Tim Dalrymple: If You’re Selling Scorn for Conservative Christians, the Market is Hot

Tim Dalrymple is one of my favorite writers of matters of faith and culture. Why? Because he makes me think in news ways, again and again and again.

Tim Dalrymple

I read his recent post on his Philosophical Fragments blog: “If You’re Selling Scorn for Conservative Christians, the Market is Hot.” The title suggested a common complaint that the mainstream media doesn’t give conservative Christians a break. But that’s not what Tim is arguing. Rather, he is concerned about the growing tendency among progressive evangelicals to denounce their less progressive brothers and sisters. Here’s the thesis in a nutshell:

But recently I’ve seen a lot of young, progressive evangelicals denouncing and caricaturing their conservative brethren for their “culture war” concerns.  But by accepting the caricatures coming mostly from secular critics, legitimating and perpetuating them, they themselves — acting out of concern for the damage done to the church and its witness — are doing great harm to the church and its witness.  If we truly care for the public witness of the church, then we (liberal and conservative) need to stop slandering and caricaturing the other half of the church.  Don’t throw your Christian brothers and sisters under the bus.

Tim goes on to give examples of the sort of thing that worries him.

I think Tim is right, but I hadn’t ever thought about this before from this perspective. I have appealed for evangelicals (my stripe of Christian) to show more understanding for non-evangelicals (mainline, liberal, etc.). Too often we allow caricatures and stereotypes to blind us from really understanding our sisters and brothers in Christ.

Be sure to read Tim’s column: “If You’re Selling Scorn for Conservative Christians, the Market is Hot.”

  • Bob Griffin

    I wish I had heard of/from you during the 1970s or 1980s, when the church I was attending was arming itself for the war it was declaring.  Being the token liberal in a 1980s Evangelical Presbyterian church nearly drove me away from my faith.  I finally reach a state where based on my Evangelical beliefs I was in dispair.  Where do you go if you find GOD morally offensive??

    Thanks for trying to build a bridge across a cultural Grand Canyon.

    Be Well,
    Bob Griffin

  • Bob Griffin

    I am now sorry I visited Tim Dalyrymple’s site.  When I visited, the last comment read as follows: ‘I also notice that leftists, such as Evans, only sue for peace when they are losing. If they were frightened of losing, they never should have fired the first shots.This may appear to be a less than christian stance but I grow tired of their ways.’

    I remember what may have been the first shots, and they certainly weren’t fired by the leftists.  In fact, the leftists were fascinated by Francis Schaeffer until he turned on them.
    Be Well,
    Bob Griffin

  • http://godspotting.net Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    Bob, 

    I haven’t read the article or the comments yet (I am on my way there now…) but I have learned that reading the commentary following a well-written controversial post can require a full turnout to protect you from the flames. 

    Sometimes all the admonitions to be kind, to love one another, to let no corrupting speech proceed…well, it all goes “poof” before the siren call of the comment box.Sometimes I skip the comments. 

  • Bob Griffin

    I made the mistake of checking the comments for a response to my own responding-comment, and found that the tone seems worse than before.  I shall work on the self-discipline of no longer returning. 
    It is clear from what I have read that people like me aren’t really welcome in many (most?) Evangelical communities as long as we hold those opinions which so many find so extremely offensive.  Whether or not we intend to be threatening, we are perceived as both a threat and an offense.  It was due to years of Evangelical preaching/teaching that I came to the horrid position I voiced above: Where do you go if you find GOD morally offensive?

    Be Well,
    Bob Griffin

  • http://godspotting.net Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    I, personally, find your presence welcome.

    But I don’t have an answer to your “where do you go” question. 

  • Evan

    I’ve commented recently about the effects of Postmodernism in the writing of statutes and stating legal policy. This article prompts a comment about Postmodernism in Christianity. As I view it, the “Culture Wars” are the description of the efforts of folks to redefine Christianity as it suits them as opposed to how Jesus laid it out.

