It appears that the abstractions of the Enlightenment have over the last five-hundred years been read into Scripture and into the theologies of most of the Christian confessions as eisegesis and read back out as exegesis, thereby becoming the metaphysical touchstone of modern and post-modern Christianity.
This certainly seems to be the case of the most recent statements by Pope Francis that the Church should not only apologize to gays whom it has offended but also to the poor, to women and children whose labor has been exploited and for having blessed many weapons. It is unclear how the Church has offended these people. Are the offenses based on real or imagined sins of omission or commission? One must assume that the latter includes those weapons blessed for the efforts to defend Christendom at Tours, at Lepanto and at Vienna.
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) took up the “moral mantle” for the alleged sins of leaders and congregations antecedent to it and exhorted the members to examine themselves and if any such sin, i.e. racism, intolerance and anger, is found then they should admit, confess, seek forgiveness and reconciliation. It is not clear from whom the PCA acquired the authority for this resolution nor how the PCA in enlightened Post-Modernity came to know the hearts of their Christian ancestors, nor is it clear exactly who has the authority to forgive such manifestations of sin. It does, however, appear from the various posts by millennial Presbyterians that they “feel good” about their resolution.
Two weeks ago, Southern Baptists, acting in their sovereign capacity in convention assembled, passed a resolution which at its core demands that Baptists discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including their African-American brothers and sisters. The resolution begins with a title containing “sensitivity” and “unity.” The body of “whereas’s” and “resolved’s” also contains post-modern watchwords which read as if they were extracted from a Marxist lexicon: “racism,” “prejudice,” “injustice,” “non-Anglo,” “sensitivity” and “transforming.” The resolution alleges that the Confederate Battle Flag is “perceived by many as a symbol of hatred, bigotry and racism, offending millions of people.” This core statement is predicated on the core post-modern notion that “perception is reality.” There is no empirical evidence that millions of people are offended by the Confederate Battle Flag, nor is any logical reasoning given as to why one should take notice of an offence based on mere perception. How, then, does an offence based on perception constitute a sin worthy of collective confession and collective absolution; and who is giving absolution since there is no evidence offered that God has been offended by the Confederate Battle Flag?
In an ironic twist, this same Baptist body has gone one record in the context of “separation of church and state” to support the building of mosques across America. So the Confederate Battle Flag, with the Cross of St. Andrew at its center and under which during the course of the War thousands of men came to Christ in revivals and worship services, is now an offence; but mosques which are at best Trojan horses representing Islam which has been the enemy of Jesus Christ, of His Church and of any culture influence by the Church, is given cover under a historically inaccurate understanding of the “establishment clause” in the first amendment. Jefferson’s line to the Danbury Baptists aside, the “separation of church and state” was ensconced into constitutional law in Everson v. the Board of Education when Justice Hugo Black, a former Klansman, incorporated the states into the 1st amendment, denying to them their sovereign capacity in matters of religion. This decision became the foundation for subsequent decisions which systematically secularized public spaces in the United States: no prayer, no Bible reading, no nativity scenes, no Christian values in jury decisions, etc. Baptists, it seems, have now become the advocates of secularization and Islamification.
Since this entire resolution with all of its “whereas’s” and “resolved’s” is predicated on perception and unsubstantiated numbers of people allegedly offended by the mere appearance of the Confederate Battle Flag any attempt at refutation with facts and historical evidence is futile; however, some observations are in order.
There is a specie of men who wish to be on the “correct side of history,” the correct side thereof determined by the prevailing Zeitgeist. These same men also quest for respectability, i.e. to be accepted and welcomed by those who have already embraced and cultivated the Zeitgeist. There seems to be among such men a sense of humiliation and the commensurate shame, rightly or wrongly held, for which they want to do penance though some act which would put them in the good graces of the judges of their time, judges who adjudicate not only the innocence or guilt of their own time but who arrogate to themselves the moral capacity to judge the innocence or guilt of all times, an arrogation engendered and circumscribed by presentism and progressivism.
Those who practice post-modern or millennial Christianity have a superficial but ideological understanding of the past. Quite often they find a real or imagined sin in the past, usually one associated with the past of their own culture, and apologize for it and ask forgiveness of some offended class of the present. There has, of course, been no real transaction of forgiveness or contrition, but the allegedly offended party feels empowered because the shamed offenders have bent their knee to them; and those who embody faux contrition feel morally superior to their cultural past and morally superior to those among the more “unwashed” Christians who were too ignorant to join in or who reject the Zeitgeist.
Since the Southern Baptist Convention is calling on Baptist to discontinue the display of the Confederate Battle Flag, then it should act consequentially and strike the word “Southern” from the name of the convention, for the South is four-hundred years old and athwart that four-hundred years stands the enormity of the War to Prevent Southern Independence, a total war against not only political and military structures but against civilians, black and white, and their institutions, including churches, immorally, unconstitutionally and unnecessarily unleash and carried out, not really ending until the end of Reconstruction in 1877. The Confederate Battle Flag, though merely a flag of war during the conflict from 1861 through 1865, has become the icon not only of that struggle but in light of that struggle for that which was and continues to be good and true in Southern life. To demand that the Confederate Battle Flag be furled based on “perceived offenses” and on some abstract notion of “Christian unity” is to demand for those same superficial pretenses that the South itself be put away.