Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why Jim Wallis Is Still Dangerous

More than any backwoods Tennessee preacher, Jim Wallis will tell you how God wants you to vote.

For amusement, see what they do with people with contrary positions over at Sojouners. They very politely and kindly, with great earnestness, inform you that your position is not what Jesus wants.

A Christian over at TCSDaily takes him apart here. The money quote from Wallis:
"When Jesus tells us he will regard the way we treat the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner as if we were treating him that way, it likely means he wouldn't think capital gains tax cuts for the wealthy and food stamp cuts for the poor represent the best domestic policy."

18 comments:

jw said...

Wallis and crowd are as strongly left as Dobson and crowd are right. Neither represents Christianity, rather both represent a portion of Christianity.

One of the things we need to do to get our child abuse rate down is to include battered men in all DV actions and programs. We need to stop the policy of giving children to violent women. Wallis is opposed to doing that, so is Dobson. How then does either represent Christianity?

They're do not. They represent a portion of Christianity.

Mike Austin said...

Wallis represents nothing of Christianity but the words. He is a toady of the worst sort, trotted out by pagans who then claim to have a Godly man with them.

The Carpenter warned us 2000 years ago about ones such as he, a false prophet.

Wallis worships the state. His prescriptions for 'reform' rely upon the state. He is as much a Christian as a Gore or a Clinton, both of whom prance around mouthing Biblical platitudes.

Christians are to pray for the gift of discernment, the ability to see the real behind the forgery. No real Christian could possible fooled by such a Pharisee as Wallis.

cold pizza said...

Christ did not expect the Roman state or the Jewish council to take care of the poor in Jerusalem. It was up for each individual to take the steps necessary to develop the empathy necessary to act willingly and selflessly. It's not the government's job to take care of the poor--it's up to the individual to take care of his neighbor.

By abdicating our "Christian" responsibilities to the government, we get to feel smug that "someone" will take care of the problem while we get to go about our own business.

Remember, the good Samaritan wasn't a government bureaucrat but an ordinary person who took the steps necessary to take care of the stranger he found along his way. -cp

bs king said...

Would I be correct in drawing the conclusion that (in general) opponents of Wallace dislike him for what he's for, but his supporters like him for what he's against? In examining my own feelings and the previous comments, that seems to be the case. I'm curious about anyone's thoughts on that....

terri said...

I don't know much about Wallis personally to dare to call him "dangerous," but, I do think that so often christians think that the Republican party is God's party.

God did expect the Jewish state to provide for the poor. One of the reasons listed for the loss of the kingdom and the conquering by Babylon was because of the lack of justice for the poor, widows, and orphans. Read Jeremiah and Isaiah. It also describes Israel's streets as being full of innocent blood.

We are still to use our personal resources also to help others.

Terri

copithorne said...

I've noted before that you are an odd duck of a christian who is unable to discern concrete political or ethical applications of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Is starting war wrong? Who can say?

Is stealing money from children ethical? It's hard to tell.

Is torture consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ? I'd have to leave that to the scholars.

Is prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy over aid to the poor consistent with our responsibilities as Christians? It isn't for me to say.

Later, you'll judge others for moral relativism.

While no one can speak for God, many Christians will find it worthwhile to try to apply the teachings of Jesus Christ to concrete ethical questions.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

copithorne, you completely misrepresent what I have said in the past; and you do it in the same way every time.

"Is starting war wrong?" You have begged the question with the word "starting."

"Is stealing money from children ethical?" You again beg the question by equating your economic belief with "not stealing" and your disputants as "stealing."

You reframe what your opponents say into something that is easier for you to dispute. I honestly don't know if you are intentionally twisting what I say or simply unable to understand it.

bsking and terri, I have heard and will answer as best I can at a later point. Other matters press at present.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Bethany and terri, I will put my answer in a new post.

Anonymous said...

Terri:

I disagree. I don't believe God expected the Jewish "state" to help others - he expected the Jewish people to help others. Before Saul was king, the Israelites were not ruled, but "judged" by judges. That is the way God had intended it. Under this form of "government", it is not possible for the "state" to take on such responsibilities as helping the poor. In fact, the state couldn't even muster an army, if the individual families and tribes did not provide the soldiers.

The rules that He established, and the customs that the Israelites followed, made it necessary to help others who were less off than themselves. It was only after Israel became a Kingdom that the troubles with helping others became a problem - and also when it became most difficult to muster an army of men willing to fight.

My point is, God's chosen government for the Israelites would not have had the ability to help the helpless. It was clearly up to the people - family, friends, neighbors, communities, and tribes.

---BubbaB

bs king said...

BubbaB- Wasn't the year of Jubilee a state construct? Or are you making the argument that we shouldn't compare a theocracy to our current system of government? Or another point entirely? (To note, I am just asking...I hadn't thought to much about it until now)

terri said...

Bubba B...

Uh....yes it was. The people were the Jewish state. When harvesting they were expected not to harvest everything. They were to leave enough for the poor to come and glean out of the fields to feed themselves. They were not to charge interest when loaning to each other. They were to release any Hebrew slaves they owned in the seventh year. There are all sorts of financial and social laws that God set up to provide for His people. The problem was...they didn't follow them most of the time. Of course, that's the whole point of Jesus. Nobody could follow them all. However, that does not eliminate the principles behind the Law. God expected his people as a whole and individually to care for those who could not provide for themselves.

Judges...uh this was not a good time in Israel's history. Every time soemthing really horrific happens in Judges it usually is followed by..."and the people did what was right in their own eyes."

