Blogalogue

Blogalogue


David Klinghoffer: Let’s Clarify the Politics of the Bible

posted by aroan

Jesse Jackson has rightly called Barack Obama’s presidential bid a “theological campaign.” Indeed, in the primary season, the leading Democratic candidates all correctly emphasized that spiritual values play a legitimate role in shaping political values. That’s thanks in part to your influence, Jim. Congratulations.
Liberals and conservatives alike have claimed the mantle of religious authorization for their views. There’s a debate, however, that needs to be had. Americans have so far avoided clarifying the politics of the Bible on a systematic issue-by-issue basis.
That’s where I come in. My book, “How Would God Vote? Why The Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative,” takes the top 20 political issues of our day and applies the wisdom of the Bible to each of them – from health-care and immigration reform to global warming and Islamic terror. Taking the Bible seriously is more than a matter of accepting theological abstractions or ritual obligations. It implies an entire worldview, a deeply conservative one.


What is conservatism? It starts with a reverence for the wisdom of our ancestors, and insists above all, as Russell Kirk put it, on “Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.”
I’ll vote for John McCain, if without a great deal of enthusiasm, because he possesses the elementary respect for the past that marks him, broadly, as a conservative.
If we were to try to crystallize the lesson from ancestral wisdom that underlies all the seemingly unrelated political questions dividing Right from Left, I would say it has to do with moral responsibility and agency, whether human beings are captives of Nature or whether they are free.
The most important word in any discussion of the Bible must be “commandment.” God commands us to choose right over wrong because we are not captives of Nature.
Almost every liberal view can be explained as deriving from skepticism about whether people are truly responsible for their actions. Thus liberalism pushes off responsibility to higher and higher levels of organization – from the individual or the family to the national government or, better yet, an international body of governments.
Let’s start our debate somewhere concrete and practical. Conservatives, like the Bible, oppose high taxes because people should be responsible for deciding how to spend their money. This year, the average American will pay 30.8 percent of personal income for taxes of various kinds.
Yet Genesis 47:24-15 equates a tax rate of 20 percent with the condition of being a “serf.” In 1 Samuel 8:15-17, the Jews are warned not to ask for a king because he’ll turn them all into “slaves,” imposing a tax burden of 10 percent!
A great tragedy recounted by the Bible, the rebellion of the northern kingdom of Israel against the southern kingdom of Judah, was occasioned by the onerous tax burden imposed by King Solomon’s callow son and heir, Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:1-19).
Low taxes mean a minimal state, which, in turn, clears an arena for free moral action. Of course there are exceptions. The Bible isn’t libertarian. Where a policy (like legalized narcotics) would cripple the free exercise of the moral personality, God would be against it. Where it would allow the victimization of the truly helpless (abortion), there too the Bible would have us draw a line.
What do you say, Jim?



Advertisement
Comments read comments(61)
post a comment
Larry Yudelson

posted June 11, 2008 at 4:04 am


In counting up the taxes, don’t forget to include 14% of income lost to the Sabbatical Year.
Oddly for a work of Biblical scholarship (though perhaps predictably for a book of conservative propaganda), How Would God Vote doesn’t seem to mention the Jubilee Year, even though the Jubilee’s requirement that land return to the owning family is by American standards a socialist intervention in the workings of the free market, and an unfair restriction on the amassing of personal wealth.
I don’t know how you could discuss a Torah economic policy without mentioning it.



report abuse
 

ChrisB

posted June 11, 2008 at 3:32 pm


Larry, taxes and tithe are somewhat different. And giving land back to the family isn’t socialist — giving it to the state and making the family work it anyway is socialist.



report abuse
 

Marlene Emmett

posted June 12, 2008 at 10:36 am


Gentlemen:
I would say that God is neither Democrat or Rebublician.
God is there to “guide us” in making decisions that are right
for ourselves~Democrats & Republicians shouldn’t “force their
beleifs upon each other just to get the Popular Vote to win a
Election. What is good for one is not always good for everyone.
People have their own minds/thoughts on certain subjects.



report abuse
 

jon01

posted June 12, 2008 at 2:11 pm


They enthroned kings, but not from Me; they ordained officers but I did not know. Hosea 8:4
God wouldn’t vote, He’d merely let the people choose their leaders and suffer the consequences. What if someone held an election and no one showed up; or they all wrote in Ron Paul? Would it make a difference?
“Where a policy (like legalized narcotics) would cripple the free exercise of the moral personality, God would be against it.”
Wrong. The Bible NEVER mandates against personal use of such things, only crimes that may be associated with it. While the Bible clearly advises against excess of wine in general, it also advises a king to encourage alcoholism in Proverbs 31:6,7.
“In counting up the taxes, don’t forget to include 14% of income lost to the Sabbatical Year.” Don’t forget the bumper crop promised in year 6 to compensate.
Also, my understanding of tithes is that which a man shall voluntarily bring for himself, not what a priest, cop, or IRS agent shall assess and extract from him.
God Bless, America, we’re all gonna need it.



