Saturday, May 06, 2006

Maybe Valley Forge Should Hire Bishop Spong as a Consultant; Straight Talk Exprress Keeps Rolling On

A friend recently drew my attention to a quote attributed to the ever-quotable Bishop Spong. He supposedly said: "So I’d rather see the church split. I have no desire to be a part of a homophobic church.” His words struck me as an epiphany.

While the ABC left continues to frame the issue as one between Jesus-like, broad-minded, tolerant "radical disciples" (to use the often quoted term from Dr. Medley's biennial address last summer) vs. a bunch of narrow-minded, mean-spirited, small-souled (again referencing another of Medley's terms) fundamentalists, the truth is far more complex. I have observed NUMEROUS ABC leaders and writers utter sentiments identical with Bishop Spong's with one exception. The ABC-left appears absolutely phobic against using the word "split." The verbal legerdemain can be hilarious at times. But, at bottom, the spirit is the same.

Some of my General Executive Council sources (GEC = all the Executive Ministers + the top leadership in Valley Forge) have told me that they perceive VF's reaction to the PSW vote as one of "good riddance." Several have told me that the Pacific Southwest is simply not on their radar screens any longer.

At heart, if you honestly see the issue as one between the Jesus people who are tolerant and committed to "radical discipleship" vs. the bigots, Spong's statement makes LOTS of sense. During the past decade, the enervating effects of this debate have stymied progress on a number of fronts. Who can blame them for wanting to be rid of their tormentors? However, part of the left's core beliefs includes an exaltation of dialogue and diversity. While they can't wait to be rid of us, they cannot bring themselves to say so without appearing to violate their own code; hence, the phobia about the word "split."

Some on the left have chastised me by saying that VF has bent over backwards to accommodate PSW and to virtually beg them to remain in the fold. Some say this in anger that the region has rebuffed these persistent efforts; orthers in anxiety that the national body might yield important ground on key affirmations of Baptist identity or important diversity. This is formally true. However, it overlooks the fact that it more or less resembles the adulterous or drug-addicted or compulsive gambler who begs his wife not to leave him but will take no steps toward changing his wayward ways. Certainly VF wants EVERYONE to stay in the "family," everyone admits that truth. The problem, however, relates to the fact that the national body is unwilling to change. The ABC-left holds an ideological commitment to "tolerance" as it defines it. They cannot take a stand on human sexuality and enforce it -- regardless of polity constraints -- without violating their own core values.

So in the final analysis, it all comes down to a Bishop Spong-like statement. They honestly believe it would be better to be rid of us rather than to live with us. They just cannot bring themselves to say it as honestly as Spong does.

[His Barking Dog may sound like a junk yard dog at times; but my junkyard has nothing to do with the authorities on the other side of the tracks in PSW leadership]

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