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Joe Bryant

Christians and Faith and Politics - Thoughts?

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Not sure there's a more explosive combination than religion and politics. So what could possibly go wrong here, right?

But I thought this article from Tim Keller was interesting.

Wondering what you guys think?

Quote

 

How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t

The historical Christian positions on social issues don’t match up with contemporary political alignments.

By Timothy Keller

Mr. Keller is the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.

 

What should the role of Christians in politics be? More people than ever are asking that question. Christians cannot pretend they can transcend politics and simply “preach the Gospel.” Those who avoid all political discussions and engagement are essentially casting a vote for the social status quo. American churches in the early 19th century that did not speak out against slavery because that was what we would now call “getting political” were actually supporting slavery by doing so. To not be political is to be political.

The Bible shows believers as holding important posts in pagan governments — think of Joseph and Daniel in the Old Testament. Christians should be involved politically as a way of loving our neighbors, whether they believe as we do or not. To work for better public schools or for a justice system not weighted against the poor or to end racial segregation requires political engagement. Christians have done these things in the past and should continue to do so.

Nevertheless, while believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one. There are a number of reasons to insist on this.

One is that it gives those considering the Christian faith the strong impression that to be converted, they need not only to believe in Jesus but also to become members of the (fill in the blank) Party. It confirms what many skeptics want to believe about religion — that it is merely one more voting bloc aiming for power.

 

 

Rest of article hidden here - I just didn't want to make it a super long post:

Another reason not to align the Christian faith with one party is that most political positions are not matters of biblical command but of practical wisdom. This does not mean that the church can never speak on social, economic and political realities, because the Bible often does. Racism is a sin, violating the second of the two great commandments of Jesus, to “love your neighbor.” The biblical commands to lift up the poor and to defend the rights of the oppressed are moral imperatives for believers. For individual Christians to speak out against egregious violations of these moral requirements is not optional.

However, there are many possible ways to help the poor. Should we shrink government and let private capital markets allocate resources, or should we expand the government and give the state more of the power to redistribute wealth? Or is the right path one of the many possibilities in between? The Bible does not give exact answers to these questions for every time, place and culture.


I know of a man from Mississippi who was a conservative Republican and a traditional Presbyterian. He visited the Scottish Highlands and found the churches there as strict and as orthodox as he had hoped. No one so much as turned on a television on a Sunday. Everyone memorized catechisms and Scripture. But one day he discovered that the Scottish Christian friends he admired were (in his view) socialists. Their understanding of government economic policy and the state’s responsibilities was by his lights very left-wing, yet also grounded in their Christian convictions. He returned to the United States not more politically liberal but, in his words, “humbled and chastened.” He realized that thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, could reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies.

Another reason Christians these days cannot allow the church to be fully identified with any particular party is the problem of what the British ethicist James Mumford calls “package-deal ethics.” Increasingly, political parties insist that you cannot work on one issue with them if you don’t embrace all of their approved positions.

This emphasis on package deals puts pressure on Christians in politics. For example, following both the Bible and the early church, Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family. One of those views seems liberal and the other looks oppressively conservative. The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.


So Christians are pushed toward two main options. One is to withdraw and try to be apolitical. The second is to assimilate and fully adopt one party’s whole package in order to have your place at the table. Neither of these options is valid. In the Good Samaritan parable told in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus points us to a man risking his life to give material help to someone of a different race and religion. Jesus forbids us to withhold help from our neighbors, and this will inevitably require that we participate in political processes. If we experience exclusion and even persecution for doing so, we are assured that God is with us (Matthew 5:10-11) and that some will still see our “good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:11-12). If we are only offensive or only attractive to the world and not both, we can be sure we are failing to live as we ought.

The Gospel gives us the resources to love people who reject both our beliefs and us personally. Christians should think of how God rescued them. He did it not by taking power but by coming to earth, losing glory and power, serving and dying on a cross. How did Jesus save? Not with a sword but with nails in his hands.

Timothy Keller, founder of the Redeemer Presbyterian churches in New York City, is the author of “Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy,” from which this essay is adapted.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

 

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This is why I am proud of my former church for declaring from the pulpit that there will not be an official position held by the organization as a collective. :thumbup: 

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Christians, atheists, agnostics, satanists, wiccans, muslims, jews, hindus...,come one come all just remember that your faith, belief, grounding doesn't instill in you an infallible omnipotence and please act accordingly.

