Lt. Matt Kean, moved by the conviction that if he did not speak out to condemn what he sees as a “blight” on The Salvation Army then the stones might be compelled to cry out, has published in the Journal of Aggressive Christianity, a rather scathing attack on so-called liberals.
While the stones might be called upon to give voice to praise if we are silent (Luke 19:40), I’m not sure that they are at all concerned about our rebuking each other for theological differences. In fact, it is the Pharisees in that particular story who called upon Jesus to rebuke his followers for a theological disagreement. But, be that as it may, I thought I might offer a response to Lt. Kean’s aggressive missive concerning the “blight of liberal theology.”
The subject that Lt. Kean intends to address is “a theological one” i.e. “the very liberal theology which has been permitted to slither into the ranks of the army.” And yet, in his lengthy document Kean never addresses exactly what it is he means by this. After having read the article several times, I’m still not exactly sure what this “liberal theology” is that he thinks is the blight affecting the Salvation Army. He’s flailing away at a straw man that he’s not even taken the time to properly construct.
And as one who self identifies as a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer that term) I am still trying to figure out if he’s upset with me, and if so, why he thinks that I and other liberal / progressive soldiers and officers are bringing about the ruination of The Salvation Army. He wants us condemned as heretical and corrupt, calls us treasonous. These are strong accusations. These are heavy words – too heavy to be throwing around so casually.
What I understand from this writing is that Lt. Kean believes liberals 1) are not concerned with the Salvation of souls, 2) are opposed to dealing with sin and its consequences and 3) are not militant enough. But these allegations are not supported by any sort of evidence. He simply assumes them to be true and attacks.
If this were a court of law, the defendant (liberal Salvationists) would be assumed innocent until proven guilty. The onus would be upon the prosecutor (Lt. Kean) to prove the offense. He’s called us lots of names and said horrible things about liberals, but he’s not demonstrated that we are unconcerned with the salvation of sinners or averse to calling sin sin.
If Lt. Kean is concerned that The Salvation Army has lost its fervor for salvation, let him address that issue, without besmirching so many of his faithful comrades.