It is a moment to point out that many of my friends in the PCA, willing to deal Biblically and compassionately with people struggling with sin have opened the door to those who do not want to struggle with sin, but normalize sin to make the sin no longer a sin.
Some of my friends inside the Presbyterian Church in America have made excuses for pastors like Greg Johnson of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO, and of Revoice, the conference held at his church a few years ago.
Revoice made waves for what seemed to be an attempt to normalize unbiblical sexual identities behind biblical veneers.
Well, let’s fast forward to today. Revoice is still going, and Johnson’s church might leave the PCA. And what of Revoice’s antics?
Speakers have always emphasized homosexuality as an identity, not just a behavior. But this year, such assertions from the dais seemed more insistent, with speakers assiduously using civil-rights language to present radical change as settled truth. That identity rhetoric extended to transgender ideology. Speakers frequently referred to “sexual and gender minorities” and used preferred pronouns, along with terms such as women “assigned female at birth.” The group’s reach and influence are growing, but leaders now emphasize parachurch activities. Speakers frequently referenced ongoing rejection within the church and encouraged attendees to form their own spiritual communities in local Revoice chapters.
Oh wait, there’s more:
During the conference’s two-hour lunch breaks, Revoice offered “affinity groups,” broken into various categories: gender minorities, family/loved ones of LGBTQ+, bisexuals/pansexuals, asexuals/aromantics, women “assigned female at birth,” mixed-orientation heterosexual marriages where one spouse remains same-sex attracted, and celibate partnerships where those who are same-sex attracted but celibate live together. In Side B circles, those are called “spiritual friendships.” Other affinity groups were categorized by race: BIPOC for black or indigenous people of color and AAPI for Asian American or Pacific Islanders.
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By Gene Edward Veith — 1 year ago
In 1993, I published a book titled Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview.1 In it, I showed that the various fascist movements in Europe of the 1930s and 1940s were facets of the modernist movement, particularly, the branch of that movement that morphed into postmodernism. I also showed that the intellectual establishment of the 1990s, as represented in the academia of the time, was still holding to the ideas of the intellectual establishment of the 1930s that gave us Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and World War II, as if those catastrophes had never happened. But, as I wrote,
My concern is not so much with the current intellectual scene as it is with what might come next. What will the “post-contemporary” movement look like, once the postmodernists have successfully discredited objectivity, freedom, and morality? What sort of society will be erected on the rubble, once the Western tradition is deconstructed?2
“What might come next”? Well, Tabletalk has asked me to revisit my book to see how it stands up nearly three decades later. Reading it again after all these years was an unsettling experience. Much of what I predicted and warned against has come true. And even when I was wrong, I was wrong in underestimating the magnitude of the fascist revival.
As an undergraduate, I took a history seminar on early-twentieth-century Europe in which we studied the rise of fascism, which, to my surprise, was actually an avant-garde form of socialism involving some of the most distinguished thinkers and artists of the day. Then, as a graduate student in literature at a time when deconstruction and postmodern were in vogue, I observed the carefully controlled fallout over Victor Farias’ Heidegger and Nazism, which showed that the godfather of postmodernism, the twentieth-century philosopher Martin Heidegger, was not only a committed Nazi who presided over the purge of Jews in his university but a member of that party’s most radical faction. The same rationalizations accompanied the publication of Wartime Journalism: 1939–1943 by Paul De Man, which showed that the author, one of the fathers of deconstruction in literature, honed his ideas in writings published in Nazi publications in occupied Belgium.
As I started my career in Christian academia, I kept coming across related facts. I read an article by Raymond Surburg in Concordia Theological Quarterly about two important pioneers of the historical-critical approach to the Bible that demonstrated how their attacks on the Old Testament were motivated by their open anti-Semitism and by their desire to purge Christianity of its “Jewish” elements and thus the influence of the Bible. One of my colleagues, William Houser, a communications professor, discussed with me the contrast between Hitler’s ideal of “the triumph of the will,” captured in Leni Riefenstahl’s artistically acclaimed propaganda film of that name, and Luther’s “bondage of the will.” I also read the critique of Christianity and its ethic of love by Friedrich Nietzsche, the nineteenth-century philosopher venerated both by the S.S. concentration camp guards and many of my graduate school professors.
I wanted to connect the dots. Concordia Publishing House had started a monograph series and asked me to contribute something. After much research wherein I found that the connections I was making were fully supported by specialists in the field, I wrote Modern Fascism. That was not my choice for the title, which makes it sound like a book on contemporary political cults. Its subtitle captures my thesis: Fascism was all about “liquidating” the “Jewish elements” in Western civilization—that is to say, the influence of the Bible, specifically transcendent morality, objective truth, the value of the individual, etc.—in favor of reviving a neopagan worldview of power, constructivism, and collectivism.
By Jim Weidenaar — 1 year ago
If we have the Bible’s high view of sex as a picture of the Church’s union with Christ and a respect for the power God has given it, we will not only take sexual sin very seriously, but we will also examine ourselves, confess the many ways we have failed to desire and fulfill God’s perfect design, and cast ourselves again and again at the mercy of the gospel. Yes, sexual immorality is a big deal, so let’s keep pointing each other to our only faithful Bridegroom.
The temptation to single out one type of sin or one category of sinner as uniquely worthy of condemnation is common. It often springs from and feeds the self-righteous hypocrisy of our hearts, which seeks to find a point of comparison by which we can stand over another as morally inferior to us. This temptation is especially strong when the sin to which another person is tempted is one to which we feel no attraction whatsoever or which we find safely unattractive. Because we are confident that we would never do that, we find it easier to treat the person who would as particularly depraved. It is useful to our proud hearts precisely because we are sure that we are not personally susceptible to this depravity.
