SHOULD CHRISTIANS PARTICIPATE IN POLITICS?

There are Christians who want nothing to do with politics. They consider it a worldly matter and much too underhanded. So they avoid having anything to do with politics. When there is nothing in the Bible to justify such an attitude that’s a shame.

Consider The Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told the parable to illustrate what it means to love our neighbors. He told of a Jew who had been beaten, robbed, and left to die. He told of the Samaritan who rescued that Jew.

What if Jesus had told a different tale? What if the Samaritan had arrived just as the robbery was taking place? What if that Samaritan had drawn his sword and helped the Jew fight off the robbers? Would that have made his concern for his neighbor too worldly — too political? Is the soldier or the policeman who defends his fellow citizens from wrongdoers too worldly — too political? If we act to prevent a robbery are we being unChristian? If we are Christians, can we only help our neighbors after thieves have beaten and robbed them? Did Jesus actually suggest any such thing? Then where do we get such nonsense?

Does the confusion come from Matthew 10:16?

Matthew 10:16 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

To be as innocent as doves, do we have to refrain from politics? Did Jesus’ disciples refrain from all political acts? Didn’t the Jews of that day live under a theocracy? When Jesus established a new covenant, were the Jewish leaders wrong to regard that as a political act? Perhaps. Yet they did, and Jesus knew they would.

Does the confusion come from John 13:34-35?

John 13:34-35 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Is it an act of hatred to take part in politics? What if the Golden Rule dictates your political beliefs?

Matthew 7:12 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Does the confusion come from John 15:19?

John 15:19 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Yet Jesus told us what to do in Matthew 22:15-22.

Matthew 22:15-22 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

We cannot rightfully make Caesar our god. If our political beliefs cause us to render unto Caesar what rightfully belongs to God, then we have sinned. We have idolized Caesar. And if we take for our God what rightfully is Caesar’s, then we sin. We steal from our neighbor his right to seek and find God without our interference.

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About Citizen Tom

I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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88 Responses to SHOULD CHRISTIANS PARTICIPATE IN POLITICS?

  1. wdednh says:

    All of the Bible is one political manifesto, in conjunction of being a spiritual guidance and true living word of God. So yes to your question from me, However i just got the following comment on my blog : This was a comment on the post I re-posted via my blog called “1ST NATIONAL PUBLIC NEWSPAPER TO CALL FOR IMPEACHMENT! (via Randy’s Right) (via My Blog)”
    “This is a joke right? I’ve tried my best to not comment on the political stuff because I like the spiritual post, but I couldn’t keep quiet anymore. And please don’t assume you know what I voted for. I am an African American female conservative. But I do think your site is over the top at times. It’s really a shame because I’ve enjoyed many of the post, but I must however unsubscribe.

    Republican and Tea Party is not synonymous with Godly. Trust me I get it. I do not agree with many of President Obama’s policies either. It’s been nice!!! Bye!”

  2. Citizen Tom says:

    Interesting comment, but it seems like an overreaction. It is not as if you or Jeffrey T. Kuhner, the author of the that newspaper column, said God wants us to impeach Obama.

    I suspect what alarmed the lady is the call to impeach an African American president. It is a shame our first black president has to be such a scoundrel. Unfortunately, it seems too many people voted for Obama just because he is black.

    Will Obama be impeached? Probably not, but in an earlier time no one with his political record and philosophy could have been elected — white, black, yellow, red, or green and from Mars. For the most excellent of reasons, the American people had no stomach for socialism. Socialism is just an excuse to use the power of government to rob people.

    While I agree the Bible clearly has political consequences, I suspect calling it a political manifesto will confuse people. Oddly enough, that is because we have become too thoroughly accustomed to our Christian heritage. We too easily accept the political consequences of Christianity as the norm. Thus, most Americans don’t realize that our ancestors’ acceptance of Christ’s teachings had political consequences. We fail to rigorously compare America with pre-Christian societies and non-Christian societies, look at the differences, and ask why.

    Nevertheless, as Christians, we cannot point to the Bible, announce a political policy, and claim God is on our side. The Bible does not provide rules for government, and it does not provides any of us the authority to speak for God. We can, however, do our best to study the Bible, try to be on God’s side and obey His commands. And that is what the men who framed our Constitution did.

  3. More true Christians need to be involved in politics.

    • AMEN! If more believers had been involved in the political actions of our nation through the ages, we certainly would not be in the mess we’re in now! The moral vacuum we see in America today is a direct result of moral people refusing to be involved in civic affairs. I hope we can reverse this vacuum!

      “It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare.” ~ Edmund Burke

  4. righthook38 says:

    I work with several people who DID vote for Obama because he’s black, so they naturally assume that if you did NOT vote for him, it was for the same reason. I find that offensive, but not surprisingly anymore. It’s weird to me that some people would automatically assume that about me, but that’s because their minds just think of everything in terms of race. Obama was supposed to change all of that, but he, in fact, has made it worse.

    I think we do need more Christians involved in politics. That’s been the problem. We have plenty of liberals speaking out, but not many conservatives, until the last few years. Just by watching the media, one would think our country is liberal, but it’s really not. We’re still a conservative country, but our conservative voices have not been heard, until now….and liberals are doing everything they can to drown us out.

  5. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom,

    Reasonable people can disagree on the role of government and still be reasonable, moral and yes, Christian, on both sides of the political debate. By casting your side in the mantle of Christian self righteousness, you necessarily demonize the other side. President Obama can’t just be an inherently good person who is trying to compromise between two competing but imperfect political philosophies, if he doesn’t completely agree with your side, then he must be evil, despite the fact that the President was duly elected, he must be illegitimate.

    What happened to the brother that I once had who could see the other side of the issue, even switch sides and argue that side if he felt that others were not appreciating both points of view? What happened to the brother who might vehemently disagree with your point of view but he gave you the benefit of the doubt when it came to whether you were a basically good person or not? What happened to the brother who used to warn us not to demonize the other side just because we disagreed on matters of process. I miss that guy.

    • Hey Tony
      I don’t dislike Obama because he is black, I could care less what skin color he is. I dislike him becuase he has told so many lies and broken so many promises. If you doubt this simply google the lies of obama and the broken promises of Obama. We rightly threw out Bush Sr for ONE BROKEN PROMISE read my lips, no new taxes.

      I concur with MLK who said judge a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. Not only that he tells the American public to sacrifice and he has travelled more on AF 1 than any previous president at a cost to the tax payers of $841,000. an hour
      He has taken more vacations and played more golf than any previousl president. He formed a debt commission and then ignored his own debt commissioins recommendations. I could go on and on here.
      John Wilder

  6. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – From our past conversations, I understand you do not think religion has any place in politics. If you do not want to bring your moral beliefs into the political sphere, that is your choice, but I have no idea how you intend to stop anyone else. You won’t say anything about religion? That is your choice. In fact, it is your responsibility to set the example you believe most approppriate. You won’t let anyone else talk about why they believe what they believe? What gives you that right?

  7. Tony Salmon says:

    Actually, I do believe that religion has a place in politics. I just don’t think that it should “replace” politics. I think that our Christian sentiments for love and compassion should balance our more practical selfish needs for peace, prosperity and security. However, I also think that it is immoral, hypocritical and ultimately dangerous to democracy to dress up any imperfect political philosophy in the guise of God given immutability just so you can sanctify your side of what is essentially a philosophical argument and demonize the other side. Something that starts out as a practical debate about how to strike the right balance to resolve real governing issues in the best way to meet our common moral goals then degrades into balkanized theological differences over how many angels God can sit on the head of a pin. There is no proving such things and there is no room for balance and compromise toward getting something that works as best as it can for governing in the imperfect world of competing goods that God created for is to live in. Once we decide that we are right in a political discussion because God told us we are exclusively right, the result can only be gridlock, demagoguery, intolerance and chaos.

    You may think that people of good will, Christian and non-Christian alike, who believe that government has a place in promoting social good and in helping out those in need doesn’t make for the best, most practical governing philosophy, but they are not immoral “thieves” who stand in violation of God’s law, and in my humble, very much mutable opinion, calling them such neither comports with good democratic government, nor does is it truly consistent with what Jesus taught. On the other hand, I am not and will never say that you don’t have a right to make such destructive accusations, and indeed, will defend to the death your right to spout such hypocrisy, just as I have a right to point it out for what it is.

  8. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – Look carefully at what I wrote in the post above. Then consider your comments. Your comment is not germane to what I wrote. Are you angry with what you believe about me or with what I believe? I suspect it is as much the former as the latter.

    As I said to wdednh in my reply to his comment, I do not think it is a good idea to call the Bible a political manifesto. What did Christ tell us?

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.

    Do any of us love God or neighbor perfectly? I know I don’t. Nonetheless, when we try doesn’t that has consequences? Even political consequences?

    Prior to Christianity, humans based government upon one simple, brutal concept: Might makes right. Jesus changed that. What does it mean to love God all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind? I don’t honestly know. I just know where I begin. I admit God is God, and I am not. If there is any good in me, it is because I submit my will to God’s will, not because I make anyone else do anything. What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? He gave us the Golden Rule.

    Do I think socialism is stealing? Yes? Do say socialism is stealing because God says it is stealing? No. I say socialism is stealing because it is stealing. Whether it is conducted by an individual or a mob with pretentions to giving us “our rights”, robbery is still robbery.

    So what is it you object to? Do you object to the belief that our rights are God-given? If that is where we differ, then our differences are profound, and that’s a pity.

  9. Tony Salmon says:

    Perhaps you are right and I am finding disagreement where there is none. What bothers me is this. You wrote:

    “Do I think socialism is stealing? Yes? Do say socialism is stealing because God says it is stealing? No. I say socialism is stealing because it is stealing. Whether it is conducted by an individual or a mob with pretentions to giving us “our rights”, robbery is still robbery.”

    Perhaps you are not on this occasion saying directly that God believes that politicians who tax you for government functions that you happen to disagree with are “stealing” from you, but don’t you believe that God has designated stealing as morally wrong? Doesn’t this lead to the obvious implication that politicians who tax you for government programs that you disagree with are per se in violation of God’s law. Are not people who knowingly violate God’s law necessarily evil? Isn’t that clearly the accusation that you are making? By doing this are you not de facto taking every honest political disagreement over the role of government in solving complex social problems and morphing them into a binary dilemma of black or white, good or evil, godly or devilish? Once you make the opposition necessarily immoral and sinful (and of course, yourself and your point of view religiously righteous) , people of good will cannot even have an honest disagreement anymore, they cannot find compromise and balance.

    The fact is that very few of these political issues really are at the simplified moral extremes that you want make them. Instead most issues are driven by complex circumstances and their solutions lie somewhere on a nuanced multi-dimensional continuum between oft competing social goods and social evils. In fashioning compromises and solutions, we are informed by our cultural traditions, our community mores, and our religious beliefs, but rarely is it actually a simple binary choice between good and evil.

