By Doug Newman
“Take heed that no man deceive you.” – Matthew 24:4
The left-right paradigm is a grand deception that has done indescribable damage to intelligent thought for quite some time. Christians, who are told not to let anyone deceive them, have fallen into this trap as easily as any group in society.
Consider the fact that Hitler was supposedly on the extreme right while Stalin was on the extreme left. Was there any difference between them other than the size of the eight-digit body counts they left in their wakes?
In America, Bush and Obama are portrayed as polar opposites. Their deeds tell us otherwise. We elected “conservative” Bush who would go on to outspend “liberal” Clinton by $1 trillion per year. Then we elected “peace candidate” Obama who continued Bush’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and – let’s be honest – Pakistan, and started a war in Libya and is ramping things up in Yemen.
Recently, an old friend sent me an article by Andrew Sullivan on the contradictions inherent in the agenda of America’s Religious Right (RR). As I don’t pay much attention to the mainstream media nowadays, I don’t know a lot about Andrew Sullivan. However, he makes some very pungent points here.
“No, the Americanism now heard on the right is that America was uniquely founded on Christianity, that America is therefore a chosen instrument of divine Providence, and that this moral superiority is so profound that indicting America on any prudential, moral or political grounds is un-American or, if it comes from abroad, evil.”
While I believe that America’s Founding had profound Christian roots, the agenda of the contemporary RR is as far removed from the principles spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as it is from the teachings of Christ.
Jesus had no political agenda. He wasn’t a left-winger or a right-winger. Nor was He a liberal or a conservative. These are all earthly philosophies, which the Bible warns are doomed to failure – I Corinthians 1:19, 20; II Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 2:4, 8.
It sickens how so many people claim that Jesus would be on their side politically. (I say this as one who was very caught up in the whole RR deal from 1986 to 1991.) Four times, Jesus was offered political power and four times He rejected it – Matthew 4:9-10 and 21:9, John 6:15 and Acts 1:6.
With that, I want to give just a brief summary of the points Sullivan makes.
• Sullivan cites Galatians 3:28 and states that “Christianity cannot be co-opted by nationalism.” The RR has convinced millions of American Christians that they should unconditionally support “their country” as it wages endless war abroad. Well, if this is the case, didn’t first century Christians have a duty to brainlessly support Roman military conquests? And didn’t German Christians in the late 1930s have the same duty to support “their country” as it ran roughshod across Europe?
• Sullivan quotes the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19 – where Jesus instructs His Disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He does not say, “Bomb the crap out of countries that have done nothing to you and kill countless thousands of innocent Ayyyy-raaaaabs.”
• Sullivan corrects a leftist reader about Christianity and economics. The Old Testament condemns theft and covetousness – Exodus 20:15, 17. Jesus likewise condemns these things in Mark 7:22. True Christian charity is always rendered voluntarily and joyfully – II Corinthians 9:7.
• Sullivan is right: “Torture is, of course, an intrinsic evil, regardless what one calls it.” It is a malignancy on the contemporary church that so many professing Christians condone torture. Good ends do not justify bad means – Romans 3:5-8. The entire point of torture is to inflict so much pain on someone that they will say absolutely anything to get you to stop. The biblical standard for determining guilt, however, is the testimony of at least two witnesses – Deuteronomy 19:15; I Timothy 5:19. Presuming guilt runs contrary to the Golden Rule – Matthew 7:12.
It has been said that torture has as much to do with truth as rape does with making love. Jesse Ventura once remarked that if you gave him ten minutes with Dick Cheney on a water board, he would have no trouble getting Deferment Dick to confess to the murder of Sharon Tate.
Sullivan wraps things up by saying: “By wresting it from its proper context, attaching it to a single nation-state, using it to defend public policies that are, at bottom, anathema to the priorities of the Gospels, Christianists are indeed not Christians.”
The Bible contains the word “king” almost 2000 times. Hence, Christians need to be ever mindful of doings in the political realm. However, the idea that America is an “exceptional nation” has no basis in Christianity. I do believe that America is referred to in Revelation 18, as an economic colossus that was brought to ruin “in one hour” because of its moral wickedness. However, America is never mentioned by name in the Bible, whereas Persia, Syria and Libya are. This ought to tell you just how unimportant America is in God’s Eyes.
Also, Christians are instructed to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” – I John 4:1. Millions of Christians today are so lacking in discernment that they will believe all sorts of madness as long as somebody somewhere calls it “Christian.” Hence the contradiction that those who claim to be “pro-life” and to follow the “Prince of Peace” – Isaiah 9:6 – are the most incessant cheerleaders for – here I go again – unprovoked war, torture, spying, guilt without trial, sanctions and embargoes.
I swear I could probably write a book on this stuff if only I could justify it physically and financially.