Dr. Theo Hobson is an Anglican theologian in the Church of England. In our conversation about his most recent book, God Created Humanism, concerns arose that deserve clarification.
Dr. Hobson rightly observes that at least three conditions must be present in order for a moral revolution to take place:
- That which was condemned must be celebrated.
- That which was celebrated must be condemned.
- Those who once condemned that which is now celebrated must now be condemned as well.
Evidence of his observation abounds in North America where not that long ago a near consensus of Americans supported a definition of marriage excluding any combination of persons other than one man and one woman. We now stand fully on the other side of that moral revolution and not only is that which was once condemned celebrated, traditional marriage is increasingly condemned and those who once condemned gay marriage are now condemned as well.
One case in point: Dr. Theresa Latini.
Dr. Theresa Latini was once Presbyterian (PCUSA) and is now Lutheran (ELCA). She was once the Executive Director of a One by 1, a ministry affirming God’s ordering of human sexual relations as in the context of one-man, one-woman marriage. So, in the now archaic days of the early 21st century, Latini, was aligned with the prevailing theology of the Christian church for 2000 years and the prevailing theology of the denomination of which she was then a part. But times have changed and theology has changed and the positions of both denominations have changed and now the ELCA and the PCUSA both fully affirm every letter in the growing alphabet of the LGBTQQIIAA sexual lexicon. They affirm it in ordination, they affirm it in marriage, and they affirm it in terms of what is taught and celebrated in their seminaries. But here’s the kicker, so does Latini. She has migrated right along with the mainline on these issues. But the fact that she ever held an orthodox position is the sin for which she has now been fired from her post as President of an ELCA seminary. Those who ever condemned that which was once condemned but is now celebrated must be condemned.
Dr. Hobson also rightly observed that while we, in North America, may be further along in the moral revolution related to sexual expression/gender identity and marriage redefinition than Western European nations, they have outpaced us on the moral revolution related to the desecration of life. We could place into evidence here recent news stories about the toddler Alfie Evans, intentionally starved to death under doctors’ and court order, in a British hospital; and David Goodall, the 104 year old Australian academic who traveled to Switzerland to take his own life at one of a growing number of assisted-death clinic.
From a Christian worldview we look with horror at what others see as cultural advancements. And while Dr. Hobson argues rightly that faith remains indispensable to Western humanism and continues to underpin our public morality, it seemed to me he misses (at least in terms of observations he made on Connecting Faith about the status of the Church of England) that the moral revolutionaries are inside the house. He seemed to not see that the moral foundations are increasingly under assault not by honest secular humanist but by people who hold themselves out to be Christian and who hold positions of influence in the Church of England.
How else are we to interpret recent headlines from Ireland that only a handful of members of the clergy are openly opposing the Constitutional referendum seeking to lift the abortion ban there? Or headlines identifying high level church officials who are joining calls for the Church of England to be compelled to perform and recognize gay marriage? Here we should note that in Great Britain the Church and the State are not separate realities. Part of the genius of the U.S. system is that the Church is not beholden to the State but in a position to freely influence the State through the influence of individual Christian citizens and Christians holding public office. As we will see in the royal wedding on Saturday, the national sovereign, currently the Queen, is also head of the church in England. The nature of the relationship of the church to the state is particularly problematic when the state passes laws (i.e. legalizing marriage for same-sex couples) the Church cannot – by a Christ-constrained conscience – obey.
What Dr. Hobson offers is a way of entering into the conversations of the day with people operating out of a secular humanist worldview which demonstrates how their ideas rest upon the foundations of the Christian faith. Where I felt our conversation came up short was in the honest observation that the institutional church itself is acquiescing to cultural tides that have been persistently rising over time against which the church is not adequately defending her own Biblically based doctrines.Theo Hobson on Why God created humanism