Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Father's Business

Should Christians follow in the footsteps of Jesus and be about their "Father's business?" How do they do so? These are questions that many Christians are asking today.

There are Christians who, rather than buying into the long promoted fallacy that Christians should have no say in politics, began to form broad "coalitions" in an effort to have the Christian voice in America be heard by the political powers that be. Should it come as a surprise to us, now, that those who are, in my opinion, somewhat confused about scriptural principles are launching an all out attack against their own brothers and sisters in Christ? And what does Jesus really say about the Christian Community and how it should behave toward one another? I am not of the belief that Jesus is telling a part of his adopted sons and daughters that they should act thus and so while telling another part of his adopted sons and daughters that they should act just the opposite. So what can we learn from this current development?

First, I'd like to point out that original Christian coalitions were not formed to divide Christ's Church, rather they were formed to give voice to all Christians who felt that their voices were not reaching their legislators in Congress. In the mean time, while Christians were being dutifully silent, secular activism was gaining more and more strength in redefining what has always been considered a Christian Nation. It isn't my intent to go down the path of history in making my case, at the moment. I am much more concerned about the impending division this causes in the Body of Christ, rather than engaging in an historical debate.

On October 13 - 15 there will be a meeting of "Progressive" Christians at the "National Path to Action" Conference in Washington D.C. You can find the information here: Values, vision and the via media conference. I was not satisfied with the bit of information they provided about their political platform so I visited this site: Home Christian Alliance for Progress, where I found a listing of the political stances "Progressive" Christians seem to be united upon. I decided to respond to their stances.

Pursuing Economic Justice

Claims made under this heading are:

  • Our leaders act as if we have no responsibility to "the least of these."
  • Tax breaks for the richest are the cause of public debt.
  • Education, healthcare and housing are labeled as "wasteful" (but Christian Alliance for Progress doesn't say who has labeled them as such).
  • Bankruptcy reform is a hard and punitive approach.

Purely biased assessment. Biased toward the "Progressive" or liberal doctrine, of course. Our leaders do not act as if we have no responsibility to "the least of these." There are many social welfare programs to prove that this is a false argument. There is no legislation before our leaders which is seeking to remove funding from welfare programs in the United States.

Tax breaks for the richest in our Nation are not the sole cause of public debt as the Christian Alliance for Progress would like to suggest. There are many factors which must be considered in determining the cause of public debt in America but they fail to note them, instead giving the reader the idea that tax breaks which favor the wealthier in our Nation are the sole cause of public debt. This is too simple an argument to take seriously. Suggesting that public debt is caused solely by tax breaks for the richest in our Nation would be akin to me suggesting that the public school system is the cause of public debt in our Nation and leaving it at that. Silly.

Regarding education, healthcare and housing, I have to wonder who has labeled them as "wasteful?" "The Department of Education's budget has grown by 82.5 percent in real terms from $34.9 billion in FY2001 to $63.7 billion in FY2005. This is the largest increase of any president since Lyndon Johnson." Quoted from TCS: Tech Central Station - The Sinkhole Grows, if anything Congress has thrown more and more money at education and, yet, it has not seemed to raise the quality of education in our country.

I oppose socialized healthcare. Is this because I do not care about the sick in America who cannot afford healthcare? No. It is because I value the high quality of health care in America and do not wish to see it deteriorate.

Regarding the poor among us, the "least of these":

In a March 22, 2002 speech President Bush had this to say:

"We must tie greater aid to political and legal and economic reforms. And by insisting on reform, we do the work of compassion. The United States will lead by example. I have proposed a 50-percent increase in our core development assistance over the next three budget years. Eventually, this will mean a $5-billion annual increase over current levels." (Emphasis mine). Find it here, President Outlines U.S. Plan to Help World's Poor.

A common dilemma is this: How much money is enough money? Another common question among Christians is this: Is it the Federal government's responsibility to dole out money to aid the poor or is it the individual Christian's responsibility? The Bible instructs us, as individuals, to work hard so that we may have something to share with those who have not. Nowhere in the Bible does it call upon the believer to fight for monies to come from the government to aid the poor, always, the Bible appeals to individual believers to help and show mercy on the poor, to not display favoritism. Does this mean the government is to have no part? I don't think so, however, I don't think it should be the focus of the Christian believer to look to the government to do all of the caring for the poor, absolving them of personal responsibility.

I was planning to go down the list of the Christian Alliance for Progress' stances on the political issues of our day and respond to each stance they take, but you know, I think my point could be made just as well without going down their entire list. Christians do not become non-Christians because they have varying viewpoints on the best way to handle the issues of our times. I believe we all want economic prosperity for all Americans, good environmental stewardship, equality for all people (not to be confused with "special" rights based upon sexual orientation), good preventive measures against unwanted pregnancy and to see all Americans have access to health care. What we disagree on are the causes of these problems and the methods by which they should be cured.

