Sunday, November 26, 2006

Are Liberal Christians really Atheists?

Interesting question, huh? One you would expect to be posed by the likes of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. But it may shock you to discover that this question was presented by an atheist, Sam Harris. Read this:

Q --But perhaps the most central thesis of your book, the attack on irrational faith itself, doesn’t that offend people on both sides of the political spectrum?
A --The most controversial aspect of my book has been this criticism I make of religious moderates. Most people think that while religious extremism is problematic and polarizing, religious tolerance is entirely blameless and is the remedy for all that ails us on this front.
But religious moderates are giving cover to fundamentalists because of the respect that moderates demand of faith-based talk. Religious moderation doesn’t allow us to say the really critical things we must say about the abject stupidity of religious fundamentalism. And as a result, it keeps fundamentalism in play, and fundamentalists make very cynical and artful use of the cover they’re getting by the political correctness in our discourse.
Q --You also say religious moderation closes the door to more sophisticated approaches to spirituality, ethics and the building of strong communities. What did you mean by that?
Religious moderation is just a cherry-picking of scripture, ultimately. It is just diluted Iron Age philosophy. It isn’t a 21st century approach to talking about the contemplative life, or spiritual experience, or ethical norms, or those features that keep communities strong and healthy.
Religious moderation is a relaxation of the standards of adherence to ancient taboos and superstitions. That’s really all it is. Moderate Christians have agreed not to read the bible literally, and not read certain sections of it at all, and then they come away with a much more progressive, tolerant and ecumenical version of Christianity. They just pay attention to Jesus when he’s sermonizing on the Mount, and claim that is the true Christianity. Well that’s not the true Christianity. It’s a selective reading of certain aspects of Christianity. The other face of Christianity is always waiting in the book to be resurrected. You can find the Jesus of Second Thessalonians who’s going to come back and hurl sinners into the pit. This is the Jesus being celebrated in the Left Behind novels. This is the Jesus that half the American population is expecting to see come down out of the clouds. (Click Here to see the full interview)

Wow. He's basically accusing liberal (which they call 'moderate') Christians of allowing the conservative (which they call 'fundamentalist') Christians to continue to exist. While I obviously have many disagreements with Harris' opinions, the focus here is on that which we do agree. Liberal Christianity makes no sense. As he notes, the liberals don't believe the Bible, they don't believe in Christ's virgin birth or resurrection, and they don't believe in a literal heaven or hell. That isn't Christianity; It's Atheism in disguise!

Links to Liberal/Moderate Denominations:
1) Episcopal Church USA
2) American Baptist Churches USA
3) Presbyterian Church USA
4) The United Methodist Church
5) United Church of Christ


Deborah Wheeler said...

This is really good and true Joshua. I look forward to reading you Blogs and sharing them!

reo said...

hey man
i read it and understood it for the most part
you just made me smarter and my head hurt a little
thanks man


Balloon Master Vaughn said...

Probably more agnosticism.