Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

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Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Sstavix » Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:03 pm

One of my Facebook friends linked this article about Evangelicals, and how some of the younger crowd are trading out the messages of the gospel for popularity. I thought it was an interesting read. One particular statement (not in the article) came to my mind as I read it:

God's Truth is still the Truth, regardless of what we, as people, say. So when we hear a church leader make a statement of faith or a suggestion of spiritual guidance, or what have you, we would be wise to ask if this is God's will, or motivated by something else. That's one of the reasons, in my opinion, why prayer is so important to personal spiritual growth.

In any case, what do you think of the article? Feel free to post your thoughts and comments below!

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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby ccgr » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:31 pm

Sad but true article. I don't fall into either of those three groups squarely. I'm not THAT bold, but I'm set on my convictions and don't pick and choose Bible passages.

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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby ChickenSoup » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:19 am

"We've got opinion differences guys. Kids aren't far right anymore (like true Christians). I mean, look at this picture of 20-somethings with tattoos!"

Getting rreeeaaaal tired of how we conflate religion and a "side" of politics. (Referring to the title, here)
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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:42 am

Getting rreeeaaaal tired of how we conflate religion and a "side" of politics. (Referring to the title, here)
9001x this.

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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Sstavix » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:53 am

"We've got opinion differences guys. Kids aren't far right anymore (like true Christians). I mean, look at this picture of 20-somethings with tattoos!"

Getting rreeeaaaal tired of how we conflate religion and a "side" of politics. (Referring to the title, here)
Well, let's use that as a launching point for a topic of discussion!

Since gay marriage has been debated to death around here, let's look at another issue that is brought up in the article - abortion. The "left" has a pretty clear stance on this issue (although the degree varies depending on the person - from allowing it only before three months to up to two years after a child is born) - it should be legalized. So how does a Christian sympathize - or even agree - with this stance while not compromising their gospel principles? Or, if you'd prefer, what biblical justifications can be found to support abortion?

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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Bruce_Campbell » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:55 am

I'm not gonna touch the not-so-subtle implication by the article that only right-wingers can be Christians, and I'm just gonna say I have serious problems with Charisma Magazine (the source of the article). I generally try to be live-and-let-live with different forms of Christianity, but Charisma is involved with some pretty ugly theology. They're deep in the word-faith movement stuff (most charismatic churches at least flirt with that theology), which in a nutshell is the belief that if you're a good Christian, you'll be blessed (i.e. rich and healthy), whereas if you're poor and/or sick you're probably sinning or something. It's a toxic belief that I've seen damage a lot of people, including myself and my family. They're usually pretty anti-catholic and anti-mormon too (although they've probably lightened up on the anti-mormon stuff since Mitt Romney ran for PUSA). To top it off, a lot of their op-ed stuff is pretty nasty towards anyone who doesn't follow their particular theology or political leanings, and I'm not just talking about atheists and gay people (who they slam on a regular basis) but other Christians who don't toe their theological line.

I heard years ago that charismatic churches tend to create more atheists and agnostics than any other denomination. I don't know how accurate that statement is, but it would not surprise me at all, since it was a big part of what pushed me in that direction.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. :)
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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Bruce_Campbell » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:58 am

And I see that SStavix posted a question on abortion while I was typing all that out. I actually have some things to say about that, but I don't really have time to get into it right now. It's been a while since we've had an abortion debate around here, isn't it? :D
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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby ChickenSoup » Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:22 am

"We've got opinion differences guys. Kids aren't far right anymore (like true Christians). I mean, look at this picture of 20-somethings with tattoos!"

Getting rreeeaaaal tired of how we conflate religion and a "side" of politics. (Referring to the title, here)
Well, let's use that as a launching point for a topic of discussion!

Since gay marriage has been debated to death around here, let's look at another issue that is brought up in the article - abortion. The "left" has a pretty clear stance on this issue (although the degree varies depending on the person - from allowing it only before three months to up to two years after a child is born) - it should be legalized. So how does a Christian sympathize - or even agree - with this stance while not compromising their gospel principles? Or, if you'd prefer, what biblical justifications can be found to support abortion?
Well, I'm gonna have to do some research before fully addressing this one, but I'm in favor of abortion to a certain extent, mostly because I know of a couple women who would no longer be with us due to ectopic pregnancies. More on that later, though. There's a lot of murky waters, considering some people are even against the pill because it can cause fertilized eggs to spontaneously abort (and if life begins at conception... etc.).

