I have been involved in two different ongoing debates on Progressive Christian blogsites. One on homosexuality at I am a Christian Too under the title Response to Mohler re: Homosexuality, Pt 2 and one at From the Salmon under the title Jesus Is So First Century . I enjoy these debates but they are tiring for all involved.
I believe the reason they are so tiring is because of all the preconceived notions Progressive Christians have about Conservative Christians and vice versa.
From I am a Christian Too:
Mohler Anti-Gay Rant
Gays in the Church— Bob @ 9:27 am
"Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a rant against gays that spans three of his columns on the SBC Baptist Press here, here and here. This is hate-filled stuff, and not hate-the-sin-but-love-the-sinner type hate, but good old-fashioned bigotry type hate."
Upon reading the three articles which Bob at IAACT linked to, I found his judgement of Al Mohler to be harsh and self-serving. There appears to be a desire on the part of many Progressive Christians to believe that all Conservative Christians have no reason to oppose gay marriage other than a hatred of gays or a fear of them. I believe I have proven this is not the case in my recent post titled "It's About Our Children, Stupid!" However, the case I made in that post is certainly not the only valid reason people may oppose gay marriage, it just happens to be the primary reason that I, personally, oppose it. To suggest that Mohler, who merely points out that he believes that all scripture is God-breathed and inerrant and that it identifies homosexuality as a sin, somehow reduces him to a hate-filled bigot is simply ridiculous. For those of us, who do believe in the inerrancy of scripture, to have Progressive Christians who do not believe in the sin of homosexuality to pretend that we have "poor theology" because we believe what, historically, has been believed about homosexuality is true is an insult to our intelligence. It is not disagreement with which I have a problem, it is the total lack of respect which I and other Conservative Christians face wherein we are painted as haters because we believe the inerrancy of scripture. Likewise, Progressives are treated as harbingers of apostasy for suggesting otherwise.
I have had a better experience at From the Salmon. Generally the commenters and blog owner of From the Salmon have been more receptive to a thoughtful, respectful, legitimate exchange of ideas. They have, or seem to have been, willing to accept that Conservatives are not merely opposed to aiding the poor but have differing views on how best to do so. That has been refreshing. While I do believe zalm, the owner of From the Salmon, was a bit heavy-handed in his initial critique of Pastor Ted Haggard when he said:
"The dark side of capitalism is that there will always be economic losers. The dark side of being pro-business is that a certain level of poverty is good for the profit margins. Let’s not pretend otherwise. And let’s certainly not sanctify it and sell it as Christian duty.
Look, the market is such a dynamic economic engine because it runs on the idea that people are most interested in maximizing their own pleasures and gains. We’re selfish creatures, and harnessing that selfishness holds tremendous power."
...because I, while not looking extensively into Haggard's work, don't think he is suggesting that "Free Market Christianity" is the only remedy for aiding the poor, I think he does have a point that it can be helpful in aiding the poor. I also admitted to zalm that I don't know that I agree on him espousing capitalism from the pulpit, but shouldn't we, as Christians, do all we can to aid the poor, and if capitalistic tools can help in this goal shouldn't we utilize them also?
It is easy for us to take on an either/or mentality. It would be easy to say that capitalism or a free market approach is the only way to ease economic need or to say that the only way to aid the poor is through supplying their needs without helping them to create a way to meet their own needs but the point is that, and zalm admits this, it isn't that simple. I believe that Progressives can bring something to this discussion and that Conservatives can bring something to this discussion, as well. Working together and not being so quick to discount the other's reasons for their beliefs of how best to address this issue is an important quest. zalm admits that the government isn't a perfect deliverer of effective aid for the poor then chastises the church for not being the perfect deliverer of effective aid either, in my opinion both are not entirely effective but the church will come closer to delivering aid in the compassionate, loving and caring way which Jesus examples than the government can ever dream or hope of delivering it.
Progressive Christians exist and have some legitimate complaints, Conservative Christians exist and have some legitimate complaints. We could all use a lesson in respect for our fellow Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. If we can only put aside our partisan political opinions and work together toward a solution that is fair and equitable to all, that shows mutual respect, I believe we might go far toward finding solutions to some of these problems. As far as helping the poor? Government has some responsibility but, conservatively speaking, I believe that the body of Christ has more responsibility than the government to help those in need. But, my goodness, there is certainly room for debate. I would recommend anyone to read the blog From the Salmon and weigh in on the discussion, weigh in at I am a Christian Too , also. Let's have a constructive dialog, after all, Jesus calls the Body of Christ together, why shouldn't we? We are all a part of the Body.