Quantcast

«

»

Nov 06 2012

The ‘New Christian Conservatism’

The Family Research Council hosted a lecture at their offices in Washington, DC by Owen Strachan, a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s undergrad school, Boyce College. Strachan claimed that there was a “new Christian conservatism” being led by young people. See if you can decipher this gibberish:

“The spirit of Wilberforce is on the move,” said Strachan, assistant professor of theology and church history at the Louisville, Ky., campus. “This movement sees that love in its essence is not shorn of conviction, love is instead a summons to a joyful transformation. Now is the moment for a new Christian conservatism, or what we could call a new social witness.”

The new Christian conservatism “grounds its identity in the preaching of the Gospel,” Strachan said, “yet it cannot help but act on behalf of others.” …

“We are the true culture; we are those who must speak up and create this culture in the fallen world,” Strachan said. Describing what he called the “new Christian conservatism,” he asserted that the movement, contrary to popular belief, is vibrant and youthful.

“It is a movement born not of cynicism but of hope,” Strachan said, noting the reaction against the softer Christianity which decries any conviction that leads to cultural opposition.

This movement is “built upon the framework of the Moral Majority,” Strachan said, but claimed in contrast that the new way offers “a gracious voice” and a “focus on human flourishing.”

Meet the new Christian conservatism, same as the old Christian conservatism — but with a bunch of new catchphrases that make it sound so much cooler. Why am I reminded of this?

27 comments

1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    heddle

    I have no idea what he is saying. I can tell you anecdotally that for the past few years there has been noted (and we certainly see it) a rise in membership and that the typical new member is twenty-something, enthusiastic about mercy ministry, Calvinistic, into but not absorbed by theology, and comes from a non-religious or cultural-Christian-only background. It is almost bankable when you see a new young face on Sunday. I call it the John Piper effect, since almost all of them have self-educated on Piper’s books. Our church has grown from 30 to 100 with this demographic being the prime mover. And my previous two churches have experienced the same phenomenon. How universal it is I don’t know, but I hear about it all the time. And I do know that numbers showing an overall decline don’t tell the whole story. If we lose ten people that were just sitting in the pews, because that was what they have been doing for years and believed that is what they were supposed to do, and gain one of these–our church is much stronger for it. In a completely nonlinear manner.

  2. 2
    dogmeat

    So they’re still going to hate gay people but they’ll do so quietly and with a smile?

  3. 3
    hexidecima

    oh let me try :)

    ““The spirit of Wilberforce is on the move,” said Strachan, assistant professor of theology and church history at the Louisville, Ky., campus. “This movement sees that love in its essence is not shorn of conviction, love is instead a summons to a joyful transformation. Now is the moment for a new Christian conservatism, or what we could call a new social witness.”

    Umm, Wilberforce? Ah, must be Samuel Wilberforce, “Soapy Sam” who opposed evolutionary theory and who failed notably against TH Huxley, not William Wilberforce, his father, who opposed the slave trade in England but had no problem with trying to force Christianity on the people of India because Chrisitanity was the only religion “sublime, pure beneficent” (I love wikipedia, support it if you can). I’m glad Strachan admits that he and his religion is part of those who are so insistant on using their “great gifts to obscure the truth”. A little inadvertent truth telling there, I’m sure. Strach does the usual attempt to redefine love into something he finds acceptable and of course finding any other type of love completely unStrachan-like.

    “The new Christian conservatism “grounds its identity in the preaching of the Gospel,” Strachan said, “yet it cannot help but act on behalf of others.” …”

    Hmmm, seems that the only way they wish to “act on behalf of others” is to try to force these others into accepting their religion. Actually helping others, aiding them with food, education, etc, are totally anathema to these supposed “good Christians”. And “grounds its identity in preachign the gospel”? Well, their version of it, that’s for sure and as always they have nothing to show that their version (hating anyone who is not like them) is any more valid than those Christians who don’t espouse the same.

    “We are the true culture; we are those who must speak up and create this culture in the fallen world,” Strachan said. Describing what he called the “new Christian conservatism,” he asserted that the movement, contrary to popular belief, is vibrant and youthful.”

    Ah, always with the baseless claim “but but we’re the TrueChristians!” And funny how this fallen world has gotten better, without this “true culture”, that opposed the end of slavery, who still opposes the end of inequality for women, etc. And always great to see claims of being “vibrant and youthful” but not having one fact to actually support those claims. Indeed, don’t look at the man behind the curtain!

    “It is a movement born not of cynicism but of hope,” Strachan said, noting the reaction against the softer Christianity which decries any conviction that leads to cultural opposition.”