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this

However, there are many possible ways to help the poor. Should we shrink government and let private capital markets allocate resources, or should we expand the government and give the state more of the power to redistribute wealth? Or is the right path one of the many possibilities in between? The Bible does not give exact answers to these questions for every time, place and culture.

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 American churches in the early 19th century that did not speak out against slavery because that was what we would now call “getting political” were actually supporting slavery by doing so.

This is such a ridiculous statement.  It infers that you needed to be Christian to speak out against slavery.  You only need to be *moral* to speak out against any evil.  You can be a Christian and speak out as a person.

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"He returned to the United States not more politically liberal but, in his words, “humbled and chastened.” He realized that thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, could reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies."

This part sums up what I think is wrong with religion in politics and quite frankly a lot of the general attitude in politics.  Since this is about religion I will ignore the 2nd part.

I feel like both sides have done a good job in the past picking and choosing which parts of the Bible they want to emphasize which shows their team is "right".  Jesus taught to love God and love thy neighbor as thyself. "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."  Whether you believe in Jesus or not is irrelevant - if you do, you have right in this book that loving your neighbor as thyself is more important than all the laws.  Many, many people ignore this and immediately jump to their issue du jour - gay rights, abortion, immigration.  And then not only do many do that but they go a step further and actively break the commandment.  Not only do they hate the sin but they hate the sinner.  Again, whether you believe in Jesus doesn't matter, if you do, love the sinner, love the deplorables, love the Tea Party, love Trump, love Clinton. 

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If I recall the stories correctly Christ occasionally stood against power brokers, bankers, and guardians of the community's morality.  I seem to recall that he tossed money lenders from the temple and stopped (shamed) the self-righteous from stoning a woman to death for apparent violation of community mores.

I seem to recall Daniel speaking truth to power, if one finds the Old Book relevant to Christians. 

Acting on conscience shaped by religion  is a good thing, in my estimation, presuming one is not a sociopath.  Deluding oneself that one is acting on conscience when one is self-righteous and only interested in power and ignoring the core meaning of the teachings of Christ to glom on unnaturally to one or two lessons which lack meaning when disassociated from the greater context, well not so good in my estimation. 

Anything I write here should be taken with many grains of salt.  Though I was raised with some exposure to the Good Book I am no Christian and cannot speak for them.  I am a flawed, weak, and often hypocritical man who should be dismissed out of hand and if, occasionally, I strike some cord that is just an example of a blind squirrel finding a few nuts.

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One could easily make the argument that western European countries, who are generally less apt to describe themselves as avid Christians, nonetheless do a better job at the macro level of caring for the most vulnerable in their societies than we do here. Yes, it's one thing to care at a local, personal level but perhaps asking American Christians to expand that level of concern to a national level appears to be a bridge too far. Why aren't our Christians better Christians than European seculars?

Edited by roadkill1292
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42 minutes ago, AAABatteries said:

"He returned to the United States not more politically liberal but, in his words, “humbled and chastened.” He realized that thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, could reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies."

This part sums up what I think is wrong with religion in politics and quite frankly a lot of the general attitude in politics.  Since this is about religion I will ignore the 2nd part.

I feel like both sides have done a good job in the past picking and choosing which parts of the Bible they want to emphasize which shows their team is "right".  Jesus taught to love God and love thy neighbor as thyself. "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."  Whether you believe in Jesus or not is irrelevant - if you do, you have right in this book that loving your neighbor as thyself is more important than all the laws.  Many, many people ignore this and immediately jump to their issue du jour - gay rights, abortion, immigration.  And then not only do many do that but they go a step further and actively break the commandment.  Not only do they hate the sin but they hate the sinner.  Again, whether you believe in Jesus doesn't matter, if you do, love the sinner, love the deplorables, love the Tea Party, love Trump, love Clinton. 

The shortest conversation you'll have with a Christian who's really not living by the teachings of Christ is to ask said person what action of our President's can you envision Jesus taking himself.  It goes silent and the subject is changed.