report abuse
 

jon01

posted June 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm


“the Jubilee’s requirement that land return to the owning family”
Oh and one last thing, the land was always technically held by the family, it was the harvests they lost ownership of. The exception was property within the city walls, but not Levitical cities, where if the property was not redeemed, it would be held in perpetuity by the new owner. So one could ultimately become a “Real Estate” mogul or slum lord if his heart desired.



report abuse
 

Duh-sciple

posted June 12, 2008 at 2:54 pm


David wrote:
The most important word in any discussion of the Bible must be “commandment.” God commands us to choose right over wrong because we are not captives of Nature.
I respond:
David, David, David… your chosen “word” is 100%, totally, completely w…r…o…n…g!
The most important word in the Bible is “grace”: the undeserved, unearned kindness of God.
Go, and learn what this means, “Grace people, grace people”,
Duh-sciple



report abuse
 

suz

posted June 12, 2008 at 4:20 pm


David,
Your question to Jim is very reminiscent of the taunt of the Pharisees to Jesus saying, “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” ~Matthew 22:17. I think most people reading this blog know Christ’s reply.
You say, “Conservatives, like the Bible, oppose high taxes because people should be responsible for deciding how to spend their money.” However, I’m not aware of any passage in the Bible in which people are told that they have the freedom to decide what to do with their money. Jesus told the rich young ruler to give everything away. He said that in order to be a disciple we must deny ourselves. How much denial do you see in the church today?



report abuse
 

Steven Kippel

posted June 12, 2008 at 4:48 pm


I have to say your pointing to 1 Samuel 8 to talk about taxes ignores a lot about this passage. It talks about is taking your sons and sending them off to war. Why would you ignore this part of scripture? Oh yeah, you’re already set in your mind the answer and you’re only using scripture to prove your point. You’re not using scripture to form your worldview, you’re forming scripture to fit your politics.
If we learn anything from 1 Samuel 8 regarding government is that God is against it. Man’s call for government is idolatry, and a rejection of the archy of Jehovah.
And while you talk about what the Bible says, you ignore the bits about adding to it lest you be condemned. “The Bible isn’t libertarian. Where a policy (like legalized narcotics) would cripple the free exercise of the moral personality, God would be against it.” Say what? Where is that in the Bible? God is against drugs? How come there are no laws against it in the Old Testament? How come there are no commands against it in the New Testament? And the hypocrisy starts here. Drugs are apparently bad, unless a doctor gives them to you. But why are they bad? Because (according to scripture) you are not in control of your mind. But when doctors give them to you it’s the same thing. This is all manufactured modern theology with no basis in Scripture at all!
You’re saying that we need to allow people to be free to make their own moral decisions – unless of course that means those moral decisions might hurt society as a whole. But what if the people’s moral decision leads to usury (as happens every day), or forces a widow from her home, or leaves the orphans without food? You don’t trust the moral decisions of adults any more than the liberals do.
God talks a lot about nations and families. They were blessed and cursed corporately. There wasn’t any semblance of individualism. What you did in the world was for the good of your family, your tribe and your nation.
I think both left and right have the same idea in mind. They think people should take care of each other. But the liberals are idealistic; they trust they can make this work. The conservatives are realistic; they think it won’t work in real life so we shouldn’t even try. The libertarians are optimistic; they trust in the good nature of man.
I for one am not of this world. I have one Lord, the Christ Jesus, Savior of the world.



report abuse
 

aquaman

posted June 12, 2008 at 5:41 pm


Two thoughts:
1. Any Christian analysis of politics must begin at the Cross. Or as Duh-sciple puts it, grace trumps commandment. Mr. Klinghoffer needs to re-read Romans.
2. Any discussion of taxes necessarily pre-supposes private property. Leviticus 25 (the Sabbatical Year and Jubilee), Deuteronomy 26 (first fruits), and other texts reflect a Biblical view of property that isn’t congruent with modern, Western notions of property rights. That doesn’t mean we have to toss aside capitalism, but it does mean we can’t read Biblical texts that address property concerns (including taxes) as though they were written in 2008.
Peace.



report abuse
 

toddh

posted June 12, 2008 at 6:08 pm


Well, I wanted to like this post. I have been more and more captivated by the ideas of Jim Wallis and others which have helped me to leave behind the conservatism of my youth without necessarily embracing a liberal alternative. I now find myself stuck in the middle. That being said, I would like to hear some well-reasoned responses that represent a conservative viewpoint (if nothing else than just to convince myself that I am being open-minded). This one, however, didn’t meet the mark. As has been already pointed out, using “commandment” as the hermeneutical key to the Bible is pretty suspect. Further, proof-texting a few Old Testament verses to support some kind of vague idea of low taxes is also not a strong move. I get the feeling that there are many more passages in the Bible that could be effectively brought to bear on this idea that were not even considered. Perhaps this is remedied in the book, but the author needs to make a sustained theological argument that takes scripture, Christian tradition, and history into account if he’s going to get anywhere.



