Praise God for the love and compassion of Bible-believing Christians...

(Tim) This is written by a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. Thinking readers might have some responses, I post it here. I've received it second or third hand, so I don't know the writer or context.

While recognizing that some people have a calling from God to speak out specifically on these sins, I find that the focus among many Evangelicals on the abortion and same-sex marriage issues to the exclusion of all others reflects the extreme individualism of Protestant theology and ethics, both "conservative" and "liberal". Evangelicals care rightly about the killing that goes on within a woman's womb, and about the improper and irreverent use of our God-given sexual organs in our own bodies or in the bodies of others. But there is not always a corresponding concern about the killing and grave threats to human life that are present outside of the womb, and about the improper and irreverent use of the natural world and material possessions given to us by God.

I don't think it's an accident that the same individualistic faith traditions that emphasize and sanctify "my personal choice" (to accept Jesus as "personal Savior" in the case of conservative Protestants, to have an abortion as a "personal matter" in the case of the liberals) but downplay the physical unity and continuity of the Body of Christ across space and time would also be quite uncertain regarding the social obligations that Christians have to their political and military enemies, to the poor and sick among us, and to the rest of God's creation. A faith tradition that fails to connect our moral obligations inside our bodies with our moral obligations outside of our bodies is deficient in both its anthropology and its ecology.

To get things started, it seems to me evangelicals are now close to the heart of the movement for the social justice of cutting carbon emissions, calling for the government to increase funds for AIDS research, and shaming people who litter. Rick Warren, anyone? Brian McLaren? Rob Bell up there in Grand Rapids? Inter-Varsity? Zondervan? Navigators? Willow Creek? Tim Keller and his flock?

And of course, every last prof at Covenant and Taylor and Gordon and Westmont and Wheaton.

Maybe our critic is only speaking of historic evangelicalism--not the classic liberalism that's taken over these past few decades.

But then he has an entirely different problem...

Namely, that historic evangelicals are the ones to thank for most of the opposition to oppression and carrying out social reforms the world has ever known. Speaking as the son of one of the more prominent leaders of evangelicalism in the last half of the twentieth century, back in the fifties and sixties our home was characterized by personal involvement in opposing racism, taking in stray children, giving sacrificially for literacy work in the poorest parts of the world, and the list goes on. Compassion?

Well, for years prior to Dad's death, Dad and Mud held a weekly Bible study at the local poverty nursing home where a group of friendless old people awaited them each week--their feeding of the Word but also of cake and cookies and drinks and visits and outings.

My father-in-law, too, was one of the more prominent leaders within evangelicalism and his entire wealth (quite considerable) went to the poor around the world. I would be embarrassed (or proud) to put up here a pic of the car he owned when he died.

And Doug Wilson's dad--also one of the leaders of late twentieth century evangelicalism? What a servant's heart he has still today as he comes to the end of his life and, giving up most of his ministry to the strays downtown in Moscow, Idaho, stays home to care for his wife of umpteen years.

Thing is, these men and their beloved wives never promoted themselves as advocates of social justice. They never sold themselves as the true keepers of racial equity and environmentalism. Unlike those blabbermouths, Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Rick Warren, they were humble and quiet and efficient. So their reward is in Heaven.

But I did think you should know about them.

This is not even to mention that ultimate act of compassion, proclaiming the Gospel to the lost, calling them to repent and believe for the forgiveness of sins.

One final comment. Read Paul Johnson's Intellectuals and you'll find that the trait common to the greatest names among intellectuals in the past couple of centuries was their promoting themselves as possessing and working for the love of mankind while despising and treating with cruelty those particular souls they lived with and among--their wives, particularly; but also their maids and siblings and children. Get the book and read it if you want to know what men are like who claim to be the keepers of the flame for social justice and racial reconciliation and healing the earth.


> the improper and irreverent use of the natural world and material possessions given to us by God.

I hope I'm wrong, but I expect people who talk like this are also in favor of supporting government-created climate change hysteria, and the resulting power grabs by Big Brother to redistribute the wealth by force to third world countries via "climate debt" that we supposedly 'owe' them, a la Copenhagen next month, not to mention controlling every aspect of our lives for the sake of the new religion.

"Fight Climate Change: Christians for One World Government Unite!"

Green communism. You will comply. The planet must be saved from humanity at all costs. Long live Mother Earth!

Obama's socialist regulatory czar has even said that climate change should be the vehicle used for world-wide wealth-redistribution.

This is the perfect crisis for despots. It will never go away. The sky will be falling as long as the want it to.

There is nothing with taking personal responsibility for how we live, of course. But watch out for the climate-control Scribes and Pharisees.

My first response is to wonder what this correspondent means by "physical unity of the church".

