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Progressive Christianity?

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Today, during the third hour of the Michael Medved radio show, Jim Wallis, author of Gods Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, appeared to discuss his critiques of both the left and right political wings of this country. The conversation started well as Mr. Wallis did seem quite moderate on the issue of abortion, agreeing with Michael that they should be made as rare as possible.

In just about every other way, unfortunately, Wallis showed himself to be liberal with a capital “L”. From the 2004 election, to the war in Iraq, he spouted the same sillinesses I hear all too often:

  1. The Iraq war was immoral and illegal
  2. The President & VP are making money off of payments to Halliburton.
  3. President Bush’s policies have all failed
  4. The government has a duty to redistribute wealth for the good of all
  5. Karl Rove is actually a space-alien who is controlling the President

Okay, maybe not that last thing, but everything before that, and much more to be sure. All-in-all, it was rather disappointing to hear Mr. Wallis parrot some of the most senseless and baseless lies of the left. Can someone please tell Mr. Wallis that Halliburton is an AMERICAN company that employs tens of thousands of AMERICAN workers, and pays oodles of taxes to the AMERICAN government?

I mean, really; liberals love to accuse President Bush of allowing jobs to go overseas, then they turn around and complain that we are using an American company in Iraq to support the troops! Would Mr. Wallis and other so-called “Progressives” prefer to hire a French company?

Interestingly, Mr. Wallis and some others from the Christian Community (of which I am a member), call themselves “Progressive Christians” (meaning they lean to the left and describe themselves as Christians). I understand that Christians come in all shapes, sizes, and dispositions, but I have a problem with someone who mixes faith and politics in this manner.

To be fair, I’ve often described myself as a “conservative Christian.” But what I mean by this is that I’m a cultural conservative, as well as Reformed in my theology. Politically speaking, I’m a moderate-to-right leaning Republican who calls himself “a Republican.” Go figure.

Wallis, on the other hand, seem to have mixed faith and politics in a rather strange manner. Furthermore, in writing a book called, “Gods Politics,” Wallis has clearly declared, before the first page is read, that he is mixing religion and politics in a way that Progressives often detest.

And this is a key point! Senator Kerry repeatedly asserted during the runup to the 2004 election that, no matter his beliefs, he could not “force his morality on others.” He hemmed and hawed over issues like prayer and abortion. Meanwhile, the President said forthrightly that he wanted to promote a culture of life where abortion is rare and that he prays often and feels “uplifted” by the prayers of others.

Every time the President mentioned his faith, prayer, his support for a marriage amendment, and other faith-related issues, Christians like myself took heart. Not because we think he’s going to force Christianity down the throats of every citizen, but because he was firm and unapologetic in his beliefs. He loves the Lord and he knows his place in this universe. He may be the most powerful man on the planet, but, next to God, he is no more significant than you or I, and just as accountable for his actions as anyone else.

As for DNC leaders, they have a fit any time the President talks faith. These so-called progressives, as well as many liberals working in the media, seem to hate Christianity and all it stands for.

So, would liberals be amenable to becoming more “faith-friendly?” I seriously doubt it. What liberals in general and the DNC in particular expects is for people of faith, like Mr. Wallis (who seems truly to be a sincere in what he believes), to sublimate that faith and follow the party line.

It’s one of the problems with a party that tends to be more socialistic in its bent. Party leaders are the elite, the educated, and the anointed. Average members are, therefore, not qualified, not “pedigreed” enough, to set the agenda for the party.

Don’t agree with me? What else would explain the fact that millions of moderate Democrats in this country are wondering what in the hell happened to their party? And yet, Mr. Wallis seems to believe that he can, with his book, persuade DNC leaders to lose their elitist, anti-Christian, mindset and learn to embrace those of us whose faith is central to our lives. For sure, there are some Democratic leaders who are not only willing, they are already there, but these folks have been isolated and marginalized.

