8/31/2009

True Christians are to Terrible Muslims as True Anglicans are to Miserable Episcopalians.

You know how it works: Its the old compare apples to oranges trick. Only the trick is being played on us.

It starts by some one, say Bishop Nazir-Ali, in a Guardian article, contending that "... there’s a double jeopardy – on the one hand an aggressive secularism that seeks to undermine the traditional principles because it has its own project to foster. On the other is the extremist ideology of radical Islam, which moderate Muslims are also concerned about." He seems so, so...English. A worried cleric, an articulate and oh, so classy way about him. Worried about aggressive secularism and radical Islam. Sounds worrisome.

Very quickly the "aggressive secularism" gets identified with certain liberal forces in Anglicanism. "...he said he would continue to support them (orthodox Anglicans) as they try to stop more churches “capitulating” to modern culture by permitting homosexual clergy or blessing same-sex unions.

“We now have people in the US but not only there who believe things about God, about salvation, about marriage and about human sexuality that seem to be another religion."

So suddenly, it is not aggressive secularism, but regular paid up Anglicans who have capitulated to modern culture (i.e. secularism) and are actually "another religion."

So there we have it: liberal Anglicans are another religion, Islam is another religion. The two are identified as the dual horrors to be dealt with. (Except maybe by moderate Islam, which might be tolerated, but just). A pox on them both.

True Christians and True Anglicans are against those awful religions, Anglicans in cultural captivity and Muslims in radical captivity. Anybody alarmed by radical terrorism claiming Islam as their base can now extend their fear quotient to include liberal Anglicanism which then becomes the terrorism for the so called "orthodox."

Of course the logic is rot.

But never mind, The Rev. Canon Jullian Dobbs, member of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), has announced a new study program, "The Church and Islam." Notice it is not "Christianity and Islam," but "The Church and Islam." This project claims to "help Christians understand the religion of Islam."

The web for "The Church and Islam" states its objectives:

"The objective of these resources is to help Christians in the West [especially Anglican Churches in North America] to understand Islam and the challenge which the rise of Islam poses to the Church and her mission.

Every year, there are thousands of people converting to Islam. In the United Sates, some estimates put this as high as 100,000 per year. Of these:

•4 out of 5 white American converts to Islam are women (The World Almanac and Book of Facts)

•2 out of 3 are from a Protestant background (p. 22, Pew Report)

•Every year, there are thousands of Muslims migrating to the US.

Interfaith and intercultural dialogues are drawing countless pastors and churches into discussions on Islam and Christ. There is growing concern about the emphasis in the evangelical community regarding dialogue with Islam, while not fully comprehending the jeopardy involved."

Now the site also wants us to know that "CANA believes that while studying aspects of the Islamic faith we must show God’s love to Muslim people." And the masthead says, "Muslims are individuals created in the image of God, when Jesus said, “God so loved the world”, God’s love was not meant to exclude the Muslim population of the world." This sounds rather wonderful, and then on closer look what it means is we show God's love to Muslim People by getting them on board with Jesus.

All of which appears to be mostly about evangelical outreach to Islam here in the US as well as everywhere. Fair enough.

But the connection is not lost: CANA is True Christian opposed to Terrible Muslims and for loving not so terrible Muslims into faith in Jesus Christ, just as they are truly Anglican as opposed to those who practice the sort of cultural Christianity that promotes "Interfaith and intercultural dialogues... drawing countless pastors and churches into discussions on Islam and Christ. There is growing concern about the emphasis in the evangelical community regarding dialogue with Islam, while not fully comprehending the jeopardy involved."

Thinking Anglicans rightly posted the Bishop Nazir-Ali interview along with the CANA press release. See the post HERE. TA also refereed us to Jim Naughton's post on The Lead, HERE.

Jim wrote, "Two cents on where I see the breakaway Anglicans heading: the leadership, like Minns, Dobbs, Don Armstrong, etc., will continue to play to big donors and political insiders by agreeing to gin up resentment against whomever the farthest corners of the American right dictate. Meanwhile, on the ground, these churches will present themselves as Baptists with a taste for liturgy--and keep the nature of their origins, their views on human sexuality and their leaders political activities more or less under wraps as they attempt to reach out to young people. The long term prospects of ACNA and its various branches hinges almost entirely on obscuring and growing beyond its homophobic roots as quickly as possible."

I think he is too kind. He is right about the money coming from fear mongering the far right. He is right about Baptists and Liturgy (see soon to be bishop Todd Hunter's interview in Christianity Today, HERE.) His comment concerning long term prospects of ACNA hinging "almost entirely on obscuring and growing beyond its homophobic roots as quickly as possible" is perhaps too gentle. I think ACNA will keep the homophobia and lace the fear of "them" to the fear of the other "them." Queers and Muslims... a dynamic duo of fear and loathing. Knowing the evangelical fervor for it all, we best add Jews to the crowd, and while we are at it feminists, communists, poets, and comedians.

Fear is a wonderful thing: from it the logic of linking the objects of our fears together against the truth of our own being grows and flourishes.

CANA and ACNA want to make the division between their "true" Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church's secular, heretical and culturally compromised ways, and to find a parallel to that in a division between True Christians and Terrible Muslims.

