Selective 2k

Readers may remember an exchange between John Fea and me about religion and politics from last summer. In the course of that exchange, Fea quoted favorably from President Obama’s welcome to Pope Francis:

You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the center of our concern. You remind us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and as societies, is not determined by wealth or power or station or celebrity, but by how well we hew to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized, to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity – because we are all made in the image of God.

You remind us that “the Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy. That means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart – from the refugee who flees war torn lands, to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life. It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, those who have suffered, and those who seek redemption.

This is a blatant effort to use Christianity for political ends. Because Fea found it agreeable to his own understanding of government, he wrote that if such views made him a Christian nationalist, “then call me a Christian nationalist.”

But when Mike Horton wrote critically about the hobby horse of Fea, the so-called “court evangelicals,” Fea liked the kind of 2k that had originally led me to call him a Christian nationalist. According to Horton:

Liberal and conservative, Catholic and Protestant, have courted political power and happily allowed themselves to be used by it. This always happens when the church confuses the kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of this present age. Jesus came not to jump-start the theocracy in Israel, much less to be the founding father of any other nation. Even during his ministry, two disciples—James and John—wanted to call down judgment on a village that rejected their message, but “Jesus turned to them and rebuked them” (Luke 9:54–55). He is not a mascot for a voting bloc but the savior of the world. He came to forgive sins and bring everlasting life, to die and rise again so that through faith in him we too can share in his new creation.

Sorry, but President Obama was confusing the kingdom of Christ with the United States when he welcomed the pope. John Fea apparently suffers from the same confusion when approving Obama and then approving Horton.

It’s hard keeping selectivity straight.

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10 thoughts on “Selective 2k

  1. Curt,
    Here in the UK people saw the Government, in the form of the Labour party, as key to helping the supposedly vunerable. 70 years of this help in the form of social welfare has left us one of the most debt burdened nations in the developed world. Folks from poor countries flock to the UK and Europe for such wefare, including the health care they could only dream about in their native land.
    Governments are notorious for seeing more money and social control as central to helping the vunerable – check how Tony Blair massively expanded welfare, funded ironically using the taxes raised by the risible financial whizz kids in London. Christians need to quietly get on with the care of the church which is so messed up, and not to embrace the siren call to see government as adept in using tax payers money well and certainly without their representation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul,
    IN what years did the debt start building? Can you give a breakdown?

    IN addition, here, some in gov’t want to eliminate Social Security and medicare in the name of reducing the deficit. The problem is that both are not only self-funding, Social Security is the largest holder of US debt, it has provided more money for the federal budget than even China. And until Obamacare, which I was not in favor of, many of the vulnerable, not supposed, died early of diseases because they couldn’t afford timely healthcare.

    Now our debt is spiking not because of social safety nets, but because of significant increases in military spending paired with significant decreases in tax rates for the wealthy.

    In addition, what is the debt of each of your European neighbors who also provide many social safety nets?

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  3. Hi Curt,
    Thanks for replying. UK debt really took off in World War One when we borrowed especially for the stupid waste of
    many decent men in the Somme offensive or 1916 when on the first day of July up to 20,000 Brits died. With other spikes since then our present debt is around 1.9 trillion pounds, costing the taxpayer 1 billion pounds every day in interest payments alone. I honestly haven’t got the inclination to check the EU debt per country, but places like France, Italy, Spain and Portugal rack up national debt massively. Europe arguably wants to be so caring it has opted for massive social programmes often not funded from a surplus but borrowing.
    I totally agree US debt is spiked by crazy military spending – look at the cost of the F35. So called conservative Reagan was blind in his quest of America exceptionalism to its national debt burden.
    Christians need to focus on prayerful care for those in the fellowship with giving, time and prayer which will show God’s love in His church. Political activism is so often a soul sapping business mired in controversy, however noble the aims.

    t

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “Sorry, but President Obama was confusing the kingdom of Christ with the United States”

    Are you really “sorry”? I always suspected that the reason you like Lutherans was your affinity for the brothers Niebuhr (not Lutheran Christology in which incarnation is confused with Christ’s death) You and Horton want to be able to narrate the Reformed past in America while selecting out the Constantinian parts.

    Cotton against Roger Williams—“Ceremonial laws were generally typical.. Not so Moses his Judicials, especially those which had in them moral equity. It is moral equity that blasphemers and apostate idolaters, seducing others to idolatry, should be put to death—It cannot be said that the Lord Jesus never appointed the civil sword for a remedy in such a case. For Christ did expressly appoint it in the Old testament, nor did Christ ever abrogate it in the New.”

    George Gillespie—“liberty of heresy and schism is no part of the liberty of conscience which Christ has purchased. Under fair and handsome pretexts, sectaries infuse the poison of church-ruinating and state shaking TOLERATION. The plain question is this–whether the Christian magistrate be the keeper of both tables of the Ten Commandments, whether he ought to suppress his own enemies but not God’s enemies…This doctrine of the magistrates’s coercive power makes many to stumble at the Presbyterian reformation as a bloody reformation.

    Now you and Horton say it differently— your nation state of choice should never be resisted by the church, and the church should not resisted by laity. and the church has nothing to say about Roman Catholic Supreme Court Justices.

    Bonhoeffer— ” In his own way Luther confirms Constantine’s covenant with the church. As a result, a minimal ethic prevailed. Luther of course wanted a complete ethic for everyone, not only for monastic orders. Thus the existence of the Christian became the existence of the citizen. The nature of the church vanished into the invisible realm. In this way the New Testament message was fundamentally misunderstood, inner-worldliness became a principle…. This distinction between private person and bearer of an office as normative for my behavior is foreign to Jesus. Jesus does not say a word about it. He addresses his disciples as people who have left everything behind to
    follow him. ‘Private’ and ‘official’ spheres are all completely subject to Jesus’ command.”
    https://uwaterloo.ca/grebel/publications/conrad-grebel-review/issues/fall-2002/dietrich-bonhoeffers-political-theology

    Matthew 16: 22 Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!” 23 But Jesus turned and told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me 24: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.

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  5. “You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the center of our concern.” The “least of these” denotes the brethren (as in Christians) not just anyone and everyone. Context means nothing to scripture twisters.

    Like

  6. @ DGH: Will you perchance be at the Conference on Faith and History in Grand Rapids in Oct?

    If so, check out my dear friends Stiemsma and Crown, who are critiquing Kuyper on the French Revolution.

    Like

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