Frank Schaeffer Is Wrong about Progressive Christianity

I’m glad to call Frank Schaeffer a friend (and I’m glad that he’s toned down his blog headlines from the FOX News variety that he used to publish). I’m glad to have him on the Progressive Christian channel here at Patheos. But he recently wrote a post about what’s wrong with progressive Christianity, and he’s wrong.

Actually, I agree with Frank’s premise:

We can talk about inclusiveness, diversity and making ourselves vulnerable until the cows come home but that doesn’t make religion more interesting or Christianity stronger it simply changes the labels and the shorthand jargon we talk to ourselves in.

The problem with North American Christianity is not the window-dressing– it’s the whole package.

But I wholeheartedly disagree with what he states as the main problem:

The great weakness of Protestant American Christianity across the board is that by and large it dispensed with liturgy. Having dispensed with liturgy it dispensed with the signposts that point people toward an identity that binds communities together.

To that I say [cough] bullshit! [cough].

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Frank Schaeffer Has a Message for Denominations

Frank writes,

I’ve been speaking at many small colleges that have historical ties to the oldest mainline denominations in the U.S. I have been noticing something interesting: a terrific hunger for a deeper spirituality on the part of many young people who come from evangelical backgrounds like mine and also like me are looking for something outside of the right wing conservatism they come from.

I’ve also noticed that while some people in the so-called emergent evangelical movement are reaching out to these young people the leaders of the mainline denominations both locally and nationally often seem blind to a huge new opportunity for growth and renewal staring them in the face. That new opportunity is the scores of younger former evangelicals diving headlong out of the right wing evangelical churches.

Read the Rest: Frank Schaeffer: Missing the “Mainline” Protestant Opportunity.

Will the REAL Francis Schaeffer Please Stand Up?

I didn’t grow up reading Francis Schaeffer, as so many of my evangelical friends did.  I’ve only come to know of him and his work through the writings of his son, Frank Schaeffer.  Frank’s writings are, to be sure, slanted against his father’s theology/ideology.  Nevertheless, they paint a chilling picture of the Christian thinker and author that Michelle Bachmann now says is her biggest influence.  Andrew Sullivan weighs in on a debate between a conservative and a liberal on the real core of Francis Schaeffer’s thought:

And this is the core point: Schaeffer is deeply illiberal, profoundly opposed to the Enlightenment on which the US Constitution rests and determined to replace Enlightenment thought with a Biblically based regime. The choice is pretty clear. Either you base your conception of politics on the Constitution, framed along Enlightenment principles with a Deist architect floating ethereally behind it, or you believe that religious doctrine is and must be the core basis for our society, and that a long-standing government that continuously permits and encourages absolute evil must be resisted, eventually with force.

via Christianism – And Its Defenders – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast.

UPDATE: Frank Schaffer emailed me and suggested that I and others read the interview with him HERE.

And the Moral of the Article Is…

In today’s New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer has a story about an evangelical couple who, in their early 20s, wrote a book advocating natural family planning (that’s a euphemism for abstaining from intercourse, or pulling out early, when the woman is ovulating — or simply having a bunch of kids).

Now, a few years later, the couple is divorced with shared custody.  They’ve left evangelicalism — they each attend prog-liberal churches — and they have publicly repudiated their book.  They’ve asked Eerdmans to take it out of print (oddly, the article notes that it will never be available as a Kindle book, but it already is).

It’s a short article, so there’s not much nuance.  But the moral of the story seems to be: Christians in their 20s shouldn’t write books.  (At least not books that advocate theological or moral positions — if you wanna write a book about, say, how to get better gas mileage, I guess that’d be okay.)

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