Monday, March 07, 2011

It's the Evangelicals vs. Jesus

Here's a good one from The Hufifngton Post:
It is perhaps one of the strangest, most dumb-founding ironies in contemporary American culture. Evangelical Christians, who most fiercely proclaim to have a personal relationship with Christ, who most confidently declare their belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, who go to church on a regular basis, pray daily, listen to Christian music, and place God and His Only Begotten Son at the center of their lives, are simultaneously the very people most likely to reject his teachings and despise his radical message.
Yep. The Huffington Post. (Thanks to Peter C for the link on this one.) Here's some more:
Jesus unambiguously preached mercy and forgiveness. These are supposed to be cardinal virtues of the Christian faith. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of the death penalty, draconian sentencing, punitive punishment over rehabilitation, and the governmental use of torture.

Jesus exhorted humans to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent. And yet Evangelicals are the group of Americans most supportive of easy-access weaponry, little-to-no regulation of handgun and semi-automatic gun ownership, not to mention the violent military invasion of various countries around the world.

Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one's money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation's poor -- especially poor children.

They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training -- anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do.

In short, Evangelicals are that segment of America which is the most pro-militaristic, pro-gun, and pro-corporate, while simultaneously claiming to be most ardent lovers of the Prince of Peace.

What's the deal? (queried article author Phil Zuckerman)
Anybody??? Thoughts? Opinions? Reactions? What IS the deal? While you're thinking, here's Dr. Zuckerman's conclusion:
Of course, conservative Americans have every right to support corporate greed, militarism, gun possession, and the death penalty, and to oppose welfare, food stamps, health care for those in need, etc. -- it is just strange and contradictory when they claim these positions as somehow "Christian." They aren't.


JCF said...

I'm afraid I wasn't as impressed as you were, Susan.

It's one thing to make a CASE for Jesus the Socialist---it's another to ASSUME it, and deem all opposition "obviously wrong."

These aren't Christians writing the article. They're secular leftists appealing to the leftist message they see in Jesus's teachings...

...which I see too, but because I *am* a Christian, I have enough humility (I hope!) to know I don't have a PRAYER of living Jesus's teachings without what the authors snarkily call "his magical grace" (and I suspect they're being equally ironic when they refer to "shedding his precious blood").

Don't get me wrong: I always say, "If you're going to EITHER follow or worship Jesus, FOLLOWING him is The Way to go!"...

...but truly, it's not an Either/Or. I try (in my entirely inadequate way) to live the Gospel, AND I eat Jesus, out of my devout NEED.

I just don't think this article is going to accomplish very much (besides hardening positions).

Have a blessed Lent!

Just Me said...

Well you asked ;-)

Honestly, I think anyone can put words out there to make anyone "look bad". The title of the post is very telling in itself. Someone could very easily change "evangelicals" to "liberals" and run from there. The liberals would freak out and claim it's all lies and how the other side of the "versus" just doesn't get it.

We all have the opportunity to read how the muslims are tyrants who want us all dead. Someone would write a reactional piece about how you can't judge an entire group because of the actions of a "few".

Same principle applies here.

Honestly, now that I think about it; I don't have any desire to retort the "why and how". Let's be honest, it would just begin another conversation of two "versus" talking past each other. All I can say is that the generalizations made in this article is nothing more than another attempt to widen the chasm known as "us versus them".

Cafe Pasadena said...

If only were just the Evangelicals who had issue with Jesus Christ!!

JC certainly was from another planet.


What attracted to me to it is not that I think he makes a definitive case ... although I agree with alot of what he has to say ... but that the Religious Right doesn't own the "WWJD" question.

And it's certainly not as black-and-white divide when it comes to "evangelicals" ... check out what Jim Wallis & Sojourners has to say.


Here's the other quote I liked ... (and BTW our All Saints Lent Event is titled "Giving Up Religion for Lent") ...

