The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity
Claims to be "new," but lots of old cliches here
Ã¢ÂÂA deep and exciting shift is taking place within the Christian faith.Ã¢ÂÂ No, it isnÃ¢ÂÂt. ItÃ¢ÂÂs the same old tired Social Gospel the liberals peddled a century ago.
The twelve Affirmations are the usual liberal platitudes. In Affirmation 1, God commands Christians to walk Ã¢ÂÂfully in the path of Jesus without denying the legitimacy of other paths that God may provide.Ã¢ÂÂ Right Ã¢ÂÂ be a Christian, and donÃ¢ÂÂt feel the need to convert anyone. To accept this, however, requires discarding the Book of Acts, which shows the apostles living (like us) in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society, yet they were not shy about preaching that Christ was THE way to salvation. But of course, modern liberals have a better understanding of Christ than the apostles did.
Affirmation 2 says Christians must Ã¢ÂÂstudy the ancient testimonies which we call Scripture,Ã¢ÂÂ which is another form of the familiar liberal clichÃÂ© Ã¢ÂÂWe take the Bible seriously but not literally.Ã¢ÂÂ The same Affirmation refers to Ã¢ÂÂattending to GodÃ¢ÂÂs present activity in the worldÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ which doesnÃ¢ÂÂt sound bad, except that Ã¢ÂÂGodÃ¢ÂÂs present activityÃ¢ÂÂ always coincides with liberal social policy. (Scripture versus liberal social policy Ã¢ÂÂ guess which looms larger in the liberalsÃ¢ÂÂ worldview.)
Affirmation 3 pays respect to the tree-huggers and eco-chondriacs, since we should be Ã¢ÂÂcelebrating the God whose Spirit pervades and whose glory is reflected in all of GodÃ¢ÂÂs creation, including the earth and its ecosystems.Ã¢ÂÂ You will search the Bible in vain for any passage that speaks of GodÃ¢ÂÂs Spirit Ã¢ÂÂpervadingÃ¢ÂÂ all creation. This is Ã¢ÂÂfluff,Ã¢ÂÂ designed to appeal to the petty-minded types who think God smiles on them when they sort their garbage into little piles by the curb.
The Ã¢ÂÂbiggie,Ã¢ÂÂ of course is Affirmation 5, which says Christians must treat all people as creations in GodÃ¢ÂÂs image, Ã¢ÂÂregardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental ability, nationality, or economic class.Ã¢ÂÂ That list only includes one item (sexual orientation) that is a point of controversy. But by bundling that one item with the others Ã¢ÂÂ race, gender, age, physical or mental ability, nationality, or economic class Ã¢ÂÂ there is the suggestion that OTHER churches (the ones who have some, er, issues with sexual orientation ) would also discriminate against people on account of race, gender, age, etc. Not even remotely true. No church in America turns people away, including gays and lesbians, but liberals like to make it sound as if conservative churches post armed thugs at the door just waiting to pounce on a suspected gay Ã¢ÂÂ or (by implication) a black, old person, man in wheelchair, mentally retarded person, foreigner. (When someone says Ã¢ÂÂI didnÃ¢ÂÂt feel comfortable in that church,Ã¢ÂÂ the liberal translates that as Ã¢ÂÂthe church turns people away!Ã¢ÂÂ) The mention of Ã¢ÂÂgenderÃ¢ÂÂ is laughable Ã¢ÂÂ what church doesnÃ¢ÂÂt have more women than men?
Regarding Affirmations 9 through 12, Ã¢ÂÂChristian Love of SelfÃ¢ÂÂ: The whole category is bogus. There is no Ã¢ÂÂlove of selfÃ¢ÂÂ commanded in the Bible, or in the Christian tradition, period. True, Jesus said Ã¢ÂÂLove your neighbor as yourself.Ã¢ÂÂ But that isnÃ¢ÂÂt a command to love self. Jesus was assuming the obvious: people already love themselves. Ã¢ÂÂCommandingÃ¢ÂÂ people to love themselves would be like commanding them to breathe. There is no commandment to love self Ã¢ÂÂ if anything, the Bible is constantly reminding us: stop your self-centered behavior and show consideration for others
Affirmation 9: Ã¢ÂÂWe, and all people, are loved beyond our wildest imagination Ã¢ÂÂ for all eternity.Ã¢ÂÂ ThatÃ¢ÂÂs called Ã¢ÂÂuniversalismÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ i.e., there is no hell. In fact, the affirmation isnÃ¢ÂÂt clear on heaven, either. (In polls, a wide majority of libs say they donÃ¢ÂÂt believe in hell Ã¢ÂÂ no surprise Ã¢ÂÂ but not that many believe in heaven, either.) Sorry, but the Bible does teach hell, whether itÃ¢ÂÂs Politically Correct or not.
I had to laugh at Affirmation 11: love of self includes Ã¢ÂÂcaring for our bodiesÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ well, duh! So now itÃ¢ÂÂs a sacred obligation to monitor your cholesterol?. In the commentary, this Eric Elnes (who could win the Pompous Prose Prize hands down) refers to Ã¢ÂÂthe right to be responsible for decisions governing oneÃ¢ÂÂs body.Ã¢ÂÂ (How exactly does one Ã¢ÂÂgovern oneÃ¢ÂÂs bodyÃ¢ÂÂ?) Stop and think, reader Ã¢ÂÂ is there a problem in America with people NOT thinking about their bodies enough? This is the church led by the culture, not by the Bible. Like Ã¢ÂÂlove yourself,Ã¢ÂÂ itÃ¢ÂÂs the same as Ã¢ÂÂGod commands you to breathe.Ã¢ÂÂ
October 2, 2012