report abuse
 

Duh-sciple

posted June 12, 2008 at 8:31 pm


Hey folks,
Some of us (me! and I think some of you) made an assumption that David is Christian when he is in fact Jewish. Nevertheless, I still ask him, based on the Hebrew scriptures, to see the most important biblical word is “grace.”
Before giving the commandments at Sinai
the Lord rescued the people from Egypt
The pattern (based on ancient treaty forms) goes like this:
This is who I AM
This is what I have done for you
This is what I expect
You will preserve, re-read, return to this covenant
Witnesses
Blessings and curses (based on the people’s living the covenant)
Therefore:
FIRST, there is grace (gift, rescue, salvation from Egypt)
THEN, the people are called to live as God’s treasure, a priestly people
What the priestly people look like:
A manna people
Daily bread is provided for all
Those who receive more
Share with those who have received less
So that no one is in need
Even the widow, the orphan, and the alien
Receive manna
The question for conservatives, liberals, libertarians…
How do we live as a manna society in our constitutional republic known as the United States of America on the planet we call Earth?
Still in One Peace,
Duh-sciple



report abuse
 

RJohnson

posted June 12, 2008 at 10:32 pm


I find it interesting that a conservative who bases his tax policy on the Bible misinterprets it so much. Taxes, or tithes, did not stop at the 10%.
- There was the general tithe to the Levites, as described in Numbers 18:21, which amounted to 10%.
- There was the tithe that was to be kept for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as described in Deuteronomy 14:22-26. This was to sustain them on the way to the feasts that were held several time a year.
- Every third year there was a tithe taken for the poor, widows and orphans, according to Deuteronomy 14:28-29.
That is 30%, not the 10% that Mr. Klinghoffer cites. Perhaps it would be wise for conservatives to actually study the Bible before citing it to support their political goals.



report abuse
 

Phoenix Orion

posted June 12, 2008 at 10:48 pm


And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. — Genesis 1:29
I agree with you, Steven Kippel. I have no idea where Klinghoffer gets the idea that the Bible would be against legalizing narcotics. There are no prohibitions against drug use in either the Old or New Testament. When the Bible talks about alcohol, it seems to be saying that it is OK to drink in moderation, but drunkenness is a bad thing. Why can’t it be the same thing for marijuana, that it is OK to smoke a little bit to relieve glaucoma or nausea but it is not OK to get high all the time instead of doing productive things? And from the Genesis passage I quoted above, it says that God has given us EVERY herb bearing seed for our use-that would include marijuana leaves, coca leaves, and opium poppies. There are no exceptions listed.
Even when conservatives like Klinghoffer say that narcotics and other drugs should be illegal because of how they ruin the lives of those who get addicted to them, there are still far less people who are addicted to narcotics than who are addicted to alcohol. If conservatives should be pushing to make any drug illegal, it should be alcohol. Alcohol kills over 100,000 people a year in the US, but marijuana kills no one. Even drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin kill more people (about 7,600 a year) than marijuana does. I guess we don’t push to make alcohol illegal simply because because we like it. Also, over half of the people who are incarcerated in US prisons are there on nonviolent drug charges, and violent criminals (such as murderers, rapists, and child molesters) are regularly paroled to make room for them. I wonder how whoever wrote the Bible would feel about THAT.
If there is overwhelming evidence of a public benefit of keeping narcotics and other drugs illegal, I will be the first to oppose drug legalization. But so far, there is far more evidence against alcohol than any other drug, and look what happened the last time we tried to make alcohol illegal.



report abuse
 

gmo2

posted June 13, 2008 at 12:36 am


I think Wallis and some of the other posts have answered the tax policy question. There are at least three serious problems in citing the Bible as the foundation of government policy: The first is that our government is sectarian and not religious. It specifically separates church and state. Is Klinghoffer, who someone says is Jewish, willing to say government should be based on Christian theology? Second, to say that tax rates should not be higher than X based on a biblical text that has nothing to do with our current situation doesn’t make much sense. The third thing is that you can find biblical texts that support any number of things which we no longer are willing to do, such as stoning individuals or having slaves. Would true conservatives be willing would to bring those back because we once thought them holy? I hope not.



report abuse
 

Phoenix Orion

posted June 13, 2008 at 1:22 am


David Klinghoffer is actually an Orthodox Jew. Your average far-right Orthodox Jew is just as politically conservative as your average far-right evangelical Christian is. Most Orthodox Jews agree with conservative Christians far more than secular liberals on political issues (unlike their Reform and Conservative counterparts). For example, many Orthodox Jews are pro-life, while the vast majority of Reform and Conservative Jews are pro-choice. One notable exception to this is Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democratic Congressman from Florida who is an Orthodox Jew, but has a rather liberal voting record.
Klinghoffer also works for the Discovery Institute, a mostly Christian organization dedicated to opposing Darwinism and promoting intelligent design.
Here is the wikipedia entry for Klinghoffer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Klinghoffer
Apparently, he was a Reform Jew, but became a practicing Orthodox Jew.