Further dividing the Christian Community to promote a liberal agenda doesn't make sense. If, as we say, we are all Christians, then upon what do we base our beliefs? Some of the beliefs of "Progressive" Christians cannot be justified by scripture. That is a fact. For instance, being loving and compassionate toward people is a good principle to stand on, pretending that we must make excuses for sin in a person's life as a method of displaying that love is not. This is why I cannot agree with the homosexual lifestyle. The Bible clearly defines homosexuality as sin, therefore it is sin. I can love a gay or lesbian, value their contribution to society, call them my best friend, however, if I am to believe the Word of God, their sexual practices are a sin. This does not mean that their sin is greater than any other sin or that other sins are lesser sins. As a Christian we should not be condoning any sin, nor does it mean that I cannot genuinely love and care about the person who engages in sin, if that were the case we could not love anyone on this earth, for we are all sinners.

Gays already have as much a right to marry as any other. Radical Gay activists want the "special" right to marry one of the same sex. Due to the vast health issues within the homosexual community, I believe it is my duty to try to protect the children of our Nation from the further normalization of such a lifestyle. You may politically disagree if you want, I base my belief on the Bible and scientific research which proves the increased health risks among the gay community as compared to the heterosexual community.

Last, but certainly not least:

"Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and destroy. Who are you to judge another?" James 4:11-12

We must all be cautious not to sling darts at our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Our first priority should be one of care for each other, not care for the political agendas of the left or the right, Republicans or Democrats. One who judges his brother or sister for trying to follow in the footsteps of Jesus is in grave danger. It is for that reason that I will not say that one who believes Gay marriage should be legalized or that abortion is a viable option for birth control is not a Christian, however, I will not condone such a belief. That would go against everything I know and have learned from the Bible.

What I would say is that while the original Christian coalitions were intended to be a voice for all Christians with, I believe, pure motives, the motivation of those forming these new "Progressive" Christian alliances seem to be doing so with the primary motivation of separating themselves from their brothers and sisters who disagree with the causes and cures of current day political issues. Aware that God looks upon the motivations of the heart even more than the actions one takes...I have to wonder... and I have to remember... it isn't my place to judge.


13 comments:

RSmith said...

Ms. Jacke:

You illuminate like a White House Christmas tree why this delusion brand of Christo-Conservatism has become so abhorent to so many people.

Waxing intellectual on things of the spirit is so embarrassingly futile. You quote scripture with the dilligence and detail of your health insurance policy, which I'm sure you have memorized as well.

Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, marveled at the "Trinitarian Arithmetic" of his day's Christian Church, with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost riddle and the tortuous maze that leads to salvation. If he were alive today, he'd probably see American Evangelicals as having made the quantum leap to advanced trigonometry.

Jacke M. said...

Welcome to my blog, Mr. Goodman!

I do not accept the title "Conservative" Christian.
I am a Christian whose politics happen to be conservative. Imagine...a conservative who has no health insurance policy to read...a conservative who is living on less income than a common school teacher...a conservative who believes in free enterprise and the American dream!

I happen to agree with you that waxing intellectual on things of the Spirit is futile, however, in light of the fact that "Progressives" are busy about that particular endeavor, as we type, I feel that someone must at least make an attempt on the behalf of a simple Christian to address some of the issues they are currently bringing to the forefront. It appears it is not a popular position to hold.

Since you came to make a statement, would you like to make one to which I might reply? What specifically is it that you find abhorent, Mr. Goodman? Perhaps we could have a virtual cup of coffee at a virtual kitchen table in cyber space and discuss the issue from possibly five miles apart? I relish the thought.

God has chosen to bless me with a certain writing style, if it meets your disapproval, that is a sad affair. I feel you articulate fairly well. I've long felt that imperfect spelling is no indication of a lack of intelligence. :)

Momma Twoop said...

My goodness, such elitist prattle from Mr. Goodman! I can almost hear him, "Tsk, tsk....Why do the peasants even attempt to understand and write about things which only I am capable of understanding? It's clear they know nothing of what they speak because their conclusions differ from the right conclusions - MINE." *eyeroll*

Great read, Jacke. I think you make very valid points, points which need made. Clearly Mr. Goodman feels differently as is shown by his penchant for attacking you rather than addressing the points raised. It makes one wonder what he fears? Is he, the intellectual elitist, lacking sufficient communicative abilities to defend the "progressive" Christians' platform?

Jacke M. said...

After reading Mr. Goodman's blog and the links he provides there, in my opinion, he appears to relish Christian bashing. I'm not sure whether he reserves this bashing for only "Conservative" Christians or if it spans all of Christianity. Considering that fact, I'm not sure that Mr. Goodman is in a position to comment. Of course, he's free to correct me if I'm wrong. I greatly enjoy the varying viewpoints of people, even when they disagree with me. Ah'm kinda funny like thet! :)

wildwest said...

