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Monday, February 10, 2014

The New Christianity

Although evangelical protestants like to invoke as their model the early church of the New Testament, one that consisted of small fervent congregations holding worship ceremonies in homes or wherever, it increasingly seems to be jettisoning foundational theology for simple political ideology. To wit: A political position on the topic of poverty would, to a Christian concerned chiefly with Christ's Word, attempt to square the individual's responsibility and response to the poor with the conservative position that the poor are poor due to their own lax moral compass and laziness, that is, due to the individual's faulty preparation to modern life. This hypothetical Christian would have to ask himself what would Jesus do and say on the topic? There is ample proofs for this unfortunate researcher: the New Testament shows Jesus constantly concerned with the poor. The entire Bible contains over 300 references to helping the poor and needy. Indeed this may well be the central purpose of the Gospels (other than the obvious John 3:16). But is this the typical response of a typical American Christian evangelical? Certainly not in the Republican Party.

Though there used to be a niche for a Christian Republican with more progressive values in the Northeast, these uncommon folk have long since been labeled RINOs and marched out of the party. There simply is no room in the GOP for a Christian response to the poor. Instead of following Christ, the typical evangelical Republican of today's America is to first march in lock-step with the ideology of the Self, which is the conservative mantra, the anti-government libertarianism that sees the individual self as maker of destiny (cf. Ayn Rand), and then to twist the theology until it lines up with the Christian response (ie. If we help the poor they will never have the opportunity to learn how to earn for themselves and pick themselves up by their non-existent bootstraps).

It is thus the ideology of the Christian evangelical that fuels his purpose, not Christ's message. It is the temptation to power not the choosing to do Christ's will, that is at the foundation of his choosing. If we only asked ourselves from where does the thought process originate, from Christ or from ideology--from the love of power--we could see the mendacity that is now so thoroughly absorbed in the fabric of evangelicalism (at least within the GOP--since it is largely absent in the progressive parties as they are irreligious in habit). Not all who cry Lord, Lord, know him, as He quite clearly said--and meant. ("Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" Luke 6:46)