The judges were inconsistent in their leadership and the tribes of Israel didn't always look out for each other. I am thinking specifically of the tribe of Bemnjamin.

God foreknew that Israel would eventually have kings. How else could you explain the sectionsof Leviticus? or maybe its Deuteronomy in which He speaks about the king not hoarding horses and other wealth?

Just a thought.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The distinction we would now make between people and government essentially did not exist then. You can make a case that the people were judged for the actions of the government, or governments for the actions of the people, because the numbers were comparitively small and the organization tribal.

The people that Jesus spoke to did not have much political power, and the NT only addresses the interaction of the state and the church in a few places. Not until a few centuries later, when the Church became a power and then the power did much theology grow up around what the responsibilities of the state were. And right away, people disagreed about that.

One can argue, as those of liberal bent do, that we are commanded to care for the poor; that government is the most efficient way to do this; that we thus should be influencing the government to care for the poor.

Or you can argue, as conservatives tend to (I greatly oversimplify both positions here), that the function of government is to provide justice, and the church's to provide mercy. In this framing, for either to step over into the realm of the other is to undermine both.

Intriguingly, liberals often frame issues of mercy as "justice." Conservatives frame issues of mercy as crueler in the long run.

I note that the rise of dependence on government coincides very frequently with loss of religious practice. The standard explanation is that the people learn to depend on the state for what they should turn to God for. I don't know if that is actually why it happens, but it is important to recognize that it does happen.

Anonymous said...

bs king, terri:

The things you listed (Year of Jubilee, rules about the poor gleaning from the crops, usury, etc.) are Levitical Laws. In general, Levitical Laws were not enforceable by the state OR the people. (The exceptions were those laws enforceable by death: Adultery, Murder, etc.) They were, however, enforceable by God (as a few who touched the Ark of the Covenant found out.)

"The State" did not come into existence until Saul became King. (I guess you could argue that Moses and Joshua were administrators of the state, but the laws were still enforced primarily by God Himself. "The ground swallowed them up", etc.) The individuals who comprised the nation had laws, which told them how to act. My argument is: Except for divine interaction, and capital offenses, there was no enforcement of those laws. That would be the responsibility of "The State."

Your point that "the Israelites did what was right in their own eyes" is a good one. However, the time of the Judges was between 200 and 400 years long, depending on whose numbers you go by. From the point in time when Saul became king, to the point where the kingdom split in two, was about 120 year (IIRC.) So, the amount of unified time under kings was probably half as long as the amount of time under judges. To the Israelites, the state represented a source of strength outside of God, as AVI pointed out. They went from viewing the king as God's appointed, to being God's equal - things go to heck in a handbasket from there...

Of course God foresaw the existence of kings over Israel!! That does not mean it was his chosen government. He gave the people a king when they begged Him for a king.

I agree that we as believers have a responsibility to help others in need. I question the assertion that "the state" has the same responsibility. A fine point: II Chronicles 7:14 does not say, "If the nation that My people are in..." It says, "If My people, who are called by My Name..." We are believers - we are held to the standards - not the state, and not the rest of the country.

---BubbaB

terri said...

Bubba B....if you want to get technical...The "judge" system wasn't God's exact idea either. When Moses was leading the people of Israel, they came to him with their problems and complaints. He was supposed to decide. His father-in-law was very concerned about it wearing him out and gave Moses a few suggestions.

In reality, God was supposed to be the ruler and his people were to live by his laws, some of which were enforced by his priests and Levites. It was supposed to be a Theocracy.

Yes, the Israelites made a big mistake by chooosing a king.

However, my general point is that God does expect communities of people to follow certain patterns of behavior for the common good of all.

Your distinction between the community and the individual really does not exist in the Old Testament. The entire population of Israel is considered "My people." The fates of the faithful and the unfaithful were tied up together. When Joseph became a leader in Egypt his actions led to the benefit of not only his family, but all of Egypt. God sends rain upon the righteous and the wicked.


This is really important in our country because supposedly we are a government made up "of the people, by the people, and for the people." We are the governement and should not be ashamed to implement measures that are for the good of all. Of course the goverment is not our "savior," nor should it be. That doesn't mean that it can't be a useful tool.

anyway...that's a little longwinded..

Terri

Anonymous said...

Terri:

I think, for the sake of AVI's bandwidth, that we should agree to disagree. I don't believe that God held the state responsible for those things that were the responsibility of the individuals.

By the way, thanks for the debate. It was very refreshing to debate such a subject with someone who is intelligent and knowledgeable of the OT.

---BubbaB

terri said...

Bubba B...thanks...sure we can disagree...no problem.

Terri

copithorne said...

I believe starting wars is wrong. I am influenced by my religious faith. Do you believe that starting wars is wrong? You haven't been able to say.

I believe that stealing money from children is wrong. I am influenced by my religious faith. Do you believe that stealing money from children is wrong? You haven't been able to say.

I believe that torture is wrong. I am influenced by my religious faith. Do you believe that torture is wrong? You haven't been able to say.

And I given a choice between allocating money for food stamps and tax cuts for the wealthy, I believe that allocating money for food stamps is more consistent with Christian values. You say that you are unable to understand Christian values with that kind of clarity.

I don't believe that this sort of moral reasoning is all that difficult. But you have retreated into a realm of abstraction in which things which are clear are made opaque.

bobby b said...

"God did expect the Jewish state to provide for the poor."
- - - -

Well, that was timely. Has anyone let Obama know about this yet?