report abuse
 

Phoenix Orion

posted June 13, 2008 at 1:23 am


Other prominent Jewish conservatives include Dennis Prager, Daniel Lapin, and Michael Medved.



report abuse
 

Lucy

posted June 13, 2008 at 1:28 am


Personally, I think the title “How Would God Vote?” is the most presumptuous and insane thing I’ve ever read. I didn’t even need to read the rest of the blog. The title said everything.



report abuse
 

Mike

posted June 13, 2008 at 7:59 am


The Bible (in the New Testament) does speak about drugs. Galatians 5:19-21 lists several things as the works of the flesh (as opposed to the works of the Spirit). In verse 20 it lists, among other things, sorcery (ASV). If you look up sorcery in Strong’s concordance, you will find it is translated from the Greek word “pharmakeia”, which is the word from which we get the word “pharmacy.” It means “medication” and by extension: magic, sorcery, witchcraft. It is included in this passage along with other behaviors such as fornication, uncleanness, drunkenness, etc.
In reading and interpreting the Bible, we must remember that every truth in Scripture is that truth and how it relates to every other truth in Scripture. We need to consider the whole counsel of His Word if we are to determine His will for us in any given situation. When the Bible doesn’t speak specifically to an issue, then we must consider the character of God as revealed in His Word, especially through Jesus. As we “gaze upon the face of God,” we can allow ourselves to be transformed more and more into His image. Then our actions, including how we vote, will more accurately reflect the will of the Father.
Finally, would the person who said that our government specifically separates church and state please give us a reference as to where in the founding documents this is stated?
Thanks.
Mike



report abuse
 

Larry

posted June 13, 2008 at 9:48 am


Mike wrote: “Finally, would the person who said that our government specifically separates church and state please give us a reference as to where in the founding documents this is stated?”
I didn’t write that … but I will say that such a statement does not exist in the founding documents, as far as I know. But, why does there have to be one for that to be good sound policy by which we govern today?
It is interesting to me that in all the other areas of our lives … and businesses .. and nonprofits … and churches, etc…. we grow in wisdom and learning and routinely analyze and evaluate to make sure we are being effective and making sense in an ever-changing world. But conservatives typically are unwilling to allow the same process to take place with regard to the governance of our country. Just because the words “seperation of church and state” aren’t in the founding documents doesn’t at all mean it’s a bad idea or something we should avoid. Furthermore, one could easily argue that it was certainly in the “spirit” of the founding documents. Additionally … I would add there are many other things readily accepted today that also were not in the founding documents. Like … corporate welfare.
Don’t misunderstand … I am certainly respectful and appreciative of the founding documents … but I am also interested in good governance in 2008, and I firmly beleive that good governance requires a seperation between church and state, as did the writers of the founding documents. It is amazing to me that some will literally contort and distort verses written 3000 years ago (or whatever), and yet be unwilling to allow for any understanding of our founding documents that doesn’t contain the exact wording.



report abuse
 

Today's opinion

posted June 13, 2008 at 10:04 am


“Personally, I think the title “How Would God Vote?” is the most presumptuous and insane thing I’ve ever read. I didn’t even need to read the rest of the blog. The title said everything.”
Posted by: Lucy | June 13, 2008 1:28 AM
Oh really. And “God’s Politics” isn’t? It’s literally the same thing but given over to the corruption of man. Wallis would have us subservient to degenerates and deviants of the Left. How he sees that as “God’s Politics” is beyond presumptuous, it is complicit in evil.



report abuse
 

Brian Horan

posted June 13, 2008 at 10:11 am


Conservatives proclaiming they have the backing of the Bible have taken us to war based on lies, hired mercenaries, hollowed out essential government functions like FEMA, taken bribes from lobbyists, made people paranoid, etc.
If the 12+ years of the Republican Congress & 7+ years of Bush have taught us anything it’s that Biblical literalists don’t have a clue.
When Bible thumpers wanna make up for $4 per gallon of gas that their beloved Bush-Saudi-Houston-Speculating cartel have imposed on the rest of us, then they can rant on blogs.
More importantly they can pay to rehabilitate vets and help families of the fallen. Enough with using the Bible to justify baloney.



report abuse
 

MARTHA SCHUMACHER

posted June 13, 2008 at 10:29 am


SOMEWHERE IN THE BIBLE IT SAYS” TO THOSE THAT HAVE MUCH…. MUCH IS REQUIRED” ALSO THE STORY ABOUT THE LEAST COIN…A POOR WIDOW GAVE A SMALL COIN OUT OF HER POVERTY, YET, ANOTHER GAVE ONLY TWO SMALL COINS OUT OF HIS WEALTH …WE DO NOT FOLLOW THAT PRINCIPAL IN THE US OF A, AS RICH ARE GIVEN TAX CUTS.



