You may have thought 2020 was a milestone in progressive insanity infiltrating the church. We found the Church of Scotland, in defiance of science, asserting that some ‘women have a penis’. Not to be outdone, the Church of England stepped forward when Jay Greene, a member of its General Synod, brazenly mangled Scripture by saying to ‘lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender’ people ‘as Our Lord said to Lazarus, Come out.’
If you thought this rejection of science and distortion of Scripture was progressive Christian peak crazy, ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’ 2021 has started with a bang.
Emmanuel Cleaver of the Democrat Party represents Missouri’s 5th congressional district in the US House of Representatives and is a one-time chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is also an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church and was pastor of a Methodist congregation for 37 years. He holds a Master of Divinity degree (M Div) from Saint Paul School of Theology, Leawood, Kansas.
I am sure that any of the educational institutions I attended would shudder at the thought that their academic standing might be judged on what I say or write. Saint Paul School of Theology, if they have any pretensions to teaching Christian theology, must be praying that no one is crass enough to point out that Emmanuel Cleaver is one of their graduates.
The US Congress customarily opens its meetings with prayer, as it has done since the American Revolution, and on Monday the 117th Congress was no exception. However, it is pretty safe to say that in its entire history the US Congress has heard few prayers as confused, not say bizarre, as that of Emmanuel Cleaver at the opening of Congress earlier this week.
Most of the prayer was pretty unexceptional until Cleaver neared the end, saying: ‘We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and “god” known by many names by many different faiths.’ To crown the inanity he concluded with, ‘Amen and a-women.’
Amen derives from the Hebrew and simply means that the person gives assent, ‘So be it’, ‘Truly’, or for those with a taste for the King James Bible, ‘Verily’. Surely someone with a master’s degree in theology and nearly forty years in the pastorate should know that.
Unfortunately we are used by now to supposed Christians treating the God of the Bible as just another option in the pick’n’mix religious supermarket. To the progressive Christian there is nothing exclusive in Christ, He is merely one more expression of a vaguely numinous idea of ‘something out there’ which we wish to acknowledge somehow, without being too specific and thereby offending anyone.
We can conclude either that Saint Paul School of Theology is one of those flaky American institutions which award doctorates in aeronautics after six months at night school making paper darts; or that Cleaver is one of those progressive Christians who in his eagerness to appeal to his Democrat Party base is prepared to jettison Christianity. It is possible that both are true, but my money is on the latter. I base this on the undisputable fact there is no inanity beyond the devising of progressive Christians.
Congress was set to discuss one of those vacuous propositions which politicians see as at the cutting edge of social transformation and meeting the crying needs of their fearful, unemployed and disadvantaged constituents suffering under Covid restrictions. The one saving grace is that if they are discussing trivialities they are not doing too much damage to the economy.
In this case it was a Bill outlawing gender specific language in Congressional debates and legislation starting with the switch from ‘seamen’ to ‘seafarers’ and ‘chairman’ to ‘chair’, which is unexceptional in today’s world. The Bill continues by stating that references to fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and in-laws would be changed to ‘parent, child, sibling, spouse, or parent-in-law’. References to extended family members would also be altered. No longer would there be a nephew or niece but rather a ‘sibling’s child’ and an aunt or uncle will now be referred to as a ‘parent’s sibling’. We can only hope that Hallmark Cards are even now printing new stock.
Cleaver is totally on board with this as we can witness in the way he ended the prayer. Is it possible that someone intelligent enough to tie his own shoe laces can be so stupid as to conclude that the word ‘Amen’ has a reference to to the masculine sex and needs to be balanced by a reference to the female? His posturing to his base even defies logic. Congress was outlawing the use of gender specific references and Cleaver concluded his prayer by creating a hitherto unknown and non-existent gender specific reference.
But that is the point with progressive Christians, they do know but don’t care. They don’t care what the tradition says, they don’t care what the theology of the church teaches, they don’t care what reason would demand. They do care about furthering their secular agenda, they wish to transform society utterly. They may appear ridiculous and even inane, but that shouldn’t stop us from recognising that they are dangerous. They are dangerous to society and even more importantly, dangerous to the church.