This Anthony Bradley column about Rachel Held Evans’ latest reminded me I’ve been meaning to say something about a particular cliche liberal Christians have started peddling.
Rachel Held Evans, as most of the more liberally oriented Christians do these days, trots out the already tired trope that just raises my blood pressure. She — and for the sake of your soul and sanity I won’t even bother linking to her column because, like much of what liberal Christians who want a truce with a secular world write, it is filled with nonsensical kumbaya begging evangelicals to just accommodate the world — writes:
We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.
Note to Rachel Held Evans and the rest of the liberal Christian crowd: we stand for Jesus. It’s not hard.
The problem is that Rachel Held Evans wants Christians to accommodate a world that hates Christianity. Hell, a great many Christians — anyone can say they are a Christian and plenty do — hate Christianity and have for a very long time. Christian and Christ follower are not exactly the same these days though they should be.
That’s not to say we can’t follow Christ in different ways. Everyone has strengths, gifts, and talents. And we are all certainly entitled to get frustrated with other Christians making certain tenets of the faith their own personal idol.
But all these Christians who want us to seek some accommodation with the world and turn a blind eye to the world have done nothing but make idols of their own tolerance.
And tolerance ain’t a Christian virtue. Sorry. They’ve confused worldliness and godliness.
Here’s the fuller context of Rachel Held Evans’ statement:
We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against. We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers. We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation. We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities. We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.
I don’t know a Christian who is anti-science. Christians haven’t suddenly declared science anti-God, but the left has declared God and Christians anti-science. I don’t know a church that has declared allegiance to a political party or a single nation. But I know the left parodies evangelicals that way. In fact, through Rachel Held Evans’ entire list, what she is admitting is that she has embraced the secular left’s parody of evangelical churches to proclaim her own style and mode of worship and faith superior. She’s embraced the loud voices of a few and conflated them to the quiet voices of the many in the evangelical community committed to saving souls.
Just because the left and media attack evangelical churches for these things does not make them so. From Archbishop Chaput in the Catholic Church to Mark Driscoll to Franklin Graham to John Piper to Timothy Keller to Rich Warren to Andy Stanley to Lois Giglio to Al Mohler to my own preacher — they all preach Jesus. They don’t preach America because they’re just passing through it on the way to real life. But they do preach the Jesus who is, not the Jesus the world wishes for. They preach that “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” rather than “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”
Christians stand for Jesus. When demanded by the world to look at a dude in a leather g-string, rainbow afro wig, and fairy wings glued to his back dancing down the street claiming he’s got pride and accept it as just another form of normal, well, yeah, we’re for Jesus so we’re against that. Rachel Held Evans, Rob Bell, Donald Miller, and the like want to accommodate that. Jesus wouldn’t. We shouldn’t.
The world forces us to choose and when we say we are for Jesus, the world pronounces us as against the secular litany of science, tolerance, alternative lifestyles, etc.
Friends, if you’ve never been persecuted for your faith, you probably aren’t right in your walk with Christ. And I get the feeling a whole lot of the peddlers of “what we’re for, not what we’re against,” have never been confronted by a world that demands they accept sin as just an alternative lifestyle choice.
I’m a Christian. I’m for Jesus. But being for Jesus means the world is against me. It’s not my goal or ambition to go stand against anything. I’d much rather just be for Jesus. But in being for Jesus, the hedonistic world demands to know what being for Jesus makes me against so the hedonist can show that I’m against its sales pitch of “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die.”
I’m against that because I’m for Jesus and because I’m for Jesus, I don’t die and neither do you. But pointing that out, Rachel Held Evans, makes you too anti-science.
————-Christians who take God seriously cannot support laws that attack human dignity without lying to themselves, misleading others and abusing the faith of their fellow Christians. God will demand an accounting. Christian doctors who take God seriously cannot do procedures, prescribe drugs or support health policies that attack the sanctity of unborn children or the elderly; or that undermine the dignity of human sexuality and the family. God will demand an accounting. And Christian citizens who take God seriously cannot claim to love their Church, and then ignore her counsel on vital public issues that shape our nation’s life. God will demand an accounting. As individuals, we can claim to believe whatever we want. We can posture, and rationalize our choices, and make alibis with each other all day long — but no excuse for our lack of honesty and zeal will work with the God who made us. God knows our hearts better than we do. If we don’t conform our hearts and actions to the faith we claim to believe, we’re only fooling ourselves.
Christians need to wake up from the illusion that the America we now live in – not the America of our nostalgia or imagination or best ideals, but the real America we live in here and now – is somehow friendly to our faith. What we’re watching emerge in this country is a new kind of paganism, an atheism with air-conditioning and digital TV. And it is neither tolerant nor morally neutral.
As the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb observed more than a decade ago, “What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized.” But even more importantly, she added, “As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant. The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral – the ‘bourgeois’ family as it is invidiously called – is now seen as pathological” and exclusionary, concealing the worst forms of psychic and physical oppression.
My point is this: Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be.
I wish I had written the italicized part above. But that’s actually Archbishop Chaput. Substitute “Catholic” for my alteration to “Christian” and that is a letter he wrote to his congregation. It applies here and to all Christians and highlights why being for Christ does, in fact, mean you will be against a lot of present world’s hedonist culture.