Untitled Document

Going Back
Friday, April 17, 2009, 11:59 AM
Many times I have heard, from people who have a stake in maintaining some error, “We can’t go back to . . . . ”, here naming some past time upon which the present is built and from which they hold it cannot be retrieved.  This, however, is a maxim of the damned.  To save, grace must redeem past time, to which we must return so that what was done in us may be undone: we must be born again.  Lewis used the figure of the sum done wrong to which one must return to redeem all subsequent (and necessarily erroneous) calculations, and the pilgrim’s regress after baptism to review and revalue the lands where he had traveled before, this time with regenerate eyes.  

I have heard “we can’t go back” most often from church people who will not go back to where they or their church went wrong–to where arose some doctrine or practice upon which great institutions have been built, great libraries have been filled, and great reliances have been placed.  This they say even when they have come to believe a return could conceivably be made, and even that it might be wise.  They do not wish to pull their houses down around their ears.  They would rather wait, one supposes, until it is done in the Judgment, not leaving one stone of their miscalculate temples upon another.  

Advanced age, retirement with the ability of retrospection, is a great gift to those who need to be born again, a time in their lives when death looms, and so loss of the comfort of everything for which they have labored.  This is the time when troubled minds can return to the places they strayed, beg forgiveness, and be allowed to repent for the advantage of those they have influenced, watching in those actions the malaccretions of time ill-spent crumble and be swept away into the bottomless mercy of God.     

Not Your Father’s Library
Monday, April 13, 2009, 11:56 AM

The public library where I work is still a “sustainable” operation, but I am frequently under the impression that we're always just one administrative decision from the chaos that is making so many others places where patrons don’t want to go any more.  

We were just presented with a new logo, and find that our new corporate slogan is "Where Our Town Gathers."  Cute, clever, and with just the right level of progressive dynamism, eh?–the library no longer a place for the stodgy and studious, but as a bright new locusissimus omnium gatherum, wot?–just the kind of gathering place a lot of people interested in expressing their individual uniqueness are waiting for.  Finally, a place where making noise, defacing property, looking at Internet porn, gymnasium activities, love-nesting, drug sales, highjacking the motorized scooter intended for the disabled, stalking, truancy, dropping off children for free babysitting services, sleeping off a drunk, etc., will be happily indulged by supervisors whose religion of Library Freedom forbids putting putting a crimp in anybody’s individuality–unless, that is, that individuality includes the expectation of reasonable quiet for mental concentration.  But there’s no Slogan-Wild-and-Free in the truth: “Where people gather to do things that comport with the library’s mission and program, and may stay as long as they behave themselves appropriately.”

Those of us who work the front lines attempt to remedy the madness by constant and indifferent enforcement of a canon library rules that requires courtesy between library-users, built on the expectation that libraries are to be reasonably quiet places.  But we're constantly at odds with policy and manifesto generators from the national level on down who don't themselves have to keep the peace. Several weeks ago one of them told the local newspaper, "We're not your father's library.  We don't go around shushing people."  The hell we don't.  We do it all the time.  The modern library isn't as quiet as River City's, but you can't make whatever noise you want in it, either.  One can't enforce rules of courtesy without quieting down excessively noisy people, like the kind who have 80-decibel cell phone rings, and answering them, think they can engage in loud conversation.  There is also the problem of library personnel who regard themselves as exempt from the noise rules we make everyone else obey.  You start not enforcing the courtesy rules–in two days the worst inmates, always on the look-out for weak spots in which to insert themselves, are running the asylum, and employee morale is wrecked. 

What has made other public libraries miserable places to be in, both for patrons and employees, is not the influx of larger numbers of people–a national phenomenon, and we're happy to see most of them–but the unwillingness or inability to take reasonable steps to deal practically with problem patrons.  The  numbers of people who must be "dealt with" for one reason or another is increasing daily with the larger overall patronage, while the number of library employees who can deal with them declines.  