    Let’s take a quick hypothetical. Suppose you are harboring a small family of Jewish refugees from the Nazis during WWII. The Nazis come to your house and ask you if you know where the Jews are. Lying is immoral and against God’s law, but is it immoral to lie to the Nazisin this case? What if they are threatening at gun point to kill your family and then each of your neighbors one at a time until you tell where the Jews are hiding? Do you then tell them? In the end, wouldn’t you balance the good verses the bad results of your actions and end up making some compromise that you think will do the most good, do the least harm? There is no absolutely right answer to most situational questions.

    Now multiply this situational moral dilemma hundred times, a thousand times and make the moral choices less stark, more complex and much more subject to moral and religious differences of opinion, and you then are talking about American politics. If you imagine every issue as a moral black and white dichotomy, all the grays and all the colors disappear, but you also don’t see the real picture anymore. If you cast every complex problem of competing moral goods into God verses Satan, it may simplify everything for you, but it leaves no room for very human, very imperfect compromise. Once you cast every choice into simple equations, don’t you necessarily demonize well meaning people on the other side?

  10. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – If we want to make something complicated, we can make it complicated. Socialism is not complicated. Socialism is stealing. Socialism is unconstitutional. Socialism does not work.

    Government exists to protect our rights. When we compromise that purpose by robbing Peter to pay Paul, we foolishlessly corrupt our government. When it is just plain silly to hand politicians money and to expect them to spend it properly, why bother?

    Look at history. Where has socialism worked for any significant length of time? You cannot find an example. It may take a few decades, but sooner or latter every socialist system either takes the people it is suppose to serve captive or it just plain fails.

    Want a simple example? Look at the video in my last post.

  11. Tony Salmon says:

    I don’t want to defend any absolute ideology. I don’t think that following any absolute or deterministic ideology works for long or all the time. The problem is that they all try to do what you are doing. They commit the logical falacy of attribution. They come up with a scheme to render a complex and contextual world into some simple structure and then they try to get everything that they see to conform to it.

    We have no successful purely socialistic countries in the world, but we also don’t have any successful totally free market societies in the world (unless you consider Somalia successful). However, we do have very successful countries (including our own) that vary greatly but do exist somewhere on a constantly changing continuum between totally free markets and total socialism.

  12. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony

    Genius is to take something complex and reduce it to an easily understood model. So please stop trying so hard to do the opposite.

    Boiled down to a few words, what is the Christian asked to do?

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.

    We do not force our neighbors to labor for someone else’s benefit, particularly our own benefit, because we love them. We do it because we are greedy.

    Until the Bible was widely printed, most people were slaves. Is a philosophy based upon love an absolute ideology? Frankly, I don’t know. What is an abolute ideology?

    Anyway, I am going for a walk. You have a good evening. Take care.

    Love,
    Tom

  13. Tony Salmon says:

    No, that’s not a deterministic scheme, not a political formula and not a set of dogmatic rules, It is just a hopeful and distant star shining at night on the ragged sea of life. We Christians do our best to steer by it, but the changing winds and seas rarely allows each of us a straight path. Although it is a lofty goal, one could not find a better code to measure our imperfect actions by, as long as we don’t presume that ours is the only measure. Love you too and hope you have a good walk.

    tony

  14. Tony Salmon says:

    One last note about the “genius” of oversimplifying a complex world. There once was a genius who thought he had reduced the complexity of economics and social systems to an ideological certainty. He was quite brilliant and his ideas brought about social revolutions and influenced the shape of governments in half the world for a while. But ultimately there were too many unknown and unexpected variables, too many unintended consequences, too many unforseen advances. In short, society was too diverse and too complex to be formulated into a formula. Although there was a great deal of charisma and truth in his scheme, ultimately it did not turn out anything close to what this genius predicted. His name was Karl Marx.

    You can have your “genius” theories to simplify a complex world. I would rather just recognize that there is no magical immutable formula to winning this unending, everchanging, complex game that we are playing and try to find the best practical and balanced, but albeit imperfect, solutions that we can. If you find some “genius” who tells you that he has the grand solution, the perfect formula to all our problems, run.

  15. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony, check this out.

  16. Tony Salmon says:

    I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this, but I just don’t believe in the binary false choice that the hack in your video wants to pontificate to us on (and what’s with the annoying fireball anyway?).

    Few Americans realy believe in “big government” (which of course must equate to the Soviet Union), but most people believe in the parts of government that they like, that they believe works for them and their families. That’s because the only thing far worse than too big of government is no government or ineffective government.

    If the big state solution was a supposed failure, then much of the rest of the world continues to fail toward poverty and persecution because of too little government or too ineffective of a state. “The Rule of Law”, an essential ingredient of any modern capitalistic democracy, is itself nothing more or less than a complex government process and a bunch of “big government” institutions. Even that great machine of capitalism, a corporation, is nothing more than a creation of “big government,” a made up creature that doesn’t even exist outside the laws and state institutions that engender it and enforce its existence.

    If you look around the world right now the biggest catastrophes are not totalitarian states. (At least totalitarian states are able to provide some safety and security for their citizens – take that economic powerhouse China as an example}. No, right now the worst failed states in the world aren’t the ones that have gone too far toward the large socialist central state, but instead where there is little or no central state at all. Our economy almost collapsed and put us into an economic tailspin that we still have not recovered from because of too little governmental banking regulation. On the other hand, Canada and Germany have recovered quicker and faster because they had stronger state banking regulations and institutions. Germany in particular is thriving right now because they have a much stronger partnership between government, unions and manufacturing corporations – they have made promoting manufacturing a national priority. (Read the article on this in the most recent “Foreign Affairs”).

    If you must make everything a false choice, instead of constantly asking yourself the question of whether or not you want the Soviet Union, why don’t you ask yourself whether or not you want Somalia? If you took the time to do a real study of how our complex modern democracies actually work instead of listening to the kind cliché ridden pablum on your video, you would realize that what we really need is not to arbitrarily shrink government to the point where you can drown it in a bath tub. No, what we really need is more “accountable government” which also means more effective government that is no bigger and no smaller than it needs to be in order to carry out it’s essential functions. And in a changing, globalized world, that kind of government is never just right. It is always a complex work in progress that is constantly in a state of reform.

    Our biggest problem right now is not solved by spouting platitudes about the evils of “big government.” Instead, it is in the hard, complex work of figuring out how to reform our election laws and institutions so that our government is more accountable to the people instead of to moneyed interests who are using just such propaganda as your video to convince simple minded right and left wing nuts to work against their own economic and social best interests.

    Finally, as a Christian and as a human being, I don’t buy the whole underlying concept of the video that people are only motivated by self interest.. As your only fundamental principle, such simplicity is inherently self defeating. Self interest is one motivation of what makes up a complex human being and a complex culture. We are also social animals who far more often put the interests of our family, our community, our nation and other human beings before our own. You need to go back to the drawing board and start over with a model of “emergent systems” such as cultures actually work instead of trying to shape the world into a string linear causation starting from one only partly true fundamental, and then you might have a model that better shows how we humans really are.

  17. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony –

    I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this, but I just don’t believe in the binary false choice that the hack in your video wants to pontificate to us on (and what’s with the annoying fireball anyway?).

    Two or three times was enough. The fireball I think you can figure out.

    Sometime we find ourselves bewildered, but life mostly confronts us with simple right or wrong choices. Unfortunately, we often choose to muddy our choices. What this mudding usually involves is a mental process we call rationalization. Such rationalization is the lifeblood of the advertising industry.

    When does government succeed? Government succeeds when it protects citizen rights. You mentioned China. To the extent China is succeeding, isn’t succeeding because its government now protects the economic rights of its citizens? Ask yourself, when did China’s economy begin to thrive? Compared to past rulers, doesn’t China’s current regime refrain from trying to dictate every last little detail of economic activity?

    There are both ethical and practical reasons why we should allow each other to make our own choices, but I think I will let someone else explain. Since you enjoyed that video, here is the one I was actually looking for. After I noted it was part two, I decided I had better post part one first.

    About half way through the video, Whittle provides a very practical reason why socialism cannot and does not work. :grin: Enjoy.

  18. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom,

    I’m not really interested in debating your propaganda videos. Much of what is presented is no doubt appealing, or at least it incorporates some loaded rhetoric that resonates some popular conventions. I don’t really want to put myself in the position of defending the video’s ideological targets any more than I am interested in the efforts of listing and attacking this supposed manifesto of Tea Party’s principles. It would take a long detailed discussion of each point. This is not the forum for such an exhaustive debate. I don’t have the time. And no one would read it anyway.

    Rather than chase each “ism” of your videos through the looking glass and down endless rabbit holes, I am more interested in the broader aspects of the original question that you posed about religion and politics, or more generally, the effect of all types of ideologies on politics, on government.

    So let’s broaden the discussion a bit. Let’s also take out all the normative language (what “should be” or “ought to be”) and instead just see if we can first talk about what empirically “is”. In order to do that, let’s begin by defining a universal human phenomenon that goes back throughout human history, and then let’s see how that phenomenon informs our thinking about the question that you present about ideologies and politics.

    Naturally any discussion should start with some definition of terms. I would like to start with a definition of “fundamentalism”. The particular Websters definition of “fundamentalism” that I want to use is the broadest: “a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles.”

    I know that this word conjures a lot of emotions for religious people lately and a lot of defensive impulses so let me say up front that I am not either trying to attack nor defend religious fundamentalism; I am merely trying to explore what actually is and how it effect politics. I wish there was a better word that would not automatically put people either on the defensive or the attack, but I can’t think of one. However, I do want to define it as broadly as possible, even more broadly than Websters to include not only religious fundamentalism but all types of ideological fundamentalisms and their commonalities as a social and political phenomenon. I would like to see if we can agree on a description of the phenomenon itself, before we discuss whether it is right or wrong, useful or destructive.

    Starts from “Fundamental” Principles or It Is True Because It Is True.

    As the name implies, all types of fundamentalism start from set of “fundamental” premises or principles of a given religious or secular ideology, and then the fundamentalist expands outward in order to answer situational moral, religious, social, scientific or economic questions from those principles.

    Religious fundamentalism is not subject to logical proof because, as Karl Popper defined, a theory that is logical or scientific, must necessarily be “falsifiable,” either through experimentation or inconsistent empirical data. By their very nature, religious fundamentals (the nature of God, the divinity of Jesus, the existence of heaven) exist outside the purchase of such logical and scientific falsifiability – they exist in the realm aesthetics, grace and faith.

    Non-religious ideological fundamentalisms, on the other hand, often start from a the basis of a moral-philosophical or economic fundamentals that are themselves not provable, but that might be subject to logical falsifiability. However, their proponents then adopt these fundamentals with the same emotional and unscientific zealotry of religious fundamentalists, ignoring any empirical data that does not conform to the moral or economic theory. In either case, religious or non-religious fundamentalism, the problem with fundamentalisms is that the logic ultimately reverts to circularity – the fundamentals are true because the Bible says they are true – the Bible is true because God says it is true and God is true because the Bible tells us that He is true. Or in the case of secular fundamentalist movements, they are simply true because they are scientifically or economically true (even though this proposition is inherently illogical and unscientific).