The claim will be that this is true evangelism: rooting out strange religion at home and abroad. The claim will be that to do otherwise is to deny one's faith and betray faithful communities elsewhere.

These claims will fall short of the Good News by a considerable stretch, since the Good News does not begin by suggesting fear, but with the proclamation, "Do not be afraid."





12 comments:

  1. Nazir-Ali is the perfect example of the clerical rabble-rouser.

    It suits him to keep people terrified and divided, for whatever reason; mainly, I suspect, a sense of personal power.

    A false prophet, a dishonest shepherd.

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  2. Mark,

    I think you are wrong in adding "Jews to the crowd" given the Zionist stance of many US evangelicals. A writer - I don't recall who - suggested that the right-wing attacks on gays were prompted by the need to have an enemy. The traditional enemies of some conservatives were no longer available: Roman Catholics because of the abortion issue, African-Americans because they were seen as potential allies on "family values" issues and Jews because of the evangleical support for Israel. While ACnA is not the Southern Baptist Convention, I think it will not stray far from conservative support of Israel. One congregation in WNY that will, I think, be part of ACNA had years of teaching and preaching about the Second Coming from a rector whom I value as a friend. I happened to read a Palm Sunday sermon he preached in another congregation after he retired. His central point was that the Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem was a kind of dress rehearsal for the Second Coming.

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  3. Fr. Daniel Weir... perhaps I am. But I was thinking of parallels to the Barnabas Fund whose interest in converting the Jews is right up there with confronting Islam. The evangelical support of Israel is a different matter and on that you bang on. But remember the support of Israel is a prelude to events of the end times. What happens then leaves everyone not saved in trouble.

    Or at least that is what they tell me.

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  4. "Baptists with a taste for liturgy"

    This is pretty interesting. I hadn't thought about this angle before. I've been reading a lot about the "emergent" movement lately, and one of the features of that is a rediscovery among people without roots in ancient forms of worship and prayer of ancient spiritual practices (Phyllis Tickle has a lot to say about this; Scot McKnight, too). So, praying the Hours, reading the Rule of Benedict, Lectio Divina, and much else are suddenly hot topics.

    Now, of course, most emergents are liberal on at least some social issues and pretty loose about doctrine, so I'm not suggesting the breakaway anglicans are moving into their territory. But it occurs to me that there may in fact be a market niche for a church of Baptists with liturgy. Maybe they'll have some success not so much as anglicans with an unusually evangelical theology, but as evangelicals with an unusually catholic flavor of worship. In other words, maybe their future growth will not be so much through poaching Episcopalians, but Baptists and non-denominationalists.

    Peace,

    MarkP

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  5. I understand your annoyance, but in saying "We now have people in the US but not only there who believe things about God, about salvation, about marriage and about human sexuality that seem to be another religion," Nazir-Ali is unquestionably correct. As he is when he suggests revisionists have capitulated to the culture. The view of sexuality, most notably, but not exclusively, the notion that a man could "marry" another man, expressed by ECUSA has no foundation in Christian thought - ever. As to secularism, you might have an argument if ECUSA had pushed same-sex coupling in 1903 rather than 2003, when "Will and Grace" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" were already well-established cultural facts.

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  6. This is the new meme from the Anglican Right: that to even talk about sexuality, women's ordination, blessing gay partnership is "conformity" and "capitualation" to the "world."

    Nazir-Ali says it here, Chris Sugden said when +Gene was invited to Greenbelt.

    It is, in its way, an admission (and a rather desperate one at that) that the tide is running against them.

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  7. I am reminded of a comment that Bp Gene Robinson's predecessor made when he was accused of capitulating to the culture on the sexuality issue back in 1985 - if they he was capitulating to the culture New Hampshire they must know nothing about that state! Yes, Phil is right that in 1903 our position would have been clearly counter-cultural, but it was in 2003 and still is in 2009.

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  8. yeah, Phil. And that pesky marriage between black and white....that was considered Bibilically suspect back then in 1903. Terrible thing, knowledge and justice....

    The capcha is "matings".

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  9. It has nothing to do with black and white, IT - unless you think one becomes black by "behaving black." And, if you think that, I would suggest that carries more than a hint of racism; if not, your comment is irrelevant.

    -----

    I'd like to be more precise about what I wrote above: I think Nazir-Ali is unquestionably correct that many aspects of the mass media view (= "progressive Christian" view) of sexuality and marriage reflect "another religion" than Christianity. However, I was not intending to claim that those holding those views are not Christian.

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  10. I have every intention of sitting out this encore of the Crusades.

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  11. (laughing)

    Wow, Phil,

    We agree!

    We are a different religion!

    We follow Christ!

    As for capitulating to the culture . . . which culture? The general popular culture which votes against same-sex marriage and supports the death penalty, which decries giving "my money to deadbeats?" Or the culture of Jesus and His Disciples? 'Cause "No" on the first, and "Yes" on the second.

    Please stop the disingenuous outrage. Nobody buys it.

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  12. Someone remind me again, how many liberal religious or liberal secularist suicide bombers are out there?

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