    This “conservative Christianity” is nothing but cynicism. The idea that some magical god will come down and save a supposedly irredeemable humanity has no hope in it, no confidence that humanity can get better, and the willful ignorance that it does indeed get better.

    “This movement is “built upon the framework of the Moral Majority,” Strachan said, but claimed in contrast that the new way offers “a gracious voice” and a “focus on human flourishing.”

    Ah, yes, built on the framework of hatred and intolerance but golly, Strach is sure to claim that he and his ilk are more “gracious” and “focused on human flourishing”, something that the MM was completely against, satisfied for keeping the status quo and gaining power for themselves. Nice baseless claims there, Strach. I can see that conservative Christians still haven’t read those parts of their bible that say lying isn’t a good thing.

  4. 4
    slc1

    Re Heddle @ #1

    If we lose ten people that were just sitting in the pews, because that was what they have been doing for years and believed that is what they were supposed to do, and gain one of these–our church is much stronger for it. In a completely nonlinear manner

    This is exactly what has been going on in the Raping Children Church ever since Joe the rat became pope. The strategy is to drive out the cafeteria Catholics, leaving the church to the true believers.

  5. 5
    heddle

    slc1,

    The strategy is to drive out the cafeteria Catholics, leaving the church to the true believers.

    I can’t speak for Rome, but we are not driving anyone out (*). I don’t know what you are talking about. People are leaving because the stigma of not being a Christians is vanishing. This is a very good thing.

    ————
    (*) Although we did, sadly, lose some older members when we moved to accept female deacons. Is that what you meant?

  6. 6
    steve oberski

    @heddle

    People are leaving because the stigma of not being a Christians is vanishing. This is a very good thing.

    Hopefully to be replaced by the stigma of being an xtian.

    Also a very good thing.

  7. 7
    fifthdentist

    Sorry, can’t help with this one. A couple of days ago I fed some gibberish from FSTDT into my fundie-to-English translator. It started making loud thumping noises, billowing smoke and shooting flames five feet into the air. The screen briefly flashed “fuck you” and then went black.

  8. 8
    slc1

    Re Heddle @ #5

    I have no idea what is going on in the church that Prof. Heddle attends. The pope and the hierarchy of the Raping Children Church make no secret of the fact that there is little or no room for cafeteria Catholics who don’t toe the line. They have threatened to excommunicate Catholics who support abortion choice and same sex marriage (see Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley, Joe Biden, James Moran, etc.)

  9. 9
    Aliasalpha

    “The spirit of Wilberforce is on the move”

    I can’t help but think of a cartoon about a posh ghost on a road trip…

  10. 10
    Ellie

    Hmmm…
    “This movement sees that love in its essence is not shorn of conviction, love is instead a summons to a joyful transformation.”

    I’m supposed to love my neighbor, but if she doesn’t agree with me, then I don’t have to love her.

    “…yet it cannot help but act on behalf of others.”

    I should work to change the laws of the country so that everyone has to follow my beliefs.

    “Strachan said, noting the reaction against the softer Christianity which decries any conviction that leads to cultural opposition.”

    Because those of us not of the right Brand of Christianity are soft, weak, and not True Christians™.

    “…built upon the framework of the Moral Majority…”

    And the Moral Majority will let the rest of us know exactly what to believe and how to behave. And if you aren’t a believer at all, up against the wall.

    I don’t know why anyone should have trouble deciphering this.

  11. 11
    heddle

    steve oberski,

    Hopefully to be replaced by the stigma of being an xtian.

    Also a very good thing.

    I would hope it was replaced with “be whatever you want, just don’t impose your beliefs on others, and enjoy full civil rights” but if you are into stigmatizing people that’s your business–it doesn’t surprise me considering the corpus of your posts. I just don’t know how you sleep at night.

  12. 12
    davem

    I just don’t know how you sleep at night.

    Soundly, and guilt-free, I imagine…

  13. 13
    frankb

    I would hope it was replaced with “be whatever you want, just don’t impose your beliefs on others, and enjoy full civil rights”

    heddle, if you can just get a handle on sarcasm you will realize that the people here are all for tolerance and civil rights for all. You need to take this message to any that would associate with the Moral Majority because they were not tolerant and did not believe in civil rights for others. Don’t call yourself a conservative christian if you truly believe that others can be what they want and everyone should have civil rights. Those concepts are incompatible with each other.

  14. 14
    cry4turtles

    Walk a mile in an athiest’s moccasins before you get defensive over stigma.

  15. 15
    steve oberski

    @heddle

    There are consequences to believing absurdities.