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18 minutes ago, roadkill1292 said:

One could easily make the argument that western European countries, who are generally less apt to describe themselves as avid Christians, nonetheless do a better job at the macro level of caring for the most vulnerable in their societies than we do here. Yes, it's one thing to care at a local, personal level but perhaps asking American Christians to expand that level of concern to a national level appears to be a bridge too far. Why aren't our Christians better Christians than European seculars?

I think the easy answers are:

1. The size of our country versus theirs

2. The amount of time we've existed as a nation versus most of them.

On the first, there's still large areas of the country where it's mostly white and mostly evangelical.  It's not always easy to expand that to groups/areas that you aren't close to or familiar with.

On the second, I think we've made good but very slow progress - I think we all get impatient but need to realize that progress is still progress.  Take a small example of interracial dating and marriage.  This was basically nonexistent not too long ago and now a large portion of the nation don't even think twice about it.  It's not even really a topic of discussion any more.  We've moved on to gay marriage and transgender rights.  At some point those too will become the norm but unfortunately it takes time.

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2 minutes ago, The Commish said:

The shortest conversation you'll have with a Christian who's really not living by the teachings of Christ is to ask said person what action of our President's can you envision Jesus taking himself.  It goes silent and the subject is changed.

"He's a Republican!"   ;)

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3 minutes ago, AAABatteries said:
5 minutes ago, The Commish said:

The shortest conversation you'll have with a Christian who's really not living by the teachings of Christ is to ask said person what action of our President's can you envision Jesus taking himself.  It goes silent and the subject is changed.

"He's a Republican!"   ;)

I think this is probably one of the things that is hardest for followers to accept.  If we're being honest....in today's world with today's political definitions, he'd be labeled a Republican only if all the other labels were taken away.  He'd be either a Democrat or a Libertarian before he were a Republican.

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5 minutes ago, proninja said:

That is a fantastic question. 

As a Christian, I am primarily concerned politically with the "orphan and the widow" or the oppressed. Christ stood against power brokers and the oppressors, and I'd rather stand with him. If the other people standing with the people Christ stood with happen to be secular atheists, I'm proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in defense of the poor, the sick, and the marginalized, and I am thankful for their Christ-likeness. 

Yeah, I'm not particularly comfortable with Christians standing by any orphans.  Or widows for that matter.  

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Christianity gave slaves their freedom. Yes, some secularists were involved, and yes some Christians supported slavery, but the abolitionist movement was a Christian movement, and without the Quakers, Congregationalists, northern Baptists and Methodists it never would have happened. That’s simply a fact of history. 

Likewise, the Civil Rights movement was largely a Christian movement, though again Jews and secularists were involved. But it was mainly churches, Black and white, who gave this country integration. 

However, in the last 50 years or so, the only large scale and significant Christian movement in this country has been the religious right, and at least from a progressive perspective, they are more about limiting freedoms than they are increasing them (though of course they would strongly disagree with this point of view.) 

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3 hours ago, Joe Bryant said:

Not sure there's a more explosive combination than religion and politics. So what could possibly go wrong here, right?

But I thought this article from Tim Keller was interesting.

Wondering what you guys think?

Rest of article hidden here - I just didn't want to make it a super long post:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

Another reason not to align the Christian faith with one party is that most political positions are not matters of biblical command but of practical wisdom. This does not mean that the church can never speak on social, economic and political realities, because the Bible often does. Racism is a sin, violating the second of the two great commandments of Jesus, to “love your neighbor.” The biblical commands to lift up the poor and to defend the rights of the oppressed are moral imperatives for believers. For individual Christians to speak out against egregious violations of these moral requirements is not optional.

However, there are many possible ways to help the poor. Should we shrink government and let private capital markets allocate resources, or should we expand the government and give the state more of the power to redistribute wealth? Or is the right path one of the many possibilities in between? The Bible does not give exact answers to these questions for every time, place and culture.


I know of a man from Mississippi who was a conservative Republican and a traditional Presbyterian. He visited the Scottish Highlands and found the churches there as strict and as orthodox as he had hoped. No one so much as turned on a television on a Sunday. Everyone memorized catechisms and Scripture. But one day he discovered that the Scottish Christian friends he admired were (in his view) socialists. Their understanding of government economic policy and the state’s responsibilities was by his lights very left-wing, yet also grounded in their Christian convictions. He returned to the United States not more politically liberal but, in his words, “humbled and chastened.” He realized that thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, could reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies.

