Churches Believing Lies

Rod Dreher refers to a recent article on the LDS Church and another article on the sexual crisis in the Catholic Church in a pair of recent posts on his blog. In both posts, he point out how churches need to embrace truth telling. For example, he writes:

An LDS spokesman…says that the way to handle it is not to try to silence those asking hard questions, but to try to provide them information to address their doubts. That is also true. Seems to me that no church can suppress serious questions for long and expect to hold on to future generations, not in this skeptical day and age. You may not be able to provide the answers the skeptics require, but being willing to address the questions — whether about theology, history, or the behavior of church leaders — honestly is, as a Mormon historian quoted in the Times story says, the only way to go. This is true not only for Mormons, but for all of us.

Dreher also says this about embracing an easy lie:

Yes, this will happen. It’s happened before, and it will happen again. It’s human nature. People would rather believe the lie that helps them make sense of the world and sleep well at night. It’s true in religion, it’s true in politics, it’s true of everything that our humanity touches. A few years ago, I knew a woman whose family was really messed up. Her father had serious mental problems that were dramatically affecting the emotional health of the family system. But everybody in the family had to pretend that Everything Is Fine With Dad, because to face the obvious would mean that everything is not fine, and nobody wanted to deal with that. My friend really suffered from this, as did everybody in the family — and one component of the suffering was the sense that the situation was hopeless, because too many of her family members were emotionally dependent on not confronting the problem. I’ve heard this kind of thing over and over from friends who have had alcoholics in the family — and who, in a couple of cases I can think of, had to separate themselves from their families to protect themselves and their children from the family system that demanded assent to the Big Lie — that Dad Is Fine — in order to be a member in good standing. My friends felt the cost to their own integrity, even their safety, depended on separating themselves from a system that crushed the truth for the sake of maintaining itself.

Dreher continues:

The book I’m reading now, The Captive Mind, by the Polish anti-communist dissident intellectual Czeslaw Milosz, examines four cases of fellow intellectuals who embraced the Big Lie of Communism, and what it cost their minds and souls. The danger to men like Kevin O’Brien is that the people who demand that the Big Lie is true, and that anybody who denies the Big Lie is an Enemy, will drive the truth-tellers into a place of bitter cynicism. In the case of the Church, if you come to see authority figures as profoundly untrustworthy (or worse), you may come to cease believing in their authority in other areas, and come to think everything they say — even the truthful things — is part of the Big Lie, or at least might be.

Fr. Jiang and Archbishop Carlson may be innocent here, but presuming their innocence does not require turning oneself into a credulous fool. It is very, very hard to walk the tightrope between cynicism and credulity; I struggle with this every day. The problem is when you don’t struggle at all. Hardcore cynicism is a different kind of Big Lie.

This applies in spades to Anglicans in the realignment. Embracing the fairy tale of Rwandan reconciliation is a comfortable position, but it is a lie. If clergy and laity cannot confront this lie, the story will just unravel eventually and do more damage when it does.

I hope to write a book exposing this facade that GAFCON, ACNA, AMiA and now PEAR USA have embraced, and to show how it is a massive failure on our part.

4 thoughts on “Churches Believing Lies”

  1. I won’t give any details and by no means is this anything official, but you should know that PEARUSA is actively considering the issue of PEAR’s possible complicity or silence in wrongdoing. I personally am thankful for your goal of exposing the truth, but don’t you think it is a bit unfair to say that the reconciliation process is a lie? Isn’t it possible that there has been very real reconciliation going on while at the same time the government of Rwanda has moved toward more dictatorial rule? I think if you toned down your rhetoric some, more people would listen. And do ahead with your book idea.

    1. Evan, thanks for the reply. I go to Ascension and so I am aware of what is going on in terms of the comittee. We really can’t call that a “PEAR” thing though, because it is simply a local action.
      Thanks also for the encouragement regarding the book. I’m not sure if I’m up to the task, but I feel like I need to try.
      On your questions, in reverse order:
      (1) I don’t think Rwanda has moved toward more dictatorial rule but has been that way since the invasion of 94. It has been more and more in Kagame’s iron grip, but the revenge killings, disappearances and other evils were there from the beginning and have been well documented – all of this even preceeded the creation of AMiA, which means our leaders should have been aware of this from the beginning.
      (2) I certainly cannot say that there has been *no* reconcilliation, there may be. However, there is a Tutsi elite that runs everything, and so we have no way of knowing what your average Hutu may think. If he or she speaks up, they will be detained or killed. Further, the only thing allowable to discuss at gacaca is the genocide of the Tutsi. If you are Hutu and you want to discuss RPF killings of Hutu that followed the invasion, you cannot do so. So, real reconcilliation cannot be acheived because the allowable topics are limited. I suggest reading this paper by Eugenia Zorbas on the topic:

  2. Always the pleas from milquetoast believers to tone down the rhetoric – I tire of it. Continue to speak out against lies and injustice Joel, don’t compromise to please the “go along to get along crowd.”

    I heard the same rhetoric from my former 9Marks pastor in Dubai. I spoke out against his promoting C.J. Mahaney’s books from the pulpit in light of the evidence that Mahaney was a blackmailer and covered up sexual abusers in his denomination. I also disagreed strongly with my pastor’s belief that the 4th Commandment has been “abrogated.” When I supplied him with overwhelming written testimony to the contrary from Christian scholars throughout history his reply was that I was “edgy.” Indeed!

    “You must not be panic-stricken by those who have an air of credibility but who teach heresy. Stand your ground like an anvil under the hammer.”
    -The letter of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

    “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” -Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT

    “Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.”
    Psalm 10:17-18

    “When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”
    “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.”
    ! Kings 18:17-18

  3. I don’t know anything about the Rwandan topic or Anglicans, but I like the quotes on how people in systems are required to cooperate with the big lie and the importance of telling the truth. I think that the most powerful tool in Christianity is hidden in Ephesians 4:15, “but speaking the truth in love may grow up…” I think that speaking the truth in love puts us in a vulnerable, yet powerful position in relationships. It opens the door of confrontation, clarity, restoration and if needed, repentance, in relationships. There are no guarantees in life, but it is the healthy place to be. I hope your write your book.

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