I can understand the reasons for budget cuts and employee reductions, but administrators who deal with the difficulties enumerated here must exercise intelligence and understanding of their own institutions–and not infrequently the courage to beat down the chaotic forces that will take over their libraries if they don't.  If they wish to be appreciated by their employees, and the majority of library patrons, they will forcibly insist on fairness and good order. 

Snippet: “Personal Theology” and National Survival
Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 8:16 PM

Some interesting observations by Peter Augustine Lawler in the Winter, 2009 issue of The New Atlantis:

Consider today how Americans are divided over the truth of modern, impersonal natural theology or science.  Some Americans believe that we should take our social and moral cues from the evolutionary science of Darwin.  In their eyes, we are not qualitatively different from the other animals; basically, they assert with pride in their sophistication, we are chimps with really big brains.  This variety of American is also usually quite proud of his autonomy–his freedom from nature for self-determination.  If men really are the same as chimps, however, then human autonomy is nothing but an illusion.  Strict materialism and evolution cannot really account for free, personal existence.  So these sophisticated Americans, despite themselves, can't help but be in fierce rebellion against impersonal nature.  They are well on their way to reducing all morality to fanaticism about personal health and safety.  In their social behavior, they increasingly resemble the Europeans–and like the Europeans, they are not having enough children to replace themselves.

Meanwhile, other Americans still believe that their personal existence is supported by a personal God, often a God Whose intelligence exhibits itself in the design of nature.  Although they typically believe their true home is somewhere else, these are clearly the Americans most at home as members of families, churches, and their country.  Generally speaking they have more than enough babies to replace themselves, raise them comparatively well, and do not seek as urgently to fend off their inevitable biological demise.  Most at home with the irreducible alientation that comes with being a person, they seem best able to see the good about their familial and political existence for what it is.  In our country, personal theology seems an indispensable support for the future of the nation. 

Some Personal Thoughts on “Proofs” of God
Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 4:13 PM

All "proofs" of the existence of God are equal: All, even those logicians would regard as unrigorous, are sufficient to faith (a man may find an inconquerable proof in a baby's smile), and insufficient to unbelief, which is not an intellectual or scientific problem, but a moral one terminating in the mystery of iniquity. Those who purport to find unanswerable proof in any scientific or logical demonstration are talking around the problem of unbelief contained within their proposition of "solution."  

The value of the traditional proofs is that they answer to certain common, one might say classical, objections to belief raised by doubt.  But they are no more apodictic or ineluctable than the call of Sweet Desire.  Those who wish to put forth irrefragable proofs of the existence of God are looking for a common intellectual ground in the spheres of belief and unbelief. Such a thing does not exist, for all true knowledge (the desired result of "proof") rests upon faith, and all proofs of the existence of anything whatever are appeals to belief.   


From Looking at Old Family Pictures: Dogs and Cats
Saturday, February 14, 2009, 8:29 AM

The reason, I suppose, that I tend to dislike dogs is that most of them have had the discrimination bred out of them, a trait that is amplified in becoming a pet; they are either everyone’s friend or everyone’s enemy.  I am all for them when they are domesticated to some useful purpose like herding or the service of the blind, but as pets, especially when inadequately trained by masters who allow them to deport in human company as if they were something more than animals, I can happily do without them.  I grew up with an excellent dog, a collie bitch who was trained, discriminating, and knew her place.  She bears primary responsibility for the ambivalence I have had toward dogs since her departure.  I can’t say, “I don’t like dogs,” but chances are about four out of five that I don’t like yours.

Cats I can tolerate with more equanimity.  Highly predictable models of self-regard and refined appetite, they know exactly what they want from human beings, and once they are given or refused it, tend to go away and mind their own business.  They are self-cleaning, don’t fancy carrion, pursue skunks, or find decaying trash irresistible, and usually don’t bother the neighbors unless they are bird-watchers (in my experience, Darwinians who believe in the survival of the fittest as an article of faith–as long as it doesn’t involve cats killing birds).  There is also the chance, at least where I live, that a peripatetic cat will be killed and eaten by a hawk, owl, or coyote.  This gives them a modicum of humility in the face of nature that is hardly ever seen in pet dogs, and humility is a most pleasing virtue, especially in royalty.    

