When United Methodist Church bishops condemned the U.S. military presence in Iraq, a fax arrived almost immediately at the Century from the Institute on Religion and Democracy's top Methodist watchdog, Mark Tooley. Like some kind of Methodist pope perched over the bishops, Tooley dressed down the bishops: "How woefully absurd that church prelates condemn the United States for attempting to build democracy in Iraq."For three decades Tooley and others at the IRD have been monitoring mainline churches for political statements that are out of step with the views of their rank-and-file members. When there's a gap between the views of church leaders and people in the pews the IRD steps in to take advantage of the controversy.
The media campaign surrounding publication of the ancient Gospel of Judas has been launched with a television broadcast and two books sponsored by the National Geographic Society. In situations of this sort, Christians wonder: Should they ignore the commotion? Should they work themselves into a froth of defensive denial? Should they embark on a fundamental rethinking of Christian convictions? Deciding how to respond is made more difficult because it is exceedingly hard to find honest brokers of the facts. Fortunately, the editors and essayists of The Gospel of Judas avoid exaggeration and seek to inform more than entertain. The same can’t be said of the other book published by the National Geographic Society, Herbert Krosney’s The Lost Gospel.