Another reason Christians these days cannot allow the church to be fully identified with any particular party is the problem of what the British ethicist James Mumford calls “package-deal ethics.” Increasingly, political parties insist that you cannot work on one issue with them if you don’t embrace all of their approved positions.

This emphasis on package deals puts pressure on Christians in politics. For example, following both the Bible and the early church, Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family. One of those views seems liberal and the other looks oppressively conservative. The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.


So Christians are pushed toward two main options. One is to withdraw and try to be apolitical. The second is to assimilate and fully adopt one party’s whole package in order to have your place at the table. Neither of these options is valid. In the Good Samaritan parable told in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus points us to a man risking his life to give material help to someone of a different race and religion. Jesus forbids us to withhold help from our neighbors, and this will inevitably require that we participate in political processes. If we experience exclusion and even persecution for doing so, we are assured that God is with us (Matthew 5:10-11) and that some will still see our “good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:11-12). If we are only offensive or only attractive to the world and not both, we can be sure we are failing to live as we ought.

The Gospel gives us the resources to love people who reject both our beliefs and us personally. Christians should think of how God rescued them. He did it not by taking power but by coming to earth, losing glory and power, serving and dying on a cross. How did Jesus save? Not with a sword but with nails in his hands.

Timothy Keller, founder of the Redeemer Presbyterian churches in New York City, is the author of “Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy,” from which this essay is adapted.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

 

 

Jesus would never have joined a political party. His Kingdom was “not of this world”.  

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Just now, shader said:

Jesus would never have joined a political party. His Kingdom was “not of this world”.  

Probably true but one party would have tried at least a little to heed his calls to care for the most vulnerable of our neighbors while the other one would have contracted for a new line of fighter jets.

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Thanks for the good conversation folks.

As to Keller's point in the article of how today's Christians in the US should be involved or not politically, does that make sense? Agree, disagree?

 

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5 minutes ago, proninja said:

It's true. There were Christians on both sides of the slavery debate, and since it wasn't very long ago we can point to the particular protestant traditions of that time and draw a straight line to churches today. 

Guess what side of the slavery argument the ancestors of most conservative evangelical churches were in? 

I would guess: southern- pro slavery, northern- anti-slavery. 

 

ETA- I know the Baptist church broke into two churches on this very issue. 

Edited by timschochet

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I believe that whatever you believe it is better to focus on the actionable aspects of your religion as opposed to the aspects intended to deny others the right to action.

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40 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

Thanks for the good conversation folks.

As to Keller's point in the article of how today's Christians in the US should be involved or not politically, does that make sense? Agree, disagree?

 

I think everyone should be involved politically.  Even if that just means educating yourself about issues and then voting.  I think it's a civic duty to do both.

Edited by AAABatteries

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29 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

Thanks for the good conversation folks.

As to Keller's point in the article of how today's Christians in the US should be involved or not politically, does that make sense? Agree, disagree?

 

I agree and disagree.  I know, shocker.

We (Christians) should be politically active, but I wouldn't necessarily say we have to be because of our faith.  We should be because our form of government demands it.  And as for the argument that supporting one party thereby assimilates your political ideals into the entire platform, I wholeheartedly reject that.  I know that is an easy argument to make, and one that is made in various forms just about anytime the topic comes up.  But I can certainly be a Republican and not agree with the whole platform or vice versa with the Democrats.  And while my vote for an R or a D might necessarily also include some level of support for an entire platform, I can certainly make my voice known that I will not support certain specific policies or practices.  

I think this writing focuses on the big picture macro-politics too much without giving attention to the micro-politics of the person in front of you.  Christ didn't feed all the poor and hungry in the country, He fed the people in front of Him.  He didn't wash the feet of every person in Judea, He did it for the people in front of Him.  We need to serve the people in front of us as Christians.  That doesn't mean ignore the big picture and national or even state politics, but it does that mean that we can't ignore the person in front of us.  I think my tribe tends to do that too much and then hides behind interpretations of the Bible that really don't work when they take their arguments to a logical end. Though, I'm sure, there are many who don't like using the words logic and Bible in the same sentence.

