As some of my readers know, I tried opening a new blog for a while called Ex Posteriori. It never really took off for me. I only posted 23 times in 7 months, and it just wasn't the same, but I WAS ready to blog again, so I decided to reopen the ol' Memento Moron digs. The irony is, the last entry I ever posted at Ex Posteriori was also the longest and, I believe, best effort I made over there. The topic of it was one that has since then come up in further conversation, so I thought I'd repost it here, along with the comments that ensued:
I have an odd little habit... well, ok, I have quite a few odd little habits, but this one in particular: When driving, I tend to actually pay attention to peoples bumper stickers. I like to read them, both for content and style. I almost always have an opinion on them, but I like to give each one a moments consideration before passing judgement.
Take today for instance.
On the way to The Lad's swimming lesson, I noticed a car up ahead sporting a sticker that said "Jesus Is a Liberal". You can imagine my first response. And you'd be wrong. Because my first response was not, "No, He wasn't".
Oh, don't get me wrong. I utterly reject the assertion made by many, particularly amongst Christians of certain old mainline denominations, that the teachings of Christ and the early Church most closely jive with the modern philosophies of the left. But that's an argument to take up in another thread, another post, because despite the fact that I most certainly do assert that no, He wasn't, it wasn't my first response. My first response was, "Pfft. So?"
Let me explain.
It's obvious that the assertion implied by said bumper sticker was "So you should be too". And, given my own beliefs about applying my faith to my life, if I agreed with the first sentence, yes, I'd accept the assertion of the second. In fact, therre was a time when I was a young, impressionable Christian when I did just that. I advocated socialism and the "Justice" movement as being Christ-like. However, as I've said before, I outgrew that line of thinking. I reject the latter assertion because I reject the former.
But I find the whole argument particularly unpalatable coming from the majority of the left, because even if the former were proven to them to NOT be true, they would NOT discard the latter. These are the same people that scream "Separation of Church and State!" anytime Christians oppose abortion, or gay marriage, or sex ed in schools, or try to have a Prayer at the flagpole day or promote the teaching of Intelligent Design or any other of a myriad of issues that happen to be spiritually or religiously informed to one degree or another.
Again, I don't want to misrepresent myself or be misrepresented regarding my OWN stances on such subjects. I'm not saying if I agree or disagree with fellow Christians on such topics. My views tend to get me in trouble equally with both the religious and the secular alike, and those views would take up more time and words than the scope of this blog entry.
My point is that like most such issues with the left, they're really less concerned about the actual principal of the thing and more with the issue of whose ox it is that is being gored. They're quick to tell you that you can't legislate morality, but they're just as quick to tell you that you're immoral if you reject their legislation. They're all for the Separation of Church and State, but they tell you, thinking it should change your politics, that... Jesus is a Liberal.
Which is why my response was "so?" Why should the teachings of a religious leader (no matter how much reverence I personally have for said leader) affect my political positions, if religion has no place in politics? And if it DOES have a place in politics, if individuals have a right to let their personal beliefs inform their public policies, can you PLEASE hold ALL beliefs to that standard, not just your OWN?
Because only then am I willing to move on and discuss with you whether or not Jesus really IS a Liberal.
Ed.: The comments for this entry over at E.P. generated more activity that any other, but below are these which contributed most to the dialogue:
What does it take to define one as a Christian? One needs simply to ask the question, can I fully and in good conscience hold and aver the truth of the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed?
The Apostle's Creed is the more elegant of the two:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Nicene Creed is rather less simple, but covers the main points:
the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his
Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.
Jesus, Himself, answered the question in John 3:15, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
These are the creeds and the teachings of Christ. These are the penultimate requirements of being Christian. For the laws of God you need read Matthew.
But nowhere that I can find, does the Lord tell you that taking from your neighbor to make your own life better was ever one of the commandments. Mebbe being a Liberal (Leftist) means you can read the Scripture better than you and I, eh, B.B.?
Ah, I'd argue it's even easier than that to be defined as Christian: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
But now you're getting into the discussion of whether or not Jesus IS a Liberal, and whether or not Leftists CAN read scripture better than you or I -- something I'd LOVE to discuss in another post, and I'm sure you and I would find common ground. But I'm trying to AVOID that debate in this post. All I am trying to say is that if a Leftist is to make that argument, they have to violate their own vehemently averred aversion to letting an individuals religious beliefs seep over into their political ones. They can't have it one way part of the time and the opposite way the rest of the time, all dependent on whether it suits their ends or not.
I know, I'm asking too much, but akin to Oliver with his empty porridge bowl, I have to ask, "More (intellectual honesty), please, sir..."
Your reaction was right but for the wrong reason. Using a 2000 year old myth which has been subject to massive redaction and politically inspired editing as a basis for anything is questionable. Trying to fit it into modern politics is just stupid. Jesus would not recognise your version of reality - he and his followers seemed to believe
that the end was coming. As a result despite apparently being divine he didn't
share much of general use beyond a reasonable, if unoriginal, set of ethics. The
germ theory of disease would, for example, have been a rather more useful
insight than that the meek will inherit the earth. The former is more useful if
everyone is going to be around for 2000 years: the latter is helpful if the
apocalypse is coming. Similiary, I do wonder if he might have said something to
Christians about not perseceuting the Jews.
The research evidence actually suggests that those on the right of Amercian politics are more likely to disregard anything that contradicts their original position and those on the left are more likely to question this. This is probably why the right is so much stronger.
You criticize the bumper sticker owner for a range of imagined prejudices - you have no evidence for these - but seem to have just as many of your own.
Nice post B. Dying to have the other argument.
BTW anon: to what research evidence are you referring? To give an
oppositional position, researchers consistently find that while liberals demand
that government take more from the "wealthy" to give to the "poor", liberals
give nearly half as much to charity. Because I can refer to that research and
link it, I think I can succinctly say they are hypocritical in that they are
very generous with someone else's money, but very stingy with their own. Brooks
does a nice composium of this in "Who Really Cares" (how do you underline this?)