Having recently discovered a post I did on the Discomfiter late last month, I see that Ed Babinski used this as a pretext to post a very long, unrelated comment in which he attempted to discredit the faith by ad hominem guilt-by-association tactics.
A few elementary clarifications are in order:
1.Traditionally, you had national churches. Church membership was conterminous with citizenship. It has nothing to do with what you believed or how you behaved.
2. In America, we’ve had the opposite experiment. We have no national church. The church is a free association. Anyone can hang out a shingle calling itself a church.
3. Sorry to say, technology has not advanced to the point where we can install scanners in the doorway of the church which will trigger sirens, flashing lights, and ear-splitting alarms when a nominal Christian tries to enter the premises.
Perhaps, with his interest in modern technology, Babinski can point us to some promising research program which will allow us to spiritually X-ray the sheep and goats, wheat and tares, as well as wolves in woolen sweaters or sheepskin suits.
But until such a screening device is installed at every entrance, we can only judge by appearances.
4. The church draws its membership from the ranks of the general culture. As such, the visible church cannot rise a whole lot higher than its source.
It isn’t hermetically sealed away from the world around it. Christians aren’t Borg babies, genetically reengineered in airtight incubators. There’s no eugenics lab in the nursery of the parsonage.
5. Babinski is very promiscuous with the Christian label: “the heads of Enron and WorldCom…were truly devout believers”; “the Reverend Tony Leyva, Pentecostal TV-evangelist who used to wear a Superman costume”; “devout Christian wives murdering their sons and daughters”; “serial killers like the Son of Sam and Jeffrey Dahmer”; “Christian” nudists; Unitarian” Christians; the Cathari; “Christians who accept committed, loving, homosexual relationships (including gay evangelical Church groups like the nationwide Metropolitan Baptist Church)”; the Shakers; the Skoptze; “social Gospel” Christians; Utah Mormons; pot-smoking “Christians,” and so on and so forth.
This sort of thing is only convincing to those who are already convinced. It is written by, to, and for militant unbelievers. Those who are more than happy to believe all the worst about the church.
Babinski makes no honest, good-faith effort to draw any distinction between outright charlatans, nominal believers, and sincere, but struggling believers. No distinction between a genuine believer who may be misguided to some degree, and a charlatan, a cult-member, or apostate.
6.To say that his exposé is one-sided would be a profound understatement. If he’s going to judge the church by the church, then he ought to judge the church by the best as well as the worst.
7.Babinski’s tactic cuts both ways. For an exposé of elite unbelievers, read Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals or E. Michael Jones’ Degenerate Moderns.
8.It should come as no surprise to find a certain number of swindlers and pitchmen in the church. A con artist will go wherever the money is.
For him, one scam is much like another. That it has a Christian angle is irrelevant to the claims of the faith.
And the fact that we have so many willing victims—men and women who permit themselves to be fleeced by a fast-talking preacher with a Rolex and diamond cufflinks—is hardly a strike against Christian theology.
To the contrary, Christian theology should lead us to expect this behavior—a parasitic bond between suckers and swindlers. Babinski’s anecdotes merely serve to confirm the predictive power of Christian theology—confirming its dire diagnosis of the human condition.