Another of my now-and-then reflections.
One of my good friends several years ago gave up on the church. Still a “believer”, he embarked on a private study of Christian doctrine, only to “discover” that the traditional biblical texts were no longer to be trusted, and instead needed to be rewritten à la Bishop Spong, the Jesus Seminar authors, and other historical Jesus questers. Rightly, evangelicals and others critiqued these mainly flights of fancy approaches to the traditional texts as unbiblical “liberalism”. (One of the best critiques is The Real Jesus by Luke Timothy Johnson.) My friend, an accomplished professional educator, nonetheless further discovered that the essence of Jesus’ way was his ethical teachings. Only for him, not surprisingly, Jesus’ ethics sounded remarkably similar to the enlightened, politically correct, post-modernist liberal mindset of late-20th century Western academia. That cultural norm had in fact become my friend’s new “text” instead of the Bible.
It therefore is not surprising that Jesus’ disturbing ethic for authentic spirituality – nonnegotiable consistent love of neighbour/enemy (Matt. 5:38 – 48) – was jettisoned by my friend in the wake of NATO’s recent war against Yugoslavia. In its place was (reluctant) support of the bombings to gain justice for the Kosovars. That is, after all, what “liberals” do: in the language of I John, they “deny [imitation of] the Father and the Son” as ethically the standard. (Compare Eph. 5:1 & 2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”)
But a ubiquitous spirit of the antichrist, no less “liberal” to the core though largely unrecognized, is majority evangelical/traditional Christian teaching and practice about enemies. The war against Yugoslavia by NATO has typically elicited a resounding silence from evangelical leaders across the spectrum, with isolated exceptions. The only difference from my “liberal” friend is protestation. My friend and his ilk do not protest close allegiance to the traditional biblical texts: on the contrary! But evangelicals loudly proclaim such loyalty, then inevitably join the ethical camp of “liberals” almost univocally when it comes to the stark issue of response to injustice and violence.
Please click on: Antichrists