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to please the scoffer, the lukewarm, or the vicious

By Diogenes (articles) | Aug 08, 2005

Lutheran theologian Carl Braaten laments the doctrinal evisceration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) -- "nothing remains ... but the aroma of an empty bottle" -- in an open letter to Bishop Hansen:

The most damning thing in my view that can be charged against the ELCA is that it is just another liberal protestant denomination. Are all these theologians wrong in their assessment of the ELCA?

I wish I could deny it. I have been looking for some convincing evidence to the contrary, because I am not about to cut and run. There is no place I know of where to go.

It's curious how Liberalism has managed to kill everything it touches -- education, civil order, amity between the sexes, religion -- and yet retains its enormous institutional appeal in the West. I think J.H. Newman nailed the reason in his sermon On Religious Tolerance:

Liberality is always popular, whatever the subject of it, and excites a glow of pleasure and self-approbation in the giver, even though it involves no sacrifice, nay, is exercised upon the property of others.

Let's pause here to underline the point: liberalism is cost-free generosity -- altruism without austerity. To resume:

Thus in the sacred province of religion, men are led on -- without any bad principle, without that utter dislike or ignorance of the Truth, or that self-conceit, which are the chief instruments of Satan at this day, nor again from mere cowardice or worldliness, but from thoughtlessness, a sanguine temper, the excitement of the moment, the love of making others happy, susceptibility of flattery, and the habit of looking only one way -- led on to give up Gospel Truths, to consent to open the Church to the various denominations of error which abound among us, or to alter our Services so as to please the scoffer, the lukewarm, or the vicious. ... I wish I saw any prospect of this element of zeal and holy sternness springing up among us, to temper and give character to the languid, unmeaning benevolence which we misname Christian love.

Amen, Jack.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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