Exploring Our Matrix
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
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First, would Jesus and the prophets have the same conception in mind about society and the poor? The prophets preached to influence the ruling class of Jerusalem which maintained it ruled the people directly on Gods behalf. If god wanted to help the poor, it was the states function to do that for God. people under the charge of the state that didn’t want to contribute to God’s work were also rebels against the state. The tone of Jesus’ message seems to be aimed not at the officials of Jerusalem or Rome, but to all individuals. Each person who is a child of God has an obligation to do God’s work. But their doesn’t seem to be any notion in Jesus message that others should be compelled to do God’s work. A Christian tax man that is slapped by a greedy tax cheat has no recourse but to turn the other cheek. I think societies owe its members justice and mutual assistance from all threats to life and may use force to achieve that end, however I get the impression that the Christian calling is a personal commitment to others that cannot be forced on others. As soon as one picks up a baton to enforce the love of Christ, one has chosen the path of Satan. The true Christian society is one where all people act with the spirit of Christ, so everyone is occupied with providing for everyone.
Who is picking up a baton to enforce the love of Christ? I don’t understand. Are you saying there should be no way of enforcing tax collection? No way of enforcing any law? Christians shouldn’t vote?
absolutely not in any case. But I think one should separate the actions of society at large from the actions of Christ. A Christian is held to a standard much higher than any society could demand of its members. Jesus told the rich man to sell all he had and give it to the poor. But a society that demanded that every one sell their goods and give them away would be a nightmare of misery, as has been proven by past explorations of these ideas as public policy. It is not the job of Christ to enforce law or collect taxes. That is the state’s job. A Christian should vote but they must separate the demands of Christ for them from the demands the state has for its survival. The king cannot turn the other cheek. He has to punish wrong doers for the preservation of good in society. But Christ only offers forgiveness.
So Michael: should they vote for a fairer society at large or should they vote for a society which relies more and more on individual acts of charity? Knowing that most people who talk a good line in personal generosity don’t actually deliver on it.
They should vote for a fair society and DO more individual acts of charity. I do not think that it is possible for a state to be Christian. Its citizens might be but the essential functions of a state preclude it from being Christian. It is not Christian charity to see poor people somewhere then demand that the state take someone else’s money and give it to them. It certainly not Christian charity to think you are poor and demand that the state give you someone else’s money. The notion that Caesar should be about God’s business is fools’ gold. The sad verdict of history is it only makes injustice worse.
Interesting that white evangelicals are the most likely to insist that government support their Christian views on abortion and the least likely to think it might apply to the requirements of creating a more just society. The most likely to insist this is a Christian nation and the least likely to think the law should more closely hew to the teachings of Jesus.
It’s a terrible bit of data though. Out of those groups, which groups knew more about the bible – is that correlated?
If asked this (though the question is unfair itself) I would answer in a different direction to my political tendencies.
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