    And if the fundamental principles are accepted as absolutely true, then any application of those fundamentals to a given situational problem could only yield one correct result. And these ideological applications do indeed, if the ideology actually survives and even succeeds for some time, mostly achieve what are believed to be beneficial results and become somewhat self proving.

    This is an important point. As they say, nothing succeeds like success. Unless a given fundamentalism comes with the ring of either some attractive very old conventional truths or, in the case of pseudo-scientific ideologies, very new truths, and those truths actually work in application much of the time, then the fundamentalism will not initially succeed and dies the quick quirky death of a fringe cult. However, success at workability most of the time often inflates its applicability to every situation and “all of the time.” This leads to the development of a system dogmatic rules, or doctrines, that generally do not allow for any balancing of interests and whose application is not subject to evolutionary change or compromise as a culture experiences economic, social and economic innovation.

    In the case of Islamic fundamentalism, these doctrines could be Sharia Law or a literal interpretation and sometimes arcane application of the Koran to modern contexts. In the case of Communism, it was the tortured adaption the fundamental principles set out by Marx and Engels in an attempt to conform governmental policy to the economic principles around an outcome that Marx considered rationally inevitable. In the case of Fascism, it was a bastardization of Nietzsche’s superman theory in order to promote the superiority of a given culture, nationality or race and rationalize that nationality’s domination over the supposed inferiors of our species.

    Exclusivity or If I’m Right, You Must Be Wrong

    Related to this “absolutist” nature of the fundamentalist phenomenon described above (meaning that fundamentals are absolutely correct and therefore universally applicable to every situation), is the fundamentalist phenomenon’s property of “exclusivity of truth.” For example, Christian fundamentalist might point to John 14:6, and interpret it to say that one gets to the Father exclusively through Jesus, as proof that Jesus is the only path to heaven. Communists believed that eventual rise of communism was rationally inevitable and other competing ideologies only immorally caused the suffering of mankind in prolonging the birth pangs of this inevitability. Fascists claimed that it was inevitable that the strongest people, race, nationalities would dominate the planet but as the mongrel races and persons were eliminated, society would usher in a new era of intelligence, beauty and prosperity under these self proclaimed demigods. A common trait of the phenomenon that I am defining here as “fundamentalism,” whether religious or secular, is that they all seem to share this same need for exclusivity.

    Tom, you have often said in so many words that you believe that you are right and the Muslims are wrong in their most fundamental religious beliefs, but that you expect the Muslim to feel the same way about you. From this mutual exclusivity of truth, you have often said that you are intolerant of the Muslim just as you fully expect the Muslim to be intolerant back. This exclusivity of belief is exactly the property of fundamentalism that I am defining here.

    Determinism or the Good Guys Always Win

    Karl Popper wrote the three volume set on “The Open Society” which basically argued against the problems with “determinism”. Popper was specifically arguing against the deterministic logic in Communism and Fascism. Religious fundamentalist determinism is more recently again of the rise, and Popper’s arguments against determinism in general would be applicable also to religious determinism.

    Determinism is another form of absolutism and is also related to exclusivity. Determinism, as an attribute of the phenomenon of fundamentalism, is a proposition of that a philosophy or a religion that their ideology leads to an inevitable outcome: perhaps achieving heaven, perhaps a more moral and even happier mode of living on earth, the rise of the proletariat, the improvement of the human species, or some utopian dream of a meritocracy land such as Ayn Rand presents in “The Fountainhead”.

    Popper makes a very readable and logical argument against adopting social or economic policies based upon determinism, but my effort here is to leave that debate for later, and only to say that “determinism”, right or wrong, for good or for bad, is a reoccurring property of both religious and other ideological fundamentalist movements.

    The reason for this is that an element of positive inevitability is naturally attractive to all of us. We want to think that life is not random, that it has purpose, meaning and is headed toward some good outcome. We want to believe in our own moral exceptionalism and that such exceptionalism will triumph. We want to believe that good triumphs over evil and that the good guys will ultimately always beat the bad guys. (Sometimes that’s because the winners, whether they actually are good or bad, get to write the history for their society, but that is another issue). Such “good always trumps evil” thinking is an engrained part of every culture and every social mythology. It is hard to imagine any ideology succeeding if it did not promise some good outcome so it is also not surprising that it is a part of the fundamentalist phenomenon in all its forms – scientific, economic and religious.

    Closed Societies and Intolerance

    Finally, I want to bring together all the properties of the definition of fundamentalism that I have described above and ask the question: When a fundamentalist ideology of any kind, good or bad, religious or secular or both, with the properties that I have used to define the word, takes over the political systems of a country, does it naturally lead to intolerance and a closed society?

    Look at the historical data yourself. Throughout history, when a culture was under the domination of any religious or secular ideology, was that society also closed to and intolerant of any opposing belief? Take Europe when it was under the domination of Catholic fundamentalism verses Europe later when religious dogma was separated from government, business and science. Look at the Soviet Union prior to the collapse and also past and current China. In so far as these countries have been either under the bondage of communist fundamentalism or they have loosened those chains, has the amount of tolerance and the openness of the society also changed? Look at Afghanistan under Taliban control. Look at Nazi Germany.

    Given the circularity, the exclusivity, and the determinism of Christian fundamentalism that I have described here, do you think that domination of our political system by such fundamentalism will naturally lead to a more closed, less tolerant society?

    Perhaps you don’t like the way that I have defined Christian fundamentalism and you think it unfair that I have classified it with abhorrent philosophies such as Fascism and Communism, but that was not my intent. My intent is not to make a moral judgment and group all fundamentalisms as equally bad. I don’t think that they are. I believe that a Christian saint can be very much a Christian fundamentalist, do incredibly great things for his/her fellow humans and achieve an aesthetic connection with the divine. Mother Teresa comes to mind. On the other hand, I can’t prove it, but I think that Fascism is inherently evil, and it is hard for me to imagine such a fundamentalist doing anything good, whether it controls the government or not. So before we get into a semantics debate, I do not think that, just because fundamentalisms share certain traits, they are all morally equivalent, and I don’t think that the outcomes of such beliefs are necessarily morally equal either.

    Instead, what I am asking you and your readers is whether or not you think that there is a correlation between a fundamentalist ideology, whether inherently good or bad, getting control of the the politics of a nation and the effect of making that society more closed, less tolerant.

    The other question is whether or not you think that the Tea Party movement is a fundamentalist movement as I have defined it above.

  19. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – Separating ideologies into religious and non-religious suggests a false dichotomy. Christians live according to a set of principles explained by the Bible. Living by those principles works. Those principles do not allow Christians to compartmentalize their lives into Christian and non-Christian parts. We cannot have a Christian private life and a non-Christian public life. If the framers of the Constitution had done such a thing, that document would not be worth burying under a pile of dung.

    Does believing the Bible make me a fundamentalist? If it does, so be it.

    My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible-bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small. — John Wesley quotes (English Evangelist, founder of Methodism. 1703-1791)

    Since we can only Christianize people by example, not force, how is the rest of your discussion is relevant?

    The videos you don’t want to talk about did not pose any fundamentalist religious concepts. The last one just explained why any society run by elitists does not and cannot function well. The problem is fairly straightforward. When we centralize management and responsibility, we limit the number of decision makers. That causes two problems.

    • Because people, even smart people, can only make so many decisions every day, over centralization creates decision bottlenecks.
    • Because people, even smart people, can know only so much, over centralization puts people who don’t know what they are doing in charge.

    Therefore, in an economy as complex as our own, we must either decentralize decision-making or suffer enormous losses. That suggests we should keep the bureaucrats in Washington few in number and small in power.

    Exactly what is so reprehensible about the ideology of the Tea Party? Is it a fundamentalist ideology? The term is not even relevant. The people participating in the Tea Party movement support constitutional government. Tea Partiers object to arbitrary, elitist government. That is why the elites fear the Tea Party.

    So let’s get something straight. What you think Christians and Tea Party activists have done wrong is so obscure you cannot hardly explain it. What have either Christians or Tea Partiers tried to force someone to do that they don’t want to do? On the other hand, there too many people in positions of power who benefit from the massive taxes and the absurd laws and regulations coming out of DC. It is they who need to defend their power grabs and usurpations of citizen rights.

  20. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom that is one long string of non sequiturs. Give it some thought. .

  21. Citizen Tom says:

    Like you did those videos?

  22. Tony Salmon says:

    Touche on the videos, but what would you say if I asked you to watch and make some argument against a Michell Moore produced video manifesto of his liberal beliefs? I’m more interested in discussing the broad topic that you presented on this string in your blog.

    I did not say present any “dichotomy” much less a false one. I expect Christian fundamentalists to live by their beliefs just as I expect the proponents of other fundamentalist ideologies, religious and non-religious, to also live by their strong beliefs. I also specifically said that, simply because an ideology has the properties of a “fundamentalism” that I presented does not mean that it does not work. Just the opposite, I think that ideologies that do not have any application to the real world generally vanish quickly. Finally, I purposefully did not make a judgement about whether any fundamentalist ideology or set of ideologies is moral or immoral.

    I just presented some common properties that fundamentist ideologies share, looked at the historical data and then posed the question of whether there is a correlation between fundamentalist ideologies becoming the dominant political power and closed government and intolerance. Do you think that this is a natural correlation?

    As for the Tea Party, I assure you that I do not fear them nor am I even angry at them. Fear, rage and anger are not emotions that I find beneficial to good discussion or good politics. I simply asked if you think that the Tea Party has the properties of a fundamentalist movement as I described it above. Personally, I am not sure, It seems to be a mixed bag.

    By the way, who are these “elites” that you are so worried about? Am I one of them? Weren’t we raised in the same house, born to the same enlisted man? And if I have achieved “elite” status because of hard work and education, is that not something to be admired in the meritocracy that you seem to desire? Is the Tea Party so hateful of the authority of knowledge and study? Does one have to be ignorant to be a member? Since I know you to be pretty “elite” in this regard, how do they put up with you?

  23. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony,

    Let’s go back to the definition. What is fundamentalism? Fundamentalism comes from the word fundamental. If Christians and Tea Party activists have and want to live by certain fundamental beliefs, then what matters is the nature of those fundamental beliefs, the principles mentioned in your definition.

    Do you uphold any truths as fundamental to what you believe? Or are your ethics situational? Do you practice relativism? Is it all so complicated you cannot believe that anything is absolutely true? No? If we believe that there are certain truths, that some things are right and other things are wrong, we are not then just narrow-minded fools with closed off minds? Then why discuss fundamentalism? When the problem is with the belief, not the adherence to those beliefs, why would you condemn the mere fact that some person chooses to adhere to a set of principles?

