Thursday, March 29, 2007

Progressive Bigotry

The fracas between the The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the USA and the worldwide Anglican communion has revealed a racist rift. The TEC—a denomination dominated by progressivists—was recently warned by the Anglican bodies that they had just a short time left to commit to Biblical teachings on sexuality or be cut off from the larger body. The collective bishops of TEC almost immediately rejected the demand.

There's a problem for western progressives in the Anglican communion: their mission efforts of the 18th and 19th centuries were successful! While the progressivists dominate the western churches, the bishops in the 3rd World outnumber them, creating a liberal crisis whenever a global vote occurs.

The more civil among them criticize the 3rd World Anglicans’ conservative stance as “naïve” or attribute it to their assertion that they “haven’t grown.” I personally have run into this kind of accusation from some PCUSA pastors, trying to explain my conservative commitment away as some kind of ignorance. Such depictions are arrogant and demeaning but, for the most part, they are at least civil.
English morality is much closer to the Americans than the Africans. The problem is the church needs Africa to grow.
The less decent among them, including Retired Bishop John Shelby Spong, a darling of the left, have openly called some 3rd World bishops ignorant and stupid. People such as Spong have left the true Gospel to preach a gospel of their understanding of love. Unlike the love of God for us through Jesus Christ, their liberal love is limited to those who agree with them, or at least keep quiet about disagreeing.

The same thing can be said about the progressive public at large. A recent blog from the religious editor for the Manchester Guardian, Stephen Bates, has drawn a significant flow of bile from his readers. The Guardian is the British bastion of journalistic liberalism. In the 1930s it was the champion of Stalin in the USSR and the Fabian socialists in Britain. In more recent times it has been a voice decrying the place of Christian thought in the public square.

Listen to what some of their readers have said:
The whole history of the Christian Church has been one of controversy and schism, from the days of the Apostles on. Unfortunately this society of cantankerous polytheists keeps on going and causes strife over almost any change in society that does not fit their rigid codes.

American conservatives and the tree swingers probably have a lot in common but as always, an idea pushed through by hungover religious chimps and a half-cut gorilla will always lead to trouble from the Americans.

No doubt the Africans are being 'financed' (probably by extreme rightwingers) to be so hateful.

This is all so utterly utterly irrelevant. Who cares about a bunch of washed up has beens whose moral code is based on the hallucinatory ramblings of some pre-modern nomads. This pathetic line of hate the sin and not the sinner is so tiresome. 2000 years of sexual neurosis and blatant discrimination because of this guilt obsessed cult.

We can't keep on persecuting our ape cousins to the brink of extinction!
The above quotes are from readers of the blog, not the author, but they represent what I read regularly in the liberal blogs and editorials that I follow, and it bothers me that the author and/or the newspaper post such answers. There is a lot of hatred from the people who profess nothing but tolerance.

The sentiments of the people I’ve quoted could be a kind of victory dance on the purported grave of British Christianity. It is certainly true that active Christian faith in Europe has dropped into the single-low-digits percentage of the population. The dancers may think that they’ve won the day.

On the other hand, their hysteria may simply be fear of what is happening in the 3rd World. Biblical Christianity is on the rise in Africa and Asia. It is so strong that it is sending missionaries out to the darkest heart of Europe.

For far too long we’ve assumed that Christianity is a Western phenomenon. What is closer to the truth is that a distorted, institutionalized form of Christianity has dominated the West, most often in collusion with the State. In countries like ours, where there is separation of Church and State, the church is still strong. In countries where Christian faith is persecuted—including much of the 3rd World—it is growing in almost incredible numbers.

I am appalled by the hypocrisy in the progressivist movement. I'm not afraid for the faith, though.

Keep praying--keep the faith,


Phillip J. Owings said...

The church universal, the true bride of Jesus marches trumphant and nothing can stop her.

The whacked-out, progressive humanists have nothing but lies to lean on so they resort to name calling and belittling to continue their self delusion.

Phillip J. Owings

Mark said...

Dear Tom,

I'm appalled by any hypocrisy, be it from liberals, conservatives, moderates, extremists, "don't knows", or "don't cares". There are hypocrites to be found in any group. The "progressivists" don't have a monopoly on that sin.

Bishop Spong may be a darling of some liberals, but not of them all. Personally, I find him to be too strident, arrogant, and divisive, but I can say the same about some who hold views like yours, as well.

My experience is that extremism on either end of a spectrum tends to breed hypocrisy if humility is not present. I believe in taking stands, but I don't believe it should be done by insulting (notice I don't say "offending") the faith of others. Though people will take offense whether or not it's intended, why make matters worse by voicing insults?

Yours in Christ,

Mark said...

Dear Phillip,

Perhaps I'm the only one who thinks so, but isn't it "name calling and belittling" to call someone "whacked-out"?

After Tom blogged "Sound the Alarm" on March 12, other posters justly called me out for my spiteful reaction. Since then, I've tried my best to be civil, not just to pretend that I am.

Is it possible to elevate the level of discourse and not "resort to name calling and belittling" those one accuses of "name calling and belittling"?

Incidentally, not all progressives are humanists, and not all humanists are progressive. My impression is that a majority of those progressive TEC bishops are not humanists.

Yours in Christ,

TomGray said...

Spong's views reject Christian faith--that's my point. I'd be more careful in saying that hypocrisy is at the extremes; we're all hypocritical, myself included. The reason I've pointed out these instances is to demonstrate one specific thing: the difference between an assertion of tolerance and the reality of anything but.

