Theological Malpractice

Theological Malpractice June 17, 2017

Barber Spiritual Malpractice Quote

The New York Times recently featured an article about the resurgence of liberal religion in the realm of politics. It included the quote that I have turned into a meme above.

“How do you take two or three Scriptures and make a theology out of it, and claim it is the moral perspective, and leave 2,000 on the table?” he said. “That is a form of theological malpractice.”

– Rev. William J. Barber II

I disagree that the religious left has been absent from the political realm for 40 years. It is certainly true that the Religious Right has overshadowed it to a remarkable extent. But the slow painstaking work that has continued throughout that time should not be forgotten nor neglected, however much we may appropriately appreciate the new direction that the religious and political winds are blowing.

The most important thing for the Religious Left to remember is a key lesson from how the tide is now turning, as a result of the Religious Right selling its soul and compromising its purported values – as well as actual Christian values – for the sake of political expediency. If religious political liberals do likewise in order to achieve power, they might be as “successful” in the short term – and lose all credibility in the longer term – in much the same way that the Religious Right now has for many, and has begun to for many more.

Of related interest, see Hemant Mehta’s post prompted by the same NY Times article, in which he argues that atheists and the religious Left are natural allies. He writes:

They need us for the numbers, and we need them for the organization.

And if we don’t come together, the forces that helped put Trump in office will retain control of Congress in 2018 and do it all over again in 2020.

The Christian Century blog had a piece about remaining “purple” as a congregation – in other words, diverse politically rather than “blue” or “red.” And the Chronicle of Higher Education had an article about teaching humility in an age of arrogance. Also of interest is the article on a mathematical approach to voting districts and the issue of gerrymandering in Nature.


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