    Who are those elites? Am I being paranoid? Haven’t you have studied enough history to know better? Don’t your own fears of the “Christian Right” and Tea Party “racists” and “bigots” speak volumes? Where did you get those hobgoblins?

    If you want to know why I fear the elites, why don’t you listen to Whittle’s videos?

  24. Tony Salmon says:

    “Do you uphold any truths as fundamental to what you believe? Or are your ethics situational? Do you practice relativism? Is it all so complicated you cannot believe that anything is absolutely true? No?”

    Interesting questions, and they relate to the topic at hand.

    “Moral Relativism” is a politically charged term just as “fundamentalism” is. Based on how it is spat out by christian conservatives on the far right, I get the impression that it means someone whose morals basically blow with the prevailing winds. Sounds sort of psychopathic so I don’t think that I would want to be thought of in those terms. On the other hand, I think that every good person’s morals are indeed “situational” and “contextual” in real world application. Most of the great moral dilemmas in politics, in the law and in life actually require a balancing of often competing and overlapping moral interests, moral goods. By definition, that is what makes them “dilemmas”.

    I would like to talk some more about this area as I find it fascinating, and I have studied it a great deal. I would like, however, to spend a little time and compose for you an explanation of how I have learned that such moral choice really works, in the law, in politics, and ultimately, in our individual minds.

    After that, perhaps we can get to the bottom of this problem of fundamentalism and intollerance. It is a problem that should be of concern to all of us as incidents like the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, and the recent Norway killings all seem to be related to this question of fundamentalism. I know that the comparison is unfair, but the more that I hear about the Norway killer and how his beliefs parallel many of those advocated on this website, the more I think that perhaps we both should be concerned about, if not fundamentalist belief systems, at least fanaticism of fundamentalist belief.

    Give me some time to try to write a thoughtful reply, and I promise that it will answer your questions.

  25. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – You know it is unfair, but you do it anyway? What makes you think you are not doing exactly what you suggest I might be doing?

    Look again at what this post is about. It encourages Christians to take part in politics, and that is it. What is the converse? If Christians participate in politics, they are not good Christians? Given your reaction, that apparently is what you want good Christians to believe.

    Instead of debating political issues, why do you spend so much effort advocating secularism, suggesting any other stance constitutes religious bigotry. Why such a narrow focus? Why does every debate with you involve refuting charges of religious bigotry and now murderous fanaticism?

    It’s over. Spew all the hateful innuendo all you want. If people cannot see where such crap leads and the stupidity of being silenced by it, I don’t care. I can only control me, and I do not have shoot you, bomb you, or call you names. To be a good citizen, I just have to pray for and advocate for our constitutional republic.

  26. Tony Salmon says:

    It is “unfair” because I know you to be a good and non-violent person. However, the reoccurring violence associated with fundamentalist fanaticism is still the ignored elephant in the chat room. Getting angry that it is mentioned doesn’t make it suddenly invisible. When was the last time someone mass murdered in the name of compassion and religious tolerance?

  27. Tony Salmon says:

    Had the Norway killer been a Muslim fundamentalist, would you have jumped on the event to paint Islam as inherently violent? You have done this in the past. Is that “unfair” to all the billions of moral and nonviolent Muslims in the world?

    That is the reason that I mentioned unfairness is because it would be equally unfair to blame all Christian fundamentalists for the violent fanaticism of one of their number, either through innuendo or directly.

    On the other hand, although I am not claiming that fundamentalism, in all ideologies and religions, leads to violence and intolerance, I am posing the question of whether or not there is a correlation.

    In so far as you may have misinterpreted my words to imply an innuendo that one bad specific proves the bad of the general then I owe you and your christian fundamentalists the same apology the you owe billions of Muslims. Now let’s all kiss and make up.

  28. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony — Let’s see….. What can we talk about? You want to discuss you? How does your theory go? Tony has opinions I don’t like. Since I am sooooo good, he must be soooooo bad. So there is no point in debating issues with Tony. In fact, since we know Tony needs fixing it makes much more sense to put Tony into a re-education camp and fix his thinking.

    Why not? It would just be another government program. Isn’t that where you think the Christian Right and the Tea Party belongs? No problem. Big Government knows everything. The Democratic Party would love to share the infinite purity of the secular state by sending everybody to re-education camps. Don’t we already sponsor such wonderful training for government workers? Don’t we already force corporations to waste money on such crap (Darn! I slipped.)?

    Let’s all go to re-education camps and get fixed. Let’s let the holy, pure, and omniscient leader of the Democratic Party do all our thinking for us. What a relief! It will be the last mistake we ever have to worry about making!

    Why don’t you run for office on that platform?

    Tony’s ultimate final solution!

    You feel guilty about not being perfect?

    You know your neighbors are not perfect?

    VOTE FOR TONY!

    AS A LOYAL DISCIPLE OF THE HOLY ONE, TONY
    KNOWS EVERYTHING!

    VOTE FOR TONY!

    TONY WILL MAKE THE RICH PAY TO SEND YOU TO THE WORLD’S FINEST
    RE-EDUCATION CAMP.

    AFTER THAT, YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING.

    IT’S A PROMISE!

  29. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom,

    I’m beginning to think I may have pushed you over the edge. Maybe we should give it a rest. Love you bro and take care of yourself.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Tony

      Love me? I suppose you do, and I love you too.

      When we debate politics, there is no point in making it personal. If you honestly believe I am bigot, you hurt your cause by calling me one. Bigotry is not exactly a choice.

      Think about the term prejudice. Here is the etymology.

      prejudice (n.) late 13c., “despite, contempt,” from O.Fr. prejudice (13c.), from M.L. prejudicium “injustice,” from L. praejudicium “prior judgment,” from prae- “before” (see pre-) + judicium “judgment,” from judex (gen. judicis) “judge.” Meaning “injury, physical harm” is mid-14c., as is legal sense “detriment or damage caused by the violation of a legal right.” Meaning “preconceived opinion” (especially but not necessarily unfavorable) is from late 14c.

      What is the problem with a “preconceived opinion”? It can be so ingrained we regard the assumptions that led to it as unassailable.

      Imagine being in the position of the whites who own slaves, a member of the Southern gentry. You really think you would have worried much about the ethics of slavery? If you had, you would have been one of the very rare individuals who did.

      What we learn as children sticks with us. That’s why it is so important that we select who teaches our children properly. It is profoundly difficult to undo the harm caused by a teacher who instills faulty assumptions in his students.

  30. Tony Salmon says:

    For the record Tom I have specifically tried to not make this “personal” and just talk about the “ideas” that you put forward and the statements that you have made. If you heard “bigot” when some of these ideas and concepts were analyzed and reflected back on this string, then you heard it from yourself. I am not interested in attacking anyone personally, but you seem to take any challenge to yours and your group’s ideology as a personal attack. This makes it very hard to not hurt your feelings, something that I have no desire to do.

  31. Pingback: THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY (Posted 2nd Time) | Citizen Tom

  32. Tony Salmon says:

    Stewart again says it all when it come to playing the victim in every debate: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-july-27-2011/gop—special-victims-unit

  33. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony – Prior to being presented with your video, I had watched enough of Stewart to realize there is little in his performances that interests me. Nonetheless, I was curious to see what you thought found. So I listened to it.

    So what is the problem with this video? I did not play the victim. I did not take you to court and sue you. I did not whine I need special rights. I just refused to be victimized. If someone tries to rob you, and you pull out a gun and shoot him, who is the victim?

    You said this.

    After that, perhaps we can get to the bottom of this problem of fundamentalism and intollerance. It is a problem that should be of concern to all of us as incidents like the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, and the recent Norway killings all seem to be related to this question of fundamentalism. I know that the comparison is unfair, but the more that I hear about the Norway killer and how his beliefs parallel many of those advocated on this website, the more I think that perhaps we both should be concerned about, if not fundamentalist belief systems, at least fanaticism of fundamentalist belief.

    Now you are whining that I refuse to be intimidated by such tripe. You remind me of the burglar who sued the householder he intended to rob for shooting him.

  34. WOW … this was quite a debate! I weigh in with the simple concept that a believer – a Biblical believer – cannot separate his Christian character and his civil character. They are one! If I am in the process of having my character re-built by God, or better said, allowing the character of God to grow in me, how do I shut it off? God’s character in me MUST flavor everything I say, everything I think, and everything I do! As I care for my neighbor, I involve myself in charitable efforts as it is in my heart – but the Government is NOT designed to be a charitable organization! It is up to ME, to the CHURCH, to other individuals to tend the poor and needy, NOT the government! If the CHURCH et al was doing its job, there would be no need for the government to feed and clothe the poor. Here is America, however, believers in general are too comfortable – lost in the gospel of prosperity.

    Before I get in deeper trouble, I’ll stop there! :) Great discussion, Tom!

  35. Pingback: SHOULD CHRISTIANS PARTICIPATE IN POLITICS? (via Citizen Tom) « blogsense-by-barb

  36. loopyloo305 says:

    It would be unChristian to not remind people that the policies that are being followed by whomever is in power are not the principles that Christians should adhere to. The Bible instructs us to remind, not judge!

  37. Jesus said not to hide our light under a bushel basket. Christians can and must be involved in politics because the worldly left will destroy our country without the balance of Chrisitians in power. Socialism is not Godly.

    Chrisitians were not involved in politics and we got abortion on demand and now we have homsexuals demanding to have same sex marriages.

    I say that we have no choice but to involve ourselves in politicns

    blessings on you and yours and all who comment on here
    John Wilder

    • Citizen Tom says:

      John – It is always nice to get comments from a new reader. Good luck with your marriage coaching. That has to be a difficult job. Hopefully, you find it equally rewarding.

  38. Tony Salmon says:

    “So what is the problem with this video? I did not play the victim. I did not take you to court and sue you. I did not whine I need special rights. I just refused to be victimized”

    What is interesting about the video and your eventual collapse in victimhood in this string is not whether or not you just “refused” to be the victim. It is that more than 80 Norway citizens (some Muslims) were murdered by a violent, anti-muslim, anti-multiculturalist, Christian fundamentalist, and that you thought that you were the one being victimized at all.

    Stewart’s satire at exposing this humerous tendency among the extreme right is funny, but one has to have a sense of humor, which also means the ability not to take one’s self so God awful seriously -. something we both need to do more often.

    I’m sorry that these discussions always seem to end up with you somehow feeling victimized and having to “refuse” to let yourself be. Just for the record, I too am informed by my Christian beliefs when I vote, but I am no fundamentalist, at least not one as I defined it above. I would like to have further explored the problems with fundamentalist ideologies of any ilk taking over the reins of political power. I think that it always leads to intolerance and a closed society. However, your thoughts on this blog have already proved my point and continue to do so, so perhaps further discussion is unnecessary. The problem and the answer is already there for anyone with the wisdom to see it. Enjoyed the discussion.

  39. Mo Johnson says:

    Just want to say — I’m with Tony on this one. I think the Christian right is not very christian at all. At least not if one defines “christian” as a “christ follower.” Liberals out there, don’t reject christianity because of what you see from the “christian” right. What you see there is nearly the opposite of what Jesus was all about. You can read lots more at my site:

    http://www.pwcva.com/what-should-a-christian-church-be-like.html

    • wdednh says:

      @Mo Johnson, Got a question for you? What is Christian to do? Just shut up and let the left step all over them and say nothing? Even Jesus storm the temple yard ” it is written, my house shall be called The house of prayer;but ye have made it a den of thieves”, So please stop the “oh what would Jesus do tactic, For Left is destroying our country and our way of life. Left Kicked God out of our school system, and guess what happened to it? Go ahead do your best and brag and boast about how terrible Christianity is and I am assure you be the 1st to say”Oh my God, why this is happening?” . let me ask you this, Do you really know Who Jesus is?

      • Hey wdednh
        I am with the others here, you clearly did not read Mo Johnson’s piece. You display your ignorance by not so doing and commenting as if you could read his mind. I am in concurrence about how self righteous so many are in the church and not truly following Christ’s commands to love our fellow man.

        For example, christians won’t hire ex cons and is it any wonder that we have such a high recidivism rate in this country. When you won’t give a man a job, he has no choice but to go back to his criminal ways to support himself.

        Now I don’ think that Christians should lay down at all. I speak out regurlarly on the horrors of abortion. You would do well to read Mo Johnson’s article and then apologize to him and to the other readers on here for judging him wrongly. Jesus said if you call your brother Raca (fool) without cause then you are accursed and clearly you did so here.

        Blessings on all who are on here
        John Wilder

  40. Mo Johnson says:

    Hi wdednh — I don’t think you read my article. If you do, you’ll see I go into considerable detail about what a Christian should do and particularly about Jesus. Let me know if you have questions about anything I said in my article.

    Blessings.

    Mo

  41. Citizen Tom says:

    Mo Johnson – I doubt you read what Tony wrote. Even if you did, I wonder if you took the time understand it. I think that is what confused wdednh. Your link has almost nothing to do with what Tony wrote.

    Anyway, I scanned your article. When you complain about the Christian church, I think you miss something important. Before Christianity, the elites had relatively little concern about feeding and caring for the less fortunate. Nonetheless, these people had a solution for poverty. To feed and care for the poor, they enslaved the poor, and the elites saw that enslavement as noble deed. Because they enslaved the poor, they could “protect” them.

    In practice, the expression “social justice” calls us back to that ugly past. “Social justice” sounds nice, but robbery does not work. When a government robs Peter to feed, cloth, and shelter Paul, our leaders sin in our name. No government founded upon sin can long produce good works. That is why you cannot find a historical example. In time, every socialist state either becomes tyrannical or it collapses.

    In various Utopian guises, elitists demand we socialize responsibilities and individualize rights. In return, these busybodies promise to relieve us of all responsibility and give us whatever we want (that is, what they think we need). What Christianity supports is a belief in social rights and individual responsibilities. Look at the Ten Commandments. What do they say? Don’t they command us individually to honor God and not to abuse our neighbors? When Jesus spoke, did He endorse socialism, or did He command us as individuals to love Him and our fellow human beings?

    So what should a Christian Church do? I can only speak of my own expectations. However, I look for a place where good men and women organize, train, and equip each other to carry the Word of God into the world. In a Christian Church, Christians teach by example what it means to know God’s Word, that we are God’s children, and He loves us. In a Christian Church, we learn to give of ourselves. We do not acquire excuses to steal and play at Robin Hood.

    • wdednh says:

      Oh, I did not get confuse at all, for my reply to Mo was based on his comment and not his article! You see In a nation which was founded in Christian principles, it took one person to kick God out of our schools, where were the Christians? why were they silent? When one point to “oh you are not acting , or not being, or you do not understand Who Jesus is, my radar goes up”, I’ve been reading your debate with Tony; it is an awesome read from both participant. What makes it interesting is the honesty from both parties. Tony, as much as he is wrong, he is honest about his believes and says what he believes in . He does not mask his true believes under the “Even liberals believe in Christ” cliche”. after reading Mo’s reply to me i went ahead and Checked his Article; When one make a statement “I go into considerable detail about what a Christian should do and particularly about Jesus.” All I need to know is who on earth died and made you the ruler of Christian world? What make you the authority on what Christians
      should do? I read the article and with all do respect to Mo, it sounded as one of MSNBC producers or one of Nobama staff writers have written it. For Me all the Answers about Christianity is in the Bible, and not in the foot notes which are some ones interpretations, My interpreter of the Bible is the holy spirit and prayer. What the Church SHOULD be is out lined in the book of Acts Chapter three, are we going to see that in this life time, not likely. Sorry about babbling. :)

  42. Citizen Tom says:

    wdednh – Sorry. I probably should not have posted the first paragraph.

    There is a funny thing about writing. It is easier to find things to say than it is to find things that need to be said.

  43. loopyloo305 says:

    Marriage Coach you said
    “For example, christians won’t hire ex cons and is it any wonder that we have such a high recidivism rate in this country. When you won’t give a man a job, he has no choice but to go back to his criminal ways to support himself.”
    Since I do not know the “Christians” you use as an example I can not speak to their practices, however they are not a example of the Christians that I know! Our church does Prison MInistry and helps with halfway houses. Jesus said once you accept Him, you are a new man and that is how we treat them. As for your statement that they have no choice, that is simply faulty logic don’t you think? We always have choices!
    There are many churches that claim to be Christian and yet do not follow the principles that Christ Himself laid out! This is warned about in the Bible itself, all you have to do is read the letters that Paul wrote to the churches to see that. It is also in Revelations! Calling yourself a Christian, does not a Christian make. Judge the Church by the actions of it members and if they do not agree with Scripture, move yourself away from that Church. Not knowing your feelings on Christianity and whether you believe or not, all I would ask that you remember that if they do not follow Christ’s principles they are not Christian, regardless of their claim.
    The Churches Mo describes in his article are, if he is judging the correctly, indeed empty and dead Churches. Mo makes the same mistake that you have done in assuming that all churches are this way and that is the real shame. Churches such as those that he describes are indeed leading their followers astray and that is truly sad. The Bible tell us that those that lead their followers like this will be removed from the Book of Life itself. What a sad thing to know that the actions you have taken prevent you from ever experiencing eternal life.
    He is judging all churches on his experience and that is what most people do, but he is wrong in assuming that this is true of all churches. If he truly wanted to know God, he would look for a different church, there are many out there. There is a big difference in pointing out that someone is wrong and saying that they are a fool. It is human to err, and it is our responsibility to point out when an error has been made. After all, if someone does not know that they made a mistake and we do, doesn’t the failure lie in us for not educating them? If someone truly wants to find God, they must make the effort, but if they look for His followers and don’t see them, should they therefore assume that they don’t exist?

    • Hey Loopyloo
      I appreciate your critique. I understand that we all have choices but Jesus also said not to be a “stumbling block” to cause our brother to sin. I am in full agreement with your statement that all churches are not the same and that there are certainly exceptions to the rule. On the other hand I have been a christian for over 40 years and have been in many churches across the country and far too many of them fall into the dead zones described by Mo Johnson’s piece. I have been victimized by too many of them. When I was a contractor, I hired ex cons exclusively. One of them showed me an application from a major chain restaurant for a dishwasher position and it said if you have a felony on your record don’t even fill out the application.

      Mo does not nor do I judge all the churches the same. On the other hand there are far too many churches where people use it as a social club and congratulate each other on how moral they are. I was in a situation where I had been robbed and was rendered homeless for a time. I went to 7 different churches looking not for a handout but for legitimate work to work myself back up. All seven of them treated me like I was a pariah.

      You defend churches too rigorously and do not recognzie how far short so many of them fall.

      Blessings on you and yours
      John

  44. wdednh says:

    @marriagecoach1, Why is it when one does not agree with other one, one start the name Calling? You Called me Ignorant, and you accused me of judging mo?1 Not at all ! You Made the statement “You would do well to read Mo Johnson’s article and then apologize to him and to the other readers on here for judging him wrongly”,I did not judge nor did I at any time called Mo any name, there for I do not owe you or any one here an apology. If you read my comment I clearly stated that my comment was based on his comment here and not based on his blog post. When one assert his opinion as fact base on ones interpretation of belief, there is created a extremism, which will bring blindness to openness to Gods words. There are many churches out there that are indeed Dead spiritually. It is the believers responsibility to discern the true from the false, as the Bible commands ” test the sprite”,There are many Christians that do not want to get involve in anything political ,which is fine by me , but the problem comes when they try to keep everyone else from participating.
    I wish you the best.
    Wdednh

  45. Citizen Tom says:

    Expressions become trite because they express a truth both succinctly and irrefutably.

    The Devil is in the details.

    When we talk about what Mo wrote, we can compliment it or pick it apart for a variety of reasons. I suppose it all depends upon which details we consider important.

    It appears that the expression below inspired the one above.

    God is in the details.

    Within each of our lives exist thousands of little details. It takes more grey matter than we have to comprehend and make complete sense of all those details. Yet God made them all, and the Devil slyly hides amongst them.

    When we criticize another person or group, we see only surface details. We can rightfully criticize what another says and does, but what is in their heart only God knows.

    Mo shared with us a vision of what he thinks a Christian Church should be like. Mo wants to be part of a church that helps people. I don’t see any reason to object to that. Hopefully, there are plenty of Christians who share such a vision for a Christian Church. In any event, Mo is entitled to find others who share his vision and attend the church of his choice.

    What bothers me it that Mo seems to think Christian teachings justify socialism. What Jesus taught is not compatible with socialism. Since socialism is evil, trying to use the Bible to justify is socialism is wrong.

    Socialism involves an abuse of government power and religious freedom. The Bible does not using government to rob one group of people provide another group so-called “social and economic justice”. That would be quite unChristian.

    Nonetheless, Mo is welcome to express his opinions. Look at our government. Unless we have discussions of this sort, we will not straighten it out.

  46. Mo Johnson says:

    Hi all, glad to see the discussion.

    There’s more to address than i can. For instance, of course, Citizen Tom is quite wrong about no “socialized” country ever succeeding. The truth is that only socialized countries have succeeded. It all depends how you define the term socialized. Obviously, all successful countries in the world today are “socialized” to one degree or another. The ONLY countries that have no “socialized” aspects are failed states like Somolia and Ethiopia. I suppose perhaps those are the kind of countries Citizen Tom yearns for us to be like. They are the best examples we have of what pure capitalism and limited government will bring us.

    If you read my site you’ll find tons more related to this so I won’t repeat it all here.

    Moving to spiritual matters, the bottom line is most churches say they are “christian” because they “believe” in Jesus. Yet they fail to “do” the things Jesus commands or “be” the kind of person Jesus commands us to be. So, I will not judge, but I would say if you believe you are saved by merely believing something and need not do or be anything in particular, then I would say you should read the words of Jesus again. Jesus does say we must believe. Three times as often he says we must do to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

    Most churches do not want to talk about the do and be parts of the gospel because most churches are dominated by republicans who are offended by such talk.

    today, we have record numbers on food stamps and record wealth at the same time. wow, it’s the Gilded Age all over again. Share of US income the top 1% gets has risen from 8% to over 20% in the last 25 years. We do have a major problem.

    yes, our workers are the most productive in the world. increased productivity has allowed us to recover our GDP to where it was before the recession. Yet, 10 million jobs disappeared. Wages were cut, benefits cut. Where is all the money going? To the top 1%.

    there is a great opportunity now for the christian church to return to its roots and thereby become more relevant in our society. After all, there is no issue God talks about more in the bible than the issues of wealth, poverty, selfishness, oppression and corruption. God’s word is more relevant today than ever. And if one is honest about what the bible says, it’s pretty obvious where God stands.

    Let’s hope this crisis brings change (and repentance) in the church that leads christians to see the world as Jesus did and does; that changes christians to be more like Christ and to work to expand God’s kingdom on earth — as Jesus prayed for.

    Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (Mat 7:20)

    Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

    He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:26-27

    Luke 4:18
    The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

    Liberals and progressives — rejoice — our time, God’s time, draws nigh! Conservatives, rejoice as well, you can still change.

    God bless us all.

    • wdednh says:

      all I can say Is “WOW”!

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Mo – Because we never communicate perfectly, we never quite understand each other. Nonetheless, all we can do is try, and that is what honest debate involves, an effort to understand another person’s ideas. Thank you for your willingness to participate.

      What socialism involves is putting the government in charge where its role should be limited. Because they do not perceive the risk, advocates for state solutions do not acknowledge that is what they are doing. Yet that is exactly where emphasizing state solutions over private solutions leads.

      Perhaps introducing a new term will help. Because we define socialism as government ownership of the means of production, many advocates for state solutions feel safe in denying they are socialists.

      statism [ˈsteɪtɪzəm]
      n
      (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the theory or practice of concentrating economic and political power in the state, resulting in a weak position for the individual or community with respect to the government

      To take care of that problem, we now have a solution. Since control implies ownership, we did not need another word, but the definition of statism does add a bit of clarity.

      Generally, advocates for increasing the power of the state refuse to address the subject of ethics. What they do instead is propound upon the problem and feed our sense of guilt with Bible quote. They point out that people have a need and that “we” have an obligation to do something about it. Then they offer a seemingly “easy” solution. Give the government more power. Yet nowhere does the Bible call upon government to feed, cloth, and house the poor. It speaks to each heart and calls upon us as individuals to love and care for our neighbors.

      Why do statist solutions alarm advocates for limited government? We do not believe the end justifies the means. Because government exists to force people to do that which they would otherwise not do, we see government as the last resort, not an “easy” solution.

      • Government cannot be trusted. How can you talk about churches not being bastions of virtue and then offer up government as a source of charity? Do politicians love their neighbors more than other people? No. Nonetheless, the problem does not reside with the politicians. We elect them. The problem is in each of us. How many of us love our country more than we love ourselves?
      • Government is wasteful. Government spends other people’s money to buy things for other people. It is pointless to expect bureaucrats to spend somebody else’s money to buy something for somebody else and not waste money.

      Therefore, once any people sees statist solutions as their preferred choice, their nation will begin a slow decline. They will have set the issue of ethics aside. They will no longer understand that it is wrong to steal from the public treasury. Instead of right and wrong, they will use any need as their justification, and our needs are endless. Since, poverty is relative, half the population is always poor. So any interest group can always find an excuse to stick out their hand and demand money.

      Look at the nations of Western Europe. Because they have set the issue of morality aside, they struggle to control their budgets. Similarly, our leaders are on a spending binge. No one considers what is right or the good of the people as a whole.

      Now the corruptions attending each of these governments are these; a kingdom may degenerate into a tyranny, an aristocracy into an oligarchy, and a state into a democracy. Now a tyranny is a monarchy where the good of one man only is the object of government, an oligarchy considers only the rich, and a democracy only the poor; but neither of them have a common good in view. — Politics by Aristole

      Ultimately, our debate is not about the form of government; it is about the use of government. Do we use government to protect the rights of our neighbors, or do we us government to force our beliefs and practices upon our neighbors?

      If you care about the poor and downtrodden, then set the example. Care for the poor and downtrodden. Don’t oppress your neighbors by using government to force them to practice charity, that is, love. It won’t work.

  47. Mo Johnson says:

    by the way, I used to be a strong conservative, so, I’m proof that change is possible. cheers!

    • wdednh says:

      My friend there is a strong contradiction in your statement! i know I might sound pity, for conservative, but I truly need to point out the above Statement does not make seance what so ever. you say “I used to be a strong conservative”,
      A- If you were conservative at all, there is no need for the word”Strong”, for Conservative does cover all aspect of the true politics of the word. My friend from the left, weather you were or not is not relevant; what matter is the state of the union and collapsing America, and if you do not see this, well I am still praying for you, that is what we Christians do best ;)
      With Agape Love
      Wdednh

      • Mo Johnson says:

        ok, then active conservative. whatever, you are right it doesn’t matter except that i have been where you are and seen a new light.

        i agree about the state of the union and collapsing america. we simply disagree on the cause. i see the cause as sin (selfishness) which the “christian” right has promoted rather than seeking to promote God’s kingdom on earth.

        and we disagree on the solution. I believe the solution is what Jesus prayed for — God’s kingdom on earth. which we are called to work for every day. the religious right doesn’t believe in God’s earthly kingdom and certainly doesn’t promote it.

        i hope i don’t offend anyone, but think it important to speak clearly.

  48. Tony Salmon says:

    Fascinating exchange. Mo makes a legitimate point that many, perhaps even most, Christian church organizations don’t do a very good job at actually following the loving and compassionate Biblical teachings of Christ. This naturally begs the next question of, if large groups of no doubt sincere Christians have difficulty even running religious organizations while serving the most basic of Jesus’ teachings, how can they possibly endeavour run the government?

    I have no doubt that all the responses on this post come from devout Christians, and yet even with that strong commonality of confessional faith, even the most basic questions of how a Christian church organizations should comport with what Jesus said in the Bible quickly breaks down into disagreement and personal affront about what those fundamentals are and in what organizational attributes they should express themselves. If we, self proclaimed Christians all, can’t even agree on how one of Jesus’ churches should practically be run, imagine us all trying to get together and agree on how a supposedly Christian government should be run. Should it be about developing a more Christian structural community? Should it be about Christian work ethic? Should it be about criminalizing sin? Should it be about Christian forgiveness for sin even to the point of risking harm to ourselves and our families in exercising that forgiveness? Should it be about Christian social compassion for the less fortunate? Who decides the rules? What orthodoxy arbitrates theological differences? Who balances the competing moralities?

    My good brother, Tom, wants to make me a straw man in his trumped up culture wars against supposed “elites”, whoever they are. (Personally, I would love to be considered “elite” in some things such as wisdom and compassion, but I know that I am neither saint nor sage, and besides, I don’t think Tom means the ad homonym in a nice way). Or Tom wants to paint me as one of his boogie men “socialists”, but can only do so be ignoring everything that I have written above about not wanting in any “ism” or “ist” or “ian” to run the government, not any fundamentalist ideology, religious or otherwise. In fact, the gist of every response that I have written on this post has been an argument against separating such fundamentalisms from practical government.

    History is replete with examples where fundamentalist religions and philosophies have taken over the reigns of power. My own Christian sect, Catholicism, has a very long and mostly checkered history of controlling governments with it’s own fundamentalist theology. (There is a good reason why many of our Founders openly disavowed Papism). Do I really need to document all the problems, conflicts, Inquisitions, and wars that came from that misadventure in Christian control? Protestant theocracies didn’t fair any better. On the other hand, our Twentieth Century was dominated by conflicts and problems from two non-religious fundamentalist philosophies, Communism and Fascism. Do you all see an obvious pattern here? When any given religion or fundamentalist philosophy or “ism”, even the most well intentioned one, takes over the reins of power, doesn’t it always naturally revert to intolerance and a closed society?

    American Democracy, by design, is not fundamentalist, either religiously or philosophically. The rules that define democracy are nebulous and conflicting. It is difficult to get even the experts to agree on what a democracy is. Even when the experts give democracy common attributes, they describe those commonalities as a constantly shifting balance between central verses local authority, between accountability to the majority verses protection of the individual, and between promoting the common good verses promoting meritocratic innovation and exceptionalism. It is all about checks and balances between competing goods and competing authorities. And the adoption of a fundamentalism, religious or philosophical, is the antithesis of that balance and compromise that democracy promotes. And in a democracy, “Social Justice” is not some deterministic perfect outcome resulting from any “ism” or “ian”, it is the imperfect but ever striving product of the shifting balance between these oft competing democratic goals.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Tony – I have been where you are. I too once feared Jesus “freaks”. Are there people who make Christianity seem like an affront to reason and manners? I suppose there are. With little effort, most of us can twist any reasonable thought into a pretzel.

      So you make long diatribes against Christian Fundamentalists, and what is their crime? They just don’t understand government, and they won’t leave it to the experts? Imagine that! In a democracy, some people don’t want “experts” to run their lives.

      And what defines a Christian Fundamentalist? Apparently, that involves reading the Bible and believing what it says. Yes, if Jesus says He is the Way, and we believe He is the Way to the exclusion of any other Way, that is a crime. The mere fact these Christian Fundamentalists uphold freedom of religion does not excuse them. And heaven help us if Christian Fundamentalists object to being tarred and feathered as terrorist sympathizers.

      Why don’t you try something new? Instead of trying to impose your wants upon the Bible, why don’t you try looking upon the Bible as a source of wisdom and truth? What did God do for you? What does He want in return?

      It is not about us. It is about the great “I AM”. We exist for His glory. Fortunately, what He considers glory involves our salvation and His love for us. So be thankful. This is not all there is.

      • Mo Johnson says:

        Citizen Tom — do you believe christians should flee from churches that talk about social justice?

        Do you believe we must do the will of God to enter heaven?

        Do you believe in God’s kingdom on earth?

  49. Mo Johnson says:

    thanks Tony, good comments. The point really is simply to at least get christians to accept that social justice is important to God and that Jesus believed in it. I think a great many “christians” agree with Glenn Beck who says that christians should flee from churches that even talk about social justice. That’s clear heresy. Yet, how many churches have condemned Glenn Beck. Personally, I think Jesus would obviously say that you should flee churches that don’t talk about and promote social justice.

  50. Pingback: CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM — PART 1 | Citizen Tom

  51. Citizen Tom says:

    Mo Johnson — You asked three questions.

    Citizen Tom — do you believe christians should flee from churches that talk about social justice?

    Do you believe we must do the will of God to enter heaven?