Rule-Breaking: Some More Pottering About
Friday, February 13, 2009, 5:28 PM

In an essay on the Harry Potter books (it will appear eventually in Touchstone), I took certain writers to task for fussing about the bad example of rule-breaking Harry and his friends set for young readers.  My argument was that anyone old enough to read the books was old enough, if properly taught, to judge bad behavior appropriately.  The criticism I was hearing from these quarters did not seem sufficient to discourage children from reading what I believed would pass Luther’s test for was Christum treibet:  Harry is an imperfect, yet clearly recognizable, icon of the Lord.

But, ah, the rule breaking:  There are indeed a great many children’s books these days which, along with other media, glorify it for its own sake, which make the will and desire to break rules a virtue, and the actual breaking a heroic slap in the face of the prigs and prunes who imagine they have the authority to impose upon the infant Invictus.  The other day day I came upon this piquant title among the children's books in the New York Times Book Review: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove her Father Teddy Crazy.  

I’m pretty sure I recognize the genre, and am decidedly of the Hillaire Belloc school when it comes to the like.  I have not seen many Newbery or Caldecott Award books lately with titles like, How Johnny Smith Broke the Rules and was Chopped to Pieces Under the Wheels of a Train, or, How Suzy Jones Broke the Rules and Lost Both Arms in the Grain Auger, or, How Billy Bezel Broke the Rules and Lost Every Friend He Had, or, How Charlie Bungbluster Broke the Rules, and Was Regarded as a Fool by Everyone Who Knew Him for the Rest of His Short, Unhappy Life.  Granted, there are counter-stories that are just as true-to-life:  How Dickie Dodge Broke the Rules and Became the Richest Man in Town, all patterned on the original, How Lucifer Broke the Rules and Received All the Kingdoms of the World and Their Glory.  

To keep the good rules, however, we must break the bad ones; to keep the great ones, we must maintain the smaller ones in subordination to them–and we must teach the importance of this to our children if we value their lives, both temporal and eternal.  This seems to me no great revelation, but here is a place it needs repeating: the question is not whether rule-breaking in itself is good or bad, but whether it is good or bad in this situation or under these circumstances, which is to say, What kind of rule are we dealing with here, the kind that should be broken, or the kind that should not?  (The devil knows how to make rules, too, and we should be in the business of breaking as many of them as we can. ) This is not "situation ethics," but simply Ethics, and the fundamental reason why all believers must pray without ceasing–not an impossible mandate that only the greatest saints can hope to obey, but normal Christian life.  

Having read all the Harry Potter books myself, I judge Harry and his friends to have developed, in their zeal to do good, excessive independence of authority, and with it wisdom, to which they should have subscribed.  (Among us these are pre-eminently our parents and Church.)  Harry, for example, should have come clean to Dumbledore and sought his aid on several important occasions when he foolishly chose not to.  He would have been wise to give Snape, however nasty the man might have been, the deference and hearing he deserved. Failing to do so, he involved himself and his companions in much gratuitous rule-breaking which, while plot-sustaining, does not appear their Author excuses them for.  Children who take advantage of what they read here to break good rules themselves likewise have no excuse for their behavior before the rod of parental discipline.

In full agreement, however, with those who protest rule-breaking-in-general as a deplorable theme of modern children’s literature, I join them in warning parents that a good many writers of these books are indeed trying to make their readers into little devils, or at the very least, to break them on the wheel of a reality in which rule-breaking causes enduring pain.  The child is told no more about this by these authors than the Serpent told Eve about the unspeakable results of her pomary repast.  They can be very subtle, and they don’t play fair: they are child molesters whose blandishments are intended to seduce the relative innocence of children into the transgressive sphere where the authors already exist, the closest wickedness can come to happiness being pleasure in shared guilt and misery.  The book market is full of dragons who eat children.  

