Talk:Essay:How Conservatism Is Essential to the Future of Christianity

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Looks like I'm the first comment... Well, I wonder if this is an overly-politicized view of Christianity. To me Christianity is its own worldview or ideology or whatever you call it. The future of Christianity should be in the Bible and the traditional teachings of the Church, not in any political ideology. Christianity does not need conservatism to survive. It needs only its own traditional teachings, and whether those correlate with political conservatism is besides the point. AddisonDM 12:27, 24 June 2009 (EDT)

While I would agree that Christianity will "survive" regardless, I respectfully disagree about the rest of your comment. Survival is not the issue. The issue is Christianity's growth and beneficial impact. Conservatism is essential for Christianity to thrive as much as it can.
As to politicizing Christianity, the liberals are doing that already. The issue is the extent to which conservatism steps up to the plate and counters it, and strengthens Christianity in the process.
I give specific examples and reasons. Do you disagree with any of them? Thanks and Godspeed.--Andy Schlafly 12:46, 24 June 2009 (EDT)
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you're saying, but I have to question the idea that gambling postdates the King James Bible. Surely, the account of the soldiers casting lots for Christ's coat would be an example of gambling? Or is your point instead that gambling as a threat to Christianity postdates the KJV? --Benp 16:21, 24 June 2009 (EDT)
"Gambling" originated in 1755, according to the dictionary. The term does not appear, not even once, in the King James Bible.
I agree that the casting of lots that you describe should be translated as "gambling", but it isn't. We need a conservative translation of the Bible that does.--Andy Schlafly 17:17, 24 June 2009 (EDT)

Contents

Baptist Example is Off the Mark

Sorry Andy, as a Baptist I disagree with your implication that liberalism is the downfall of the Southern Baptist Convention. You're right that politicization was a cause for their decline in numbers, but it's completely opposite what you imply, and has nothing to do with national politics of left and right. In the early-to-mid 1990s, the megalomaniacal leadership literally pushed out anyone who wasn't willing to accept the Convention's increasingly narrow orthodoxy, brandishing the word "moderate" against their enemies as if it were a curse. It was really just a power grab by a few individuals who saw no problem in alienating millions of believers, much less firing dozens of long-faithful staff members in underhanded ways that would not even be accepted in the secular world of business. In a denomination which was always about the freedom of the believer's individual interpretation of the bible, the Convention suddenly wanted to impose a mandatory oath on all congregations who associated with them. For most staunch Baptists, this was heresy.

Or am I reading you wrong? What are you trying to say with the Baptist example? Please enlighten me with your armchair analysis of the denomination I was brought up in and still identify with. I lived through the political conflicts as a teenager, alongside my staunchly politically conservative father who scratched his head at the un-Christian antics of the Convention's leadership. The ripple effects are still felt to this day in churches like the one I grew up in, which has become too divided for my family, who after 20 years of faithful attendance have made the painful decision to move their membership. Please, tell me all about my church! I'm curious what insight you, a Catholic, have to give me. JDWpianist 19:17, 24 June 2009 (EDT)

