Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Friday, February 18, 2005  

What Jesus Doesn't Do

A review of a new book (GOD'S POLITICS, Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, By Jim Wallis ) in the WaPo has a nugget worth tackling:

The problem with religious conservatives is not that they invoke religion too much, but that they practice "bad theology," he argues. He notes that although religious conservatives focus on homosexuality and abstinence, Jesus and Isaiah and Micah had much more to say about poverty and economic justice than sexual impropriety. Therefore, he writes, the Bush administration's tax policies reflect a "religious failure." And also: "An enormous public misrepresentation of Christianity has taken place. . . . [M]any people around the world now think Christian faith stands for political commitments that are almost the opposite of its true meaning. How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war and only pro-American?"

Isn’t time we put a few shibboleths to rest about faith? Frankly, Jesus, Isaiah, and Micah have nothing to say about poverty and economic justice regarding America today. Those people (Prophets and Messiah) had a perception of the world that is entirely at odds with the way our nation actually functions.

It is a bit like when Mother Theresa, on a visit to New York City, was walking down in the Bowery and saw a man sleeping on the sidewalk against a building. She went to minister to the man but was pulled back and told the man wasn’t like those dying on the streets of Calcutta, that he chose to be there. She could hardly believe it.

Another incident occurred when a drunk came up to her to praise her as a living saint and she told him point blank, “Stop drinking.”

Jesus’ advice to turn the other cheek was never intended as an invitation to weakness which would allow evil people to slaughter a family or a nation.

His (Wallis’) attack on the Iraq war goes beyond making the obvious but often forgotten point that Jesus preached nonviolence.

This is nonsense. Jesus was not a pacifist and never said anywhere that force or self-defense was anti-God. In fact, we have him saying at the Last Supper (Luke 22:36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.).
Before he sent out disciples with nothing. Now he is saying they should carry a sword. He was warning against a violent world and the need for them to protect their lives as they carried out the mission of the Gospel. Sound like and anti-gun nut to you? You can take his words as figurative, but that’s a stretch.

Too many fail to notice that the more services, food banks, shelters, and so forth you provide for the so-called poor and homeless, the more the poor and homeless seem to increase. This is in direct contradiction to what an Isaiah or Jesus could have imagined. Nor is it likely that Jesus who would have taken much of his wisdom from Proverbs, would have been ignorant of the general laws of human behavior which that book illustrates.

Jesus was able to see and imagine Grace in almost any situation or person, though; but he’s not the last word on poverty or economics or justice. Jesus was a man of his time, of his culture, whereas the Holy Spirit is neither (nor Jesus now). Christians look to the Holy Spirit for guidance when the Gospels fail to provide obvious answers.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:09 PM |