Monday, March 16, 2009

parsing heroes

Albert Schweitzer deserves to be remembered as the greatest Christian of the twentieth century.
Robin R Meyers, Saving Jesus from the Church, p 17

One wonders why he didn't mention Mother Teresa, but maybe she lost out when she stepped on toes when she said what she said about abortion. Liberals are such an unforgiving lot.

...yet he did not believe in literal miracles--the blood atonement, the bodily resurrection, or the second coming, just to name a few. All he did was walk away from everything the world calls good to follow Jesus.
p 17

First, some things said about Schweitzer.
The journalist James Cameron visited Lambaréné in 1953 (when Schweitzer was 78) and found significant flaws in the practices and attitudes of Schweitzer and his staff. The hospital suffered from squalor, was without modern amenities and Schweitzer had little contact with the local people.[36] Cameron did not make public what he had seen at the time: according to a recent BBC dramatisation,[37] he made the unusual journalistic decision to withhold the story, and resisted the expressed wish of his employers to publish an exposé aimed at debunking Schweitzer.

American journalist John Gunther also visited Lambaréné in the 1950s and reported Schweitzer's patronizing attitude towards Africans. He also noted the lack of Africans trained to be skilled workers[38]. After three decades in Africa Schweitzer still depended on Europe for nurses. By comparison, his contemporary Sir Albert Cook in Uganda had been training nurses and midwives since the 1910s and had published a manual of midwifery in the local language of Luganda[39].

My purpose isn't to attack someone who may have done some good works, but to put perspective to Meyer's obviously biased rhetoric.

It is ironic that none of those who took issue with Schweitzer's theology and cursed his writings gave up fame and fortune or membership in the highest stratum of German society to live among the poorest of the poor. They prepared their critiqus in the comfort of the pastor's study or the university library, while Schweitzer nailed patches of tin on the roof of his free medical clinic in Lambarene by the banks of the Ogoove River. Theologians who sat in endowed chairs took his Christology to task, while he scraped infectious lesions off blue-black natives in the steaming misery of equatorial Africa
p. 17

From the back fly leaf of the books dust cover, a bit about the author Meyers.

For over twenty years, Robins R Meyers has been pastor of Mayflower Congregational, an "unapologetically Christian, unapologetically liberal" church in one of the most conservative states in the country. He is a professor in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University, a syndicated columnist, and an award-winning commentator for National Public Radio.

I find it odd that someone who is a pastor and professor should condemn other pastors and professors. If he feels free to praise Schweitzer for his views, then upon what basis does he say that those like him are not free to disagree with him?

Plus, look at these pages about the 'scholars' Meyers seems to think so much of.

These three men are extensively referenced in Meyers' book, and he even thanks Spong for helping him the book published in the acknowledgements. If you look at their wiki pages, though, you'll be looking long and hard to find them "(giving) up fame and fortune or membership in the highest stratum of (American, or maybe world society as a whole) society to live among the poorest of the poor".

I can, however, think of many people, some well-known and others not, who have giving up much to serve and really follow Christ. How many missionaries have been persecuted and even martyred for their faith in Christ? How many put in prisons? How many were disowned when their faith in Christ put them at odds against their families and their cultures?

And most of all, Meyers and his cronies who "in the comfort of the pastor's study or the university library", question the Christology of the Apostles, saying they are essentially myth-makers and liars so that Meyer and co. can re-create a Jesus that they find appetizing.

All of which leads me to believe that Schweitzer's works of mercy are really irrelevant to Meyers' claim to him being " deserv(ing) to be remembered as the greatest Christian of the twentieth century". If Schweitzer's beliefs had been orthodox, Meyers' wouldn't bother a bit with him. I suspect it's only Schweitzer's aberrant beliefs that make him useful for Meyers.

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