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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Strange gods.

At Amy Welborn's must-read blog today (scroll down), she posted a link to a fine commentary comparing the Gospel with the Gospel of Inclusion that's led the ECUSA to the brink of shipwreck. Here's a nice quote about how inclusivity doesn't work:

I believe that the followers of the Gospel of Inclusion are genuinely motivated by a desire to share Christ's love with all people--but thanks to their theology, the people who come to the Episcopal Church thanks to their inclusiveness are being sold a sham--a "faith" that affirms them in their broken-ness and tells them that they are, thereby, whole, rather than a faith that can bring them to true wholeness. In the end, the inclusivists are short-changing the very people they hope to help.

The article provoked a couple of snotty comments deriding the "orthodox" (scare quotes in original) for their alleged obsession with pelvic issues (classic projection) at the expense of other sins, some legitimate (economic exploitation, lying, cheating, child abuse/neglect) and others more, er, opaque ("the tobacco industry"). Also, there's a tired invocation of the god of Love who never gets around to being upset by anything other than social inequities. All, of course, in the defense of the canonized Canon Robinson.

Actually, buried in the e.e. cummings imitation is a fairly good point--traditional/conservative Catholics have a strong tendency to argue on questions of sexual morality or doctrinal correctness, while comparatively neglecting the real social dimension of the Gospel. But that tendency is reversed on the part of progressives, who argue a lot about social injustice and poverty while putting away the whistle, so to speak, on moral behavior and doctrinal concerns. Catholic morality is more holistic than either camp is generally willing to acknowledge.

However, lest I be accused of an easy "pox on both houses" conclusion, I think the folks in e.e.'s corner have it more wrong in their failure to admit the profound social implications of individual moral behavior, and how such decisions lead to the social injustices they decry. Commenter S.F. in the same thread offers several fine examples. Affirming the misbehavior while decrying the results (poverty, abuse, neglect, exploitation) is a peculiar plan of action. Moreover, as I pointed out in my comment (somewhat modified here), it demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of what God's love really means:

Well, I can sure feel the "love!"

It's the love of a god who gets ticked off by the same things a campus diversity coordinator or anti-poverty activist gets ticked off by. No less, and very sadly, no more. A god trimmed to fit the times is not *the* God--the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Esther, David. It is not the God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ.

It is not the same God who inspired the writers of the books of the Bible--including Genesis, Leviticus, Matthew, John, Romans, and First Corinthians, each of which address both social and sexual conduct, in thundering, absolute terms.

It is not the same God who somehow found it within Him to forbid the exploitation of the poor, the helpless and the stranger *and* in the same breath sexual immorality.

For some reason, the last issue isn't on the other god's agenda. Strange, that. It leaves one in the amusing position of following a god who's fine with screwing the poor so long as it's not done in the figurative sense.

There is no pick and choose in Catholic Christian morality. Pull one thread and it all goes to pieces. Just like the church (or society) that embraces such a decision.

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