Some thoughts on the so-called Benedict option

Here a links to a couple of interesting pieces I read on the Internet today about the challenges facing Christians.

Rod Dreher reports on a sermon by Southern Baptist Russell Moore at a conference he attended.  I especially liked these paragraphs because they reminded me so much of what many of us who came from the Anglican Communion went through:

Moore said that for Christians, the thing that must be preserved above all is the Gospel. Today, as in the early church, we are confronted by the question of Scriptural authority: Is the Bible truly the binding word of God?

“The debates we are having about human sexuality now are really not about sexuality. They are about whether the word we have is from God,” said Moore. “If the Word of God has been delivered by God through his apostles to us, and says you must submit your creatureliness, even your sexuality, to the Lordship of Christ.”

That’s one claim, he said. Another is that we know so much more about sexuality than the authors of Scripture did, and we therefore don’t have to take their teachings on it seriously.

Moore, citing St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, said we had all better fear the judgment of God, not other men.

“You will not have the courage and confidence to stand in whatever moment you face simply because you have better ideas and arguments,” he said. “I’m all for talking about the common good, and human flourishing [but] those are all secondary means to get to the main conversation. And the main conversation is, has God spoken, and what has God said?”

I remember a talk New Testament scholar Edith Humphrey gave to people of the Anglican essentials movement here in Ottawa  well over a decade ago, before the Anglican Network in Canada split from the Anglican Church of Canada.


OTTAWA — New Testament scholar Edith Humphrey says the debate over homosexual eroticism, which threatens to divide the Anglican Church, is the “tip of the iceberg” already scraping the hull of the whole Christian Church. She says the next debate will be about the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

Under the surface are deep divisions over the authority of Scripture, the Church’s traditional interpretation of the Bible, and the role of reason and of human experience, the associate professor of theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary told hundreds of concerned Anglicans who packed a downtown Ottawa church on February 11.

Revisionist theologians talk about experience as if it trumps Scripture and everything else, she said, adding that they heed other sources rather than the Bible and assume they know more about human sexuality than those who wrote the New Testament. Humphrey warned that what’s being preached is a new gospel of “inclusivity and welcome” instead of the “Gospel of redemption, transformation and healing.” While the new gospel involves a “vague idea of acceptance,” the traditional Christian Gospel demands repentance and obedience, she said.

Now, for those Christians who believe in the Gospel as handed down from the eye-witness accounts of the first Apostles, who believe in the “Gospel of redemption, transformation and healing,” living in an age of apostasy is going to pose massive challenges.

Dreher has been writing a lot about a Benedict option, urging Christians to form intentional communities where they can help each other to preserve the faith and pass it on to future generations.   But David P. Goldman has a most interesting piece over at First Things about what’s to come, in a review of a book by Mary Eberstadt.  Well worth reading.

Goldman writes:

Eberstadt calls the persecution of traditional religion a “witch-hunt”—a critical error. A witch-hunt is a search for malefactors who pretend to be good people but really are intent on doing evil. There is a witch-hunt going on today, namely the search for secret racists at American universities. The witch-hunters pillory teachers and administrators who claim to hold politically correct views but allegedly betray their secret racism through wicked actions, for instance by correcting bad grammarin minority students’ term papers. Loyal liberals who commit no aggressions are said to be guilty of micro-aggressions.

By contrast, the purge of traditional Christians and Jews is a heretic hunt, an Inquisition, whose objective is to isolate and punish individuals who actually profess opinions contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy. There can be some overlap between an Inquisition and a witch-hunt, to be sure. But today’s liberal Inquisitors are not searching for individuals secretly in communion with God—yet.

This is a critical distinction. Witch-hunters eventually discover that burning a few old hags does not prevent cows’ milk from souring. Inquisitions, by contrast, usually succeed: The Catholic Church succeeded in stamping out broadly held heresies, as in the Albigensian Crusade of 1220-1229, which destroyed between 200,000 and 1,000,000 inhabitants of Cathar-controlled towns in Southern France. In many cases a town’s entire population was killed, just to make sure. For its part, the Spanish Inquisition eliminated all the Jews, Muslims, and Protestants, although it sometimes drove heretical opinions underground, with baleful consequences for the Catholic faith.

Because Eberstadt confuses the present persecution with mere witch-hunting, she hopes that the witch-hunters will realize their error and do the decent thing.



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