report abuse
 

Mike

posted June 13, 2008 at 10:32 am


Larry,
Thanks for your comments. I was curious to see how the question would be answered. In order to have a valid discussion on the topic, I think we need to define what we mean by “separation of church and state.” If the opposite of this phrase is a state church, then I, too, would opt for a separation. I do not and would not advocate a “state” church. I think we can all see examples where power has led to abuses, both in church and state. Put them together and you could get a double whammy!
I do, however, believe that people need to be involved in government. And, of necessity, if people get involved, they bring with them their worldview, whatever that may be, whether Biblical or humanistic. Whenever someone makes a decision, their worldview enters into that decision, whether in a conscious way or not.
We have no problem with laws against murder, rape, theft, etc. I believe these are moral laws. We had to get the idea from somewhere as to what was acceptable in society, and what was not. The fact that we have a law against murder doesn’t make us a conservative, fundamentalist society. Some things are wrong and some are right. Those things never change.
We should not feel that since we are now hundreds or thousands of years “advanced,” that right and wrong are now different. Truth never changes. Two plus two is always four, even in higher math.
I’m not a Bible scholar, and I certainly wouldn’t presume to say how God would vote. I do believe that God will help each of us make an informed decision if that is what we seek.
I pray that God will give every voter a clear indication of how to vote in every election for every office, from the courthouse to the White House.
My fear is that for a large majority of the people in this nation, it is much as the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. In describing the society, Paul goes through a list of behaviors, and then says “God gave them up unto a reprobate mind.” These folks aren’t likely to hear from God. And that’s sad.
Mike



report abuse
 

Ray

posted June 13, 2008 at 11:16 am


(God.)
A gender free universal levil of intelligence that no one knows anythig about.



report abuse
 

Larry

posted June 13, 2008 at 8:19 pm


Hello Mike;
Historically I haven’t had a problem with the influence of church upon state, as long as it was MY church doing the influencing … and since I was raised in a conservative christian environment and community, it didn’t seem to be a problem to most of us. But what if it wasn’t MY church. Would I still think it wasn’t really a problem? No … in fact, I would consider it a big problem. I don’t want a nation of Jewish laws or Muslim laws … I want a nation of good and practical laws. And, if they also happen to be Jewish or Christian or whatever, that’s fine.
You mention a law against murder, for example. I agree that is certainly a good law. But the judeo-christian faith doesn’t own that law. It isn’t a good law because it is in the bible. It’s a good law in and of itself. It doesn’t need the bible to be good. It is a practical law, and one that serves the best interest of the population at large. We most all agree, whether christian, jew, agnostic, athiest, whatever the case may be … that murder is generally a bad idea. Sure, some might argue that the idea of not murdering people is one that came from God, i.e. the 10 Commandments, but I think it is much deeper than that. I think that kind of “knowledge” is a part of the very fabric of our DNA … of our humanity and all it means to be human in the first place. Furthermore, with regard to the 10 Commandments, assuming you believe that all happened just as written in the bible … the people already knew they weren’t supposed to murder one another anyway. Their knowledge of that certainly predated any stone tablet publication, assuming the story actually even happened.
Which brings up another point regarding the whole 10 Commandments/it’s in the bible thing. It is common to hear a statement such as … I don’t cheat or steal because I’m a christian. (Or, one can insert any other vice of choice.) Actually, that isn’t really the reason. People don’t cheat and steal (or whatever), because it’s not good business. It’s not pragmatic to be one who cheats and steals … if it were, then many would do it regardless of what the bible had to say about it. The reason most people try to be honest and civil is because life is a lot easier that way. You are not honest because you are a christian. You are honest because it serves you well. And you are probably a christian for much the same reason. It works for you … it is who your friends are … your personal community, your family, whatever. More times than not, being a christian, or a member of any other faith system, is more a result of decisions that were made and things that happened well before that person was even born. If I had been born in Iran, or China, or India, or … then I would likely have been raised in a different faith system, and as a result view christianity with amusement …. somewhat in the same way I veiw Islam now. Islam is nonsensical to me …. but then, why should it be otherwise. It is not my faith system, and as such, it seems quite silly to me.
Anyway … I’ve rambled on here for so long I don’t even remember the question now, or if there even was one. :-|
larry



report abuse
 

Mike Hayes

posted June 13, 2008 at 8:50 pm


“…If we were to try to crystallize the lesson from ancestral wisdom that underlies all the seemingly unrelated political questions dividing Right from Left, I would say it has to do with moral responsibility and agency, whether human beings are captives of Nature or whether they are free…”.
I would hope that spiritual persons of all persuasions would endorse the obligation to provide care for “thirsty”, “hungry”, “naked” persons that is contained in Christian scripture.
That is a concept of moral responsibility.
In our world today, where a substantial fraction of our fellow human beings live on less than $2 per person per day, I think that constitutes the primary moral obligation.
I hope we all support that priority.