I'd like to think of myself as a centrist... kind of. Some beliefs to either side, with the strongest belief that everyone should at least be able to choose what they want to do regardless of religious views or otherwise.
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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Bruce_Campbell » Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:28 am

This article pretty much sums up my stance on abortion. The lady who wrote it is a former Christian (like me) and used to be hardcore pro-life (again, like me). It's a good read.
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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Sstavix » Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:07 am

I'm not gonna touch the not-so-subtle implication by the article that only right-wingers can be Christians, and I'm just gonna say I have serious problems with Charisma Magazine (the source of the article). I generally try to be live-and-let-live with different forms of Christianity, but Charisma is involved with some pretty ugly theology. They're deep in the word-faith movement stuff (most charismatic churches at least flirt with that theology), which in a nutshell is the belief that if you're a good Christian, you'll be blessed (i.e. rich and healthy), whereas if you're poor and/or sick you're probably sinning or something. It's a toxic belief that I've seen damage a lot of people, including myself and my family. They're usually pretty anti-catholic and anti-mormon too (although they've probably lightened up on the anti-mormon stuff since Mitt Romney ran for PUSA). To top it off, a lot of their op-ed stuff is pretty nasty towards anyone who doesn't follow their particular theology or political leanings, and I'm not just talking about atheists and gay people (who they slam on a regular basis) but other Christians who don't toe their theological line.

I heard years ago that charismatic churches tend to create more atheists and agnostics than any other denomination. I don't know how accurate that statement is, but it would not surprise me at all, since it was a big part of what pushed me in that direction.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. :)
This was the first time I had seen or read anything on that Web site, so thank you for your impressions on it. :) I don't spend much time perusing many evangelical sites (primarily because, and you've observed, they tend to be anti-Mormon), but I was curious to see what others - especially any evangelicals on the forums - thought of the claims made in the article.

As for abortion, I was hoping to avoid any statements about how "wrong" or "right" it is (and I was trying to remain as neutral as I could in my question!) - I was more interested in trying to learn how, if possible, a Christian could justify a left-wing stance like abortion (I could choose a different topic, if that one is too hot-button). Especially if said Christian can't find any biblical justification for such a stance.

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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby ChickenSoup » Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:08 am

The Biggest Killer: A Woman’s Own Body
Aaaaaaaaaaaayup. I remember learning that in developmental courses in undergrad and very few people actually know this
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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:54 am

I was more interested in trying to learn how, if possible, a Christian could justify a left-wing stance like abortion (I could choose a different topic, if that one is too hot-button). Especially if said Christian can't find any biblical justification for such a stance.
I'll bite, since this isn't quite as hot-button an issue for me as some other controversial stances.


I think the problem here is that there is serious and non-trivial disagreement over when life begins. Should every fertilized ovum considered alive? What about those that don't attach to the Endometrium (Uterus lining)? What about miscarriages that she never knew she had? In essence, at what point does it stop being a collection of cells and start becoming human?

And for that matter, how do you even define human? I could go on for ages about Transhumanism and all of that, but that's not really applicable to the issue at hand.

But let's consider the case of Artificial Intelligence. At what point is a computer program considered "sapient," or self-aware? What level of intelligence should it demonstrate (and how would we measure said intelligence?) before we give it consideration as a lifeform? These topics were ones that Star Trek: The Next Generation grappled with. Sometimes very well (Measure of a Man), sometimes not as much (The Quality of Life). In essence, defining Artificial Intelligence is actually a similar debate to defining life in the Abortion debate.


But let's step back to the Abortion debate. The question of when life begins practically dictates the ethics of abortion, and the problem is that no one can agree on precisely when life begins. This is the crux of my stance.

As ChickenSoup mentioned, there are many cases of women who, had they not had an abortion, died. I know one myself. Maybe more that won't admit it. But this is where the issue gets a little tricky for me.


Even if we can agree on when life begins, we hit a problem best described through thought experiment (and attempting to weasel out of it on technicalities is always the wrong answer. :P ). Suppose a woman is pregnant past the point of what we (in a perfect world) consider to be "alive." This is not in question. But if she continues with the pregnancy, she will almost certainly die (99% probability, perfect world), and her child with her. This is also not in question. The doctor offers an abortion as a way of mitigating this risk. How should she choose?

First, let's look at the stakes. We have two lives. If one is sacrificed, the other will live. If not, they both almost certainly die. In a pure statistical simulation, the answer is fairly clear: abort. But humans are terrible with probability and statistics, and it does seem a bit cruel to apply cold probability to this, does it not? (and I'm glossing over the "value of life" argument that comes up too. Also a legit debate)

And this, beyond the aforementioned issues over defining when life begins, is why I technically support legalization of abortion: I cannot make this kind of choice for someone. It may be clear to me, the outside observer what the right answer is, but that would deprive them of the agency to choose for themselves. That choice is up to them and their doctor. I don't support it as a means of birth control, but every Christian I know who supports legalized abortion does not as well. I'm in favor of keeping it legal, but requiring a doctor's recommendation or something along those lines.

tl;dr: I don't think abortion is as cut and dry as cold-blooded murder (Will not disagree that in a good number of cases, it is killing), and asking me to choose between killing one to save another is asking the wrong person.

