As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds might say: asking the important questions!
The reason it comes up: a really interesting post from Erick Erickson at RedState.com. I like RedState and admire Erickson. He’s smart, fearless and he writes well. And I greatly enjoyed the July 30 essay titled “For Jesus. The World Against Me,” in which he rightly took liberal Christian Rachel Held Evans to task for stereotyping more conservative Christians as anti-science or too patriotic. Erickson writes:
I don’t know a Christian who is anti-science. Christians haven’t suddenly declared science anti-God, but the left has declared God and Christians anti-science. I don’t know a church that has declared allegiance to a political party or a single nation. But I know the left parodies evangelicals that way. In fact, through Rachel Held Evans’ entire list, what she is admitting is that she has embraced the secular left’s parody of evangelical churches to proclaim her own style and mode of worship and faith superior. She’s embraced the loud voices of a few and conflated them to the quiet voices of the many in the evangelical community committed to saving souls.
Just because the left and media attack evangelical churches for these things does not make them so. From Archbishop Chaput in the Catholic Church to Mark Driscoll to Franklin Graham to John Piper to Timothy Keller to Rich Warren to Andy Stanley to Lois Giglio to Al Mohler to my own preacher — they all preach Jesus. They don’t preach America because they’re just passing through it on the way to real life. But they do preach the Jesus who is, not the Jesus the world wishes for.
Great stuff, all true. And Erickson’s main point is also true: being “for Jesus” sometimes means standing against what the world deems good and wise, even when the world is ever-so-sure it’s right.
But then Erickson gives an example:
Christians stand for Jesus. When demanded by the world to look at a dude in a leather g-string, rainbow afro wig, and fairy wings glued to his back dancing down the street claiming he’s got pride and accept it as just another form of normal, well, yeah, we’re for Jesus so we’re against that. Rachel Held Evans, Rob Bell, Donald Miller, and the like want to accommodate that. Jesus wouldn’t. We shouldn’t.
Now, I can think of many negative things to say about “a dude in a leather g-string, rainbow afro wig, and fairy wings glued to his back dancing down the street claiming he’s got pride.” For one thing, he probably doesn’t have much pride. Plus, depending where he is, he may be exhibiting a narcissistic disregard for the sensibilities of his neighbors. Plus, he’s defining himself in a materialistic way that will ultimately make him less, not more, spiritually rich and happy. Plus, he really ought to have something better to do with his life.
But none of these things is particularly my business. And while I can see where Jesus might want to have a chat with him about any or all of them, before I start thinking too much about what that chat might entail, I would do well to remember a question Jesus asked me one time: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” In other words, while I may not be wearing my rainbow Afro wig (I know I left it around here somewhere), I can’t help feeling I have unhelpful spiritual habits of my own that I could usefully look at before I trouble my sinful head with this dude’s.
With respect, I think Erickson is here confusing being for Jesus with being for societal norms. But I don’t think Jesus is actually concerned with maintaining society’s norms — not even those norms we hold good. There may, after all, be other good norms, and even better norms that, if instituted, would “make the world a better place.” But to be honest, I don’t even think Jesus is concerned with “making the world a better place.” He certainly never mentions it. From my reading and studying of the Bible, Jesus is concerned with re-directing your soul through him back toward its creator. Your soul, not someone else’s. He’s very specific about that. If you’re passing judgement on another guy’s soul, you’re thinking about the wrong thing.
The dude in the leather g-string may not be living his best life now (or who knows? given the facts of his life, maybe he is!) but he isn’t hurting anybody. If there are things about him Jesus will “not accommodate,” I don’t think it’s up to us to decide what they are.
Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture