Saturday, March 28, 2009

Post No. 97: Jesus Christ and the Republicans



In our last post, we invited our readers to examine an article by a university professor entitled, “What Makes People Vote Republican?

Although the title may have suggested that it was about Republican Party members, by examining their views, the author distinguished and articulated the views of members of the Democratic Party, or at least as he sees them.

We recently asked our readers to submit possible topics for discussion, and we received a very good response. Thank you. We had to choose one for our first topic, and we will present the others later, down the road.

You will recall that in a post last year, we examined whether Jesus Christ would have discriminated against people who engaged in activities which might have been deemed inappropriate or unacceptable by the Church.

One of our regular readers presented us with a topic for discussion which raises similar issues. The following is the question:

“In recent times, conservative Christians, particularly evangelicals, have played a significant role in formulating and articulating the core values of conservative/Republican politics in this country. Taking into consideration the conservative economic values, and the conservative geo-political agenda, are they consistent with the teachings and practices of Jesus Christ?”

We have purposefully chosen not to delineate or define the "economic values" and "geo-political agenda" to which the reader refers. We'll leave that up to you.

19 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Why apples and oranges? You start with "conservative Christians" and move to economics. They do not equate. Not as far as core values are concerned. The primary influence conservative Christians appear to have on Republicans are in core social values. That is, on subjects such as gay marriage, abortion, sex outside of marriage, and so on. I can't think of any economic values that are directly related to both Republican and conservative Christian core values. About the only thing that might be involved could be the matter of state or church run charitable organizations. I would imagine that Jesus wouldn't care who ran them so either way might be consistent.

    And, if I may be so bold to ask, what exactly is the "conservative geo-political agenda"?

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  3. Logistician,

    Perhaps I am unqualified to weigh in on this topic. As a conservative Christian, I don't believe that Jesus taught us the sort of profligacy which is practiced today by many professed Christians. However, I seem to be in the minority.

    As far as goes the geopolitical aspect, that is a bit thornier. Jesus preached tolerance and forgiveness in his New Covenant philosophy, but when the vendors and money-changers violated the sanctity of the temple even Jesus resorted to aggressive behavior toward the defilers, though they had not threatened violence to anyone.

    Today, we live in a world with those who confront Christians and Jews with a convert-or-die ultimatum -- and have offered us some pretty convincing "demonstrations" of their commitment to the “philosophy”. How would Jesus have responded to such uncalled-for aggression? Would he have turned the other cheek and allowed them to roll over his followers? Or would he have resorted to some Old Testament poxing, plaguing and smiting to stop them?

    Lest I be accused of preaching, let me say that I do not pretend to know the Lord's mind -- and I am all-too-aware that, in various ways, I fall short of His favorable judgment each and every day. What I believe and what I profess "feels right" to me, but I certainly don't pretend to declare it to be a certainty.

    Jeff Dreibus

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  4. The primary influence conservative Christians appear to have on Republicans are in core social values.

    So you vote for George W. Bush on the basis of "core social values" and get little-to-no movement on those issues, along with an illegal war of aggression in the Middle East. Pro-lifers who voted for Bush were repaid by getting an expansion of death, albeit in another arena. The war in the Middle East is an expression of the conservative geo-political agenda.

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  5. Talk about timeliness. Today, at 4 pm EDST, on C-Span2 Book TV, there a debate aired about the parameters of tolerance and the global understanding of human rights. Slavoj Zizek, author of "Violence," and Bernard-Henri Levy, author of "Left in Dark Times," will participate in the debate.

    Henri-Levy is critical of what he contends are liberals' misinformed concepts of tolerance. Zizek examines how violence is perceived, and questions whether capitalism and civilization encourage greater violence.

    The discussion takes place at the New York Public Library.

    http://www.booktv.org/program.aspx?ProgramId=9817&SectionName=Politics&PlayMedia=No

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  6. Jeff: Nice framing of the issues. You strike us primarily as a "thinking" person, not primarily as an "emotional" person. It doesn't matter which side of the aisle on which you sit.

    Quite frankly, none of us is qualified to "run off at the mouth," like we frequently do on this blog, with the writers included.

    The best that we can do is to constantly question the foundations for our beliefs, challenge ourselves, entertain the views of others who might assist in that regard, and pursue further information, even if, upon reviewing it, it rocks the foundations of our beliefs.

    That's the essence of education.

    Every day.

