40 I CHRONICLESnLetter FromnPhiladelphianby James L. SauernSwan Songn”Did you hear what happened to thenswan?”nTucked away in the residential areanalong suburban Philadelphia’s mainnline lies the idyllic campus of EasternnCollege. For the last four years thisnChristian academic institution hasnsponsored the Evangelical Roundtable:nan attempt to find definition in thenideologically shattered realms ofnEvangelical-land. “The Roundtable,”nsays the promotional material, “is designednas a forum for key evangelicalnleaders.” I’m not sure whether thatnmeans that the key Evangelical leadersnwere the peons in the audience or thenfellows they have speaking. I thinknboth. So I guess that makes me one ofnthose who, as the publicity sheet goesnon to say, “command a special presencenin their respective communities.”nI know that after the conference Inreceived much more respect at thenbreakfast table.nThe first years in which the roundntable was held touched on the issues ofnthe Arab-Israel conflict, the success ofnEvangelicalism, and the Latin Americannproblem. This year’s conferencenwas on the sanctity of life, a topicnwhich one hopes might provide thenbasis for unity among Christiansnagainst the 20th century’s assault onnhuman dignity. Certainly, one wouldnthink. Christians could agree that littlenbabies shouldn’t be turned into pate.nBut hope against hope.nUnfortunately, the conference displayednthe “historical contradictions”nnow ripping Evangelicalism apart. Unlikenthe charismatic media-magnatesnwho are destroying Christian witnessnthrough their power-perverted addictionnto wealth, fame, and unrepentantnCORRESPONDENCEnsin, the Evangelicals are fightingnthrough an identity crisis between theirntraditionalist catholic, call it Puritan,nwing and their mystical, millennialistn”imanentizers of the Eschaton.” Havingnno ecumenical Office for the Repressionnof Nasty Heresies, Evangelicalsnhave come to tolerate such anvariety of weird birds in their nests thatnthey can’t tell a dove from a pig withnwings.nYet it was quite a wingding, and angood time was had by all during thenthree-day conference. Ted Engstrom,nsoon to retire as president of WorldnVision, was a conference M.C., crackingnamiable jokes which won him then”Johnny Carson of Evangelicalism”nappellation. R.C. Sproul, an orthodoxnPresbyter and scratch golfer, “the JacknNicklaus of Evangelicalism,” gavenafter-breakfast devotions. In fact, therenwere representatives present fromnevery portion of Christ’s spiritual body.nEvangelical Division: Ron Sider, a liberalnseamless garment pro-lifer; KaynCole James, a super articulate publicnaffairs director from the Nahonal Rightnto Life Committee; John H. Yoder, anclear spoken but humorless pacifist;nHarold O.J. Brown, a fuzzy spokennbut witty Just-Warrior; and EasternnCollege’s own Evangelical controversialist,nTony Campolo.nNothing displayed the spiritualnschizophrenia that infects Evangelicalism,nhowever, like some of the speechesnon the first day of the conference bynChuck Colson and Virginia RameynMollenkott. It was like listening tonthe Apostle Paul and a priestess ofnMoloch.nColson was in form. As keynotenspeaker, he rose to the occasion and,nlike a master musician, touched thenkeys which called forth the symphonynof biblical orthodoxy. His was the callnfor human dignity in a world gone madnwith Nietzschean will. His was not thenphilosophy of our moment; but lookingnback to a Maker, to the orderednnncreation, to the inerrant revelation of anMaker’s will in history, he traced thentheme of human dignity across time,ninvoking the witness of the saints: Pascal,nSolzhenitsyn, Edmund Burke,nWalker Percy. He called for the end ofnour nightmare of ghoulish practices ofnabortion and genetic engineering andnfor a return to Christian orthodoxy, tonChristian reason, and to Christian living.nThe choir was delighted.n”Did you hear what happened tonthe swan?”nMollenkott rose before us like angoliath to challenge the army of thenliving God. Just when you thought thenold heresies had died out, someone likenVirginia Mollenkott steps forward tonrenew one’s faith in the depravity ofnman. Er, excuse me, depravity of persons.nAntinomianism lives. When thenApostie Paul asked, “Shall we sin thatngrace may abound?” Virginia said yes.nDr. Mollenkott, an English professornfrom Patterson College, is one ofnthose queer birds who call themselvesnEvangelical while attacking everythingnthat Evangelicalism stands for. She isncoauthor with Letha Scanzoni of Is thenHomosexual My Neighbor?, a seminalndebauchery of scripture which advocatesn”covenantal homosexuality.” Butnit is not just chastity that she’s against;nshe’s against sexism, ageism, elitism,nclassism — all that bad stuff.nDoes she believe in the authority ofnScripture? Only as it is validated by hernown warped reason and sin-soakednexperience. Does she worship the Fathernthrough the Son? Only as shenremakes the Maker into her image,ndesexing the Divine Manchild andnrefashioning the Deity into a She/He/nIt, a Trinity of Parent, Child, andnSignificant Cosmic Other. Does shenhold to the biblical order of sexuality?nOnly as it is reinterpreted to allow fornwhat Falwell has called Adam andnSteve. And does she affirm the sanctitynof human life? Only if it allows us tonrip limb from limb the helpless torsosn