Santorum channels Thatcher: the shambles in the United Church of Christ — and America.
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“What I’m saying is that someone must force the point, say the unsayable. None of these men have the guts.”
Allow me to parse the theology problem that the Catholic Mr. Santorum has accurately fingered about the Christian faith President Obama and I share. To say what for some of my fellow UCC’ers is the unsayable.
Why? Why waste your time with noodling about religion in a political column?
Because what Rick Santorum has accurately and concisely identified — the “phony theology” of President Obama — is in fact increasingly presenting itself as a major political issue in the 2012 campaign and beyond. It is a theology spread wide over America the last fifty years or so — one is tempted to think of all those early Cold War graphics that showed a splotch of red spreading over maps of Europe, Asia and elsewhere as Communism slowly and sometimes not-so-slowly swallowed one country and peoples after another as if some sort of political version of “The Blob.”
Perhaps it’s best to first say how theology is defined. Webster’s calls it “the study of divine things or religious truth.” And with that definition in mind, it is more than fair to say for many in the hierarchy of the UCC “divine things or religious truth” represents not so much the Gospel of Christ but all things left wing.
The United Church of Christ, created by mergers only in 1957, is descended from two ancient Protestant faiths: the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, themselves created from what were once four separate denominations. Between them, these denominations reflect the Gospel of Christ as taught by a series of Protestant reformers including Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. In American history this tradition, begun with the arrival of the Pilgrims, was embodied by the 18th-century Jonathan Edwards, considered by many to be America’s greatest theologian. In short, the faith of the UCC goes back hundreds of years. It decidedly did not begin in 1957.
The denomination itself cites a series of quite venerable Christian texts as “authentic testimonies” to the core beliefs of the UCC. In addition to the Bible this includes documents such as, again to quote the UCC, “the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Evangelical Catechism, the Augsburg Confession, the Cambridge Platform and the Kansas City Statement of Faith”, along with the UCC’s own “Statement of Faith.”
This is important to understand if one is to grasp exactly the truth that Senator Santorum has expressed. One can search these texts forever and one will never find a reference to the crown jewel of today’s United Church of Christ — “social justice.”
Yet in listening to the ruling class of the UCC today one would have no idea of this very elemental fact.
Today the UCC is awash not in the Gospel of Christ but the Gospel of Social Justice. And while you can read the very texts cited by the UCC until the cows come home, you will never find the words “social justice” mentioned but once. As is true with the works of Protestant Reformers Calvin, Luther or Edwards, all of whom are cited in buried UCC history as forefathers in reformational Protestant faith. All of whom, out of necessity, are today honored more in the breach than in current doctrine.
If you follow along here to the UCC’s “Justice and Witness Ministries” section of our church website, you will find a church veritably bathed in doctrine that has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and everything to do with a man-made political confection — and an obviously leftist confection at that. Where do you think President Obama gets the idea to cite Luke 12: 48 (“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”) as he did the other day at the National Prayer Breakfast? This is the very essence of today’s UCC theology. UCC liberals will go on and on with this or that from the Gospels or the Old Testament to make their case for redistribution of income and social justice — always, as with President Obama — in highly selective fashion. Cherry picking Jesus, as it were, to make their case.
The irony is that after some forty years of all this, my UCC liberal friends are so swept up in this Gospel of Social Justice that they are virtually deaf to the wisdom of another church forefather, John Robinson, better known to the world as the pastor of the Pilgrims, While the church itself quotes Robinson as saying to his flock that God “has yet more light and truth to break forth out of his holy Word” — or as the current church slogan has it “God is still speaking” — in fact the UCC Left essentially adopts the posture of clapping its hands over its ears in response. Deaf as a post to the reality that their substitution of social justice for Christ has resulted in over 1 million members leaving the denomination in the last several decades, some 200 churches in the last few years alone, with the National Council of Churches reporting yet another membership decline in 2011 of 2.83 percent.
Thus the Mainline Protestant “shambles” that the Catholic Mr. Santorum has unerringly fingered.
The bubbling controversy over social justice in the UCC is, in another irony, not unlike the famous battle waged by that most famous of Protestant Reformers, Martin Luther. Luther, of course, was the Catholic monk who had the audacity to challenge the Church over, among other things, the practice of selling papal “indulgences” in exchange for removal of sin. Said Luther:
To think papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God — this is madness.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online