20 Reasons Why the Christian Right & Left Won’t Adopt Me by Frank Viola

20 Reasons Why the Christian Right & Left Won’t Adopt Me by Frank Viola April 18, 2012

Why the Christian Right Won’t Adopt Me

  1. Like F.F. Bruce, I believe words like “plenary” and “inerrant” are unnecessary when speaking about the truthfulness of Scripture.
  2. I don’t believe the Bible clearly addresses the question of the eternal destiny of those who have never heard or understood the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  3. I don’t believe Scripture answers every question posed to it. And there are many questions, including theological ones, which are shrouded in mystery.
  4. I believe that racism and sexism are serious problems in the USA and shouldn’t be viewed as “lesser” than other moral evils.
  5. I believe that slander, hatred, greed, and fits of rage are just as sinful as fornication and stealing (so did Paul – 1 Corinthians 6:10-11; Galatians 5:19-21).
  6. I don’t know whether to whistle or wind my watch, to laugh or cry at The American Patriot’s Bible.
  7. I believe that God loves the poor and taking care of them should be just as high a priority as other social issues, if not more.
  8. While I don’t believe the theory of evolution with respect to human origins is air-tight, many genuine and devout Christians (past and present) believe it to be fact (“theistic evolution”). And because Christ has received them, so do I.
  9. I believe a narrative approach to the Bible is a far superior way to understand Scripture than a systematical approach.
  10. While I disagree with him on many things, I find some of what Brian McLaren teaches to be valuable.

Why the Christian Left Won’t Adopt Me

  1. I believe the Bible – all of it – is divinely inspired, completely true, fully authoritative, and wholly reliable.
  2. I believe that when Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no man comes to the Father but by Him, He wasn’t lying. Nor was He being narrow minded. (And I believe Jesus of Nazareth actually uttered those words.)
  3. Though I possess neither, I don’t believe it is a sin to own a Cadillac Escalade or a private jet.
  4. I believe that accusing people of racism and sexism when they aren’t racist or sexist is just as wrong as racism and sexism.
  5. I sometimes think that there is too much talk about rights and not enough talk about taking responsibility.
  6. I believe that Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 still hold true today.
  7. Postmodern deconstructionism, while helpful in discounting modernity (whose fundamental tenants challenge Christianity), is inadequate for bringing one to the Truth, who is Christ.
  8. I believe there is a big difference between the world system and the ekklesia, and the former is God’s enemy (1 John 2:15-17).
  9. There are still many first-rate scholars who argue that there are sound historical and scientific reasons for believing that Adam was a real, historical person. And it is wrong to ridicule and scorn them.
  10. While I disagree with him on many things, I find some of what John MacArthur teaches to be valuable.

The Family to Which I Belong

Note that I could easily lengthen the list and expand each point. But this is a blog post, not a book.

Of course, not everyone who aligns themselves with the Christian Right affirms each point I’ve listed above. Yet many do. The same is true for those who align themselves with the Christian Left. Yet many do.

And just for good measure, I don’t believe in making a fetish out of political or theological centrism.

That said, it’s okay if the Christian Left and the Christian Right movements won’t adopt me. You see, I belong to the Family of God, which is made up of all who have the Lord’s life within them. And that includes my sisters and brothers in Christ who are on the left and the right.

It may surprise some that I have close friends and family members who are on the far right on the political and theological spectrum, and they are intensely and passionately involved in the political process.

I also have close friends and family members who are on the far left on the political and theological spectrum, and they are intensely and passionately involved in the political process.

I’m glad that they are following their vision, conscience, and passion as I believe all believers should.

Let me say two things parenthetically at this point:

(1) It’s fascinating to me that people who are part of the Christian Left and the Christian Right routinely accuse one another of accommodating the culture and supporting Caesar and Empire.

(2) As a generality, the Left believes in speaking to “power.” However, when it does, it’s usually in the areas of contra racism, alleviating poverty, protesting against unjust war, etc. In general, the Right also believes in speaking to “power.” However, when it does, it’s usually in the areas of the fight against abortion, pornography, etc.

Very rarely do we see leaders or movements today in the spirit of Joseph Cardinal Bernardine who advocated “the seamless garment,” protesting against abortion as well asthe causes which produce poverty and unjust war. To Bernardine, to fight against abortion, war, poverty, and the death penalty was to be consistently pro-life.

Let me add a postscript: Being a liberal Democrat doesn’t make one “cool” anymore than being a conservative Republican makes one “moral.” So it seems to me anyway.

End of parenthetical statement.

Again, I’ve always encouraged Christians to follow their vision, conscience, and passion regarding what they believe God’s will is for the world. And I applaud believers who are laboring in the trenches with respect to God’s Kingdom work. As I’ve written and spoken elsewhere, such work is important to me, and it’s something in which I’m actively engaged myself.

For that reason, while I may disagree with my friends and family members on various theological, social, and political points, we love, respect, and support one another. Especially in the work of helping those who are needy and suffering, both on the justice side and on the mercy side.

And our differences have never affected our relationship.

So even if the Right and Left movements won’t adopt me, I happily declare that I am kin to all genuine followers of Jesus, regardless of their political or theological bent. :-)

And they will know we are Christians by our love for one another.

“They drew a circle that shut me out — a heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle that took them in” (Edwin Markham).

Rick Warren and N.T. Wright

In closing, I really appreciate what Rick Warren said recently in an interview with ABC News:

“The coarsening of our culture and the loss of civility in our civilization is one of the things that concerns me most about our nation. We don’t know how to disagree without being disagreeable. The fact is, you can — you can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye.  And what we need in our country is unity, not uniformity. There are major differences, politically, religiously, economically in our nation. We have many different streams in our nation . . . What is solvable is how we treat each other with our differences . . . In fact, the Bible tells me in I Peter, show respect to everyone, even people I totally disagree with. So I’m coming from that viewpoint in that we must return civility to our civilization in order to get on. But the reason I do that is because of the deeper reason, there’s a spiritual root to my reason for civility.”

This post fits nicely with my Beyond Evangelical (short for beyond evangelicalism) series. So I’ll be making it one of the chapters in the upcoming book by the same name.

On a related note, not long after I wrote this post (it’s been in the queue for over a month), I learned that N.T. Wright just wrote a piece that lists how both the “left wing” and the “right wing” (his words) misread the Bible. His approach is “beyond evangelical,” and it serves as a great companion essay to this post.

See also, Christianity in Crisis: A Response to Andrew Sullivan’s Newsweek Article


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