Harry Potter, though, seems to me one of the other sort.  There are only two Sides, and it is very easy to tell which he is on.  If he is an invention of the devil, then the devil is, as in the Crucifixion, out in his calculations.  I am immensely grateful to J. K. Rowling for writing these books, think Christians well-advised to read them, and to use them to full effect in their discourse in the Muggle world. 

Monday, December 15, 2008, 11:52 AM

One of the things I, as a young man, came to love about C. S. Lewis, and for which I will always be grateful to him, was that he made things plain which I had been given cause to intuit, but had never been brought out to the sunnier clearings of the mind for consideration.  He did this service for millions with the Screwtape Letters, in which he exposed some of the more common stratagems by which the souls of men are snared and secured, thus making the work of the devil at least a bit more difficult, and becoming an instrument of deliverance for many. 

Here I will add a note on the devil and his minions as scoffers to his catalog of diabolical flummery.  Scoffing–the scornful treatment of what is worthy–is based on an illusion whereby falsehood is made to look large and important and truth small and stupid, not by thorough and studied reason, but mere belittlement.   Christian beliefs are made out to be uneducated, even if many of those who hold them are scholars of the highest repute.  That most Christians are undistinguished is treated not as a sign of the catholicity of a faith that is for everyone, but evidence that Christianity is nothing with which the talented should concern themselves. 

Faith in God is attributed to mental disease or deficiency, or viewed as an anodyne for misery, when examination of the lives of the most devout would show abounding mental health and unusual levels of happiness and stability.  The morbidly or insanely religious are identified as the True Believers, while in fact Christianity regards the loss of sound mind and sober judgment (and probably also the capacity for humor) as a sign of the loss of faith rather than its perfection.  Likewise unbelief is associated with talent, learning, urbanity, and good sense, when in fact, whatever the gifts of the unbeliever may be, it is still only–unbelief.  Mockery is the energy that puts this illusion on display, and scoffing the display itself, declaring the Christian faith to be the province of the ignorant, ignoble, and maladapted, using the appearance of evidentiary reasoning while keeping its reality at bay. 

I can think of no more transparent example than materialist scientists who loudly declare it is obvious to anyone with a modicum of learning that no personal deity could be involved in the coming-to-be of the cosmos, then immediately set about to make their own creative entity of astounding power–Nature or the Cosmos, or Evolution, or whatnot–with accidental qualities that in any conceivable analogate would be attributed to the designing intelligence of an actual being. 

What one may be sure of in this, er, Muchbig Scientific Thingamajig, is that while possessing unthinkable powers of what the ignorant would identify as creative intelligence, it is otherwise a dim bulb.  It can generate intelligence, will, and moral opinion, but (once again, obviously) can have none of these itself, and it is only the stupid, including, one presumes, the stupid with science Ph.D.’s, who think it might be otherwise.  It especially has no moral opinions on atheists who declare that it is what the less advanced would call “wrong” to believe in God–no opinion at all–and most assuredly has no powers of ideation or control concerned with the destiny of people who deny the existence of God and encourage others to do the same.   

Come to think of it, this business can go two ways, but when one is dealing with that Proud Spirit who cannot endure to be mocked, turnabout, when it can be managed, is fair play.  Only in that case let us not call it mockery and scoffing, but something else, a form of truth and not illusion: the devil, as in Screwtape, hoist on his own petard.

Practical Atheism Revisited
Saturday, November 1, 2008, 8:57 PM

Last week I came upon an editorial I wrote during the 2003 political season which seems to me even more applicable now. Today I would add that whatever one thinks about Senator Obama’s plans for using government power to take money from those who have more of it and give it to those who have less, the social control which must be gained to make such things come to pass has never boded well for Christians in the countries where it has happened. The Gentiles, even–or perhaps especially–the religious ones, have not changed their opinions about people who regard them as morally unclean, nor will they fail to punish them for it when they gain sufficient power. What concerns them, I believe, is not so much that the poor be enriched, but that the middle classes be brought as low as possible by confiscation of their ethically significant wealth.