    Back in the days when there was a stigma attached to not being an xtian, religious idiots wielded enormous secular power and used it to impose their dogma on society with sanctions up to and including torture and death for those who refused to accept the validity of religiot propositions without evidence.

    We only have to look to extant Muslim theocracies to see how this played out in the past.

    Now days xtians inanities get to battle it out in the marketplace of ideas and social stigma is one of the penalties exacted against those whose view on reality is not informed by evidence.

    I would no more lose sleep over my criticism of your beliefs than I would over criticizing AGW deniers, Obama truthers, 9/11 conspiracy wackjobs and those who think that Elvis still walks among us.

  16. 16
    heddle

    steve oberski,,

    I would no more lose sleep over my criticism of your beliefs

    Moving the goalpost are we? Criticize is not the same as stigmatize. Who gives a rat’s ass if you criticize us?

    frankb,

    Don’t call yourself a conservative christian if you truly believe that others can be what they want and everyone should have civil rights. Those concepts are incompatible with each other.

    That is mind numbingly stupid. I believe the bible is the inerrant word of god. But I am not a True Conservative Christian™. Because you say so. Because I believe in full civil rights and that is inconvenient for your box in which you place conservative True Conservative Christians™. Perfect.

  17. 17
    steve oberski

    @heddle

    I believe that Obama was born in Kenya and has a gay lover.

  18. 18
    davem

    That is mind numbingly stupid. I believe the bible is the inerrant word of god.

    I’m not sure that I like to mock heddle, who comes across as one of the more reasonable Christians. But I do think he wrote those two sentences above in the wrong order.

  19. 19
    raven

    Membership Among Southern Baptists is Dwindling | Memphis …
    ww.abc24.com/…/Membership…Southern-Baptists…/…

    14 Jun 2012 –

    In 2011, membership among Southern Baptists dropped below 16 million, marking the fifth straight year of decline. … to Lifeway Research, neither Ellis nor Martin is losing hope. Change … ReligionStinks – 6/15/2012 3:07 PM …

    The SBC has lost total numbers for 5 years straight now. There own predictions have them getting cut in half in a few decades.

    Ding Dong, the witch isn’t dead but it is dying.

  20. 20
    raven

    Retention rates of young people in the SBC are 30% according to their own numbers.

    People tend to leave in the order of best and brightest first so you can imagine who is left.

    The Southern Baptists aren’t really much of a religion anyway. It’s more right wing extremist politics with a few crosses stuck on it.

    1. It was formed to defend slavery, fought for Jim Crow laws, and opposed desegration.

    2. It got even uglier in the mid late 20th century.
    A. The church was taken over by right wing extremists who purged all the moderates. Stalin would have cheered wildly.
    B. They then threw out most of the key centuries old principles of the Baptist movement, priesthood of all believers and individual rights to interpret the bible their own way.
    C. The SBC once supported biology and modern science. They now oppose modern science. During a key early creationist against reality court case, they were on the side of reality.

    Unless you like to hate and lie, deny reality, and think Romney and Brian Fishcer are too liberal, they have nothing to offer anyone.

  21. 21
    raven

    Lifeway Research 2007:

    According to the study, 70 percent of young adults ages 23-30 stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between ages 18-22.

    and

    lifeway research (SBC) 2007:

    Fifty-eight percent of church dropouts selected at least one church or pastor-related reason for leaving church. Most common was, “church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical” (26 percent). Another 20 percent “didn’t feel connected to the people in my church.”

    The final category of reasons, “religious, ethical or political beliefs,” contributed to the departure of 52 percent of church dropouts.

    Two reasons for leaving reflect this category: “I disagreed with the church’s stance on political or social issues” (18 percent) and “I was only going to church to please others” (17 percent).

    Documentation for the above claim. Lifeway Research is an SBC house organization.

  22. 22
    Michael Heath

    heddle writes:

    Because I believe in full civil rights . . .

    Perhaps; I think you think you do. But you belong to a denomination that asserts that it’s objectively true that women by mere virtue of being a female are more defective than males; therefore it’s OK to discriminate against them.

    Your denomination is allied with nearly all other conservative Christian denominations which abuse the young people in their midst who are gay. I assume the kids who are gay in your church also fear the members. These denominations also enforce bigoted policies which deny unrepentant gay people access to membership and leadership positions. They also enforce prohibitions against gay marriage in their churches and prohibit gay married couples and their families the right join their church. And you remain part of a group which is the predominant force within the culture when it comes to vilifying gays in hopes they’ll go back in the closet.

    So while we read of your claims you believe in full civil rights; the actions you reveal in this forum has you allying with the predominant dominant group which persecutes women and gay people in this country. And promise to do so even after both groups achieve equal rights outside the domain of the church.