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  7. Jesus said, "Resist not evil." He also said, "My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingdom is not from the world." He said many other things, along those same lines; things about his ability to call on his Father to send legions of angels in his defense. But he made no such call.
    He also told the rich young man that he lacked only one thing that would qualify him to be a disciple: he must sell all that he owned and give the proceeds to the poor. Then he could follow Him.
    We can't do any of these things. We can't even conceive of not practicing self-defense, or of giving away our last penny. We don't often take the opportunity to go the second mile when forced to go the first, or to also give our shirt when our coat is demanded of us.
    We don't strive for perfection as He commanded us to do.
    But we could, at the very least, not back wars of aggression. We could pay our taxes, a goodly percentage of which go to support the needy, without grumbling that "it's MY money!" We could give to feed the hungry without first calculating whether the hunger was their own damn fault, according to some formula by which to identify those "deserving" of our aid.
    Here is what I believe the true formula to be: NEED CREATES OBLIGATION. Period. Full stop.

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  8. I did not see your comment before now, but thank you very much for a nice comment:)

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  9. Rodak, it might behoove you to consider that this isn't about George W. Bush. I could easily say you voted for Barack Obama to get change and that change has turned out to be more of the same; huge spending, escalation of the wear in Afghanistan, and a concerted effort by an administration to suppress criticism.

    But I won't.

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  10. Of course it's about George W. Bush. He was the twice-elected leader--with signficant support from conservative Christians--of the Republican/conservative constituency. He, along with Mssrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld, was the architect of the neoconservative geopolitical agenda that has us mired in a futile and illegal war of aggression in Iraq. And he was the presidential candidate who cited Jesus as his favorite "political philosopher (sic). How is this not about George W. Bush?
    And, as for Barack Obama (for whom you correctly assume that I voted), he is the current leader of those political forces now arrayed in opposition to the failed conservative troops, now cornered and snarling and looking for some way to break free.
    Obama has been in office for just over two months. I am not at all happy with his escalation of the war in Afghanistan. I think that it is pure folly. I personally could care less about the fate of Osama bin Laden. I'm not convinced that he is even still alive. If he is, the way to bring him to justice would be with good police work, not with an invading army. My support for Obama is tenuous, at best.
    But, go ahead and talk about him. My take is that liberal/left politics is closer to the Christian spirit than is conservative/right politics, in that the political left concerns itself very much with the needs of the disadvantaged and alienated, while the political right concerns itself primarily with the property rights of the established money/power elites. If Obama lets himself be permanently distracted in a snipe hunt for bin Laden in the mountains of Pakistan, he'll be a one-term president.

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  11. Yes, Rodak, I am sure you are very sincere in your beliefs. I have met you many times, in many places, with many names. Not you personally, of course, we have never really met. But I have known a number of people just like you. I was almost like you once, in fact.

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  12. Swell argument, Douglas. Is that all you've got?

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  13. I do not wish to argue. I wish to discuss. Reasonably and rationally with more than emotion to express.

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  14. Douglas-
    I presented a rather lenghty, multifaceted discussion at 3:54 and at 9:01 p.m. yesterday. Your response was bascially, "I've got your number, dude." So, you wish to discuss me? I'm pretty sure that nobody is interested in that topic.

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  15. You'd be exactly right about that, Rodak.

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  16. Tonight, Sunday, at 9:00 pm EDST, C-Span2 Book TV will air a book discussion featuring author Harry Stein, and his book, "I Can't Believe that I am Sitting Next to a Republican."

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  17. You'd be exactly right about that, Rodak.

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  18. I did not see your comment before now, but thank you very much for a nice comment:)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Jesus said, "Resist not evil." He also said, "My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingdom is not from the world." He said many other things, along those same lines; things about his ability to call on his Father to send legions of angels in his defense. But he made no such call.
    He also told the rich young man that he lacked only one thing that would qualify him to be a disciple: he must sell all that he owned and give the proceeds to the poor. Then he could follow Him.
    We can't do any of these things. We can't even conceive of not practicing self-defense, or of giving away our last penny. We don't often take the opportunity to go the second mile when forced to go the first, or to also give our shirt when our coat is demanded of us.
    We don't strive for perfection as He commanded us to do.
    But we could, at the very least, not back wars of aggression. We could pay our taxes, a goodly percentage of which go to support the needy, without grumbling that "it's MY money!" We could give to feed the hungry without first calculating whether the hunger was their own damn fault, according to some formula by which to identify those "deserving" of our aid.
    Here is what I believe the true formula to be: NEED CREATES OBLIGATION. Period. Full stop.

    ReplyDelete

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