Monday, May 11, 2015

Gettin' Crunked On Conservative Christians

"Professor Crunk", Brittney Cooper of Rutgers University, successfully made a Holy Week splash by flaming conservative Christians who don't share her particular views on race, feminism, homosexuality, and religious freedom.

"If your politics are rooted in the contemporary anti-Black, misogynist, homophobic conservatism, then we are not serving the same God. Period." 

"I often ask myself whether I really do worship the same God of white religious conservatives."

"This God isn’t the God that I serve. There is nothing holy, loving, righteous, inclusive, liberatory or theologically sound about him. He might be “biblical” but he’s also an asshole." 


I'm not overly interested in the main thrust of the article. The piece is basically a rant designed to be click-bait and it worked. However, one comment stood out as particularly odd to me:
To be clear, because I’m an academic, I get static often from folks who wonder how I could dare ally myself in name and religious affiliation with the kind of morally misguided, politically violent people who think it reasonable to force women to have babies they do not want and who think their opinions about whom and how others should marry matters even a little bit.
So for Professor Crunk, imagined political violence trumps the actual physical violence of burning and dismembering unwanted babies. I mean, they're babies these women don't want. These ladies shouldn't have to experience the political violence of right-wing misogynists peacefully advocating for the end of brutally violent practices such as late-term abortions.

Because she's an "academic," Professor Crunk has to explain to the intelligentsia why she would associate with such riff-raff. Thankfully she has a helpful explanation: Christians who don't support abortion on demand aren't Christians at all. They serve a different god.

I appreciate Prof. Crunk's openness and transparency. As Dennis Prager often says, "I prefer clarity over agreement." This subject has actually been a point of discussion and debate for decades. As far back as 1921 J. Gresham Machen stated in an address later published as Christianity & Liberalism: "The chief modern rival of Christianity is 'liberalism.' An examination of the teachings of liberalism will show that at every point the liberal movement is in opposition to the Christian message."

Gresham would probably agree with Prof. Crunk's conclusion that they serve different gods. Gresham wrote, "Christianity differs from liberalism, then, in the first place, in its conception of God. But it also differs in its conception of man. Modern liberalism has lost all sense of the gulf that separates the creature from the Creator; its doctrine of man follows naturally from its doctrine of God." Crunk states this perspective of modern liberalism plainly when she writes, "We refuse to pretend as though the main story of Jesus’ resurrection was that he ‘died for our sins.’" She goes to state, "We need to reclaim the narrative of Jesus’ life and death from the evangelical right." Because she is an academic, I'm certain that Prof. Crunk's failure to mention "resurrection" along with "life and death" was no oversight. Jesus minus atonement for sins and a bodily resurrection, then, would certainly qualify as a Jesus very different from the Jesus of Scripture.

I agree with Ms. Cooper when she states, "We need to be better in discussing the ways Jesus represented a threat to his empire, that his teachings disrupt power structures." Conservative Christians have begun to do a better job of addressing these aspects of Jesus's ministry in recent years thanks to the work of scholars such as Tom Wright and Scot McKnight.

Cooper might possibly have found a foothold of common ground with conservative Christians had she invited conservatives to explore these areas of empire and power structures in relation to "people of color, queer people and poor women." Instead, she settled for making it clear to her fellow "academics" that she's not one of those bigoted, misogynist, white supremacist Christians.

Professor Crunk may be right: "This white, blond-haired, blue-eyed, gun-toting, Bible-quoting Jesus of the religious right is a god of their own making." But if her alternative Jesus is merely, "a man who came, radically served his community, challenged the unjust show of state power, embraced children, working-class men and promiscuous women and sexual minorities (eunuchs)," then Brittney Cooper also has a "made-up God." I'll put it as Cooper did: "This God isn’t the God that I serve."

Jeff Wright, Jr. is the founder of Evangelicals for Liberty. He is a Chaplain in a "city of lost souls" and holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from Dallas Theological Seminary. His other areas of interest include the kingdom of God, American evangelicalism, the ministry of the local church, obstacle course racing, and all things Star Wars. You can also find him @jeffwrightjr.  

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