The fifth paragraph is especially important. As I recall, David Mills contributed so much to it that he should be identified as co-author.


There has been much response to Touchstone’s April issue, in which the Democratic Party was characterized as godless, and portrayed as having developed in recent years into something no Christian can in good conscience support. Subscriptions have been angrily canceled and declarations that we will be prayed-for received. More national attention, some of it very high-level, has been given to this issue than any other we have published. The most common accusations made by critics are that Touchstone, a religious magazine, is now dabbling in politics, where it has no business, and that the April issue was in fact a Republican party tract in which the editors displayed their political preferences more than their Christianity. What, one suspects, some of our off-put correspondents wished to see in this next issue is some kind of muted apology that we were in some places a bit rough and high-handed, along with a good-natured admission that good Christians can have varying opinions on these matters. But we don’t think they can. Things have gradually but surely come to the point we must say that to the degree Christians have been co-opted by the Democrats, they are no longer good.

The April, 2003 Touchstone was, to be sure, out of the ordinary, as James Kushiner indicated in the introductory material.  It is true that we normally “don’t do politics,” at least not directly. Here, however, we made an exception to our rule.  The senior editors agree that the Democratic party has in the last generation undergone changes that make it impossible for a knowledgeable Christian to vote in good conscience as a Democrat, just as it was once impossible for a knowledgeable Christian in Germany to vote in good conscience for the Nazi party, whatever good that party may have done, and however many religious allies it might have had.  (Remember the smiling bishops of Deutsche Gemeinde and the grim joke about making the trains run on time.) As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Jerzy Popieluszko, Corrie Ten Boom, Maximilian Kolbe, and a host of other witnesses remind us, there are “political matters” about which Christians sin if they remain silent and passive. It is true that the Church and the State are two distinct sovereignties; it is not true, nor has it ever been, that the churches are obliged by God (pace the Internal Revenue Service) to remain silent when the state or its organs, such as its political parties, devote themselves to evil purposes.

When one says what we did in the United States, with our two-party system, the more conservative party gains by default. We assure our readers that we have our doubts about the Republicans as well, as the editorial in the last issue indicated. We would turn against it just as quickly and vehemently if it took the same line on moral issues that the Democrats have.  Touchstone is not partisan in the sense of intentionally for any party–but it is against the Democratic Party as presently constituted.  There is a difference, and the difference is the Democrats’ choice and the Democrats’ fault. We did not force them to become what they are, and would not have attacked them as did if they had not made themselves into the party of abortion, anti-family feminism, and homosexuality. In these matters we are only reporting what we see, and would appreciate it if those who disagree with our observations would stick to the facts instead of bloviating on our nasty and unspiritual disposition. 

I believe we are encountering in angry letters to the editor stung consciences, attempting to return the blame—a very heavy blame—that we have placed on them by condemning their support, usually in the name of charity, for the party of child-murder and moral license.  One of the most effective ways to do this is accuse us of partisanship, to allege we are merely
conservative Republicans attacking Democrats with a religious bludgeon. That is not true.  We are Christians, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, denouncing the Democratic party as constitutionally anti-Christian. “Equal treatment” will not be accorded the Republican party for its sins because in our judgment that party has not become godless in the same way the Democratic party has, yet. While liable to criticism on a number of issues, not least the ambivalence of its practical support for the pro-life cause, the Republican Party has not crossed the line that would make a similar attack necessary.