report abuse
 

Phoenix Orion

posted June 15, 2008 at 12:57 am


The Bible (in the New Testament) does speak about drugs. Galatians 5:19-21 lists several things as the works of the flesh (as opposed to the works of the Spirit). In verse 20 it lists, among other things, sorcery (ASV). If you look up sorcery in Strong’s concordance, you will find it is translated from the Greek word “pharmakeia”, which is the word from which we get the word “pharmacy.” It means “medication” and by extension: magic, sorcery, witchcraft. It is included in this passage along with other behaviors such as fornication, uncleanness, drunkenness, etc.”
Well, while this passage of the Bible could be interpreted as forbidding recreational drug use, it could also be interpreted as forbidding “medicine”. Does this mean that a hyperactive child who takes Adderall or even someone who takes aspirin to relieve a headache is practicing “sorcery” or “witchcraft”? And there are several religions in America (such as Vodun, Santeria, Wicca, Druidism, and other forms of Pagan and nature based faiths) who do practice magic, sorcery, and witchcraft. While Christianity may very well forbid such practices, keep in mind that there is freedom of religion in America, and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and practices (as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others). And there are some religious groups in America that have been exempted from drugs because ingesting certain hallucinogenic substances are a part of their religious rituals (i.e. peyote for certain Native American religions, and ayahuasca for a faith group that sort of combines Christianity and traditional South American tribal beliefs). And obviously the Bible condemns drunkenness, does that mean alcohol should be illegal? Similarly, certain drugs should not be illegal merely because the Bible condemns their use (especially if they are used in rituals of other religions, and in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of those who choose not to take the drugs or participate in such rituals).
“would hope that spiritual persons of all persuasions would endorse the obligation to provide care for “thirsty”, “hungry”, “naked” persons that is contained in Christian scripture.
That is a concept of moral responsibility.
In our world today, where a substantial fraction of our fellow human beings live on less than $2 per person per day, I think that constitutes the primary moral obligation.
I hope we all support that priority”
I completely and whole-heartedly agree!!



report abuse
 

Phoenix Orion

posted June 15, 2008 at 12:58 am


“And there are some religious groups in America that have been exempted from drugs because ingesting certain hallucinogenic substances are a part of their religious rituals”
I meant to say “exempted from drug laws”.



report abuse
 

david of fox lake

posted June 16, 2008 at 4:28 pm


“I would hope that spiritual persons of all persuasions would endorse the obligation to provide care for “thirsty”, “hungry”, “naked” persons that is contained in Christian scripture.”
You demonstrate a remarkable lack of understanding of the Scripture.
I think Paul the Apostle addressed this issue, too, when he admonished the church that “he who will not work, should not eat”.
There is a disturbing thread common to a number of these blogs, starting with Wallis’s own views: the idea that Justice (of any sort, social, or otherwise) is served when the power of government is used to confiscate the wealth of some citizens to distribute to other citizens.
If the taxing were voluntary, e.g., if the wealthy majority decided to tax itself, that would be disturbing enough, but what is really happening is that the “poor majority” is taxing the “rich minority” through the power of ‘representative government’.
As if that weren’t bad enough, we have people claiming that in doing so, the mission of none other than Christ himself is being accomplished.
I respectfully disagree.
These voices are sanctioning theft in the name of Christ. There is no honor, and certainly no justice in so doing.
Allow me to share some alternate perspective.
Some years ago, I spent a few years in a cockroach-free apartment in a cockroach-infested building. I kept my apartment roach-free by eliminating all sources of food. I got food out to eat a meal, then cleaned up immediately and completely. I even kept my garbage bag tied securely. An occasional roach would pass through on a scouting trip, but that was it.
One day, I had a pivotal insight into human sociology: you can have as many poor people as you’re willing to feed. The more free food you make available, the more the numbers of poor will increase to consume it. I called it my “Cockroach theory of welfare programs”. All of my friends at the time were fellow Believers, and many of them recoiled at my ‘cold-hearted’ statements.
In point of fact, the existence of populations of poor people provides proof that life has value. Life is worth living, even if the best you can manage is to be poor.
Jesus made the comment that we would always have the poor with us. I read a social-gospel writer recently, who claimed that Jesus was partially quoting from a passage in Deuteronomy, where God told his people to look out for the poor among them, but I beg to differ. I think Jesus was imparting an important truth: there always will be poor people. Period. The reason is, that life is worth living, even if you’re poor. Society will always demonstrate bell curves in any measurement, including wealth and living conditions.
We do the poor no favors by providing them with subsidies of any kind. It only ensures that their numbers will increase: we will have more people living in poverty. There are positive steps we can do to minister to the poor, but they all have to do with training and counseling, and offering opportunity. The Peace Corps is a better model for Christian ministry to the poor than is a homeless shelter, or a soup kitchen. Our volunteers instruct, guide, counsel, and work with the people they serve, but they bring no money or food to distribute.
My grandfather was an associate pastor at a church in Kansas City, back in the 1920s. He taught the 5th grade boys Sunday School class. He made an effort to visit in the home of each of his boys, to share the Gospel with the parents. He once told me that, of the families who were living in poverty, who accepted the Gospel, all of them had been able to free themselves of poverty’s grip within three months.
Like the Apostles at the gate to the Temple, he had neither gold nor silver, but he gave them what he did have, which was the Gospel of Christ–and it set the captives free.



