In the form bloggers are reading them, Stanley’s remarks are just going to make it harder than ever for both Christians and non-Christians to see that. He went and pulled a Jerry Falwell, a Barbara Kingsolver. Now liberals, conservatives, and libertarians alike will be all the more likely to confuse Church pacifism (which Stanley champions) with sixties-style new left national pacifism (which he doesn’t). Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr will look even more like the sober, responsible public theologians, and their detractors will look even more like wackos. First Things will feel all the more vindicated. . . .
But explanations are not excuses. It is irresponsible to lob rhetorical grenades into a social discourse already this volatile. I know Stanley, O’Neill, and the NCR are just trying to get people to examine their commitments in light of the unqualified lordship of Jesus Christ. That is already essential – and all the more essential in times of emergency. There are better ways to do it. People are now listening who weren’t listening before. If speakers don’t show them extra consideration, they are going to stop listening.
There’s much more to this than my excerpt captures. Read the whole thing.