One of the most common defenses for Democratic loyalties is to assert the moral equivalence of the two parties, to claim that their respective errors leave the Christian to vote for the one he thinks most Christian, or least unchristian. If the Democrats endorse abortion, sodomy, and the like, Republicans cut social programs for the poor. This is a plausible and attractive argument except for one thing. We know with certainty that abortion and sodomy are evil, but we do not know with any certainty whether any particular disbursement of funds for the poor is good or bad or mixed. Our faith directs us to give alms, quietly and generously, and to bless and care for the widows and the fatherless, but also tells that those who will not work shall not eat. Distinctions, often difficult ones, must be made in our policies between who should be marked as poor and who should not, and on how collective monies should be spent or not spent for their relief, the kind of distinctions that have historically marked differing party philosophies, and upon which Christians have historically had differences of opinion. A Christian may think the Democrats’ social and economic programs are superior to the Republicans’, but he knows that the Democrats’ moral policies are aggressively ungodly.

In the United States one doesn’t attack God by declaring himself an atheist and establishing a party on the principle. God is, after all, like the Eagle, one of our national emblems. If one wishes to make a political point of unbelief, he will doubtless be happier in France. The way to do away with God here, in a country with a consensual history, even among its non-Christians, of Christian principle, is incrementally and surreptitiously to make Christianity immoral. Lift up A Woman’s Right to Choose or Every Child’s Right to be Wanted as unexceptionable points of public piety, so making Christians’ historical opposition to infanticide mean-spirited and un-American. Represent their conviction that homosexuality is sinful as hatred for the homosexual and an attempt to deprive him of his civil rights. Make Christian belief that fornication is sin and illegitimacy is an evil society should make every effort to discourage into perverse, bigoted desire to assert moral superiority and grind the faces of the subsidized poor. Make attempts to bring natural law or universally accepted moral principles to bear on public discourse a covert attempt to establish religion. Enlist dim and compromised Christians by representing to them that the party standing for all these things is the party of Christian charity because the public resources it uses to assist in killing some children are used to feed others. Do these effectively, and one can talk as much about God and be as religious and true-blue American as one pleases. The threat of any real God has been effectively removed, while the party that has accomplished this feat can claim both civic and religious virtue. 

There is, I suspect, no way one can convince devout Democrats, especially those who think of themselves as serious Christians, that the April issue wasn’t a politically motivated attack on their party by the Republican religious right, but that is because they have no choice but to see it that way. They simply cannot read it as it was intended to read: as a Christian protest against the sinful and shabby habits of mind that allow them to support the Democratic party.  If we are correct, their right to believe themselves Christians is called into serious doubt by what is said in this issue, and they know it.  That is why we are hearing, along with congratulations, a great many screams. Our call is not to vote Republican, but to think and act like Christians in the political arena as much as any other. We doubt this can be done in cooperation with the Democratic Party any more than it can be done with Nazis or Communists, for we recognize little substantive difference between explicit and practical atheism.

S. M. Hutchens, for the editors

After Consultation with Tertullian, St. Thomas, Kierkegaard, Barth, and Several Others
Saturday, October 25, 2008, 9:09 AM

Sometime in Fr. Reardon’s early youth Tertullian asked what Athens had to do with Jerusalem. The question has bothered me a lot too, and over the course of time and consultation I have decided the answer is this: Nothing, necessarily–as he thought it was–but this doesn’t mean Jerusalem has nothing to do with Athens, for Jerusalem has to do with everything.

Philosophy needn’t be a Godless business, but it is always a risky one, dealing as it does in abstraction, fundamentally in the doctrine of Being, the permutations thereupon called metaphysics, with the necessary accompaniment of epistemology, the study of apprehension. (I cannot consider much of what is being done by modern philosophers as philosophy: it is rather criticism in which philosophy is brought to bear against itself, serpens caudam suam vorans, and hence absurd in the technical sense of the term. The church may take an interest in this as a physician takes interest in disease, but not as a builder might contemplate a tree.)

The abstraction, however, may undergo baptism as an image of the Real, and as such become iconic. There is no need for philosophy in the church, just as there is no need for the terms homoousios or Trinity to describe God. But these “philosophical” terms have been shown to have explanatory, that is, apologetic, value, so Jerusalem has chosen to use and legitimize them, as it may any symbol or symbolic construct.