I'm not very concerned about the difference between insulting or offending in this particular case. To me, the rejection of faith is an insult to the church and, mostly, to Almighty God.


Mark said...


First, I agree with you about Spong's excesses.

Second, of course we're all hypocritical. However, it seems to be worse at the poles of the spectrum. That's why I mentioned extremists. (Mind you, I don't think all liberals and conservatives are extremists.) Liberal and conservative extremists alike show the same sin: belittling anyone who doesn't agree with them EXACTLY. Liberal extremists tend to insult their opponents' intelligence. Conservative extremists tend to damn their opponents to hell. I think God finds both extremes abhorrent.

But that's just my personal belief. I'm not holding God or anyone else to it.

Yours in Christ,

Jodie said...


I fail to see how you can paint such a broad stroke over all “progressivists”, whoever they are, on the basis of the alleged comments of a few persons unknown. Your argument is a total fallacy.

Most importantly, I see no reason for you to repeat vulgar comments that are of such a reprehensible and repulsive nature. They sickened me as much as if I had opened your blog and found explicit pornography staring me in the face.

What >were< your thinking?


stephen bates said...

Dear Tom,
I have been passed your blog, which contains a reference to me, by someone who reads it and I am writing to you to correct some misperceptions on your part.
Firstly, you really should get the name of my newspaper right if you are commenting about it. We dropped the Manchester from our title in 1959, when we moved to London - possibly even before you were born! - so you are only about 48 years out.
Secondly, you are also wrong to claim that it was a newspaper that supported Stalinism in the 1930s - some years, in many cases decades, before I or any other staff working for it were born, so this is just an unworthy smear on your part. Our reporters were, in fact, among the first to publish to British readers the effects of the induced famines and forced collectivisations in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, a fact you appear to have unaccountably overlooked in your zeal.
While it is true that some comments on our Comment is Free website are indeed juvenile and demeaning to their authors - what website in the world does not suffer such inappropriateness? - many others are both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
And I guess some of our contributors, who I commission, would be surprised by your sweeping condemnation of those who write for us.
In recent months they have included professors and Oxford college chaplains, the principal of Cuddesdon College, one of the foremost Anglican theological colleges in the UK, a senior rabbi, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the author of a new biography of Wilberforce and, next week for Easter, Dr Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, who is perhaps the world's foremost current authority on the Resurrection. Perhaps you have heard of him?
I myself am a Roman Catholic and I do indeed write from a liberal perspective on some matters, though not all, which I presume is allowed in your doxology. I have been made the UK's national religious writer of the year for the last two years, so perhaps my work is thought not absolutely unworthy of consideration by those who read it regularly.
I draw these points to your attention for I am sure you would not wish to mislead any readers you have. And perhaps in future you will at least take the trouble to get the title of the newspaper you are attacking correct - that's fairly basic isn't it?
Best wishes,
Stephen Bates

Phillip J. Owings said...


You are trying to appear superior in your criticism of all on which you comment. Is that humility? You surely understand the down home meaning of "whacked-out" if you are as intelligent as you would like for us to believe.

I have called my wife, my children, my friends and other associates "whacked-out" when I thought their logic and assertions were unfounded. I even thought Tom was "whacked-out" when he for years kept up the crusade to influence the PCUSA to return to a Bible based denomination for so many years.

People that call themselves Christians and abandon the infallable word of God are "whacked-out", no name calling intended.

Mark said...

Dear Tom,

With all the debates concerning LGBT status within the Anglican Communion (First, Second, or Third World), I am curious how bishops view the situation of individuals who are arrested, beaten, and even murdered simply for being LGBT.

This news report was just released this afternoon:

Should Bishop Allen of the Diocese of Honduras respond to this news? If so, how? What should the Church Militant (regardless of denomination) say and do in the face of such news?

Yours in Christ,

Presbyman said...

Recently, when several parishes voted to secede from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and accept oversight from the Anglican Archdiocese of Uganda (I believe that's the one), Virginia Episcopal Bishop Peter Lee sniffed that the Episcopal Churches had been abandoned and were now occupied by Ugandans. Sounds like a bunch of squatters came in and took over. Classy guy, that Bishop Lee.

If you get a chance check out my own blog that I just started:

Pastor John

Mark said...


No, I'm not superior--far from it. It simply strikes me as a bit odd that someone responding to a blog about supposed bigotry and insulting verbal remarks should use insulting remarks themselves.

Ever since last summer I've had the distinct impression that liberals/progressives are held to a higher standard of blogging conduct than others. Had I called your remarks "whacked-out" you wouldn't have tolerated it, and for good reason. However, if we're not conservative extremists, I guess you have permission to call us anything you want. That smells of a double standard to me.

The church universal, the true bride of Jesus, holds that status only by the grace of Jesus Christ, not by her "un-whacked-out" triumphal marching. Let's remember who we're all worshipping, and why, and seek to be at peace with one another, please.

Yours in Christ,
whose alone is the triumph,

Mark said...

Dear Tom,

Kudos to you (and I really mean it) for posting Stephen Bates' clarification of your errors regarding his publication. THAT shows true humility.

Now if you were to do more research, as he suggests, and then blog a formal apology or even a simple retraction, that would show true courage.

May God grant you the courage to match your humility.

In Christ,