The Southern Baptist Convention thrived under conservative leadership, but it has become increasingly liberal in recent years. It defeated a proposal for an exodus from liberal public schools. It is kicking off this month's annual conference with a tribute to Obama. The speech by its new leader was liberal-leaning. It's membership is falling. I don't mean to pick on the SBC, but this is an all-too-familiar pattern. Check out the empty Protestant churches in the liberal Northeast sometime.--Andy Schlafly 20:21, 24 June 2009 (EDT)
You're completely mistaken about the root causes of the SBC's decline. I mean no disrespect, because the internal politics are Byzantine and difficult for a non-Baptist to understand from a distance. First of all, it did not start declining recently. Problems as deep as the SBC's of course did not show up overnight. While the last two years have been the first time in history when the SBC actually lost membership, its growth started slowing down in the '90s, directly as a result of the conflict between the Fundamentalists and the Moderates. For a good analysis of the issue, I recommend James Hefley's book The Truth in Crisis: The Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.
It was a very ugly conflict, which polarized millions of Baptist churches, using an important doctrinal issue (the revision of the Baptist Faith and Message) as a wedge. A good summary of the moderate Baptists' concerns about the BF&M can be found in Jimmy Carter's statement when breaking with the SBC in 2000, (read here). During that conflict, the Fundamentalists successfully ousted the Moderates from its ranks, most of whom joined the American Baptist Association. Along with them went their largest university, Baylor (my alma mater). It's easy for the outsider to misinterpret this as a liberal vs. conservative issue, but at heart it was about Baptist core principles such as the Priesthood of the Believer and the Autonomy of the Local Church, which were on the chopping block as the leaders of the SBC wanted to expand its role from merely a supporter of foreign missions (the Convention's original purpose) to a very active force in controlling the doctrines which its churches taught.
While I will agree that the American Baptists have drifted to the left in the last 10 years, the SBC (which is the one experiencing decline, mind you) has since stayed firmly in Fundamentalist, very politically conservative hands: James Merritt, the last president, was on President George W. Bush's speed-dial. You mention its new, more liberal leadership, and by that I assume you mean Johnny Hunt. He's still a fundamentalist, still politically conservative, and the SBC's stance on social issues has not budged one bit under his leadership. The Obama statement, a very mild praise of the President's family values and a recognition of his historical significance combined with scathing critiques of his politics, was part of a new push to try and keep minority churches in the fold (read about it here). This is not a liberal issue, rather one of survival. Black Baptist churches in the South have remained for the most part faithful to the SBC, but this will surely change if the Convention is seen as hostile to them.
I'm not familiar with the public school motion that you mention, but would be interested in reading about it if you could provide a link. I can say though that in my experience, Baptist preachers have discouraged homeschooling and private schooling, because they believe that evangelism thrives on Christians living and working among the unsaved, not by cloistering themselves with the like-minded. As the primary importance of evangelism is one thing that Baptists can all agree upon, this decision does not seem unusual. JDWpianist 08:25, 25 June 2009 (EDT)
You make some interesting points, and I have an open mind about it. But politics cuts deeper for many people. Many in the SBC support Obama, and he's receiving a special tribute this month from them. SBC leadership shut down a movement by conservatives to have an exodus from public schools. The current leader seems to be liberal-leaning in his approach. If the SBC took a strong stand this month against same-sex marriage, I missed it.
The bottom line is that most people care a lot more about politics than about doctrinal disputes over baptism. Jimmy Carter didn't leave the SBC over a fine theological point.
Liberals try to invade and transform churches, and the list of examples is too long to provide here. SBC leadership is taking it down that road, and membership decline is the hefty toll.--Andy Schlafly 14:11, 25 June 2009 (EDT)
Again, as I showed in the last post, your examples are not exactly slam-dunk evidence of liberalism. Johnny Hunt is considered within the SBC as a fundamentalist conservative, and the Baptist church's position on social issues could not be clearer. You're right that the SBC has many members who support Obama, but you're downplaying the importance of Black churches, who make up a fifth or so of the Baptist churches. They're socially very conservative, but are also inspired by what Obama represents. The "tribute" to Obama was no more than a recognition of this constituency's respect, and I believe I made that clear in the last post.
I realize that home-schooling is a dear issue to you, but I already explained what I grew up hearing from Baptist preachers all my life: don't separate yourself from the world, live in the world and preach the gospel by example and witness. Does this sound like being soft on liberalism to you? I'd still be curious to get a link from you about this.
Finally, I think you're really not registering how serious the conflict of the 1990s was, or you wouldn't dismiss it as "doctrinal disputes over baptism." It was not about baptism, nor was it a "fine theological point," it was about autonomy of church families and pastors. This is why Baptists are Baptists! I'm cutting you slack for misunderstanding this, because you only know about Baptists superficially, as an outsider. And yes, Jimmy Carter did break with the SBC over what he saw as "creedism," which is precisely what I've been trying to get across. Read the link with an open mind.
I wish you'd admit that you don't know very much about this issue, or at least read a little bit of what I've linked to. As someone who comes from a Southern Baptist family and grew up with this conflict, I'm saying absolutely that the church has moved further and further to the right, systematically jettisoning liberals and moderates, and this explains their drop in numbers. Those who remain are some of the staunchest Republican "values" voters who take strong stands on conservative social issues. The move toward liberalism that you're claiming is non-existent. JDWpianist 17:00, 25 June 2009 (EDT)
As I've said, I have an open mind about this (and all other issues). But your comments, with sprinkled personal put-downs, are not persuasive. The membership of the SBC, like the entire nation, is becoming more conservative. But the leadership of the SBC is not. And that mismatch causes dissatisfaction and departure. The political controversies in religious institutions tend to be more important than the theological ones throughout history, and the SBC leadership's recent disfavoring of homeschooling while embracing Obama is very significant. Of course more evidence that is timely is welcome.--Andy Schlafly 00:40, 26 June 2009 (EDT)