And yet it would be wrong for us to react to this possibility of self-righteous judgment by taking a ho-hum, cavalier attitude toward sexual sin and temptations. In the Bible, sexual immorality is a big deal. Most who are familiar with Scripture sense this. The subject of sexual immorality comes up often and is treated with heightened seriousness.
So here is our challenge: How do we understand and heed the seriousness of the Bible’s concern over sexual immorality while not giving space to our impulse to look down on others? I suggest three perspectives to help us maintain a proper biblical concern for sexual immorality without being self-righteous:
Have a biblically high view of sexuality.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12–20, Paul explains to his readers why sexual immorality is so serious: It’s because sex is so precious. Paul opens his discussion by quoting a typical cultural understanding of sex—that it is just an appetite, a biological drive to be fulfilled: “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” (6:13). Paul contradicts this directly with, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” His point? This is not a mere issue of appetite, a biological need for the flourishing of the human animal. Human sexuality is not primarily biological; it is theological.
This assertion alone is in radical conflict with almost all that our culture believes and teaches about sexuality. But the further we go into this truth, the more incredible it becomes. For Paul goes on to describe the content of the theology of sex, which is nothing less than union with Christ: “For, as it is written, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (6:16–17). He says the same thing to the Ephesians, “’…and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (5:31–32). We have only begun to plumb the riches of biblical teaching on the ways that sex as God designed it displays to us the wonder of the salvation given to us in union with Christ.
By Zoe Strimpel — 7 months ago
Returning the cause to the people for whom it was created is the only way to save it, and to stop the many discriminations that girls and women still face….First, we have to honor the actual meaning of words, like “woman.” We have to insist that those meanings are important. We have to go back, again, to first principles. That is the only way forward.
“Pregnant people at much higher risk of breakthrough Covid,” The Washington Post recently declared. This was in keeping with the newspaper’s official new language policy: “If we say pregnant women, we exclude those who are transgender and nonbinary.”
“I’m not a biologist,” Ketanji Brown Jackson, the next Supreme Court justice and a formerly pregnant person herself, told her Senate inquisitors while trying to explain why she couldn’t define “woman.”
“It’s a very contested space at the moment,” explained Australian Health Secretary Brendan Murphy—a nephrologist, a doctor of medicine—when he was asked the same question at a hearing in Melbourne. “We’re happy to provide our working definition.”
The meaning of “woman,” the Labor Party’s Anneliese Dodds, in Britain, observed, “depended on context.” (Never mind that Dodds oversees the party’s women’s agenda.)
“I think people get themselves down rabbit holes on this one,” Labor’s Yvette Cooper added the next day, March 8, International Women’s Day. She declined to follow suit.
What were normal people—those who did not have any trouble defining woman, those who found talk of “pregnant people” and “contested spaces” and “rabbit holes” baffling—to make of this obvious discomfort with “women”?
Jackson, Dodds and Cooper—and, no doubt, every individual formerly or currently capable of becoming pregnant on the masthead at The Washington Post—would call themselves feminists. Champions of women’s rights. (So, too, one imagines, would Dr. Murphy.) Once upon a time, it was women like them who proudly declared, I am woman, hear me roar. It was women like them who stood up for women and womanhood.
But now these exemplars of female empowerment—educated, sophisticated, wielding enormous influence—seemed to have forgotten what “woman” meant. Or whether it was okay to say “woman.” Or whether “woman” was a dirty word.
It wasn’t simply about language. It was about how we think about and treat women. For nearly 2,500 years—from Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to Seneca Falls to Anita Hill to #MeToo—women had been fighting, clawing their way out of an ancient, deeply repressive, often violent misogyny. But now that they were finally on the cusp of the Promised Land, they were turning their backs on all that progress. They were erasing themselves.
How we got from there to here is the story of an unbelievable hijacking. Two, actually.
It was only five decades ago, in the 1970s, that women—mostly white, middle-class and from places like New York, Boston and north London, and fed up with being sidelined by their comrades on the left—forged a new movement. They called it Women’s Liberation.
At the start, Women’s Liberation was seen as the domain of women with money—like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and, in the United Kingdom, Germaine Greer and Rosie Boycott. But soon it became the movement of everyday mothers, daughters, wives, working women, poor women, and women regularly beaten up by their boyfriends and husbands.
They embodied a politics of action: protesting, writing, lobbying, setting up shelters. They formed sprawling, nationwide organizations like the National Organization of Women, the National Abortion Campaign and the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
And at the center of their politics was an awareness of their physicality, a keen understanding that the challenges women faced were bound up with the bodies they had been born into. Exploitation at home and at work, the threat of sexual violence, unequal pay—all that was a function of their sex.
Nothing better summed up the ethos of Women’s Liberation than “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” which was published in 1973 by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Every feminist had a copy or had read one. It sold something like four million copies. It was a bible. That’s because “Our Bodies, Ourselves” rejected the old, Puritan discomforts with female sexuality that, feminists argued, had prevented women from realizing themselves, and empowered women by educating them about their own bodies.
By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.
In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause.
There was an obvious irony: It was women’s liberationists who had successfully made women a topic worthy of academic scholarship. But now that the feminist professoriat had the luxury of not worrying about the very concrete issues the older feminists had fought for, feminist professors spent their days reflecting on their feminism—exploring, reimagining and rejecting old orthodoxies.