Monday, March 22, 2010

Responses to Health Care Reform Demonstrate Christian Accommodation to Culture

I saw an interesting blog posting yesterday from the "Anglican Curmudgeon" which discusses how, as the title of his piece puts it, "Episcopalians Are Becoming Indistinguishable from the Culture." In a different way, I made a similar point this past summer in my postings entitled "Politicizing the Church" and "Politicizing the Church: 2." Here's part of what I wrote:

Using the world's categories to judge (much less "fix") the Church often ends us look more like Republicans and Democrats slugging it out in Congress than Christians. Most people I know are weary of such political fights and the rhetoric that accompanies them. Little wonder, then, if we turn off those whom we are called to serve and incorporate into the Body of Christ when (however well-intentioned) we use such political means.

We Episcopalians (and other Christians) increasingly think of the Church as an extension of our lifestyle enclaves, special interest groups, and political party affiliations rather than holding her in reverence as the Body of Christ. (As an aside, do we even know what it means to practice reverence anymore? Or is Paul Woodruff right that reverence is "a forgotten virtue"?) We think of the Church as little more than a merely human institution, and thus as another arena for competing wills to power to strive for dominance using whatever means are necessary for achieving "just" and "righteous" ends.

The depths of our accommodation to an irreverent, secular culture may, in part, explain why some otherwise orthodox Christians characterize persons (including other Christians) with whom they disagree on the issues raised in the current debate over health care reform as "f***ing socialists" and then go on to express the hope that, if the results don't go to their liking, that members of Congress be killed by a cosmic catastrophe or lynched. And given last night's passage of the health care reform bill, it will come as no surprise if the zealous redouble their prayers for the President's death. (I note that, judging from the rhetoric, many "progressive" Christians and others on the opposing side of the issues do not occupy a moral high ground.)

We have enlisted our Christianity to serve our free-market libertarianism or our welfare-state liberalism.

I typically don't agree with evangelicals who invoke the specter of damnation, but under the circumstances, I find the following posting from Andrew Walker at "Mere Orthodoxy" a welcome corrective to all of this:

A wise word and by word, I mean “Tweet” from everyone’s favorite Southern Baptist sage, Dr. Russell Moore: “If your passions are more provoked today by this health care plan than they were yesterday by your neighbors going to hell: wonder why?”

History isn’t written according to quill and parchment.

Eloquent doom and gloom will abound for sure; even by those whom I agree with. Some, perhaps all, of it will be true. Today’s (likely) legislation triggers the most expansive statist progress since FDR or LBJ. The raucous around the water-cooler may hold a more harsher tone of vehemence tomorrow ... but I have profound news for you: The sun, Lord willing, will rise. The earth will continue its rotation around its axis, and Washington pundits are still promised to bow to a greater Physician yet to come.

As evidenced by the unbridled passion and disrespect for the dignity of other persons in response to public policy debates like the one over health care reform, many of us Christians are indistinguishable from the irreverent, secular culture in which we live. What does that tell us about who or what is the true object of our faith? Who do we really believe is Lord?

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