Moral Contradictions

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What does that have to do with anything?

While staying dry here in the soggy East, I was perusing some blogs and news sites as I'm wont to do and asked myself this same question three different times: "What does that have to do with anything?".

I first asked that question while reading a Talk To Action story about fundamentalists efforts in the United Methodist Church. A suspiciously well-written and controversial resolution was offered at a conference that originated from the Institute on Religion and Democracy. The mission statement of the IRD reveals the following intention:

The Institute on Religion and Democracy is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches’ social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad....

...The IRD believes that the Christian tradition has great resources for the building of a just society. Among the basic teachings with profound political implications are these: God alone is sovereign and worthy of worship. All persons are created in the image of God. Endowed with inalienable rights, persons have the responsibility to love their neighbors. A church that faithfully proclaims and demonstrates these teachings will do much to sustain and spread democracy.


Um... I'm a patriotic American, but where exactly in the Bible are we called to spread democracy? I can point you to what we are called to do, but the word democracy isn't even in my Bible. This mission statement's misguided theology is revealing in its cherrypicking of biblical teachings and for subsequent justification for mixing in Enlightenment ideals.

The entire statement is worth reading as it focuses on even more extra-Biblical judgements bordering on national idolatory, which will be examined at a later date.

The sample resolution demands the UMC to pull out of the National Council of Churches for no less than fifteen reasons. The very first is thus:

WHEREAS the NCC regularly takes controversial positions on divisive political issues (such as opposing the war in Iraq, opposing Republican efforts to reform Social Security, and supporting judicial filibusters) while purporting to represent its member denominations;

I'm sorry, but what does the reformation of Social Security have to do with denominational life and our Christian faith? What does that have to do with anything?

The other question was asked while reading a Baptist Press article about the Texas CBF meeting. The below quote is this article's culprit:

Currie also spoke for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (formerly Public Affairs), an advocacy group located in Washington, D.C., that consistency has taken positions different from social conservatives. Among other things, the BJC has opposed school vouchers, the posting of Ten Commandments displays on public property, public prayer and certain abstinence programs.


What in the blooming world does opposition to school vouchers have to do with anything, and again, why is it the first reason listed? Growing up in the South and given its history, I have an idea of why that may be, but again, that's a topic to explore another day.

Please let me know if I'm wrong in asking the following question: Does the Bible condemn opposition to school vouchers and other Republican initiatives, including disagreeing with the Iraq war and opposing judicial filibusters?

Am I the only one who's wary of connecting any particular party's ideal to God's holy Church? Am I the only one that understands that God gave us His Church, not a government, to follow His Great Commission? Am I the only one who is completely confused that these folks oppose governmental social programs because it's the Church's responsibility, yet advocate that the government is responsible for legislating morality? And further, am I the only one who understands that Jesus changed the course of history forever, and did it without ever casting a vote?

Watch out for these wolves in sheep's clothing - they take advantage of our faith and pervert biblical teachings to serve their culturally and humanistic biases.

6 Comments:

  • I need to do some thinking about this.

    I agree with your basic thesis...I think. However, that doesn't mean that we aren't supposed to be active in politics.

    A lot of times I think our view of salvation is to small. I think we have a individualistic view which has more to do with being American than actually Christian, but again - I need to think about it some more.

    I believe that God has called us to be about some things as part of our sanctification...like justice, looking out for the poor, etc. Since we live in a society that allows for voter imput, I kind of think we have an obligation to be involved.

    Now, about these "organizations." Yeah, they are both probably way overboard. I would have to look at them more closely to really form an adequate opinion.

    Tim

    By Blogger Tim, at Tuesday, June 27, 2006 11:03:00 PM  

  • When I was ranting about a couple of my church's (UMC) more idiotic decisions, my pastor said we'd been infiltrated at the very top.

    None of our Bishops agree with the powers that be.

    I've been a member now for almost 40 years. Went from American Baptist to Southern Baptist (very briefly) and over to the Methodists where I stayed.

    I don't want to leave and I'm hoping these people are in the minority but if it looks too much like the fundies are taking over, I'm gone.

    And I'd probably weep.

    By Blogger Granny, at Wednesday, June 28, 2006 4:45:00 AM  

  • Tim, I agree that we are called to be involved in politics - but is politics worth splitting a church? Should politics be used to gain control of a church? Should a church be used to advance a particular political agenda?

    Like you I'm still working out some of the answers to those questions - hehe, that's one of the reasons I started this blog.

    I agree that a political agenda that addresses justice issues and even life issues can be a proper role for a church as a whole - but social security and school vouchers?

    Individual Christians have every right to vote how they wish to on those issues, but to bring it up at a church meeting?

    What does that have to do with anything?

    Granny - I hope that doesn't happen to the UMC... The best way to be prepared is to understand that it can happen and to look for ways to keep moving in a positive direction and to not give an inch.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Wednesday, June 28, 2006 11:28:00 AM  

  • First of all:

    Granny - I hope that the UMC is safe. I hope that you'll fight any fundy takeover a bit before leaving. the UMC is a great denomination. It would be a shame for it to go down without a fight.

    Secondly,

    School Vouchers in church? I don't like the idea. Though, education could be brought up since it is so important to society at large. Especially education in the home (and no, I'm not talking about home schooling!) There are multiple reasons that I don't want government controled moneys given to religious organizations. I've never seen a country/religion that has benefited from a close association between church and state. Also, since governmental leadership is so finicky, that money which is supposed to be given with "no strings attached" can garner strings real quick!

    Social Security? Quite possibly something that could be brought up, especially with the biblical admonition to take care of the poor, elderly, widows and orphins. Frankly, even though I strongly believe that the "Church" should take an active social role in taking care of our neglected...I feel that it is too weak now to make any kind of difference. Since we have the ability to do with our government what we want, why not use it to take care of the less fortunate?

    Should people vote based on their spiritual priorities? I sure hope so. I also hope that some of those priorities are formed in church.

    Tim

    By Blogger Tim, at Wednesday, June 28, 2006 5:09:00 PM  

  • Tim,

    I agree that those issues have moral components, but what bothered me more than anything was their prominent placement in both settings, above anything else. Not to mention the other issues listed there.

    I would respond to your question about the weakness of the Church - since God gave us the Church, not the government, and since Jesus changed the world through Him, not through Rome, I still believe the Church is the instrument of God's Will. Saying anything to the contrary seems to limit the power of the Holy Spirit.

    I'm not saying to throw out the usefullness of the government, but it should not be the default nor the primary instrument of God's Will. I just am not comfortable wading in extra-biblical waters, no matter how patriotic they may sound.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Wednesday, June 28, 2006 5:45:00 PM  

  • Oh man. I had this great comment. But, I went to the original post page, to look at something...and hit the comment link again.

    It totally erased what I had writen. :o(

    Grrr.....

    Tim

    By Blogger Tim, at Wednesday, June 28, 2006 6:37:00 PM  

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