"What I would say is that while the original Christian coalitions were intended to be a voice for all Christians with, I believe, pure motives"

At first I thought you were referring to the "original" Christian coalition in the Book of Acts, but I'm not so sure after reading a similar statement at the beginning of your entry that mentioned Congress. Are you referring specifically to Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition? Or to the Moral Majority? Or to something else?

Jacke M. said...

wildwest, I was talking about the first modern day Christian coalitions. Not any specific coalition, the "coalitions" which "Progressive" Christians consider to be only for the "Religious Right" or "Conservative" Christian. I do not believe that they were originally meant to serve as a voice for only "Conservative" Christians, rather, I think they intended to be more inclusive than that. :)

wildwest said...

So you must be referring to Moral Majority, which was a predecessor to the Christian Coalition?

Jacke M. said...

wildwest?

What part of "Not any specific coalition," do you not understand?

:)

Jacke M. said...

wildwest,

I don't mean to be short or insulting with you. Here's the deal: I had no particular coalition in mind. I don't believe that any of the early coalitions intentionally excluded any Christians from participation in their coalitions. I think that, as I have assumed, that those who founded them believed that Christians had more of a consensus on social and moral issues in the U.S. than they may have had. Now, if you are looking for a way to disprove my assumption and you can prove that it was intentional on the part of the early coalitions, any of them, to exclude a part of the Body of Christ then I would, of course, like to see that proof. I don't pretend to know everything, believe it or not, and always welcome an opportunity to learn.

Regards, Jacke

wildwest said...

The problem, Jacke, is that your vagueness makes it impossible to prove or disprove anything. If I tell you that the Christian Coalition describes itself as "the largest and most active conservative grassroots political organization in America" (and it does: http://www.cc.org/about.cfm , you can say "I didn't say them specifically." If I refer to statements about its parent organization Moral Majority (you might read *With God On Our Side* by William Martin if you haven't), you could say you weren't talking about them specifically. But here goes (from p. 207): [Bill Godsey, member of Thomas Road Baptist Church]: "I don't think he [Jerry Falwell] really disliked Jimmy Carter personally, but Carter practiced a version of Christianity that, if you used the term 'liberal,' you would probably be close to what he was, and that was not popular with evangelicals and fundamentalists. That got him into trouble with Jerry and the people who were with him at that particular time." How inclusive was that? And now Christians like Carter are calling themselves "progressive." They were there all along. From p. 204: [Jerry Falwell announces] that Moral Majority was a political organization, not a religious one, and that we welcomed Jews and Catholics and Protestants and Mormons and even non-religious people who shared our views on the family and abortion, strong national defense, and Israel..." First and foremost a political organization, and one that does not smile on Christians who do not share their dispensational view of Israel, though it smiles on sympathetic unbelievers.

Of course I cannot disprove anything that you say, because you have deliberately left your claim so vague it could be a reference to the National Association of Evangelicals, for all I know. That organization, I am guessing, is probably not overtly political. Or it could be the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but I doubt it. That one is much older than Moral Majority, but it is progressive. Or one of Moral Majority's many predecessor organizations like the American Council of Christian Churches, the Church League of America, the American Council of Christian Laymen, the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade, Campus Crusade for Christ, the Religious Roundtable.

In any case, I remain unconvinced by your statement because you haven't backed it up with anything other than your general impression.

I have no argument with your statements on economics, although I vote differently from you. For all I know your statements may be sound. Economics is not my area. I could be very wrong in my opinions in that area. But when you set as a foundation for your other statements the notion that the first modern Christian coalitions were purely Christian and not partisan and then "Progressive" Christians came along and were the divisive ones without even naming the original coalitions, you raise a red flag and cause me to ask for clarification. When it is not forthcoming, I smell equivocation. Such statements do not convince me of anything.

I love a good argument, Jacke, but I'm afraid you haven't even made your case. :-)

Jacke M. said...

wildwest,

Thank you for your considerate argument. I didn't claim a particular coalition for a reason, because, as I pointed out in my previous comment to you I ASSUMED that the original Christian coalitions were set up, not as "Conservative" Christian groups but all encompassing Christian groups.

What I am interested in is not what those groups have evolved into, meaning that the label of "Conservative" in association with Christian is now an accepted title, as much as I'd like it if that weren't so, my interests lie in the motivation at the BEGINNING of the coalitions. Not upon later statements made after they have evolved for many years. I partly base my assumption on the fact that we have generic titles like merely "Christian Coalition," "Moral Majority," etc.
Do you understand what I mean?

I do think that these groups have morphed into largely conservative groups and am not arguing with you on that point. I'll tell you what, when I get time, and that's not today, I'll look into it and see if I can find the ORIGINAL mission statements of the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, K?

wildwest said...

Sounds good. I tried looking for those mission statements myself without success earlier today.

Jacke M. said...

wildwest,

You will find my response under the topic of:

A Progressive Christian Motto?
"Judge Not Lest We Judge You for Judging"

:)