The fundamentalists of every faith remain blind to the truth that the sigh within the prayer is the same in the heart of the Christian, the Muslim, and the Jew. I have seen this unity with my eyes, heard it with my ears, felt it with all my being.
Many in the church have turned their back on serious study, and have embraced an anti-intellectualism which refuses to learn anything from scholarship at all lest it corrupt their pure faith. It is time to end this standoff, and to reestablish a hermeneutic of trust (itself a sign of the gospel!) in place of the hermeneutic of suspicion which the church has so disastrously borrowed from the postmodern world.
But if subjective pietism is not the real crux of this all-important Gospel, if it is instead belief in the plan of salvation, how are we not dealing with "salvation by (cognitive) works" and Gnosticism (salvation by special knowledge)? Fundamentalists hotly deny it, but isn't it finally a matter of believers in the right religion being saved and everyone else being disqualified?
Like the Hindu in Belfast who was asked whether he was a Catholic Hindu or a Protestant Hindu, those of us who follow this fresh reading of the New Testament want to say to our critics right and left, ‘Don’t imagine that because we don’t check all your fundamentalist boxes, we must be modernists, or that because we don’t check all your modernist boxes, we must be fundamentalists.
The Warrenite Christian is like a Star Wars geek who dressed up in costume and dearly wishes he lived the Star Wars universe. Sometimes such a fan will even spend as much time as he can in weekend costume conventions. For Warrenites, that's going to church.
But unlike Paul, his alternatives present him with a "double avoidance conflict"-neither is acceptable, for to hear the plain sense of both texts means to cancel the basis for heeding either, since scripture is seen not to be free of contradiction. On the other hand, to harmonize them is to admit that one employs some type of "canon-within-the-canon" since one must choose which text's plain sense is to prevail as authoritative. The other text will be harmonized into it, as if some "less obvious" sense, unavailable by exegesis of the text itself, would give a more agreeable reading.
Blaming therapy, social work and other caring professions for the confabulation of testimony of 'satanic ritual abuse' legitimated a programme of political and social action designed to contest the gains made by the women's movement and the child protection movement. In efforts to characterise social workers and therapists as hysterical zealots, 'satanic ritual abuse' was, quite literally, 'made fun of': it became the subject of scorn and ridicule as interest groups sought to discredit testimony of sexual abuse as a whole. The groundswell of support that such efforts gained amongst journalists, academics and the public suggests that the pleasures of disbelief found resonance far beyond the confines of social movements for people accused of sexual abuse. These pleasures were legitimised by a pseudo-scientific vocabulary of 'false memories' and 'moral panic' but as Daly (1999:219-20) points out 'the ultimate goal of ideology is to present itself in neutral, value-free terms as the very horizon of objectivity and to dismiss challenges to its order as the "merely ideological"'. The media spotlight has moved on and social movements for people accused of sexual abuse have lost considerable momentum. However, their rhetoric continues to reverberate throughout the echo chamber of online and 'old' media. Intimations of collusion between feminists and Christians in the concoction of 'satanic ritual abuse' continue to mobilise 'progressive' as well as 'conservative' sympathies for men accused of serious sexual offences and against the needs of victimised women and children. This chapter argues that, underlying the invocation of often contradictory rationalising tropes (ranging from calls for more scientific 'objectivity' in sexual abuse investigations to emotional descriptions of 'happy families' rent asunder by false allegations) is a collective and largely unarticulated pleasure; the catharthic release of sentiments and views about children and women that had otherwise become shameful in the aftermath of second wave feminism. It seems that, behind the veneer of public concern about child sexual abuse, traditional views about the incredibility of women's and children's testimony persist. 'Satanic ritual abuse has served as a lens through which these views have been rearticulated and reasserted at the very time that evidence of widespread and serious child sexual abuse has been consolidating. p60
From the vantage of a mid-1970's consensus that regarded the United States as having entered a post-Protestant era, the rise of a Religious Right dominated not only by Protestants but by fundamentalists was not the way the story was supposed to go. People like Jerry Falwell looked like party crashers who, rather than slikinking from bar to buffet in hopes of going unnoticed, demanded that the vegetarian, alcohol-imbibing hosts serve meat and tell the bartender to go home.
We must not overlook the role that extremists play. They are the gadflies that keep society from being too complacent or self-satisfied; they are, if sound, the spearhead of progress. If they are fundamentally wrong, free discussion will in time put an end to them.
Eileen says what they should really do, if they want to be fair about it, is offer a Bible study class for credit, and let us take that instead of sitting an extra hour in study hall, twiddling our so-called opposable thumbs.