A mega church might be a truly awesome worship experience that serves a large community and continues the faith, teaching biblical principals.  But when those same churches have $43 million in revenue and there are still homeless in the same county - that is the problem.  Not who the Senator or President is.

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20 hours ago, Joe Bryant said:

Thanks for the good conversation folks.

As to Keller's point in the article of how today's Christians in the US should be involved or not politically, does that make sense? Agree, disagree?

 

I think this is entirely up to the Christian. I think the only people who strongly feel on this subject think the answer is yes and they’re already political. As a Catholic I’ve always found it very easy to bifurcate the spiritual realm from the material one. I think maybe some Protestants feel differently because their Christianity imposes some sort of additional social duties on them. I’ve never understood that.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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1 hour ago, Yankee23Fan said:

A mega church might be a truly awesome worship experience that serves a large community and continues the faith, teaching biblical principals.  But when those same churches have $43 million in revenue and there are still homeless in the same county - that is the problem.  Not who the Senator or President is.

Two issues here

1) The state's failure to provide for it's citizens

2) The hypocrisy of the church practicing other than what they (are supposed to) preach. 

Perhaps it could be an idea to remove the tax exemption for churches and earmark that tax revenue for helping the poor.

Just a suggestion

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3 hours ago, shader said:

Jesus would never have joined a political party. His Kingdom was “not of this world”.  

Jesus was a socialist

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I'm an atheist. I dont believe in any gods. But there is a part of the Bible I agree with completely and it is Jesus speaking directly to what the duties of Christians and to me all of humanity are. He said to attain heaven simply believing in him wasn't enough. He said you must house the homeless, heal the sick, feed the hungry and lift up those imprisoned. He said what you do for the least of you you do for me. It's referred to as the Judgement of Nations. He never mentioned hating anyone or pretending you just hate some sin they conmited in your estimation.  He spoke only of love and caring for everyone. I try to be that kind of person. Not because I expect to gain some reward but because it seems like the right life to live. I wish far more Christians would do the same. But instead they seem very concerned about the mote in their neighbors all the while ignoring the log in their. And gaining power for dominance to push that hateful agenda.

If you want to be the kind of Christian Jesus admitted to heaven and bring that to the political square I welcome you. I'll  support you. I wish you much success. But if you are the other kind i described worried about gaining power to push an amoral, hateful agenda then I will fight you tooth and nail.

Edited by NCCommish
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18 minutes ago, proninja said:
50 minutes ago, shader said:
55 minutes ago, toshiba said:

He wasn't a Christian.

No idea where you’re going with this

I mean, he was a jew. A trained rabbi even. Seems kinda hard to argue he was a part of a religion that necessitates his death to exist.

:goodposting:

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31 minutes ago, proninja said:

I mean, he was a jew. A trained rabbi even. Seems kinda hard to argue he was a part of a religion that necessitates his death to exist.

I don’t recall arguing that...

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Just now, shader said:
32 minutes ago, proninja said:

I mean, he was a jew. A trained rabbi even. Seems kinda hard to argue he was a part of a religion that necessitates his death to exist.

I don’t recall arguing that...

You wondered where I was going with my "Jesus wasn't a Christian" comment.  @proninja stated it perfectly!

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1 minute ago, toshiba said:

You wondered where I was going with my "Jesus wasn't a Christian" comment.  @proninja stated it perfectly!

I just didn’t understand why you were going down that path when I never argued that he was or wasn’t a Christian.  Proninja made a good argument, but I don’t know who you guys are arguing with?

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3 minutes ago, shader said:
6 minutes ago, toshiba said:

You wondered where I was going with my "Jesus wasn't a Christian" comment.  @proninja stated it perfectly!

I just didn’t understand why you were going down that path when I never argued that he was or wasn’t a Christian.  Proninja made a good argument, but I don’t know who you guys are arguing with?

We aren't arguing.  Why do you just jump to thinking people are arguing.  I was just saying something that led to this conversation.  

Why so hysterical and unhinged?

Edited by toshiba
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1 hour ago, proninja said:

Depends on how we define the term, but Jesus didn't really get into explaining how he thought government should be run. He did speak a lot about what was important to him though, and I don't think it's a big stretch to say he would have voted according to his values if he were in a country that voted in a time where democracy had taken hold. 