report abuse
 

Ron McLain

posted June 16, 2008 at 10:53 pm


I find it interesting that anyone feels they could speak for a being that supposedly created an entire universe. Our egos are incredible!
Nature demonstrates the way things work in the most harmony and if God created everything what part of all this is not sacred? When we do not impress our need for power upon it, life tends to operate in harmony. Liberal and conservative are just terms of the moment and can not truly describe us. Why should what you think works for you govern my life? When you take full responsibility for your own spiritual growth and practice you probably won’t have time to tell me how to live and believe.



report abuse
 

JustCommonSense

posted June 17, 2008 at 7:01 am


I think normally God would vote Republican, but in this election, He would vote for someone with heart, with courage, with brains… a care for the common man. He would vote Democrate in this coming election.



report abuse
 

JustCommonSense

posted June 17, 2008 at 7:03 am


That is if I believed in a creator god.



report abuse
 

benintn

posted June 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm


I’d say that biblical Christianity could never have imagined 21st century democracy. To apply 5th century BC Jewish principles to the government of modern-day America is more than just anachronistic. It’s downright dangerous. What we have here is a problem of hermeneutics.



report abuse
 

david of fox lake

posted June 17, 2008 at 12:50 pm


However true your contention may be, regarding 5th century BC Jewish principles, the New Testament contains some 1st century AD principles that deserve our attention.
The people of Israel were living as subjects of a foreign power, which has significant parallels for Christians in the US. Jesus defined what I take to be civic responsibility, and distinguished it from spiritual responsibility, when he made his comment about paying taxes to the Roman authorities. Paul set out the legitimate expectations of government. These illuminate principles that have not gone out of date.
When our nation was conducting its war in Vietnam, I concluded, based on Jesus’s teaching, that the government had the authority to demand taxes from me, but did not have the authority to demand that I go kill someone, in violation of my Christian conscience.
While biblical Christians might not have been able to conceive of our 21st century republic, the Greek democracies were already ancient history for them. And nothing has really changed.
It is still the case, as it was then, that a republic can only last, so long as its voters refrain from using their power to raid the public treasury for their personal benefit. And that is precisely the crux of the socio-economic problem that we face in this year’s election.



report abuse
 

Phoenix Orion

posted June 17, 2008 at 10:11 pm


“I’d say that biblical Christianity could never have imagined 21st century democracy. To apply 5th century BC Jewish principles to the government of modern-day America is more than just anachronistic. It’s downright dangerous. What we have here is a problem of hermeneutics.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. We can’t take our understanding of life in the 21st century and apply it to life in biblical times, and vice versa.



report abuse
 

david of fox lake

posted June 18, 2008 at 8:48 am


benintn and Phoenix Orion:
Your comments amaze me.
While I understand your conclusion statements, I haven’t a clue how you arrived at them. Would you mind explaining?
Oh, and not having read most of the posts, were you responding to a previous post? Knowing that may help with my comprehension.
Thanks,



report abuse
 

Elizabeth Daniele

posted June 18, 2008 at 2:03 pm


With all due respect, sir– the utter desecration of the second most important commandment given by Christ literally makes your argument unbelievable.
When we claim to follow Christ and mockingly violate the very core of who he was with eyes wide-open, let alone teach others, gives truth to why we should fear God. How can we, with a straight face, ever even imagine Jesus in fatigues? Even more, woe to those who know better.
And it is why the crusades failed and any “success” from them– was not of God.
If Christ said to love your enemy– how much more to the poor and disenfranchised?
Peace,
Elizabeth Daniele
author of Proof of God



report abuse
 

Gwen

posted June 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm


Some of the issues today are clearly spoken of in the bible, homosexuality, God says is “unnatural” War, God says, “thou shalt not kill” Thou shall not steal, “we” the government, are over in foreign countries as I speak, trying to take oil, thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor, politicians, are doing this to one another as well, there are so many things going on in government, hey, in the world, that God disapproves of, and yet, the government makes these things legal. My president is God, he is my Commander in Cheif, and in the end, the only one who has a say in where “my soul” will reside. The world is in trouble, not just the United States, I’m not really a fan of politics, but I have a question, Does, Bush, and Chenney, have oil wells over there where our sons, daughters, and spouses, are losing their lives? Are they over there for that reason as well?