I think Joe Lieberman is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. He’s a moral man who is truly moderate in his views and truly appreciates the faith that Americans hold so dear. Yet, in the primaries, he received marginal support from Democrats.

So, does Mr. Wallis really think that his party will do for him what it wouldn’t do for an important man like Senator Lieberman? I seriously doubt it. More likely, they may call upon him to help them “talk-the-talk” of faith, not realizing that we’ll see through them as easily as we saw through Senator Kerry.

As for Mr. Wallis’s insistence that the government should do more in assisting with foreign aid and social ills here in the US, he’s just as deceived as so many others on this issue. First of all, the United States as a whole is the most generous nation on Earth.

Guess what? We give more than just money. The US has the greatest international transport and communication infrastructure in the world.

The government may not dump buckets of cash into some efforts, but they employ their resources to deliver supplies in hours or days, where, otherwise, it might have taken weeks, months, or even longer. That and we donate tons of surplus items that may or may not ever be counted as bottom line contributions.

In addition, the US government does something virtually no other government does; it created one of the world’s greatest incentive programs for helping average people give their money to worthy causes. So I can tithe to my church, and give to those causes which matter to me, and the government allows me to claim those donations on my taxes, and actually get money back.

Why do you think that virtually every economic advisor in this country will urge you to donate some of your money each year? Which is why there are no people in the world who give as much as Americans.

THIS is the kind of social program which I support! Not the kind where the federal government raises taxes, then wastes most of it on infrastructure costs, but the kind which gives me incentive to do the right thing and use my money far more efficiently and effectively to boot!

Finally, in regards to Mr. Wallis’s insistence that President Bush is waging an “immoral” war, based on the fact that the Pope and other religious leaders have spoken out against the war, he seems to be forgetting what his Bible says regarding the power of the government:

Romans 13: 1-7
Submission to the Authorities
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

President Bush and congress (you know, the body which authorized the war?) are the governing authority of this nation. THEY decide whether we go to war, not a religious leader of any faith or denomination. Yes, I know we have guidelines for what constitutes a just war, but it’s a guideline, and even then, President Bush, in my opinion, met those guidelines.

We can argue until we’re blue in the face on this issue, but I would advise Mr. Wallis to think long and hard about an issue that liberals obsess over, the “seperation of church and state.” Though I view the First Amendment as more of a restraining order on the federal government, I would love to hear from him whether or not he felt it appropriate to call upon leaders of mutiple faiths to exert undue influence over our President in a time of war? Or any time, for that matter.

Again, isn’t this the kind of thing liberals freak out over? What would the media be saying of Wallis if it were President Clinton who was in office? There’s an interesting question… WWMD?

All humor aside, Mr. Wallis seems to have the liberal double-standard trick down pat. War, homelessness, jobs, the economy… All these are things that challenged President Clinton during his two terms, yet to most liberals, he could do no wrong. But, of course, we are not so lenient with a Republican President, are we?

Of course not. But then, I’m used to it; and so is the President. It has not made one bit of difference in the past four years and it won’t make a difference over the next four years.

David Flanagan

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  • RJ

    “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities”

    Including Iranians and North Koreans?

  • Look at it this way, that passage was written at a time when Rome ruled the world. Not really the most democratic of nations was it?



  • Mike

    I believe the intent of the verse in Romans was for Christians to follow the laws of their government…not mindlessly agree with the ideologies of those in power.

    You don’t have to agree with someone to submit to the power given to them.

  • Did you know that when Liberalism got its start in America it was a movement dominated by devout Christians? Many of the first great liberal activists were ministers like Lyman Beecher and Charles Finney, Nathaniel Taylor, Joseph Bellamy and others. They were very active in the evangelical revival of traditional churches and took their motivation to make the world a better place from their Christian faith, believing that to lead a Christ-like life they needed to improve the condition of those who were disadvantaged by society and the economy. They were among the founders of the Democratic Party and really dominated the northern part of it up until the Civil War.