Deborah Gyapong: John Stackhouse's conclusion

John Stackhouse's conclusion


Who are those alarming people?

Ah: Those are the Christians in Canada who do believe in a weird and ominous amalgam of prosperity gospel, last-days eschatology, cultural imperialism, self-righteousness, anti-pluralism, anti-intellectualism, preposterous Biblical interpretation, radical mysticism, binary thinking, bellicose rhetoric, public dissembling, hardball (if also ham-fisted) politicking, and financial ambiguity (to put it kindly). There are such people and they frighten me, too.

Note: They don’t just bemuse me or annoy me. Yes, I’m disappointed that so many of my fellow evangelicals feel they must resist all forms of evolutionary theory because they believe the Bible requires it. They don’t have to do so, and many evangelical scientists, theologians, and other scholars are trying to help their evangelical comrades get past this unnecessary difficulty–as evangelicals did in the nineteenth century, let alone the twentieth or twenty-first.

Yes, having grown up in dispensationalist circles I regret the amount of energy and ingenuity wasted on trying to figure out the identity of the Antichrist and the date of the Rapture. But I remember many such Christians also being generous donors to World Vision and other relief and development agencies. Belief in the imminent return of Christ does not, in fact, necessarily prompt frantic fanaticism. (In fact, one of the oddities of Ms. McDonald’s account is that she never even tries to explain why people who are putatively obsessed with the looming end of the world undertake long-term, incremental infiltration of government. Wouldn’t their belief that Jesus is about to return mean such investment is a waste of time when souls need to be saved right now?)

And yes, I don’t have much admiration for the Dick Dewerts and their Miracle Channel cohorts, the Faytene Kryskows and their militant mentors and followers, and the Charles McVetys and their American fundamentalist heroes. These folk trade in what seem to me to be shallow and simplistic theology and politics both. But the main organs of Canadian evangelicalism aren’t like them: not the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, not InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, not the major evangelical denominations, and not the major evangelical schools (from Crandall University to Tyndale College and Seminary to Briercrest College and Seminary to The King’s University College to, yes, Regent College).

These folk can bother me, but none of these people frighten me. What does disturb me in Marci McDonald’s purview is the fact that extreme forms of Canadian evangelicalism–the creation-science, hysterical-prophetic, health-and-wealth, visionary-charismatic, culturally-imperialistic, all-or-nothing forms–seem indeed to have purchase on significant figures in Canadian political life.

And here’s the odd thing. Marci McDonald rightly shines her journalistic spotlight on people such as Timothy Bloedow (former aide to two MPs and founder of the truly scary website and Gary Goodyear (minister of state for science and technology who is trained in the dubious science of chiropractic and seems unable to affirm evolution in anything like its mainstream scientific form). But one name keeps popping up in almost every category of the Religious Right—creation science, Christian cultural imperialism, B’nai Brith, prosperity gospel, prolife, Christian private schools, you name it—and it’s the most powerful name on the list: Stockwell Day.

I disagree about Stockwell Day, though. There is nothing dangerous about him. He is no theocrat. If he has connected with individuals in these various often disparate groups, it is guilt by association to say that he is like them.

And as far as those Christians who trade in shallow and simplistic theology---and Stackhouse is right, there's a whole lot of eisegesis going on and a lot of tackiness and embarrassing things out there-----some of this is a class thing. I remember going to a Benny Hinn event and seeing a lot of bad perms and overweight people who looked like they just turned up from the trailer park. There are things that Benny Hinn does that repulse me, the way he throws his white coat like a matador and people faint as if he has tossed the Holy Spirit to them. Ugh.

I think we have to be very, very careful about throwing fellow Christians under the bus.
Because there is a growing hatred towards everything about western society ---and the haters don't bother to distinguish between the nice, smart, classy, professorial Christians like John Stackhouse and those who were like I once was, a cafeteria Christian who had asked Jesus into her heart and really had a variety of Gnostic beliefs grafted on.

People don't stay in the same place, and the articles about Stock from more than two decades ago do not reflect at all how he has matured both as a Christian and as a politician. I sure have grown in my faith.

There is always a danger of becoming an "eat me last" sort of Christian, one who likes to distance himself or herself from "those other Christians" that the rest of society seems to have such a visceral reaction against. "I'm nice, I'm not a fanatic like them," etc. etc.

Problem is, as Stackhouse already pointed out in his previous review, Marci McDonald did not make the vast distinction between Preston Manning and Stockwell Day that he thinks should be made. According this his post yesterday, this is how she wrongly portrayed Preston Manning.

Positively odious is her attempt to paint Preston Manning as a Machiavelli intent on misleading Canadians and on teaching others to do so in order to advance a covert agenda (in a chapter entitled, “Serpents and Doves”). Preston Manning, of all people! Yet here are words she directly attaches to him: “deception” and “verbal obfuscation” (p. 103); “linguistic subterfuge” and “strategic wiles” (p. 106); “guile,” “cunning,” and “equivocation” (p. 108). If she could prove Mr. Manning to be a liar and one who teaches others to lie, she certainly would have a scoop. But, alas, she doesn’t comprehend what he is advocating, which is simply political and rhetorical savvy: a lesson he learned the hard way via experience with award-winning reporters from major North American media who fundamentally misunderstand people like him. If anyone could teach enthusiastic Christians how to speak carefully and persuasively in public, given his own long experience of both failure and success, it would be Mr. Manning. To portray Preston Manning as a cunning spin-doctor rather than a wise veteran is just looking for trouble.
See what I mean?



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