    Do you believe in God’s kingdom on earth?

    Response to question 1: That depends upon how we define social justice. See my latest post.

    Response to question 2: I believe salvation is a gift, that we do not have the capacity to earn salvation. What God wants is for us to love Him. If we love Him, He will help us obey His commands.

    Response to question 3: Christ said we should pray for His Kingdom to come, a kingdom not of this world.

    When we pray for the Kingdom of God to come, what are we praying for? I think we are asking God to help us do whatever is necessary to cooperate with the King. We are asking God to help us submit to the will of the Holy Spirit.

    What is involved is freewilled choice. Since God gave each of us a free will, we cannot coerce our neighbors help bring on the Kingdom. All we can do is set the best example we can and pray.

    • Mo Johnson says:

      Glad you at least don’t agree with Glenn Beck’s blanket statement regarding my question #1.

      Regarding the other two — you’ll have to take it up with Jesus. He said we have to do the will of the Father to go to heaven. In fact he said this same thing 3 times more often then he said believing in Him alone was enough.

      On three, if you honestly try to think about the things that a perfect kingdom (God’s kingdom) would be like, you have to agree it’s all sorts of liberal things like everyone have food, shelter, jobs, health care, etc. It’s protecting God’s creation. It’s welcoming immigrants. It’s a just society. I could go on and on. It’s liberal stuff my friend. Which is why you didn’t give a straight answer.

      • Citizen Tom says:

        Mo – Think again about what I said about question 2. You can obey the Father’s commands all on your own? When was the last time you read The Sermon On The Mount?

        Do I want the Kingdom of God to come? Yes. Do I expect that to have anything to do with government? No. Politicians? Lead us into the Kingdom of God? To teach us to behave like angels? If men were angels, we would not need government.

        When Jesus is near to your heart, then the Kingdom of God is near. And then you will obey His commands.

  52. Hey Wdednh
    I did not call you ignorant, I said that you displayed your ignorance. Ignorance is lacking knowledge, not the intelligence to understand it. You chose not to read Mo’s post. He was trying to say that his post gives additional context to his remarks. In bible study it is called “proof texting” where you take something out of context and try to force a different meaning than was intended. For example it says in Exodus 4:4 “to reach out your hand and take it by the tail” So taking that scripture verse I could defend my grabbing your butt instead of looking at the context of picking up a poisonous snake by the tail which of course was a death sentence back then.

    In proverbs 13:1 it says: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

    In proverbs 9:8 It says: Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you,. rebuek a wise man and he will love you.

    Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go immediatley and make it right with your brother and then come offer your gift. Math 5:24

    So be admonished
    John Wilder

  53. Tony Salmon says:

    This opinion by Conservative Republican Pundit and Former G.W. Bush Aid Michael Gerson gives an interersting two sided perspective to this issue. It’s titled ” On the Federal Budget, ‘What would Jesus Cut?’”

    The link is to the Seattle Times because that is where I read it, but you can probably find it elsewhere if you prefer:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2015832179_gerson07.html

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Tony – If you don’t think government should spend money on charity for religious reasons, then what reason do you have? A “secular” philosophy that defines good and evil? Pragmatic self interest? What is pragmatic about letting Congress spend money on things the Constitution never authorized? Those men and women took an oath on the Bible. Must have been a secular oath.

      Look at where this discussion has gone. When I throw up a simple, straightforward secular objections such as what you want does not work in the long run, you will not discuss that. Nope, we just get nonsense about the appropriate balance between socialism and capitalism. Balance? From someone who voted for Obama. When I provide Constitutional objections, you blow them off. It is just too complicated for a layman. If I suggest freedom of religion objections, you decry my Christian Fundamentalism. In fact, it now seems that all you want to discuss now is religious extremism. Have you tried looking into a mirror? Who wants to use government tax and spend somebody else’s money and make other people do things? From my point of view, you are defending your “right” to use government to further your own religious beliefs.

  54. Tony Salmon says:

    Tom,

    For most of your adult life you were not particularly religious, but you have always been one of the most ethical persons that I have known. The only difference therefore was that during most of your previous life you either believed or did not believe in certain practical governmental powers to tax and spend, in particular applications of the Rule of Law, in various theories constitutional reach, in certain social programs, and in the particular public oaths that you and others took without giving your own particular political opinion on such things the amazing presumption of God’s personal blessing. And that is an amazing difference.

    Once you bring the immutability of God’s sanction to your side of every issue, not only is there no possibility of balance, no room for compromise, you just stop listening. You just stop seeing. Any reality that doesn’t comport with your absolute truth simply does not exist.

    Let’s take “socialism,” again, as an example. Let’s start with a definition: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution of goods and services, of capital, land,etc, in the community or government. Examples of goods and/or services, including capital and land, that are socialized in most democratic industrialized countries include: roads and highways, national defense, police services, fire prevention service, institutions of legal dispute resolution (ie. courts), major airports and mass transit facilities, schools, child welfare services (to prevent neglect and abuse) and in many countries, medical care.

    Now you may dispute the need for some of these goods, services and capital to be controlled by the government, but very few people seriously want to have a mercenary army or private police force. We could also have a lively discussion about which goods are services should be public and which ones should be private(I know schools is your favorite bugaboo), but we never get to that point because you refuse to accept that every western democracy, including our own, is a quite successful compromise and balance between institutional socialism and institutional capitalism. That’s the real world that you never get to, that you simply block from your reality.

    And apparently we never get to that reality because, despite your enjoying and participating in the traditional benefits of socialism every day (driving on roads, etc.) you have tagged socialism as evil and against God’s will. And how you get to decide the will of God is beyond me, but once decided, how does one argue against that?

    Before you start, no, no, no, no, I am not arguing for pure socialism, meaning the government/community owns “all” the means of production of goods and services. Such a thing is not only impractical, for all the reasons that I have already stated, it is likely to lead to a closed, intolerant society. On the other hand, I don’t honestly think that Jesus has weighed in on the topic, so I don’t believe that even pure socialism, any more than pure capitalism (all goods and services owned privately) is inherently evil. Well at least not any more evil than any extremism tends to be, but that is just my very much debatable opinion – unfortunately, like most on this blog, God has not given all my mere opinions the gold plating of His immutability.

    I don’t think that Jesus was political. Unlike Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and Mohamed, Jesus was neither a military nor a political leader. In fact, on several occasions, Jesus publicly eschewed political leadership (Example: “My kingdom is not of this world). However, just as a theological exercise, as mere non-omniscient humans, let’s hypothesize whether Jesus was a liberal or a conservative.
    Biblical Jesus often railed against the hypocrisy of the conservative religious establishment. He drove the bankers and capitalists of His day out of His Father’s house of worship. His do-gooder, busy body, Bleeding Heart promoted love and compassion for the poor, for prisoners, even for the tax collector. He embraced sinners with forgiveness. He endorsed a passivity unto capture and death. He was crucified because He challenged the conservative dogma and orthodoxy of His time.

    How do you think that this hypothetical works out? It seems to me that before you started believing God’s heaven was a red state and that He had a Republican agenda for human perfection, you once admitted that Jesus would have had to have been a liberal by the standard of His time, or even ours. Perhaps this is why Mo Johnson finds the Religious Right’s wrapping of themselves in Jesus’ forfeited robes just a little frustrating.

    But to answer your question, no, I am not trying to use government to promote any dogmatic point of view, ideological or religious. And unlike Mo, I am not saying that God is a socialist, anymore than He is a capitalist. I don’t claim to know what God is, but I certainly don’t claim that God is a Democrat. Lord save us if He is. Instead, I believe that we need to take our dogmas and ideologies out of the discussion, and try to figure out how to “practically” improve our institutions and laws in ways that make things work better (never God’s perfection, just better) toward things we can actually agree on.

    I’m not trying to poo poo anyone’s spiritual epiphany here, least of all yours Tom. I genuinely believe such epiphanies can dramatically change who we are and give meaning to our lives because of our own best efforts and by such saving grace. On the other hand, I don’t believe that God’s grace requires that we close our minds to the fact that, although it may shape our personal lives and decisions (even our political decisions), such grace does not give us God’s endorsement for every complex political, legal, constitutional or social question. In doing so, we anthropomorphize the infinite, the unknowable, into our own little binary equation, an idol that we hold up and worship and fight for to the exclusion of any other enlightenment, any other expression of God’s grace. And nothin useful gets said or done after that. After that, all we can do is scream and fight.

  55. Citizen Tom says:

    Mo argued that Christianity supports Socialism, and I disagreed. You did not agree with him either. So what is your beef with me? To have an open mind, why do I have to agree with you?

    Jesus wasn’t political? No. He was just political enough so the “Conservatives” executed him. Pontius Pilate was Conservative Republican? And in our day that makes Obama…..

    If Jesus did not pose a threat, why did Jewish/Roman political system execute him? Why did the Romans persecute Christians for centuries? Jesus did not preach a political doctrine, but the religious doctrine he taught had political consequences. All the great religions have both political and theological consequences. Even the so-called political ideologies have religious consequences. Politics does not and cannot operate in isolation from religion. That’s why we protect our religious rights from the government, not the other way around. Politics with ethics is difficult. Politics without ethics is lethal.

    When we confuse of freedom of religion with freedom from religion, our system does not work. You have every right to the former, but you cannot have the latter. Therefore, I have no reason to debate you on your terms. You want me to consider my religious beliefs a personal flaw. That is absurd.

    If you are going to debate me, please read what I write. Conservatives advocate limited government, not the absence of government. Those people are anarchists.

    I don’t believe anything all that unusual. With respect to our political system, I just think Christianity supports a belief in individual responsibility, not collective responsibility. That is why, for example, you cannot get away with a war crime by saying you were just following orders. We can participate in collectives, but government cannot relieve us of individual responsibility. Hence, when government authorizes something immoral, we each have a religious obligation to do something about it.

    When government redistributes the wealth, I think that is stealing. When government insists upon taking over the education systems I think that interferes with religious freedom. Unfortunately, the problems that result from statism may take decades to manifest themselves, and we tend to live for the moment. Strange as it may seem, even people who preach the theory of evolution don’t seem to be able to consider anything but the immediate consequences. That’s why I don’t think we should try too hard to run each other’s lives. Without fully realizing what we are doing, we can create havoc for generations not yet born.

  56. Tony Salmon says:

    “To have an open mind, why do I have to agree with you?”

    Absolutely not. You just have to agree that you do not have the “only” God given answer, that sometimes there is no clear answer, that sometimes the answer may be a compromise between competing possibilities. You know, you have to be sort of rational about it.

    “Politics does not and cannot operate in isolation from religion.”

    Seems to me that you were awfully political before you were particularly religious, and your politics has remained fairly consistent. Were you wrong then or are you wrong now?

    “You want me to consider my religious beliefs a personal flaw. That is absurd.”

    Not a “personal flaw”, but when you santify every debate with them, they functionally end real debate, and instead become a pontification rather than a discussion that could lead to a compromise, or God forbid, a changing of minds.