But the symbols and systems themselves are “wild,” with no necessary connection to the reality they are meant to describe, or to what the church believes. The citizens of Jerusalem are free to take the spoils of philosophical cities they have mastered, but there is much critical work involved in knowing what and how much to take.

Naming Heresy
Monday, October 6, 2008, 11:12 AM

Friends have told me there are a number of influential people who have come to the conclusion that egalitarianism is a heresy, but for various reasons decline to identify it as such in their public communication.

I understand those reasons, and myself enjoy similar reticence from those who consider me a heretic. Although the documents of Vatican II do not use that word to describe Protestants, their definitions justify it. Protestants will not confess one or more doctrines the Roman Church teaches are de fide–required of all the faithful–and this has alienated them, formally. To Catholics, Protestants are heretics. I don’t think it bothers them much, since most of them appear to be undeclared Protestants themselves, but few of them make heavy weather of it, and I am grateful.

My own willingness to name egalitarians as heretics, however, arises from several grounds. First, admittedly, I have far less to lose by doing it than many do. My wages are not paid by anyone who cares much (yet) about my religious opinions, and there is no disagreement on the issue in my immediate family. I don’t have much status, or any club memberships to lose–I long ago gave up on these. I have known, and believed, from my early youth that Christians who act and think like Christians should expect to pay for it in this world, sometimes with their lives. I don’t much like “marginalization,” and like even less the cloud that so often covers the faces of some people when they find out who I am, but have tried to be prepared much worse. When I see the horrors to which other believers are subject for trying to be Christians, why should I complain about a bit of unpopularity?

Second, I believe the charge is true. This doesn’t mean that one need scream heresy with every other breath, but it does mean he must act, in the place he is found, in accordance with the belief. There was a time when I didn’t really wish to look into the matter and said it wasn’t a hill I was willing to die upon. I hoped it wasn’t important. But still, I agreed with J. Gresham Machen about what theological liberalism is, and with H. Richard Niebuhr on what it does to the doctrine of churches that adopt it. During my years as a pastor in and member of mainline Protestant churches I witnessed egalitarianism as a natural outgrowth of the teaching of formerly evangelical churches (for that is what the “mainline” is) that had rejected the authority of scripture and tradition, creating a humanistic religion that employed Christian words and symbols in the service of something that was not Christianity. Egalitarianism, with women’s ordination and “inclusive” language as its distinctive sacraments, was welcomed in and promoted by the same "progressive" minds, the same means, and the same operations that had established theological liberalism in the churches, and would later introduce even more drastic departures from Christian faith and practice. It had to be examined, and the conclusion I found inescapable was that it was an anthropological heresy that of necessity infected all Christian teaching about God and creation.

Finally–and this consideration removed any hesitancies I might still have entertained–I have come to believe this is the time when the identification of egalitarianism as a heresy should be clearly made, especially for the good of the churches upon which it has recently settled. It is a kairotic moment, particularly among Evangelicals, for they find themselves in the time when the first generation of heretical teachers (I am not speaking of the pioneers, most of whom have now passed from the scene) is still holding forth, and in the process of confirming and consolidating its power and influence. This is the first generation in which the majority of their colleges, seminaries, and publishing houses have come fully into egalitarian hands, or whose leaders will not effectively oppose it. It is the first generation of full dominance by those who have consciously and deliberately betrayed the universal faith for their positions and influence, or because they know egalitarianism wrong but are reluctant stand against it with appropriate force.

It is time the creature that has emerged from the egg they have hatched be given its proper name by those concerned for the integrity of the Christian faith, time for all the desperate and wildly improbable interpretations egalitarian operators have inflicted upon scripture and church history, and their insolent effrontery in the face of every venerable authority, be identified for what it is. The thing they have engendered is now fully born and they are claiming its covenental right to reception in the Church. If this is the time Christian baptism is being claimed on its behalf, then this is also the time to name it. Until it is named, and named correctly, it will not be recognized for what it is and cannot be dealt with accordingly.


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