After Indiana, my friend David French spoke at Hillsdale and his speech was an issue of Imprimus. One of his contentions:
Four truths are emerging: First, the battle is not between gay rights and religious liberty—although religious liberty is certainly at stake—but between the sexual revolution and Christianity itself. This means that Christians are faced not with allegedly “minor” or “insignificant” theological changes to gain leftist acceptance, but with wholesale changes to the historical doctrines of the church.
has proven to be more true than I thought imaginable and more rapidly so.
There is plenty of evidence for French’s contention, much that predates any of the recent events, but what is occurring is more in the nature of a collapse than a slow “evolution.” In my denomination, the battle for ordination of those openly practicing homosexuality is decades old and thus looks like an evolution. But the collapse is evident in this op-ed from The Telegraph concerning the “re-baptism” of the transgendered.
Should a “transgender” person be allowed a ceremony of “re-baptism” at their local church? That is what a parishioner requested from the Rev Chris Newlands, Vicar of Lancaster.
WOW! – just WOW! As Christopher Howse, the author of the piece points out – these people seem to think of baptism as a naming ceremony of some sort, which reveals a gross misunderstanding of the sacrament, but there is something much deeper at play here. It is a complete reversal of the traditional role of the church.
Traditionally the sacraments, the number of which vary depending on your particular denomination, are ritualistic emblems of our submission to God through the agency of His church. Through that submission, we may receive blessing – but the idea is one in which we submit to God. But this proposal is the exact opposite; this is asking God’s agency to submit to us. Instead of man or woman being subservient to God through His church, the church is now subservient to the whims of man, woman, or somewhere in between. Forget the salacious aspects of all this for moment and concentrate solely of the theological ramifications. It is frightening.
Sadly, this is hardly surprising. The prevailing Protestant, which I am, view of church in recent years has been one of church as “service provider” – meeting the needs of the congregation and community. In one sense there is nothing wrong with this idea; a leader is a servant of the led. But there are limits. We lead in order to uplift, but in a world where our untamed inclinations are anything but uplifting we must be careful to distinguish between serving and following. We cannot allow our desire to serve to pull us into the morass.
As a practice I try to avoid condemnation. Jesus was very sparing in His use of condemnatory language, reserving it almost exclusively for those that somehow perverted God’s good things.
For the transgendered themselves I have nothing but love and sympathy. I understand their desire to seek God’s blessing. I encourage them to do so. But sadly while God’s love is unconditional, His blessing is not always such.
For churches that succumb to requests like this, I find the urge to be condemnatory difficult to resist. In allowing the desires of the individual to override God’s natural created order we appear to be seeking our own affirmation and success more than God’s will. Was that not in the end the sin of those that Jesus did condemn?
Indeed, David French was right – this is a battle against Christianity itself. The outcome is yet to be determined. The only thing I ask is that we not participate in our own demise.