Thus writes Michael Coren, the Canadian-English TV personality, muckraker, columnist, writer, two-time former Catholic, former Evangelical, and now ordained Anglican priest.
I first became aware of Coren through his 2011 book Why Catholics Are Right, which is dubbed as a defense of the faith and a “passionate response to anti-Catholic opinion.”
Five years later, Coren wrote a book called Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart and Mind Over Same-Sex Marriage. His change of heart prompted him to unceremoniously leave the Church – for the second time; he left it once already at an earlier stage and became an Evangelical but then returned – that he had once so vigorously defended and join the Church of England, which is far more tolerant and welcoming of Coren and his epiphany.
Before I go any further, I must stress that this post will not be a longwinded rant against Coren, who has always complained about being on the receiving end of unfair and hateful criticism, regardless of what stage he happened to be on in his media career or his spiritual journey.
If memory serves me well, as a media talking head, Coren reveled in the controversial and relished scandal if it involved other people. He was less keen on scandal when it came his way, but he was always shrewd enough to use such occasions to have epiphanies that would inspire him to completely one-eighty his worldview and reorient his Christianity.
Coren’s most recent epiphany convinced him that his former conservative Christian beliefs had been all wrong. A further insight led him to conclude that so-called conservative Christians are mostly bigots and bad people with messed up values that have little to do with Christ or Christianity.
Consequently, Coren now embraces and promotes a progressive and tolerant form of Christianity he describes as a “great, grand dance of collective dance of goodness” and a “permanent revolution of love.” He currently spends the bulk of his time slagging the side he called home before his gay epiphany:
But then there’s the rest, and how loud and numerous they appear. The dark obsessions and deranged conspiracy theories concerning the pandemic, plots at world domination, and the alleged war on freedom. The grotesque abuse of the LGBT community, the attempting and sometimes succeeding in reversing women’s rights over their own bodies.
The labeling of opponents as pedophiles – believe me, I’ve been accused countless times – and the advancing of the most nauseating ideas, ranging from support for Vladimir Putin and his “family values” to an adoration of Donald Trump as the only man who can save us from the liberals, communists and atheists who are apparently behind every corner.
Nor is this mud of nonsense confined to social media platforms. Some of these ideas have entered public debate, and what was once the preserve of the fundamentalist ghetto had punched its way into provincial, state and even federal centres of power. Witness some of the rulings in the U.S. over abortion, the banning of books from schools and libraries, and organized hostility to trans rights.
It seems pointless to mention the Litmus Test issues Coren has actively and willingly chosen to fail; so I won’t wade into that. Suffice it to say, Coren positions himself among those so-called Christians who are determined to “rebrand Christianity to reflect the social justice values of Jesus.”
What Coren and his ilk champion above all is altruism as the highest form of Christian love, and their interpretation and practice of Christianity is utterly mired in this altruistic misinterpretation of Christian love.
Here's the thing – altruism is the brainchild of the one and only Auguste Comte, the father of positivism and the materialist Religion of Humanity, whose Law of Three stages regarded metaphysics and theism as earlier, primitive stages of development that man must supersede via science. At the same time, he insisted upon the nobility of living for others, even if such living for others was detrimental to the self.
Christians like Coren claim to have rediscovered the authentic teachings of Jesus and strive for a Christianity whose values are “progressive and enlightened” as opposed to a Christianity that is regressive and unenlightened:
Whether we call it Christian nationalism, the Christian right, or even Christo-fascism (a term that breaks my heart), the ogre remains the same. It holds a gun and a flag in one hand, a Bible, and a cross in the other.
As I pondered Coren’s words, I found myself asking why he insists on being a Christian. Full stop. The values he celebrates do not require Christianity to support them. If he looked hard enough, I am sure he would find he could live and promote his progressive and enlightened values without having to drag Christ or Christianity into it.
Moreover, he would find that his values are already endorsed and promulgated by virtually all organizations, governments, institutions, and channels of worldly power, so why bother being Christian?
On the flip side, the same could be said of the gun, flag, and Bible Christians Coren so vigorously denounces. With their obsessive concentration on social, political, and ideological issues, most gun and flag Christians could easily forgo the Bible or Jesus and concentrate instead on the topics that occupy your average secular-based alt-righter. The same applies to many self-professed trads whose adherence to traditional, orthodox beliefs rarely rises above the level of implementing ways for others to live for others.
What’s interesting about the whole Christian left versus Christian right or Progressive Christianity versus Conservative Christianity divide is the seemingly superfluous inclusion of Christianity in the antagonism. Strip away the religious backdrop of the dispute, and you have something that eerily resembles a mundane debate between a Democrat and a Republican or a secular liberal and secular conservative.
The whole conflict over so-called Christian values boils down to a Comte-ian debate over the most optimal way to live for others.
Seen from this perspective, most of what parades around as Christianity today amounts to little more than warmed-over Positivism for the simple reason that most Christians dwell in the pinnacle stage of Comte’s Three-Stage Law and have willingly allowed society to supersede theism and metaphysics.
Cynically, I will even go as far as to suggest that most Christians have reached the point where they have inverted Comte's dictum of living for others to "living for myself under the guise of living for others."
All Christians possess some degree of what Owen Barfield called Residual Unresolved Positivism. Unfortunately, for most Christians, positivism appears to be anything but residual. On the contrary, they are marinating in it - to the point that they have allowed materialism to supplant metaphysics.
This begs the question - Of what use or relevance is Christianity when materialism has superseded metaphysics?
Why bother with Christianity? Why bother with calling yourself a Christian at all?