    “I don’t believe anything all that unusual. With respect to our political system, I just think Christianity supports a belief in individual responsibility, not collective responsibility.”

    Actually, at the risk of an endless war of Bible quotes, the Bible is full of calls for collective responsibility as well as personal responsibility. “Politics” itself is always some kind of call for collective responsibility, even when we are using politics to collectively require more personal responsibility. However, I certainly don’t want to be put in the position of defending personal irresponsibility, or immorality. I just don’t think God was that clear on the correct balance between personal and social responsibility (for example, when are we required disobey immoral orders and when are we required to follow orders and have a collective responsibility to defend the rest of the nation?), so, despite your knowing what all we Christians should believe in this regard, until God enlightens the rest of us to the extent that He/She has enlightened you, I just think that we will have use more practical institutional methodology.

    “When government redistributes the wealth, I think that is stealing.”

    When the government redistributes your wealth to pay for rural highways and roads, is that stealing? When the government redistributes your wealth to pay for inner city or rural police and fire protection, is that stealing? When the government redistributes your wealth to defend American missionaries living in some foriegn nation from terrorist attack, is that stealing? What about when the government redistributes your wealth to pay for a multi-billion dollar nation building scheme in Iraq? You have a right to your opinion, but sometimes even when we disagree, the democratic process makes the call and, if we respect the process, since “stealing” implies illegality, by definition, it is not stealing. On the other hand, if your opinion is not an “opinion” but you believe that in each complex situation, it is the immutable will of God, then there is not room for compromise, for democratic process.

    Is it so hard to see the difference between searching for God’s grace and God’s will in each complex situation while realizing, at best, you can only hope, not be certain of God’s real answer, or instead saying that you “know” what we Christians should believe in each one of these political situations?

  57. Mo Johnson says:

    wish i had more time to address everything here. bottom line is certainly my views (and those of many other, particularly younger christians) is certainly impacted by the overstepping the religious right has done — as tony discusses. if there had been no religious right i doubt i’d care much about this. but there has been and i think they are so far off from what Jesus taught that I feel i have to say something. the emperor (powerful religious right) has no clothes on.

    There’s little doubt that most “christians” in America think they should be conservative politically and vote republican. I’m saying, no way, no way — the conservative republican philosophy is nearly opposite of what Jesus taught on nearly every issue (see my reply to Tom above) — so I just have to point that out.

    Apparently Citizen Tom once (maybe even still) agreed with me. it’s pretty obvious if one reads the sermon on the mount and the rest of the gospels.

    i hope to put together a web site addressing all of this in detail — in time.

    God bless!

  58. Citizen Tom says:

    Tony and Mo – For reasons which I hope will be apparent, I responded to your comments here: http://citizentom.com/2011/08/07/christianity-and-socialism-part-1/#comment-21005

  59. wdednh says:

    “Regarding the other two — you’ll have to take it up with Jesus. He said we have to do the will of the Father to go to heaven. In fact he said this same thing 3 times more often then he said believing in Him alone was enough. ” My friend I do not know what translation yo are reading, but regarding salvation, there is only ONE WAY AND THAT IS EXCEPTING JESUS AS LORD AND SAVIOR OF YOUR LIFE< any other way is not what Jesus had said, any doubt please Check the followings :Romans 10:813, please read and do not make false faction statement under the banner of Christianity, One thing is always apparent with the left is the Spin. Mo, I do not know you, nor i would want to, but you are spewing Junk, And I for one will not take it. If you have solid argument, bring it on. But please do not say, "by the way, I used to be a strong conservative", for it sounds like "Oh . i am not Raciest, I have few black friends,)What you are putting out here to back your argument is false and I call you on that. Flat Out. if you want to use Bible as your defense use it correctly and properly. And then we might be able to have proper dialog. say what you mean and mean what you say. I leave you with the following scripture to read and think about:
    1st Contortions 15:33 Be not Deceived: evil communications corrupt good mannerrs.
    Love of Christ be upon you all :)

  60. Mo Johnson says:

    Hi Citizen Tom, it does not matter which translation you use, the word of God is clear. Jesus was abundantly clear to all who have ears to hear. It seems many only want to hear part of the gospel, not the full gospel. They would rather hear they need only think a certain thought and that alone will result in eternal bliss. Jesus was clear that thoughts alone are not enough; we must do. That’s what many seem to not want to think about – what “do” means.

    Belief is indeed necessary, but then comes the necessity to “do” and “be” a true disciple. I believe all of the bible; not just selective verses. Christians are become christlike. But to do that, before one can even truly believe in Jesus, one must know him. How you can you believe in someone you don’t even know?

    Unfortunately, most people who say they are christians rarely read the bible — which is sad (cause the bible is wonderful), even dangerous (cause that’s the only way we can learn to do the will of the father; we first must learn what his will is).

    I fear for many who believe they are christians, yet don’t know what that means according to Jesus. It’s so important to read the whole bible; not just some of it. Especially the words of Jesus. Here’s what Jesus said:

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
    He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:25-28).
    Unfortunately, in the modern church, the expert in the law would have said, “Simply believe, have faith.”

    So, armed with a yellow highlighter pen, I worked my way through the printed-in-red teachings of Jesus to understand what He taught we must do to inherit eternal life. After all, He is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (John 14:6).

    Jesus does emphasize faith:
    Faith
    “Jesus said to the woman [who had washed His feet], “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).
    Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
    Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life (John 3:14-15).
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-18).
    Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him (John 3:36).
    I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).
    For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).
    I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life (John 6:47).
    I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins (John 8:24).
    I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26).

    Faith and . . .
    However, I was surprised (actually shocked), to find that three times more yellow-highlighted passages dealt with putting that faith into practice in tangible, practical ways.
    John the Baptist implies that both faith and obedience to Christ’s teaching are essential for eternal life: “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36).
    So, please read the following passages carefully and ask yourself, must I go beyond simply faith to experience eternal life. And for those who see a contradiction between “salvation by faith” and “salvation by works,” remember that in the infinitely complex mind of God, things that seem polar opposites to us, fit together in perfect harmony: a God who is three, yet one; a Son who is completely human and yet who is completely divine; a God who is absolutely sovereign and yet allows absolute freewill to His creations; etc.

    Love for God and others
    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
    He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:25-28).
    [To those who showed compassion] “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

    [To those who showed no compassion] “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
    “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:34-46). A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
    And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
    “You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother.’”
    And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
    When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:18-22).

    Love for enemies
    But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45).

    Peacemaking
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).

    Communion
    Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

    Obedience
    Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
    Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
    “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17).
    “If a man keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51).

    Righteousness
    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).
    For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
    If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell (Matthew 5:29-30, also Matthew 18:8-9 and Mark 9:43-48).
    The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear (Matthew 13:41-43).
    Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:47-50).
    Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned (John 5:29).

    Childlikeness
    And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, also Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17).
    I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Luke 18:17).

    Self-denial
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:14-27, also Mark 8:34-35).
    . . . any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 134:33)
    The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me (John 12:25-26).

    Servanthood
    [To the servant who had wisely used his talent] “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21).
    [To the servant who buried his talent] “‘And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25:30).

    Speaking truth
    Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33, also Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26, Luke 12:8).
    But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37).

    Forgiveness
    And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25).
    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

    Fruitfulness
    Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit (Matthew 21:43).
    “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
    “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
    John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
    Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
    “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
    He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely?be content with your pay” (Luke 3:8-14).
    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:1-6).

    Perseverance
    All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22).
    By standing firm you will save yourself (Luke 21:19).

    Putting faith into practice
    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

    The apostle John wrote, arguably, the most familiar passage of scritpure: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
    However John also wrote three letters in which he argues works are an essential part of faith. In 1 John 2 he writes:

    Keep the commandments
    By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him . . . (2:3-4 NASV).

    Walk the walk
    . . . but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked (2:5-6).

    Love your brother and sister
    The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes (2:9-11).

    Don’t love the world
    Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (15-16).

    Do “the will of God”
    The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever (17).

    Practice Righteousness
    If you know that. He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him (29).

    I’m happy to discuss more.

    • Mo Johnson says:

      Actually you didn’t respond to anything I said. You were completely non-responsive creating a non-existent tar baby (socialism) and then ripping it apart. First, my comment above is about what it means to be a christian. Your response does not address that or anything else I said.

      YOu go off on a tangent railing against socialism. I guess maybe you are saying that you think Jesus calls for socialism (since I certainly didn’t; I merely quoted Jesus).

      What I say is we should work together to make the world a better place; more righteous; more Godly; we should join in and promote God’s kingdom on earth and in heaven. If we don’t, we’re simply not christians.

      We can use the term “christian” but unless we “do” and “be” as Jesus — then we are not christ followers; we are not christians.

      The primary way we can make our society more just and righteous; more Godly — and please God is by working for justice. That means not wasting our resources on a few selfish, rich people — but rather using them to make the world a better place for all of us.

      i know you will not publicly agree with me — yet. but think on these things a bit. I think you will come around one day. I did.

      mo

  61. Citizen Tom says:

    Mo Johnson – Sorry, but I am mystified. What exactly do you think we are debating? I believe the Bible, but I don’t agree with your interpretation. I don’t see where the Bible commands us to hands over our individual responsibility to be charitable over to the government.

    Here are two questions for you. How do you give over your personal responsibility to love your neighbor to government? How can you use government to force your neighbor to love his neighbors?

    • wdednh says:

      Tom, through out all of this I kept my mouth shot. for you and tony held a great debate going; I even took some notes from both! As i read the big ole response from Moe earlier, I was tempted to pull out my Bible with no yellow markers out and respond, But my better half told me to be quiet, and I m so pleased i listened to her advise, for you got the Icing of the cake ‘)
      God bless you an all your readers
      A’

      • Citizen Tom says:

        wdednh – Have you ever read “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis? It is a frightful little tale. In this tale Lewis tells the story of a nasty little demon. Each of us has one that chases us, trying to drag us down. How do we win against our personal devil? We strive to hear God’s voice. We heed His call to love Him and our neighbors.

        How do we love each other? I think that begins by seeing a bit myself in other people having pity for what I find there.

    • Mo Johnson says:

      Hi all, this is where conservatives tend to drift away from reality. The thing is that “government” is us. You, me, Tom — we ARE the government (along with many others). The government is not some entity unrelated to us.

      Now, a non-christian conservative has no conflict with supporting greed and selfishness and individualsm — over love, community, justice and righteousness.

      But, a christian does not have that option. Christians must work to build God’s kingdom on earth. We do that through individual charity — but more importantly we are commanded to do it by promoting systemic justice. That can only be done through changing the system, the community, the government, our government.

      Of course we may not succeed, but we must try. Peace, love, justice, mercy, sharing, lifting up the poor, the immigrant, God’s creation — those are the things that define a christian. It does not matter if you call yourself a christian if you do not live like one.

      God bless.

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