Thursday, 24 May 2007

No Deviants Allowed

Courtesy of The Guardian comes a story about an evangelical college principle who has allegedly "damned most Britons to hell."

On the one hand, this is a beat-up. There is nothing new about the belief that only those who are loyal followers of Jesus Christ will go to the afterlife known as heaven. All others will go to the afterlife known as hell. This has never been a universalist proposition, so of course when an evangelical states one of the doctrines of his faith, he is going to state this.

It is hardly the case that he beat upon the pulpit and screamed until the blood and sweat from his pores drenched the front row of the audience, "95% of you Britons are going to hell because I say that you are!"

The doctrinal fact is that this is typical evangelical belief. It is also the fact that evangelicals use statistics like these (often without citing their sources) to inspire the faithful to action. It is much the same as a unionist using a megaphone to rally the proletariat to stop work in protest at corporate evil.

It's definitely a beat-up.

However, the part of the story that interests and saddens me the most is this:
Critics within the college have accused the principal of taking it in a much more restrictive and exclusionary direction. At least a third of the academic staff have resigned and its best-known member, the Thought for the Day contributor Elaine Storkey, has been threatened with disciplinary action, allegedly for raising concerns at an internal staff meeting.

These events are typical of the evangelical attitude. From the Moral Majority in the USA to the local pentecostal church in suburban Brisbane, there is no space for dissent. No deviants allowed, so to speak.

Dissent and deviation are not allowed, encouraged or acknowledged. Such people are taken to one side and "counselled" about their lack of faith and lack of unity in the body of Christ. From personal experience as a "Thought for the Day" style writer for such a church, I distinctly remember my submissions being redacted from time to time to suit the prevailing ideology.

Should we be alarmed at this news? Yes, but we should not be surprised. This is typical behaviour for such groups and will continue to be the case for some time to come. Whether it will continue to make progress through the Anglican Communion remains to be seen.

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