Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Setback for Evangelical - Catholic Relations

Keith Pavlischek at First Things has a few hard, but fair, things to say about the Evangelical Lefties who hitherto have held themselves out as "prophetic" and unwilling to "compromise" like the Religious Right people, who supposedly are just tools of the Republican Party. He notes that Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis and co. had better lay off the sanctimonious "More prophetic than thou" stuff now that they are providing Obama with cover for his pro-abortion agenda. See the statement by a number of religious leaders supporting the Sebelius appointment. Note the signatures.

Pavlischek is disappointed with some of the names on this list and so am I. I am particulary saddened to see Ron Sider's name here. I expected to see Tony Jones and Brian McLaren - they have pretty talked their way out of Evangelicalism with their increasing liberal theological views. And nobody considers Randall Balmer a spokesman for Evangelicalism. But Ron Sider is theologically sound, an honest man and a principled ethicist. The same goes for David Gushee and Glen Stassen. Seeing their names here makes me wonder if it is possible for anyone to adopt left-wing views on economic matters and not, sooner or later, be drawn into supporting the culture of death. I always thought there was no necessary connection between the two - but watching what is happening with the Obama election makes one wonder.

A similar list of Catholics in support of Obama's appointment of Sebellius was released by Catholics United.

Notice how efficient the Obama administration is in spinning its policies so as to keep the public from realizing what they actually are up to? Recruiting Evangelical and Catholic leaders with name recognition to support their pro-abortion appointments creates confusion in the public mind about what is going on. And getting to Senator Brownback was a masterstroke for them, although it will prove to be a disaster for Brownback down the road.

But I have to say that what is most disturbing about this whole incident is the fact that it is a set back for ecumenical relations between Evangelicals and Catholics. Archbishop Naumann, Gov. Sebelius' pastor, has asked her, in view of her aggressive support for legalized abortion, to refrain from communion until she has made a confession of her sin and publicly renounced support for abortion. The liberal Catholics who are backing her are going against their own church and the Evangelicals who are backing her are poisoning Catholic - Evangelical relations. Why do we need Evangelicals supporting the culture of death? Isn't that what liberal Protestants are for? (I suppose this just goes to show how irrelevant liberal Protestantism has become. Nobody even cares if they sign these sorts of statements anymore.)

It is all too rare for Catholic bishops to use church discipline on high-profile Catholic politicans who profit at the ballot box from their Catholic reputation, only to flaunt the teachings of the Church in order to further their own careers. This is dispicable and the Kennedys, the Bidens, the Pelosis and all the rest ought to be ashamed of themselves. Archbishop Naumann presumeably knows Kansas politics and Gov. Sebelius better than we do and we ought to be supporting his judgment. He is the third Archbishop in a row in that diocese to clash with Sebelius, so this is not personal. It is a matter of Christian ethics and moral theology. It is not even a matter of whether a secular state should allow abortion; it is a matter of whether Christians should compromise morally in an attempt to advance their political careers. This is a completely non-partisan issue, which has been politicized in a devisive manner by the signers of these two statements of suport for Sebelius. Courageous Catholic bishops who take a stand - often at great personal cost - deserve the respect and support of all those who love Christ and want to witness to the Gospel in public, rather than hiding in their little ghettos out of the firing line and out of sight. Sure it is easy and popular to support Obama now, but do they have to be quite so dutiful and tame about it? Is there anything Obama could do that they would oppose? It is hard to imagine - and that is a shame. It is time for the Evangelical Left to start acting like real prophets, rather than acting like tame court prophets.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann speaks out. Read it here.

I was going to say that Archbishop Naumman needs our prayers at this time, but after reading his letter I'm inclined to think that we Evangelicals need his prayers even more.


David said...

I think Orthodox Christians from various denominations are surely beginning to see that we have far more in common with each other than we do with those elements of our denominations who simply mirror secular liberal modernity.
Tell you what though, I'd happily take the evangelical list of Sebelius' supporters in exchange for R.C. list! - many of that R.C. list are very suspect on doctrinal fundamentals.

Craig Carter said...

I have a better idea. Why don't orthodox Catholics and orthodox Evangelicals come together in such a clear and public way to speak with one voice that the liberals in both traditions feel compelled to split off into their own unitarian-universalist associations?

I am quite comfortable with the current pope speaking for me on most issues and I could trust him to be ecumenically sensitive on the few issues on which we still lack unity. Regardless, it would have to be better than being identified as a Protestant as long as the public face of Protestant is Katharine Jeffort-Schori, John Spong and Gene Robinson.