Since Jesus' context was so different than ours, I don't think I'd say that Jesus was a member of any modern political movement. I also definitely wouldn't say that he never would have joined a political party. Doing either is making some pretty big assumptions I personally wouldn't feel comfortable making. 

As far as if Christians should be socialists or not, I think it's a fair question. This book is a biography of Helmut Gollwitzer, a 20th century German theologian, and it summarizes Gollwitzer's position that a Christian should also be a socialist. I'm not far enough through it to give an accurate summary of the argument, as the first half is mostly biography, but I'm looking forward to finishing it. 

Thanks, I'll check out that book :thumbup:

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3 minutes ago, toshiba said:

We aren't arguing.  Why do you just jump to thinking people are arguing.  I was just saying something that led to this conversation.  

Why so hysterical and unhinged?

Hysterical and unhinged?  I’m seriously confused. Have a good evening.

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1 minute ago, shader said:
9 minutes ago, toshiba said:

We aren't arguing.  Why do you just jump to thinking people are arguing.  I was just saying something that led to this conversation.  

Why so hysterical and unhinged?

Hysterical and unhinged?  I’m seriously confused. Have a good evening.

Thank you, you too!

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Just now, Dedfin said:

Wow shader, are you alright? I really didn't mean to set you off.

It’s like I’m in bizarro world. You have a good night too.  Some serious miscommunication here

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Okay, well I seriously didn't mean to anger you. :) Please accept my apology.

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3 minutes ago, Dedfin said:

Okay, well I seriously didn't mean to anger you. :) Please accept my apology.

And I have no idea what I’ve typed that would cause anyone to think I’m angry!  A bit confused but definitely not angry. :thumbup:

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22 hours ago, Joe Bryant said:

violating the second of the two great commandments of Jesus, to “love your neighbor.”

Christians (in general) just like this author tend to get this wrong.  There are not two great commandments, there is one.   As a result of getting this wrong too many Christians ignore the "love thy neighbor" part completely as they promote a selfish agenda meant to glorify themselves under the pretense of "loving God".  This leads to complete nonsense such as "hate the sin, love the sinner" justifications for that selfish, often hateful agenda.  This leads to nonsense like "I'm concerned about their soul's eternal judgment" when I focus on things like "sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family".  It leads to beliefs that "the mental anguish of poverty and debt, and the physical agony of hunger or cold, as natural spurs to ##### the conscience of sinners"*  It leads to beliefs that the rich are being rewarded for their righteousness. 

But as the atheist above points out, the way we treat each other is the way we love God.  The Gospels constantly contrast those that hold themselves out to be "holier than thou" with flawed everyday people actually taking care of their neighbors.  The New Testaments demands that "we give it up" to take care of one and another.  Taking care of each other, especially the "least of us" is the only commandment because it is the "how" we "love God with our whole heart", and not Jesus' afterthought.  

As for political parties I don't think there is any choice right now where a Christian should align.  It is one thing when the "compassionate conservatives" argued that using government wasn't the most effective way to take care of God's children.  Even argued that government involvement got in the way.  But it is quite another when a party actively promotes selfish, hateful ideas to promote one set of people - themselves at the expense of others.  Maybe once Christians and all decent people stick a fork in these deplorable ideas we can return to having honest debate on how to best take care of the "least among us", but that is not today!   

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19 hours ago, Yankee23Fan said:

A mega church might be a truly awesome worship experience that serves a large community and continues the faith, teaching biblical principals.  But when those same churches have $43 million in revenue and there are still homeless in the same county - that is the problem.  Not who the Senator or President is.

:greatposting:

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25 minutes ago, Bottomfeeder Sports said:

Christians (in general) just like this author tend to get this wrong.  There are not two great commandments, there is one.   As a result of getting this wrong too many Christians ignore the "love thy neighbor" part completely as they promote a selfish agenda meant to glorify themselves under the pretense of "loving God". 

 

Thanks. Can you elaborate more on this and why you think this? 

I ask as it's always seemed like "love your neighbor" was much "easier" to get your arms around. Loving God can feel kind of abstract. Loving your Neighbor way less so. 

On there only being one great commandment, can you talk more there? Are you talking about something different than Matthew 22?

