Their post, along with emails from friends, made me start thinking about all the extreme opinions I've read this week about Coulter.
For those who aren't aware of the Coulter Controversy because they didn't use TV, radio, newspaper, internet, or telegraph in the last week in an effort to decrease their carbon footprint, click here for the most concise summary that I could find. Video included.
There are several "Christian" ways to look at Coulter's statement that "Christians want Jews to be perfected", and her assent to the statement that America would be better if it were a Christian nation....
- There's the easily stereotyped ultra-fundamentalist Christian point of view: the Jews can be lumped in with all other non-believers, like Muslims, Buddhists, Agnostics, Atheists, and members of The Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, who have rejected Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Ann Coulter is wrong. The Jews aren't even "imperfect" Christians, and their status as God's Chosen People gets them nowhere - Jews who don't convert are going to hell.
- Moving a couple of clicks over on the continuum gets the theological traveler into Ann Coulter territory - there are evangelical Christians who believe that the Jews were God's Chosen People, but unfortunately they rejected Christ. Christianity (God's current ideal for humanity) is an outgrowth of Judaism (a failed prototype), and therefore Christians are "Perfected" Jews. Observant Jews who follow the Old Testament Law (see the Coulter interview) can still get a free pass if they're super cautious. They might not go to hell.
- Then there are embarrased but still borderline evangelical Christians who might honestly claim, if pressured, that the Jews aren't "saved". If they've even thought about the issue outside of their church. Once these Christians get outside of pulpit range they are embarrased by the Coulter episode, much like they were embarrased by Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith's 1980 statement that "God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew". These Christians have been socialized, think of themselves as tolerant, perhaps belong to Country Clubs, and have never been filmed in an end zone holding a "John 3:16" sign. Ann Coulter isn't right or wrong, (who can make sense of all this preacher stuff?) but she is merely guilty of bad manners - she brought up religious issues in a political setting. (Incidentally, the Bailey Smith quote was later amended to include "God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew, except the prayer to be saved." This way all the Jews might not go to hell.)
- The Mainstream Protestants are next. Many of them aren't even aware of the New Testament scriptures that motivate the Christians in groups 1 and 2. Most of their ministers will soon write editorials or preach sermons deploring Ann Coulter for racism, insensitivity and anti-semitism, but in reality condemning her for airing the old Family Secrets in public. There probably isn't a hell for the Jews to go to. Or anyone else.
- Then comes the Progressive Christianity Outpost point of view. These are people whose Christian experience has been strongly tied to social ministries: they feed the hungry, shelter the homeless (as Jesus instructed) and they fret about social justice. Deep down, they know there isn't a hell, but wish God made one so Ann Coulter could go there.
- I'm intentionally cutting short any amateur projections of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox viewpoints. I've not seen that much written by them about Ann Coulter and the Jews. Both churches have a long, long anti-semitic track record, and might be lying low. But I suspect they're collectively giggling and congratulating themselves for not producing an Ann Coulter.
The question is this: If a Christian belongs to groups 1, 2, and 3, he or she seems obligated to spend every waking hour converting everyone possible. Jews, Muslims, and everyone else. We spend a brief flicker of time on earth, and then there's eternity, right? The fate of unperfected billions of souls depends on the beliefs they develop during this brief flicker. If Jesus was the divine Son of God, Christians shouldn't waste a minute watching Super Bowls, working at real jobs, shampooing dogs, or educating their children. It's all about eternity and who gets to be perfected. Shouldn't groups 1, 2, and 3 (if that's the way the world works) be more unashamed, like Ann Coulter? Or do they not really believe it?
But aren't groups 4 and 5 trying to have it both ways if they condemn Ann Coulter? After all, what she claims to know about God's abandonment of the Jews and salvation, she learned from the story and teachings of Jesus. What does Ann Coulter not understand?