Monday, March 1, 2010
Spiritual Elitism - - - Can the Fall be Contained?
(Pictured: The C Street House in Washington, DC)
I believe that a huge topic is at stake here and I don’t if I can put it into words. It has to do with how manageable is the Fall of Adam. Another word, which may or may not be synonymous, is sanctification. Can we, as Christians, ever escape the effects of the Fall?
Two things brought this to mind recently. The first was the comment by Alex after Feb 19 th’s posting. Alex put a link to this blog. To make a long story short is was about a family coming to the blogger’s church. The 7 year old adoptive daughter, Lydia, was accidently killed by her Christian parents. Her Christian parents were practicing a type of child-rearing techniques (including severe corporal punishment) advocated by a very conservative pastor in Tennessee. I personally know of another case that is like this one. The Tennessee pastor believes in “entire sanctification” or where Christians can contain the effects of the Fall to the point they never sin anymore. So, you can literally beat the sin out of your kids in other words.
Then that night I heard on NPR another story about the “C Street House.” I’ve heard of that place before. But, in case you haven’t, I will explain in brief.
The “C Street House” is a secret ministry set up to disciple, at a very elite level, members of congress or the Senate. The purpose was to help create godly leaders of this country. Very little is known about it except it is listed as a church for tax purposes and it is operated by the same people who set up the annual Prayer Breakfast.
This house has been in the news lately because three of these elite disciples have been behaving badly. Maybe you could call it, “Disciples Gone Wild.” One of the disciples is Mark Sanford, who was recently caught slipping off to Argentina to visit his mistress. Seven days before he was caught, another associate of the house, Mark Ensign (Senator from Nevada) was caught in an affair. Now put this in context with the fact that only a handful of men meet the standards of living in or associating with that house. These are the spiritual and power elite.
Now, I’ve read that Cal Thomas and others have defended the house in the aftermath of those scandals along the lines of not judging the entire work based on a couple of bad apples. Or, more like, Jesus is all about forgiveness.
But that’s not the criticism that I voice here. My criticism or question is, can we really manage our sin in this way? Is there really a ladder of climbing out of sin into “godliness” or spirituality?
I think that my personal fall from Evangelicalism started when the godliest men I ever knew . . . were guilty of some of the worst sins I could imagine. But it took me a while to believe it. I’ve told the story before about the most hard-core disciple I ever met (he was a Navigator staff guy) disappeared one year and returned the next year with a new wife who was half his age. None of us asked a single question about it, even though it was the elephant in the room. Then, there was my missionary boss. I had him on the highest human pedestal of spirituality. He did some bad things. Then there was myself, I’ve been capable of some bad things.
I want to think about this a little more and do another post or two. But in summary, I think the way you look at sin really determines if you are an Evangelical or not. Evangelicals believe that they can achieve spirituality. In the same breath, they can relegate the non-Christian, or even the “weak Christian” to a much lower level of worth and existence. That’s why Evangelicals don’t like non-Christians. They don’t like their music (like KD Lang) or their art, or their books (especially if they have words like shit in them). But when you see that not even a sheet of onion-skin paper couldn’t fit between you level of spirituality and that of the worst human, you are not only more grateful for the mercy of God in Christ. But you also don’t trust anyone. I don’t trust my own spirituality. I don’t trust that of any spiritual leader. Actually, the more they seek the limelight, the less I trust them.
Posted by MJ at 8:54 PM