Sunday, December 21, 2008
John Armstrong on Richard Cizik
My friend John Armstrong (president and founder of Act 3 ministries) has had one of the best responses I've read to the forced resignation of Richard Cizik from the NAE that I've seen out there. He has a series of five blog posts in which he discusses this incident as a sign of the decline of the NAE and the evangelical movement as a whole back into an increasingly fundamentalist orientation. I think he's right on, and I'm glad he's the one saying it, and not just us younger emergent types, because he's been around long enough, and has been an active part of many of these influential evangelical circles to really know what he's talking about. Other evangelicals may be more inclined to listen to someone like him than to those (such as myself) whom they can simply slap a label like "liberal" or "emerging" on and then conveniently ignore. Anyhow, I applaud him for having the courage to go out on a limb, to name names, and to level some hard critique at his own movement.

You can read his responses here:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

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posted by Mike Clawson at 4:07 PM | Permalink |


At 12/21/2008 06:42:00 PM, Blogger Andrew

Thanks for the post. I had no idea there was a "Christian" view on global warming. Heh!


At 12/22/2008 11:18:00 AM, Anonymous Karl

That was excellent. I'm printing it out and making copies.

As is being discussed on Scot McKnight's blog, that kind of ideological intolerance unfortunately holds true in both directions. There are influential circles in which questioning the prevailing conventional wisdom on global warming, taking John Armstrong's stance re. the morality of homosexual pracitce, or suggesting that one opposes civil unions would result in treatment the same or worse than what Cizik received at the hands of the NAE and the religious right.

If only all people regardless of their stance on the issues, would exhibit the spirit of a John Armstrong or Scot McKnight. President-elect Obama seems to be trying to set an example. I hope more take heed.


At 12/22/2008 02:14:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

I don't disagree Karl, but at the same time, I find that whenever the response to an issue like this is "but the other side does it too", it tends to minimize the seriousness of the actual offense and dis-empowers the victims of injustice. Let's take care of the plank in our own eye before worrying about the speck in the liberals'.

(And I do say "our" since, while I have been an evangelical - and still am by some definitions - I've never been a classical liberal.)


At 12/29/2008 10:27:00 AM, Anonymous Karl

No, two wrongs don't make a right. Nor does the fact that "the other side does it too" make it ok. I'm all for strongly criticizing the group of which one is a part. I didn't realize you still considered yourself evangelical.

Most people, left or right, save their strongest criticism for the "other" - either the other that they have always considered their enemy, or else the other that represents a view they used to hold but hold no longer ("the heresies men leave are hated most").

Ideological intolerance is a human problem, not just an evangelical problem or a leftist problem. But for the evangelicals it's their own problem when it exists within their ranks, and for the liberals it (within their ranks) is their own problem, etc. Yeah, I agree we should each take care of our own house first. It's kind of hard to hear the "you're so intolerant" message when it's coming from someone who is from another "camp" and who is pointing out your camp's failures when theirs is rife with the same thing.


At 12/30/2008 07:50:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

We've already covered this ground, but whether or not I'm still an evangelical pretty much depends on who I'm talking to and what they mean by it. I like Nick Fiedler's (of the Nick & Josh Podcast) approach, which is basically that he doesn't want to force himself on any group that doesn't really want him as a member anymore. So if I claim to still be an evangelical there are going to be some who accuse me of not really being one and abusing the label. And if I say I'm not one, then there are going to be those who think that I'm drawing lines too narrowly and say that I'm still within the camp. To which, at this point, I just reply "Hey, whatever you want. Doesn't much matter to me anymore."

At any rate, evangelicalism is what I know best and what I'm still focusing most of my attention on, so it's what I'm most qualified to critique. I can't critique the "liberals" because frankly I don't know enough about them yet. (Except that as I study in a liberal mainline school I'm finding that they're not actually living up to all the extreme stereotypes that I've always heard about them. Contrary to evangelical belief, not every "liberal" Christian actually is a Jack Spong.


At 1/12/2009 09:11:00 AM, Anonymous Karl

That last point is true. Not all liberals are Jack Spong, no more than is every evangelical a James Dobson. It's more nuanced in both cases, than those unfamiliar with the given subgroup would suggest.


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