Who Wants this Kind of “Christian” America?

Sojourners, led by Jim Wallis, is on a mission. According to the Sojourners website, “Our mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world.” In How Christian is Tea Party Libertarianism?, posted on the Sojourners “God’s Politics” blog, he offered his analysis of political Libertarianism according to his view of basic Christian principles.

He makes four points. Here’s my summary of them:

  1. Individual rights are not the preeminent Christian virtue. To emphasis individual rights conflicts with a central Christian teaching of “the common good.”
  2. Government plays a role in God’s plans and purposes, and we are instructed to pay taxes for those purposes.
  3. The free market in America (capitalism) is the problem. It will become a totalitarian beast if not regulated by government.
  4. Free people will not share or give enough of what they have to meet the demands of fairness. Government must be involved.
  5. The Tea Party is almost all white, therefore it’s  likely racist. Perhaps they just don’t like having a black president.

Wallis’s God’s Politics piece could be examined from either a political perspective or a scriptural one. Here’s my personal response, articulated specifically because a friend asked:

  1. ”Individual rights are not the preeminent Christian virtue.” I agree. In fact, to live as a Christian, we have to surrender all our rights to God. All. We have no claim on God, but give him the right to rule our personal lives. We are bound, however, to recognize the inherent rights of others, because they are human beings created by God and bearers of his image, whether they acknowledge him or not – that’s might be beside the point, but I thought it was important to mention. But “the common good” being a central Christian teaching? Even allowing for Wallis’s disputable terminology, this is a gross confusion of the subject of Scriptural imperatives. The instructions to share, give, do good, etc., are directed at God’s people. In the Old Testament, that means the nation of Israel; in the New, it means the Church, but it’s never the government. Jim Wallis confuses the calling of the Church with the calling of government.
  2. ”Government plays a role in God’s plans and purposes.” Agreed, but those plans and purposes aren’t what Jim Wallis says they are.
  3. “The free market in America (capitalism) is the problem.” Wallis says, “Libertarians seem to believe in the myth of the sinless market.” I disagree with that statement, but more importantly, it appears Wallis believes in the myth of sinless government. Capitalism is not the problem. Sin is the problem. Everyone has the potential to become a totalitarian beast if not surrendered to God, restrained from within, or restrained by force. The government, which by nature exerts force, poses the greatest potential to become a totalitarian beast.
  4. “Free people will not share or give enough of what they have to meet the demands of fairness. Government must be involved.” If we, collectively as a people, are too selfish to give voluntarily, then the people empowered to take from us cannot be trusted to do so either.
  5. “The Tea Party is almost all white, therefore it’s  likely racist. Perhaps they just don’t like having a black president.” To judge an individual or a group of individuals based on the color of their skin, rather than the content of their arguments, shows fear and desperation if you ask me. Some would call his summation racist. I call it an ad hominem attack. I will at least give him credit for addressing issues first. That’s more than Charles Blow did in A Mighty Pale Tea

I can’t help but see in this an attempt to impose on America a particular vision of the Christian society and to use government force to do it. There are a lot of turns a discussion of this subject could take, but I’d like to start here: Does anybody really want the government to impose religious principles on us?

By the way, this conversation got started here. For context, start there.

For Discover The Networks’s bio and profile of Jim Wallis, click here. Highlights (or lowlights) include:

  • In 1979, Wallis expressed his hope that “more Christians will come to view the world through Marxist eyes.”
  • In January of 2010, Wallis recounted meeting Marxist Dorothy Day: “[She said] ‘So, you were a radical student like me, right? You were a Marxist like me, right?’ [I said] Yeah.”

For a good response to Jim Wallis’s opinion piece, check out Is the Tea Party a Christian Movement?.

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