But what really scares me is the kind of stuff I read on blogs like this: the threat of conservative extremists in lockstep to "take back" the country "for Jesus".Conservative Christians are out to “take the country back for Jesus.” This is a common conspiracy theory some progressives make against people of orthodox faith. What orthodox Christians believe is that Biblical teaching is healthy for all people, and we long to let people hear the Good News. Orthodox Christians cannot seem to express an opinion about morality or the nation without being accused of being reconstructionist.
Reconstructionists are a tiny fringe-group of Christians who propose turning the USA into a Christian theocracy. This is something I find to be unbiblical (read Romans 13) and frightening. I believe in the separation of Church and State. As I told this commenter, I frequently have to remind my liberal friends that the separation of Church and State doesn’t mean that I cannot express opinions. I should be able to express my opinions without being classified with a fringe group.
The US print and airwave media are particularly guilty as they propagate and promote suspicion of orthodox Christians (fundamentalists, in their terms). While liberal Christians have organized politically for decades, when evangelicals do the same, it becomes an issue of separation of Church and State.
The next conspiratorial accusation has an element of truth in it. I hadn’t realized that I was part of such a conspiracy as I participated in the New Wineskins (NWAC).
I should also point out that Tom is a leading member of a group that has been criticized for attempting manipulation through secrecy (the NWAC).“Are you now, or were you ever a member of the NWAC?” is the kind of McCarthy-esque question I can hear progressives in the PCUSA asking. My answer to both questions, proudly, is “yes.”
NWAC wasn’t and isn’t a conspiracy. We weren’t meeting to take over the denomination. Originally, we wanted to influence the denomination through its existing structure. Eventually, we just wanted to leave in peace without persecution or penalty. I cannot remember us manipulating anyone, since we never pressed churches, pastors, or elders to join with us.
We’ve published all of our papers (the results of our “conspiratorial” conversations) in a timely fashion. We’ve invited denominational people and the press to our planning meetings.
Other meetings were public. Denominational officials—including the PCUSA legal officers—were at the convocation held at the Kirk last summer. We spoke openly about what we wished for and advocated. We spoke so openly that my former general presbyter informed me that he had at least seven justifications to have me removed from the pastorate.
I am, though, aware of some behind-the-doors meetings amongst PCUSA leaders. One such meeting resulted in secret legal filings against our property. Another such meeting produced the PCUSA take-no-prisoners legal game plan. That “secret” is still being kept. Ask your denominational officials if they’ve read the paper. The current moderator of the General Assembly told the Montreat church that she hadn’t. The phrase “plausible deniability” comes to mind when I hear such responses.
Oh—there is one secret the NWAC has kept throughout. That is the list of churches belonging to us. Why is this secret? Because, at the time of our planning, presbyteries like Kiskiminetas were making plans to thwart churches from even talking about the possibility of leaving. Pastors of such churches were—and are—particularly vulnerable if they simply say what’s on their minds.
Conspiracy theories are always grist for the gossip mill. NWAC is no conspiracy—it is an up-front movement to help orthodox Presbyterian pastors and congregations find an alternative to a future in the theological wasteland and mean spirit of the PCUSA.
Keep praying—keep the faith,