    So as more people’s rights are better protected, the light on the bigotry of the church you attend and all conservative Christian churches who practice this type of bigotry will be increasingly exposed. That’s the obvious motivation why conservative Christians are fighting so hard in the public square for public education to deny the existence of gay people and their families, and why they fight so hard to deny gays their civil rights. In order to continue to deny these people their rights in the very type church you attend; while simultaneously falsely arguing they’re not bigots in spite of their practicing bigotry.

  23. 23
    whheydt

    I am amused to see that I’m not the only person to immediately react to this guy invoking “Soapy Sam” for the basis of his claims.

  24. 24
    Sastra

    “This movement sees that love in its essence is not shorn of conviction, love is instead a summons to a joyful transformation… what we would call a new social witness… grounds its identity in the preaching of the Gospel … yet it cannot help but act on behalf of others… We are the true culture; we are those who must speak up and create this culture in the fallen world,”

    Ah, it’s Christianity+.

    I’m sorely tempted to call these ‘Glittering Generalities, Standard Christian Version.’ You could take these statements and pretty much attach them to any Christian sect — with the possible exception of those which do not endorse preaching (unless there are invisible scare quotes around the term “preaching” and it’s supposed to translate as winning hearts for Jesus simply by living your faith.) This explanation sounds like someone is taking a bold new stand but simply just regurgitates common talking points. Oh yeah — other Christians have always been against helping the unfortunate and giving them spiritual solace and hope, which is what these passages seem to be suggesting. It’s a new idea. Right.

    No, only the repetition of the word “conservative” gives us any really useful clues, and it’s thin gruel.

    heddle #1 wrote:

    I call it the John Piper effect, since almost all of them have self-educated on Piper’s books… If we … gain one of these–our church is much stronger for it.

    I confess I had to look John Piper up, since I’ve not heard of him before. I found this on Wikipedia, as one of his signature approaches:

    … he believes that supernatural gifts such as prophecy, miracles, healings, and speaking in tongues have not ceased and should be sought by the church, in particular with regard to missions and evangelism.

    Really? I mean, you, heddle, like this and are pleased to see it leading to increased church attendance? I would not have thought so, but perhaps I’ve missed something.

  25. 25
    Reginald Selkirk

    This movement sees that love in its essence is not shorn of conviction, love is instead a summons to a joyful transformation. Now is the moment for a new Christian conservatism, or what we could call a new social witness.”

    “Paging Eugene Ionesco. Eugene Ionesco to the white courtesy phone please.”

  26. 26
    heddle

    Sastra,

    Really? I mean, you, heddle, like this and are pleased to see it leading to increased church attendance? I would not have thought so, but perhaps I’ve missed something.

    I don’t like that, I am a cessationist. I must say I don’t see your point. Even Piper’s fans (of which I am but a lukewarm one) do not agree with everything he teaches. For example, he has many Presbyterian fans in spite of the fact that he does not support paedobaptism. Am I happy that he has such influence? I am, because in spite of not agreeing with everything he preaches or writes he is a biblical inerratist and a Calvinist and his books, as they discuss mercy to the poor, soteriology and Christology are more or less spot-on, IMO. I can disagree with him on many other things, including continuation of spiritual gifts. My complaint is more of style (I find him too wordy) that substance.

    Do you agree with everything in the marquee gnu books? Let me suppose that perhaps you do not, and yet are delighted that they have been instrumental in many becoming informed. Or would you be appalled that someone embraced their atheism after reading Harris, even though you do not like his views (for example, and I’m speculating) on profiling?

    Michael Heath,

    We had this discussion several times. If it is illegal for gays to get married by the state or by a clergy who desires to marry them then that is, in my opinion, a grave violation of their civil rights. If my pastor does not want to marry a same sex couple–or if a Catholic priest or imam or rabbi does not want to marry me, or if Planned Parenthood does not want me on their board, I do not consider that even an infinitesimal violation of my civil rights. We’ll have to agree to disagree. (I recognize the nuance that no organization is completely private.)

  27. 27
    Sastra

    @heddle:

    I think a better analogy would be to a popular atheist endorsing the existence of the paranormal. That would be a substantial problem. So I’m surprised that such obvious unscientific testable claims added to your religion worry you less than style.

  1. 28
    Rite and Ritual – Christian Edition | Eudaimonaic Laughter

    [...] Christianity is currently haemorrhaging people, Conservative Christianity is attracting some but driving many more away.  And Atheism doesn’t answer the non-theological questions religion does [...]

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site