Sunday, July 16, 2017

Flip-flopping evangelicals

So apparently Eugene Peterson is a Big Thing in Evangelical Circles.  He's an older man, and while he is Presbyterian minister, he definitely swings on the Evangelical side.

Last week, in an interview, he allowed as how he has come to appreciate gay people as (gasp!) actual people with solid values and spiritual lives.  And, when asked by the interviewer, he said that he might actually marry a gay couple should they request it.

Apostate!  All hell broke loose upon his head, and within a day or two he backtracked.  Seems that his books would be dumped by a major publisher, etc etc.

Similar responses have befallen other major figures who have come to admit the humanity of gay people.  Some of them reverse themselves, but others (Rob Bell, Brian McLaren) stick to the values of inclusion.

Fred Clark at Slactivist theorizes that this wasn't so much about gays marrying, as it was about something else in the interview:

The pretext for him getting Ciziked is his belated, lukewarm “change of mind” on marriage equality. That is what the gatekeepers and their toadies are seizing on and elevating as the cause for their pearl-clutching and their threats of banishment from the tribe and from the shelves of LifeWay. 
Granted, I’m sure the gatekeepers didn’t like those comments from Peterson, but that’s not what really infuriated — and terrified — them. What has them truly shaken is another bit from his interview with Merritt, in which Peterson directly challenges the bedrock core of their faith and doctrine:
I think we’re in a bad situation. I really do. Donald Trump is the enemy as far as I’m concerned. He has no morals. He has no integrity.
....
It doesn’t matter that Peterson’s criticism was directed only at Trump and not at the entire Republican Party. (Ask Russell Moore whether that distinction matters.) Nor does it matter that his statements about Trump’s lack of integrity and morals are demonstrably true. All that matters to the Righteous Defenders and to the traumatized followers kept within their gates are these five words: “Donald Trump is the enemy.”
That’s intolerable to them. It’s a direct challenge to their identity, to their faith, to everything they believe about what it means to be faithful to the Word of God. It’s an existential threat, and it must be destroyed.
The "gay thing" is a proxy for the Republican orthodoxy of Christianist belief, which is Pres. Trump as One of Theirs.  Somewhere, someone weeps.

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