Hope I haven't made it any more confusing...lol


Anyway, I also want to throw out (Not that this was an issue here) that politics, unlike religion, is not an all-or-nothing game. One can pick and choose what they like. I comfortably place myself left of center in general, but I will disagree strongly on certain issues that are associated with the left wing. Which is why bashing right-wing or left-wing politics and the people who agree with them by pure virtue of associating themselves with that "side," it makes me a sad panda. So when I see vitriol on Facebook like "Look what the evil, pinko commie socialist left is doing!" or the corollary "Check out what the right said that makes them look stupid!" I die a little inside. Because while I will wholeheartedly disagree with some issues (and I may chuckle at the attacks not against me), personal and generalized attacks like that serve only to get a rise out of someone and to make the side of the attacker feel better about themselves. They serve no purpose for honest, sincere discourse, whatsoever. The generalized attacks from all sides against "Christians" or "Muslims" or even "Atheists" as a group make me feel the same way.

/rant

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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby ChickenSoup » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:28 am

Right on, man. The very idea of gray areas is an issue infrequently acknowledged, I think.

I don't get why we have to be Left vs. Right all the time. It turns everything into Us vs. Them.

Plus, and I'm not sure if this is universal or just a trend among people I know, we have this annoying tendency of saying "Well, I believe such-and-such!" or "I don't believe in such-and-such!" and when we disagree with someone, it isn't just an idea that we disagree with--it's an attack on beliefs. Everything has to be so dang black and white so we can determine what to denounce or call ungodly. Like, we can't just say "I think that God used evolution in some way in the Creation process." It's "I believe in theistic evolution" and then when someone says "Well, I believe in Creationism," and it's not a discussion of two ideas anymore so much as it is a battle between two beliefs AND I HATE IT ALL SO MUCH. GAH.
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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:24 pm

Generally speaking, I don't think there's much to worry about when discussing the ethics of abortion in a case where the mother's life is at stake, ESPECIALLY if the baby is in significant danger as well. I think very few people would argue that a case like an ectopic pregnancy wouldn't justify terminating the pregnancy, from both a religious and a secular context. (As far as I know, even Catholics are flexible in that area.)

That said, I don't know if the Christian perspective on abortion is necessarily tied to when live begins. Even if, for the sake of argument, we say that the fetus isn't a person at (pulling this number out of the air) 6 weeks or less, does that not still carry SOME theological implications? Involving God's will, perhaps. That would get pretty sticky indeed because then the argument against abortion at fewer than 6 weeks becomes a purely theological one, and thus non-binding on people who don't share that belief.

I think the way a lot of Christians reconcile their beliefs with abortion is to either tie the rights argument ("my body, my choice") argument to the freewill granted by God, pick a point before which it isn't a person yet, or take the neutral option and decide never to have one themselves, but vote for it so that people of other beliefs have room to decide their own approach.

I'm sure there are others who are both fanatically Christian and fanatically pro-choice, but I don't really have any insights into how they reconcile it.
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Re: Evangelicals and the "New Christian Left"

Postby Sstavix » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:39 pm

But let's consider the case of Artificial Intelligence. At what point is a computer program considered "sapient," or self-aware? What level of intelligence should it demonstrate (and how would we measure said intelligence?) before we give it consideration as a lifeform? These topics were ones that Star Trek: The Next Generation grappled with. Sometimes very well (Measure of a Man), sometimes not as much (The Quality of Life).
Those were great episodes, weren't they? Of course, Star Trek was never one to step away from examining issues of the day, either. (e.g. first interracial kiss airing during times of racial strife)
Plus, and I'm not sure if this is universal or just a trend among people I know, we have this annoying tendency of saying "Well, I believe such-and-such!" or "I don't believe in such-and-such!" and when we disagree with someone, it isn't just an idea that we disagree with--it's an attack on beliefs. Everything has to be so dang black and white so we can determine what to denounce or call ungodly. Like, we can't just say "I think that God used evolution in some way in the Creation process." It's "I believe in theistic evolution" and then when someone says "Well, I believe in Creationism," and it's not a discussion of two ideas anymore so much as it is a battle between two beliefs AND I HATE IT ALL SO MUCH. GAH.
It is odd that there seems to be such a division in the nation, isn't it? Everyone is more willing to dig in their heels and adhere to what they think they know, rather than try to take time to understand each other. For example, I read that article that Bruce Campbell posted earlier in this thread, and while I disagree with many of her points, I can at least see where she is coming from.

As for the abortion issue, I think the pro-life crowd is so adamant about it because, to rip off a popular hashtag lately, #UnbornLivesMatter. They view this as lives at stake, so that gives them the illusion that they're fighting for those that can't defend themselves. At the same time, it might blind them to the arguments that the other side chooses. And things just get more polarized as time goes on.
I'm sure there are others who are both fanatically Christian and fanatically pro-choice, but I don't really have any insights into how they reconcile it.
That's what I'm wondering, too. Are there Christians who support "abortion on demand" and are still able to justify it on a Blblical or spiritual level? If so, how?


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