Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yearning for respectability

At First Things, Wilfred McClay writes about the seeming inability of Christian spokesmen to address public issues with any depth of understanding or moral clarity.

Part of the difficulty is an unwillingness to recognize one's limitations. Authority in one field does not transfer to another. Really good actors demonstrate this truth with depressing frequency. A fine novelist may know a great deal about the human condition, but nothing about the environment, except what he read in the New York Times. I've studied, read, thought, and taught politics and international relations all of my adult life, but am completely out of my depth among genuine biblical scholars.

McClay describes some of N.T. Wright's unfortunate - even silly - opinions about American foreign policy. Other examples include An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture, endorsed by the National Association of Evangelicals, and their statement For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility, in each case seemingly more about "re-branding" Evangelicalism than seriously engaging the issues:
...the NAE seems to have lost its bearings, getting onboard, for example, with trendy environmental positions about which it has nothing much to offer but a chirpy “me too,” thereby succumbing to one of the greatest moral temptations coiled at the heart of modern American evangelicalism: the yearning for mainstream respectability.
No doubt, those who have made these statements are sincere. And if the motive is to demonstrate independence from the "religious Right," it is not ignoble. The faith should not be captive to any political ideology, left or right. The real danger is for Christians to be seen as lightweights because we don't really know what we are talking about - and even more so when transparently responding to the Zeitgeist.

FIRST THINGS: On the Square » Blog Archive » Theology and Civil Authority in Time of War

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