Saturday, March 23, 2013

What a twisted and bitter man

There is not much hope for the improvement of Anglicanism when some of its more influential commenters are as misinformed as Giles Fraser is about evangelicals. Have we ever been more insulted in our history than by this column?

Evangelicals are not perfect and we get many things wrong. But ++Justin is not the only one among us to have experienced tragedy. And only a few of us do not understand Good Friday to be a dark and solemn day in which Christ died at the hands of bitter and twisted men, actually, at our hands because we are sinners and it was because of our sin that Christ suffered.

If the Anglican Communion is to hold together then it will do so on the basis of truth and love, not fantasies and hatred.


carl jacobs said...


The question is not for Giles Fraser. The question is for you. Why do you desire to maintain fellowship with someone who believes the theology he represents?


Bryden Black said...

Dear Giles Fraser,

There is quite literally a world of difference between the true triumph of the Cross and the faux triumphalism of a pseudo Christianity - in any form (liberal, Southern Baptist, monophysite, whatever). I trust the sad existence of the latter does not blind you to the reality of the former.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I do not see Fr. Giles Fraser as 'hateful' - at least, not as hateful as many 'christian' people are of Gays in the Church - Now there's hatred!

We had a lovely sermon in Church this morning, by an Australian Bishop (No, not Sydney) who used the satire of Monty Python's 'Life of Brian', to demonstrate how, sometimes, Christians can be the subject of a wicked satire, but which, by a strange paradox, can actually unmask an uncomfortable truth about us.

I must confess, I do find the all-too-easy, smiling, 'matiness with Jesus'school of religion a little cloying - especially when, under the breath of the smile, one can sense a deep aversion to the more seamy characters in life that were the object of Jesus' company, care and attention.

Holy Week has a great deal to teach us about the flakiness of surface 'religion' - the sort of loyalty that flees when trouble comes - just like the disciples of Jesus, when the tough hard road was ahead.
We are all guilty, at times, of 'surface religion' - like the palm-waving followers who became those who shouted 'Crucify Him' - when He didn't do what they wanted.

Lord, have mercy on me, a Sinner!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
I am in fellowship with Giles Fraser because I belong to a church of sinners, of people who believe differently to what I do, and of people who are rude about me and my fellow evangelicals.

I could leave the Anglican church but at this stage I do not feel inclined to leave it to the Philistines.

Plus there is the slight problem of some reasonably difficult people to get along with in other churches I might conceivably join.

Anonymous said...

"Philistines"? Peter, if this is a reference to cultural sophistication, then you (albeit only a Neutestamentler) should know that the Iron Age Philistines were culturally a good deal more advanced than those bumpkin Israelites. Look at the exvacations at Ekron for an example of what I mean.
Philistines in the OT means of course that idolatrous people, enemies of Yahweh, who wer outside the covenant. Who might these be in the Anglican church today?


Paul Powers said...

I'm surprised that Dr. Giles apparently thinks the idea of the crucifixion as a triumph is a modern Evangelical tradition. Surely he's heard Fortunatus' hymn Pange Lingua:

Sing my tongue the glorious battle,
Sing the ending of the fray;
Now above the cross, the trophy
Sound the old triumphant lay:
Tell how Christ, the world's redeemer,
As a victim won the day.

Father Ron Smith said...

Pange Lingua - a beautiful hymn, Paul, which we at St. Michael's will be singing (in a language understood of the people), in our ceremony of the Veneration of The Cross on Good Friday.

Christ's victory came through his enduring the shame, hardly the triumph an human terms, of the Cross. His humility proclaimed him Victor over Death! At what price?

Anonymous said...

" especially when, under the breath of the smile, one can sense a deep aversion to the more seamy characters in life that were the object of Jesus' company, care and attention."

One can sense? Are you a psychic?

Sounds like pre-judging someone based on prejudice. I thought Liberals were opposed to self-righteous fundamentalism?

Anonymous said...

It is a telling and revealing fact that the first thing I notice with this bigoted and twisted rant is that it is accompanied by a picture of a cartoon character.

Probably unintentionally, this gives away the game being played here. We are not dealing with anything real (this so-called "Jesus-lite")but a cartoonish fantasy that exists only in the minds of people like Fraser.

We see this with Ron's imaginary evangelical, a prejudicial fantasy that has no relation to reality.

Fraser promotes this twisted bigotry on the basis that Welby has ties to Holy Trinity Brompton.

This thinly veiled insult towards HBT is supposedly because HBT represents "Cheesus-Lite" and has been very successful both as a local church and as the creator of the Alpha program.

But on what evidence does Fraser base this? None.