Disagreements

OK do I disagree with any of the specific points? I think so, if I understand what you are tryin to say.

1)"Only conservatism exposes and debunks liberal deceit." Do you mean apart from Christianity or when introduced to Christianity? If so, I disagree. I see Christianity itself as teaching against deceit. Thus perhaps what you really mean is that real Christianity is conservative, or that conservatism explemplifies traditional Christian values.

2) "one's level of conservatism is highly correlated to how often he engages in Christian prayer." Again, that means that true Christianity is conservative, not that conservatism must be injected into Christianity.

3)"politics is pushed on the public through television and radio shows in unavoidable ways, which erodes people's faith if left unrebutted" This one is just vaguely written, though I think I agree. You mean liberal policies as opposed to politics in general, right?

What I'm saying is that political and social values should be derived from traditional Christianity, and whatever you would label those policies does not matter. AddisonDM 19:37, 24 June 2009 (EDT)

REPLY:
1)"Only conservatism exposes and debunks liberal deceit." Do you mean apart from Christianity or when introduced to Christianity? If so, I disagree. I see Christianity itself as teaching against deceit. Thus perhaps what you really mean is that real Christianity is conservative, or that conservatism explemplifies traditional Christian values.
Christianity rarely exposes and debunks deceit. In fact, the word "deceit" or "lying" is rarely heard in church or by Christians today. Some Christians will even go out of their way to accept what someone says at face value, as when Obama stated that he is a Christian.
Conservatism identifies deceit for what it is, and is proactive in identifying and exposing new kinds of deceit as they appear. Tradition does not always help, and old arguments are not always most effective against new deceit.
2) "one's level of conservatism is highly correlated to how often he engages in Christian prayer." Again, that means that true Christianity is conservative, not that conservatism must be injected into Christianity.
The cause-and-effect is not clear. The correlation is. Even if it is Christian first, conservative second, there seems to be a reinforcement or feedback that cements the Christianity into place. That positive feedback is worth promoting.
3)"politics is pushed on the public through television and radio shows in unavoidable ways, which erodes people's faith if left unrebutted" This one is just vaguely written, though I think I agree. You mean liberal policies as opposed to politics in general, right?
I mean CNN and CBS and even the (few) quasi-conservative news outlets. CNN is pervasive in public places, for example. It can't go unrebutted, or people will see their faith erode.--Andy Schlafly 20:01, 24 June 2009 (EDT)

Young people in church

I'm not sure what church you go to, but there are plenty of young people in my church. In fact, when they are dismissed to sunday school, more than half of the seats are relieved. My church's high school youth group has reached about 50 students and continues to grow. Maybe you should revise it to say, "lack of young people in Catholic churches" because I don't see that many when I attend mass.

I apologize if I sound demeaning or something. Just wondering where you got your information. JonG 14:16, 27 June 2009 (EDT)

You make a legitimate point, and it's not demeaning. But perhaps your church is conservative, as most of the popular evangelical churches are. You don't say.--Andy Schlafly 14:35, 27 June 2009 (EDT)

Another critique...

Andy, what do you mean when you say "the Bible prohibited creating images in the likeness of humans"?? I do not beleive that that is in the Bible, but if it is, there should be a verse citation. Or perhaps I misuderstand what the point is- you don't mean that images of humans are banned like in Islam, right? AddisonDM 22:57, 5 July 2009 (EDT)

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