My second is to ask myself what the Eastern Orthodox really have to share regarding the knowledge of obligations to the poor and sick, to enemies, and to the environment. Seen a smog report from Athens? Ethnic relations between Greek and Turk? (or Russian and most anyone else in Eastern Europe?)

I'll be glad to be proven wrong, and it would be nonsense for me to argue that my own denomination is perfect. That said, here's what I've seen.

I've had great encouragement to care for the poor, reach out to others, and more. And I've seen response; working for Habitat for Humanity, serving the poor on the rough streets of Compton, serving poor mothers in crisis pregnancy centers, installing fuel efficient lightbulbs, furnaces, thermostats, and more in homes and church buildings.....

....perhaps one could do more, but I hesitate to think that our correspondent ought to assume that the communal worship of the Eastern Orthodox is exceeding the evangelicals in this regard.

I'd never quite realized that Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, putting more weight on the church and less on the believer, would be more collectivist politically, but it makes sense. The particular application is weird, though. I can see how one might argue that Protestants would put more weight on sins against property, but why is it individualistic to condemn abortion and sodomy? Indeed, the defense of those two sins are usually as acts of individual freedom, whereas the defense of greed and neglect of the poor is justified in terms of the collective good of strenghtening the economy.

And, of course, Roman Catholics are the most forthright opponents of abortion, so the writer's explanation doesn't fit the facts.

It seems many churches are more concerned about promoting a global government for salvation from CO2, than about preparing for the return of Christ.

I came across this article describing a campaign the World Council of Churches is organizing - to get every church to ring their bells 350 times Dec 13th during the climate change summit in Copenhagen. Calling for action, they hope against all odds to save our planet.

This brings to mind a certain poem I read 20 years ago, by Edgar Allen Poe, "The Bells". I read it once and never forgot it.

Part 3 takes on new meaning when churches use their bells to warn against our exhale. Bells, "What a tale of terror tells, of Despair!":

"Hear the loud alarum bells-
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now- now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells-
Of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!"

"Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227)."

From an article reviewing the book Who Really Cares by Arthur Brooks.

The writer appears to forget two basic principles. First, there is a difference between contingent evils and instrinsic evils. Part of the post alludes to war - this would be a contingent evil. A war can be just, depending upon the circumstances under which it is prosecuted. Abortion, on the other hand, is an intrinsic evil -- it is always and everywhere an evil act, one never to be willingly undertaken by a Christian.

Now I realize the writer is EO, but he also ignores another principle of justice, well understood within Roman Catholicism and Protestantism (at least the kind of Protestantism with which he appears to disagree on matters of social justice). And this is the principle of subsidiarity. The men Tim describes and their quiet acts of charity are precisely how the Christian should be caring for his neighbor. The EO writer appears to make the same mistake that McLaren and friends as well as a number of liberal Catholic groups make - they forget this principle of subsidiarity and focus their energies on a larger scale. This is very convenient because, in this manner, one can be seen to be doing good for the poor and working towards social justice without ever getting their hands dirty in caring, daily, for one single individual soul.

Much easier to march in a crowd than to sit with an elderly woman, alone in the world, and lonely in a smelly nursing home. Much easier to bid for a cruise at a silent auction than take in a foster child and risk getting the family silver nicked. Much easier to buy a table at the annual dinner dance than to take your lunch hour to be a witness for life at the local abortuary.

I know the deep pockets are needed as well -- but I am thankful to Leslie for pointing ro Arthur Brooks' work which shows us whose pockets really are deep and whose hands get dirty and whose hearts get broken when the foster child they had taken in turns on them.

Then, I'd also like to ask where the Orthodox are in the fight for life and family? When was the last time you saw a contingent of Orthodox at the Planned Parenthood Clinic on killing day? When was the last time you heard an Orthodox priest quoted in the fight against the normalization of pseudogamy?


>The writer appears to forget two basic principles.

One doesn't forget what one never knew. This person isn't concerned about issues. This is nothing more than a very transparent chest thumping justification of himself and his decision to embrace EO. How droll. Must be Frankie Schaeffer.

While I think the "individualistic" charge might be laid at evangelicals to a certain extent, in Reformed theology there is an emphasis on the covenant.

Among many Reformed folks there an emphasis on applying the word of God to every area of life as evidenced by what was written in this post and others.

Actually, with the Orthodox and Catholics there is a spilt. Actually, its not the collective that versus the Individaul that makes them more for a plan economy than Protestants but a medieval views of Economics as well as theology. The Byzantine Empire was not quite Capitalist in the modern sense. Also, the middle ages was a period where usuary or the charging of interest was frown upon. However, the Byzantines going back to Justinian did not try to outlaw interest as the Roman Catholic West but control it. Protestants who develop both their theological and ecnomonic theories in more modern times would be more likely to be more pro-market. However,there are some very liberal protestants and some pro-market Orthodox and Roman Catholics.

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