Running an interactive blog site is one of the more risky things a person can do. Indeed, it is almost suicidal. No matter what you do or what you write, you will get all sorts of people outraged, and plenty of angst and anger will get directed your way.
It is expected of course that those who hate Christianity or morality or the family or life will come here with all guns blazing. But there are plenty of fellow Christians who will also vent their spleens and pour out their acid tongue on me as I dare to differ from their particular orthodoxy or pet hobby horse.
So if you want to live a quiet and peaceful life, you would be mad to do a website like this. And perhaps I am. But this is what I am called to do, so I guess I will just have to wear all the flack and abuse, even from other Christians. And a great example of all this occurred with my most recent post: billmuehlenberg.com/2013/03/14/on-pope-francis/
I had just written on the election of the new Pope, and sure enough, the guns are already blazing. I realise it is rather in vain for me to plead for a bit of grace and respect on these hot potato issues. Twice in that article I made it quite clear that this was about the election of the new Pope, not about the theological differences between Catholics and Protestants.
As I have said so often already, there are thousands of sites where Protestants can bash Catholics all day long. And there are thousands of sites where Catholics can bash Protestants all day long. My CultureWatch site is not one of them. I am a Protestant evangelical, and unashamedly so. And I am quite aware of our major theological differences. But those battles can be waged elsewhere.
Yet sure enough plenty of people have insisted on getting into more sectarian warfare here, despite my pleas. Some of the more belligerent and nasty comments have gone straight into the rubbish bin, and some which were a bit more on topic and irenic I have allowed to be posted there.
Thus as I expected, all hell has broken loose, with some folks effectively accusing me of being in bed with the devil, being the antichrist, etc. Never mind that my CW homepage clearly states that this site is about offering commentary on the crucial issues of the day. I would have thought this was certainly one such issue. Yet for daring to even write about this, some zealous believers are already set to burn me at the stake as a heretic.
A good part of the disquiet of some of these rather irate critics is their utter rejection of the idea that on some crucial issues there is a place to work together with others. I believe that there are key moral battles and cultural battles that will destroy all of us if we do not fight them, and to do this, limited and tactical working together is essential. But I have made this case elsewhere:
I also did a piece on Francis Schaeffer and co-belligerency. He can hardly be described as a theological liberal or an apostate, but he clearly saw the importance of all this: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/06/30/8405/
In those four articles I make my case for working together in some limited causes for the common good. That does not mean for a moment jumping into a vat of the lowest common denominator theological mush. That does not mean minimising key theological differences. It simply means acknowledging that there are some crucial cultural and moral battles being fought, and if we care at all about such things as the sanctity of life or the sanctity of marriage and family (and Christians should deeply care about such issues), then there may well be a place in working together with others at least on those particular battle fronts.
But another writer has just done a piece tying both together: the new Pope and culture wars co-belligerency. I find his insights helpful, so I will share some of them here. They come from P. Andrew Sandlin and his article, “Sectarian Culture Warriors Trump Ecumenical Culture Wimps ”.
He writes, “Francis’ conservatism (he is the first Jesuit Pope) also means he is unlikely to be on the vanguard of Catholic-Protestant ecumenism. Traditional Catholics believe — wrongly and presumptuously — that there is ordinarily no salvation outside the Roman communion. But we theologically and culturally conservative (that is to say, Biblical) Protestants are not especially troubled by this intransigence. After all, we were not eager to join Rome in the first place. Such serious disagreements stand in the way of any thought of either organizational or organic unity (the locus of authority, the appropriation of salvation, the nature of the church) that only squishy lowest-common-denominator religionists on either side of the Catholic-Protestant divide would seriously consider serious ecumenism.
“We orthodox Protestants have too much respect for Catholics like Francis than to expect them to pretend the differences are bridgeable. For there to be a huge union, there must be huge changes. Papering over differences under the guise of Christian charity is a slap in the face to doctrinal orthodoxies on either side.
“But doctrinal orthodoxies do not forbid cultural orthodoxies — nay, they produce them — and those cultural orthodoxies in turn generate cultural ecumenism. Which is to say, we Protestants stand as cobelligerents with Francis and his cohorts in championing a culture of life (and against aborticide and euthanasia and cloning and human egg harvesting), a culture of the family (and against homosexuality and all other extramarital sexual license), and a culture of liberty (and against political tyranny).
“You cannot stand for truth in culture without standing against evil in culture. And in standing for truth and against evil, we orthodox Protestants stand shoulder to shoulder with orthodox Roman Catholics in the culture wars.
“The squishy ecumenists on both sides will likely find the traditionally sectarian Francis a less than stellar champion. But we Protestant culture warriors much prefer a sectarian culture warrior to an ecumenical culture wimp. We can live (and have lived for nearly 500 years) with theological sectarianism.”
Now I realise that some Christians think the very notion of co-belligerency is straight out of the pit of hell, and that I am a heretic or worse for daring to even promote it. Well, at best, I can say we will have to agree to disagree here. And at worse, I again ask you to respect my wishes here, cut me some slack, and show me some Christian grace. If you are unable or unwilling to do that, then you are free to take your fights elsewhere. No one is holding a gun to your head, forcing you to be here.
I will do what I feel God has called me to do. If that is not to your liking, well, I can’t do much about that. I rest my case.