    There are volumes that could be written, but let me offer just two examples. Regarding marriage, Jesus had this to say in Matthew 19 (allcaps are part of NAS version):

    4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH ‘? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

    Jesus describes marriage as an outgrowth of the creation of male and female, and that the two become one flesh. Oceans of ink have been spilled in attempts to explain that what Jesus very plainly said is not what He meant, and that “marriage” includes all sorts of other things.

    I also spent all the years of my higher education having various professors explain to me that Jesus was not divine, never thought He was the Messiah and never rose from the dead, all the while claiming that the definition of “Christian” was not static and that you could hold these beliefs and still be “Christian.” I can find no better comment on this notion than to quote, of all people, noted atheist Christopher Hitchens: “I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”

    If you want to claim that Jesus never existed and was in fact a codename for a hallucenogenic mushroom (as I read in one assignment), you are free in America to do so. But you are a “Jesus Mushroom Follower” or some such… you are not a Christian.

    The “Culture Wars” began when those that wanted to break with Jesus’ commandments wanted to maintain that they were still followers of Jesus. Jesus, in fact, brooks no such actions. Whether one desires to have sexual relations outside of marriage as Jesus defined it or merely wants to bury their father before following Him, Jesus will have no compromise. We take up our cross daily and follow Him or run the risk that He will say, “I never knew you.” Even Christopher Hitchens understood that.

  • Bob Griffin

    Evan, marriage existed in some form or other long before the time of Abraham.  It is not defined in Scripture, though its origin is given in Genesis.  If I recall correctly, the phrase in Hebrew was (in translation) ‘to take a woman’ (the culture being male oriented). 

    The “Culture Wars” have their origin in the demand from the church that the entire society, Christian and otherwise, abide by its understanding.  If the US were a Christian country in the same sense that India is a Hindu country and Turkey is a Moslem country that might make sense.  However while some of the churches (Presbyterian) wanted to demand that authority during the early decades, the country as a whole (quite properly, in my opinion) rejected that path.  The dangers of such a path can be seen in the case of the Danbury Baptists, whose theology and practice differed from the Congregationalists who dominated Connecticut, and thus they were subject to unacceptible barriers in that state.

    The issue Jesus was addressing in the passage quoted was divorce.  This was the one area where Jesus was far closer to Shammai than to Hillel.

    Neither Jesus nor the apostles dealt with questions about what the rest of society (non-Christian) should do, save for the call to all to repent and follow.  This was not a political nor a legal requirement until the Byzantine emperors banned paganism and heresy. 

    The modern demand that secular society follow Biblical law is the source of the “Culture Wars”.  In some ways, the very existence of secular society is viewed by some as an affront, and thus the existence of a Hindu temple in Malibu Canyon and a Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights are or can be seen as a sign of the social decay and decripitude of California.

    Unlike Mohammad, Jesus was not trying to establish an earthly kingdom, thus there was no ancient Christian Shariah until the Christian re-write of Roman Law under the Byzantine Emperors.

    On the question of marriage, it is clearly the right of a religious marrying authority to refuse to marry those who do not conform to the religious beliefs and practices held by that authority.  If you doubt this, try to get a court to force an Orthodox rabbi to marry a Jewish-Christian couple.  Such a rabbi, however, has no right to deny such a couple marriage by a judge or other marrying authority, secular or otherwise.  Moreover, a judge who is also an Orthodox Jew has no right to refuse to marry such a couple, since his authority to perform marriages is purely secular.
    This division between the secular and the religious is what is angrily rejected by so many.  The division is not a culture war, but the attempt to erase that division is ‘cultural warfare’, whether it be an attempt to force religious communities to conform to secular views and practices or on the other hand an attempt to force the secular community and institutions to conform to religious standards and practices.

    I hold that laws protecting religiously based bullying of gays are another form of cultural warfare.  This was not an issue during the time of the early church, as the Christians were far more likely to be bullied (as an unprotected minority) than to bully. 
    I see little difference between religiously based bullying of gays and religiously based bullying of Jews, Moslems, Mormons…

    Be Well,
    Bob Griffin


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