He simply assumes that anything that looks like American evangelicalism and takes the Bible more seriously than Liberals do must be bad, and must have a deficient understanding of the Cross.

That's bigotry and cultural snobbery, plain and simple.

Having been deeply involved with the kinds of churches Fraser and his type love to hate, I can testify that the the claims of a lack of humility and triumphalism on the part of those churches is totally bogus.

On the contrary, I have found the opposite. I never ever heard a single word of triumphalism or any sense of superiority towards other Christians at Grace Vineyard, or any of the other Anglican or Independent evangelical churches I have been to.

Moreover, I found that is was these churches that are really doing to work of God amongst the least and the lost. I have seen bikers and gang members, street kids and drug addicts, all welcomed and supported in evangelical churches by evangelical Christians who were not in the least afraid of people who were from the seamy side of life, contrary to Ron's fantasy.

Moreover, if watered down crossless Christianity is Fraser's concern, he will find it far more in liberal churches than in Evangelical.

It is the moral supremacism and triumphalism of Liberalism that is far from the cross.

The cross teaches us repentance and humility. The kind of liberalism being expressed here is far from that. Instead of the cross we get the triumphalism of the Age, the claim that what the "modern world" thinks is superior and more important than the truth of Scripture.

Instead of the humility of the cross, we get arrogant and self-righteous put downs of other Christians as "Cheesus-Lite", or arrogant put downs of the kind of worship evangelicals prefer, which despite being Biblical, apparently lacks "quality" because we do not put God in a box.

The truth is that behind all this twisted bigotry is nothing more than fear.

Liberalism is dying. slowly but surely, and by and large it is the HBT model of church that is growing. People like Fraser fear that the great secular-liberal-Marxist experiment and it's offshoot, Liberal-Marxist Christianity, are dying, and so we get these tiresome rants and bigoted fantasies.

mike greenslade said...

Kia ora Peter,

It seems bitter and twisted people abound in the church, and will continue to do so as long as we see theology as a competitive sport.

Anonymous said...

Shawn: "Liberalism is dying. slowly but surely".

True enough, but remember:
1. liberalism is by its nature parasitic: no one ever became a 'liberal Christian' from the world (liberalism doesn't evangelize non-believers or 'convert' them) but only by rejecting elements of orthodox faith (e.g. the Trinity or the Bible's teaching on penal substitution or on sexual behavior or on manhood and womanhood). Liberalism always presents itself as the "true" version of the faith, but its driving force is never 'ad fontes' to the Bible (or holy tradition) but 'avanti popolo'.
2. Diseases never leave the Church, any more than they leave the human race. Evangelicalism is vulnerable to the particular sins of the west (entertainment, the cult of popularity and success, the search for creature comfort) which will just as surely breed infection.


Father Ron Smith said...

" Liberalism always presents itself as the "true" version of the faith,"

- Anonymous Martin -

Excepting, of course, in the estimation of the Scripture that tells us that "Christ will make you free, then you will be free indeed"
(liberation at the highest level)

Now that's radical liberation - for which Jesus gave His life - as we remember in the Holy Week liturgical commemorations in The Church.

If behoves all Christians to remember that it was Jesus, whose liberation policies (freeing us from 'Law' into 'Grace') brought Him to the delivering power of the Cross; for which we need to be eternally thankful.

"Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us, therefore, let us keep the feast - not with the old leaven of malice & wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth". (Good Friday)

MichaelA said...

Good article Peter - Giles Fraser has really put his ignorance on display with this one. He appears to have tunnel vision, so that the Church of England in the 21st century is the only church that has ever existed - lets just ignore what the Fathers have to teach us, or other churches!

Giles writes:

"Which is why, for the worst sort of Cheesus-loving evangelicals, the cross of Good Friday is actually celebrated as a moment of triumph. This is theologically illiterate"

Err no, Giles, it is you who are demonstrating your theological illiteracy. The concept of "the triumph of the cross" goes far beyond modern evangelical teaching. It is a prime emphasis in Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran theology, and it dates from earliest times.

The cross as a symbol of triumph in Christian art is attested regularly from the early 4th century AD (although perhaps Giles Fraser would see this also as the pernicious influence of those terrible Cheesus-lovers using time-machines?!)

St John Chrysostom made the same point in his famous Easter sermon (4th century AD) that the victory over death was achieved at the moment Christ died - it did not wait until the resurrection two days later:

"Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it. He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh."

Giles Fraser needs to spend some time learning Christianity from the ground up. Reading from other traditions would help, as well as from the church fathers. Ironically, it is the "cheesus lovers" who are closer to the great traditions of the church than poor old Giles.