Monday, May 9, 2011

The Religious Left Has Its Head in the Sand

Mark Tooley knows liberal Protestantism. He is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and has been involved in trying to prevent a take over of the Methodist Church by radicals. He has a good piece on the tepid and ineffectual response of the Religious Left to the bin Laden killing.

After talking about Rowan Wiliams, Brain McLaren and Jim Wallis, he concludes this way:
"The Religious Left disbelieves or is profoundly uncomfortable with the teachings of their own Jewish and Christian tradition, which declare that there is human evil and that God ordained civil governments to repress evil where possible in a fallen world. Commonly the Religious Left confuses the church's role, which is to offer grace and forgiveness, with the role of temporal authorities, which is to punish and deter wrongdoing. Adding to its confusion, the Religious Left disapproves of national loyalties, especially to the hegemonic United States, and instead dreams of a utopian world government that supposedly would better model God's Kingdom. Naturally, the Religious Left rejects any pleasure over evil's defeat, however imperfect, despite countless biblical celebrations, such as Miriam's joyful song over the drowning of Pharaoh's army during their pursuit of escaping Hebrews. And finally, the Religious Left is smugly elitist and remarkably stews over even the fleeting patriotic display of mostly liberal college students in Washington, D.C., New York, and Cambridge.

Elitist obscurantists like the Archbishop of Canterbury will continue to count imagined angels on needle-heads. But Religious Leftists' inability to confront even an obvious evil like Bin Laden illustrates their moral inconsequentiality."
I believe he is correct to identify the denial of the existence of radical evil in the world and particularly in the human heart as the source of all the errors of liberal theology. This refusal to take the mainstream Christian tradition and the witness of Scripture seriously leads to Utopian dreams of bringing about the kingdom of God by government programs and social engineering. When these approaches fail, as they always do, the liberal response is to double down with even more intrusive, coercive and totalitarian versions of the same sort of thing. The result is the inevitable march toward Fascism in the name of "peace, justice and the environment."

A more sober and realistic assessment of the limits of human perfectibility would lead to an acceptance of certain limits on our ability to change human nature and this would, in turn, lead us to realize that not all problems can be solved and not all people can be negotiated with. Sometimes punishment and killing are necessary precisely because this is a fallen and therefore imperfect world. And this will not change until Jesus returns. To accept this is to adopt the necessary posture of humility (and fearful respect) before God that is, as the Wise Man says, "the beginning of wisdom."

BTW - I just want to say that I am not at all bothered by the cheering crowds celebrating the death of a mass murderer in Washington and New York. I consider that to be a psychologically healthy response. What I think is pathological and disturbing is the non-response of the Western Left to the totally sickening and horrible street celebrations held in places like Gaza after terrorist attacks on the West. If you want to wring your hands over the celebration of killing, start there, not on the celebration of the bringing of a murderer to long-overdue justice.

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