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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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"Values are insubstantial stuff, existing primarily in the imagination," Allan Bloom wrote in "The Closing of the American Mind" (1987). During the Cold War, the language of "values"--in which beliefs about good and evil are deemed purely subjective--worked well for relativists and, not least, peaceniks, as Mr. Bloom explained. If the U.S. and the Soviet Union merely had different "values," there was no real need for confrontation.
Such language now appears to be serving the same purpose in the culture war. After polling suggested that people who voted on the basis of "values" were key to President Bush's 2004 re-election, members of what used to be known unambiguously as the Religious Right took to calling themselves "values voters." The cultural left has understood this language shift as a sign that maybe we can all be friends.
Two weeks ago, Third Way, a self-described "strategy center for progressives," released a document called "Come Let Us Reason Together: A Fresh Look at Shared Cultural Values Between Evangelicals and Progressives." It amounted to a broad statement of principle signed by folks like Joel Hunter, a Florida mega-church pastor, David Gushee, a Christianity Today contributor, and other less-than-prominent progressives and evangelicals. Jill Pike, Third Way's deputy director of public affairs, emailed me to say that, by trying to bridge the gap between the two groups, "we are not talking about compromising each other's values but instead creating an approach that will inevitably lend itself to progress and change." The statement itself asserts that the two groups want "the same protections, public benefits, and opportunities" for gays and lesbians. The signers also agree that, to reduce the incidence of abortion, young people need better access to contraception and more sex education. Well, at least evangelicals' values weren't compromised!
Filed under: * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
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