Quote

 

Matthew 22:37-40 New Living Translation (NLT)

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

 

 
 

 

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Yeah, I'm not sure I understand what BFS means by there only being one great commandment - do you mean that only one is actually practiced? 

FTR, I think there's a lot of Christians out there that do love their neighbor and do really good things - just like just about every segment of society.  Unfortunately, we hear about the ones who are nutjobs or fanatics because that is what sells.

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7 minutes ago, proninja said:

I don't remember who said this, but the way I heard it put best went something like this. 

God loves us through our neighbors. God doesn't need our good works for himself. There's nothing we can provide him. But our neighbor does. So we love God *by* loving our neighbors. Making the two greatest commandments one. 

Thanks. I've always just read it as two equal and obviously linked commandments. And this may be just parsing words. But when @Bottomfeeder Sports said Tim Keller was wrong, I thought he might be meaning something different. 

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If I remember correctly BFS has the position that the first commandment is the greatest and most important because if you do that one, then the others fall in line as a result.  If our focus is "love thy neighbor" then we aren't "love God with all your heart"  You can't be completely dedicated to loving God as well as your neighbor.

I think it's something similar to this anyway....my memory is a bit shaky.  

Edited by The Commish

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18 minutes ago, proninja said:

Christians like to talk about the "plain reading" when it comes to issues they interpret one way, but jump through hermeneutial hoops to explain why it's more loving to not give a hungry person food or a homeless person shelter. 

Jesus fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He gave people concrete things they needed in the here and now. Christians should emulate him. 

2

:hifive:

 

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37 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

Thanks. Can you elaborate more on this and why you think this? 

I ask as it's always seemed like "love your neighbor" was much "easier" to get your arms around. Loving God can feel kind of abstract. Loving your Neighbor way less so. 

On there only being one great commandment, can you talk more there? Are you talking about something different than Matthew 22?

 

I am speaking of Matthew 22:34-40 (and Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:27).   I believe however that despite how Jesus is quoted that these are not greatest commandments 1 and 2, but commandments 1.A and 1.B.  They are the same commandment.  The only commandment.  And I believe that many other passages in the bible put these into context.   To start with reading the Luke 10:27 in full context of Luke 10:25-37  - which happens to be the "Parable of the Good Samaritan".  

Reading the Matthew 22:34-40 as two separate "greatest commandments" might also create contradictions for Romans 13:8-9, Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31, and my favorite Galatians 5:14.  Of course if you accept that "For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself" then it must follow that " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" is also fulfilled. Which is exactly what the separation of the sheeps and goats passage that @NCCommish mentions (Matthew 25:31-46) above is stating.

Finally, as for the Old Testament in the FFA you will find ..

On 3/7/2011 at 10:28 PM, timschochet said:

The greatest of the Pharisees was Hillel, a poor woodcutter who in about 40 B.C. traveled from Babylon to Judea to learn from the leading Jewish sages of the day. When he was asked by a pagan to summarize Judaism while standing on one leg, he said:

Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you. The rest is commentary. Now go and learn.

I think the above though, at least in your case is "preaching to the choir".  The part that you still are unsure about - I think is what do Christians get wrong.  My experience is that too many Christians in general read Matthew 22:37-38 as the greatest commandment and the Matthew 22:39 is an after though.  They jump on the vague, abstract portion because just about anything can be twisted into a fulfillment of this piece including advocating for some of the more hateful, selfish interpretations of passages as "loving God" by promoting "His will".  While much clearer, it is also much harder to treat everyone as you would want to be treated yourself.  So hard that we constantly fail.  Who wants that!

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35 minutes ago, The Commish said:

If I remember correctly BFS has the position that the first commandment is the greatest and most important because if you do that one, then the others fall in line as a result.  If our focus is "love thy neighbor" then we aren't "love God with all your heart"  You can't be completely dedicated to loving God as well as your neighbor.

I think it's something similar to this anyway....my memory is a bit shaky.  

Not quite.  Loving your neighbor is loving God.  The truly meaningful way to express love for God.  The meaningful way to express thanks and gratitude.

While it is possible to love you neighbor while not loving God, I don't see how it is possible to love God and not care about God's children.  All of them.  And to me "care" such that you treat others as you would want to be treated is the definition of "love" in this context.    

 

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