"In addition to such historical developments, there may very well simply be an underlying, all-too-human social-psychological process at root, one that probably plays itself out among all religious individuals: they see in their religion what they want to see, and deny or despise the rest. That is, religion is one big Rorschach test. People look at the content of their religious tradition -- its teachings, its creeds, its prophet's proclamations -- and they basically pick and choose what suits their own secular outlook. They see in their faith what they want to see as they live their daily lives, and simultaneously ignore the rest. And as is the case for most White Evangelical Christians, what they are ignoring is actually the very heart and soul of Jesus's message -- a message that emphasizes sharing, not greed. Peace-making, not war-mongering. Love, not violence."

danielj said...

I too agree that the article was rather over the top. But it does arise from the case that there is something amiss with much of christianity.

Far too much energy has been expended in regard to creating a religion around, and 'about' Jesus...and not enough energy aimed at proclaiming the way and theology 'of' Jesus.

This is a problem not exclusive to evangelicals, and some of the young in those circles are starting to move in a new direction i.e. the red letter Christianity movement.

And the problem is long the time of the creeds, we have a Jesus who is mostly a 'directly from the womb to the tomb' sort of figure...worshiped, but not necesarily listened to.

We see it every week in the N. creed. After mapping out the approved trinitarian christology, we have primarily a 'born of the virgin; suffered death; rised to the right hand, come again in glory...' Jesus who didn't say anything.

The creed would have been much better, (and Christianity much less violent historically), if the boys back then had included in the creed some Jesus teaching.

it is like having a sandwich; two pieces of bread, with no meat in the middle. And I feel that much of our religion has mistaken the bread... to be the meat.

but that's just me
blessing danielj

JCF said...

Well said, danielj.

danielj said...

Dear JCF thank you very much bro. I have been sayin' this stuff for 30+ is so nice to finally hear first an 'attaboy' instead of the usual 'heretic'

the Lord be with you danielj

David and John said...

While I agree that the article was a little "over-the-top", the fact remains that it asks questions that make it pretty darn hard to reconcile ultra-conservative politics with the Christian faith.

Unknown said...

There is a major deficiency in the Creeds: they only state the issues that were in dispute. The fourth century Church fathers saw no need to state what they already agreed upon, that is: the very life of the One we are supposed to be following and emulating.

In the Creeds, he is born and then he dies. There is a “hole in the donut.”

One of our priests found a summary of Jesus’ life composed by a Roman priest-poet, designed to fill the "hole." Just putting the recorded details of Jesus’ life and a summary of his teachings seems to ground the elevated, theological and doctrinal language in the realities of a ministry we are trying to emulate:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human.

He was baptized in water and the Holy Spirit,
then went about announcing to all that the reign of God had arrived.
He associated with the lowly and poor,
Eating with sinners and outcasts
And forgiving their sins with compassion.
He called his disciples to daily take up their crosses and follow him,
Denying their very selves, reforming their lives.
His disciples were to pray constantly
And to forgive each other without end.
For Jesus, the greatest commandments are:
To love God with all our heart, mind, and body,
And to love our neighbors as ourselves.
At table, on the night before his death,
He gave away his body and blood to redeem all
In a meal of his new covenant,
A meal to be kept by his disciples in remembrance of him.

(Fr. Edward M Hays: "Psalms for Zero Gravity," adapt.)

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

Doesn't that feel more complete?


Jim said...

Jesus certainly is a problem for the evangelicals. The article called to mind the story of the newly ordained curate who very tentatively approached the rector after attending Sunday mass for the first time. He said, "Father, I am not sure how to tell you this but I am fairly sure Jesus did not say some of the things you mentioned in your homily." The rector replied, "Hush now Father! He would have said them if he had all the facts!"


danielj said...

aaaaahhhhh,..that is some much better now! thank you Wayne for this most excellent donut hole! I have copied it to my HD for my files. Oh that i had authority in the Church; i would definately be putting this up at the next GC for consideration.


Nicole Porter said...

Daniel, you shouldn't even stop there! While you're at it you should make a case for the Church to have its own version of the scriptures like the Mormons and JWs. You guys could get rid of the so called "battering passages" once and for all. Or perhaps it's better to replace the Bible as it is now with just two words, "Anything goes", because that how most of our fellow Episcopalians feel now that I've seen on this blog and a few others. Wouldn't that be GRAND!?