While reviewing the sensational new book by playwright David Mamet, “The Secret Knowledge,” I was reminded anew of the corrosive nature of liberalism on society. Mamet, an iconic writer in both New York and Hollywood, discovered that the old liberalism he had always embraced was … deficient. Even harmful.
His controversial op-ed in the Village Voice in 2008, entitled, “Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal,” outlines his epiphany. Fortunately for Mamet, his career is already made. It was a courageous piece.
Liberalism has immersed itself in every sphere of life in America.
The history of the modern decline of evangelicalism is quite fascinating. It’s pretty easy to uncover the roots of this drive by liberalism to obliterate the church, and the implications are huge for all of us. Interestingly, the liberal assault on our country’s Judeo-Christian values has come primarily through publishing.
At First Presbyterian Church, on New York City’s Twelfth Street, Harry Emerson Fosdick gave a “sermon” entitled, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”
Early on, he tipped his hand to the inherent nastiness that liberals direct at those he termed fundamentalists: “Already all of us must have heard about the people who call themselves the fundamentalists. Their apparent intention is to drive out of the evangelical churches men and women of liberal opinions. I speak of them the more freely because there are no two denominations more affected by them than the Baptist and the Presbyterian. We should not identify the fundamentalists with the conservatives. All fundamentalists are conservatives, but not all conservatives are fundamentalists. The best conservatives can often give lessons to the liberals in true liberality of spirit, but the fundamentalist program is essentially illiberal and intolerant.”
Illiberal and intolerant.
The irony is, no one is more intolerant than a thorough-going liberal – and I use the term liberal in our modern understanding of it: Ted Kennedy, Joe Klein, Maureen Dowd, Brian McLaren.
Who’s that last one, you say? Only the leader of liberalism and the so-called Emergent movement in the Christian community. McLaren, like Fosdick, is skilled in the use of language. Like Fosdick, he presents himself as an enlightened thinker … tolerant.
Fosdick’s speech is still famous and came only three years before 1925’s “Scopes Monkey Trial,” during which journalists like the famed H.L. Mencken portrayed fundamentalists and William Jennings Bryan as backwoods, uneducated rubes.
I think the effect worked. Today, liberals within the vhurch and society at large are able to sling mud with impunity. Consider McLaren’s link to a letter from his friend, Naim Ateek, in a June blog.
Ateek, a rabidly anti-Israel Palestinian who runs the Sabeel Center, sent a letter to Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury. Williams had previously delivered an address in which he outlined some of the struggles faced by the Palestinians. Williams didn’t go far enough for Ateek and McLaren.
Ateek included this in his letter: “2. Although as Palestinian Christians, we appreciate the fact that you raised the issue of the vulnerability of the Christian presence in the Middle East – a subject that is dear to our hearts and of great concern to us – you singled out the extremist Islamists as a threat to Christian presence, but neglected to mention two other extremists groups, namely, Jewish extremists represented by the religious and racist settlers on the West Bank that are encouraged directly by the present extreme rightwing Israeli government, and Christian extremists represented by the Western Christian Zionists that support Israel blindly and unconditionally. With candor the last two groups of extremists, i.e. Jewish and Western Christian Zionists, are a greater threat to us than the extremist Islamists. In fact, these extremists have more military power and clout to uproot all Palestinian presence both Christian and Muslim from our homeland.”
McLaren bolded the last two sentences.
It is incredible that a Western Christian leader would agree with Ateek that Jewish and Christian Zionists are a greater danger than the jihadists! Amazing!
The trickle-down effect of such hate-speech – I will call it what it is and borrow a favorite term of the left – is perhaps even more disturbing, because of its effect on younger generations.
There is a bold, new group of young Turks in the American church, and they are being mentored by the McLarens, and absolutely, the “ghost” of men like Fosdick. Witness one Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina.
In his blog post of August 24, entitled, “The Type of Person You Should Never Listen To,” Noble says this: “People who truly embrace grace will be quick to offer that grace to others … and a critic who always wants to attack and tear down through any means possible is nothing more than a terrorist that, if you allow them, will consume your life and get you off mission.”
Does this kind of hate-speech pass for outrageous, anymore? Does this not shame even the celebrities of the religious left? One would think they would at least caution youngsters like Noble to tone down the hateful rhetoric.
Many years ago, Fosdick could preach a sermon knowing even his congregation didn’t understand that he was an apostate of the first order. He had profound influence on Norman Vincent Peale, who had profound influence on Robert Schuller, who has had and has profound influence on Bill Hybels, who has profound influence on … the Perry Nobles of Christendom.
A hallmark of these young Turks is their intense dislike of their “critics.” Do a web search on Steven Furtick for an up-close look: At least one other young Emergent leader – who also has a large congregation – is also using the term “terrorist.” He also calls his critics “morons” and advocates Rick Warren’s strategy of marginalizing and getting rid of dissenters.
I also noticed this week that another fellow who moves in these circles is positively beside himself that he will get to hear (and hopefully engage!) Dr. Cornel West, who will speak at the Catalyst conference in Atlanta in October.
West, a professor at Princeton, is a black liberation theologian and a self-avowed socialist! His embrace of the divestment campaign against Israel is classic liberal activism.
What in the world are self-described evangelical leaders in America doing sharing the stage with West?
When American evangelicals embrace the same ideals as Harry Emerson Fosdick, you know that a cultural war rages in the American church the likes of which we have never seen.
One of the key tactics of the left has always been to present critics as “other,” a huddle of rabble so pathetic and dangerous to new thought that they must be denigrated. This can lead to dangerous consequences for those who find themselves on the other side of the worldview fence.
So long as they get away with, in print and in speeches, labeling Bible-believing Christians as “terrorists,” then I would suggest to my ideological brethren that they watch their backs.