "Greater love hath no man than this - to give up his life for his friends" Redemption is a free gift - from God!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
You have got me bamboozled. Where above have I said that 'liberal' means 'licentious'?

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, Peter. Do you need me to spell it out to you. Your very mention of the word liberal is already imbued with the darkest implications here.
Not to mention your verbose friend from St.john's College.

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, Ron, you will have to spell it out for me: where have I equated liberalism with licentiousness?

As for yourself and being 'liberal': I am not sure that I have tarred you with that brush! As far as I can tell, on most matters of theology you are not liberal.

As for my verbose friend at St John's: I have a few friends there and in my experience none of them are short of words.