report abuse
 

Stephen

posted June 18, 2008 at 6:08 pm


Gwen, you posted:
God says, “thou shalt not kill”
The commandment is not thou shall not kill, it is thou shall not murder. That puts a very different and critical spin on it. That is why killing in self defense does not break the Old Testament law. It is also how God can have capital punishment in the Old Testament without being inconsistent. Capital punishment was established so society could maintain order and avoid the slippery slope to moral degradation we find ourselves on now.
Second, if the United States was really after the oil, they would have behaved very differently, and would have seized the oil wells, and ruled Iraq themselves to ensure that the oil was shipped to the US or at least the US got all of the money they could from it.
Thirdly, you should think about what would happen to our society if the oil taps were shut off. If war is moral in any circumstances, and that is another discussion, then war to protect oil without which our society could not survive, would be as moral as war for food or water.



report abuse
 

david of fox lake

posted June 18, 2008 at 6:38 pm


Elizabeth:
Was your post directed to another post? Or was it directed to the article by Klinghoffer?
Thanks,
d



report abuse
 

Phoenix Orion

posted June 19, 2008 at 1:14 am


Stephen,
When you say that there was capital punishment in the Old Testament in order to maintain societal order and prevent the Israelites from sliding into moral decay, are you suggesting that the way to improve the morality of American society is to execute Americans for “crimes” as varied as idolatry, witchcraft, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, and wearing garments with mixed fibers?
Capital punishment for murderers, rapists, and child molesters is one thing, but I don’t know of a single Christian (fundamentalist or otherwise) or Jew (Orthodox or otherwise) in America who would advocate stoning someone to death for daring to collect sticks on the Sabbath.



report abuse
 

david of fox lake

posted June 19, 2008 at 9:01 am


Tossing a bit of an odd perspective into the mix…
Many people, rabbis, theologians, you, perhaps, and most certainly I, have attempted to ‘explain’ what God’s reasons were for various commandments, laws, etc. At one point, I realized that as curious as something might appear, and as satisfying as an explanation might be, that I, of all people, had best just take it at face value, and forget about making explanations. I work at that, for it is a constant temptation.
Having said that, by way of disclaimer…
It occurred to me some years back that when the capital punishment laws were given to the children of Israel, along with all the other punishments for various crimes, they were living in tents. It is noteworthy that imprisoning a miscreant was not among the punishments, nor was it an option.
If they had been city dwellers, could it be, I wondered, that instead of death, life in prison, or at least a lengthy sentence, would have been prescribed instead?
Then there is the question of providing sustenance for the prisoner. Can you imagine the ruckus it would have raised to suggest that these desert-dwelling sheep-herders should be taxed to support a prison system? Maybe THAT’S why they had the punishment system they had. There you go–another reason.
I have a friend who has family, by marriage, in Malaysia. The Hilton hotel in one city is across the street from the prison. He told me two things. First, one look at that prison was enough to convince him he didn’t ever want to commit a crime there. Second, the prison provides no meals for inmates. Family and friends bring food, or the prisoners don’t eat. The crime rate there is very low. (Please, that is dry humor, not a suggestion.)
Be blessed.



report abuse
 

Stephen

posted June 19, 2008 at 6:35 pm


Phoenix, no. Nothing in my post even implied that I believe that.
I do believe that capital punishment for heinous crimes is appropriate and should be part of our justice system. I think the system in the US is so flawed that it shouldn’t be used until it is fixed. For example, preventing a DNA test on a convict on death row for technical reasons should be eliminated. I also think there is systemic racism in the system down there that makes it difficult to assure oneself that the system is just. Also the system there is too slow. Having death row inmates sit on death row for 15 years or more is cruel and unusual punishment IMHO.
I am Canadian. We had a case up here where a couple kidnapped and murdered at least two teenage girls. They filmed the girls. There was absolutley no doubt, not just no reasonable doubt, that they had done it. In my opinion, they should have bee put to death, and quickly, not sitting on death row for 15 to 20 years.



report abuse
 

Phoenix Orion

posted June 19, 2008 at 10:44 pm


Stephen,
I was merely confused as to what you meant when you said that in the Old Testament, the Israelites maintained capital punishment in order to prevent their society from sliding into “moral decay”. “Moral decay” can mean any number of things, from violent/exploitative crimes such as murder, rape, and theft to victimless crimes such as idolatry, adultery (not saying adultery is good, but we don’t exactly imprison people for it nowadays), and working on the Sabbath. I can understand why the ancient Israelites would want to execute thieves and murderers, but don’t really understand why the Old Testament prescribed the death penalty for religious violations such as working on the Sabbath and worshipping gods other than Yahweh.
I agree with you, I believe the death penalty is appropriate for heinous, violent crimes such as murder, rape, and child molestation, but the system here in the US is very flawed. I am rather in the middle on the issue of the death penalty. I don’t consider myself anti-death penalty, but I am definitely anti-the wrong guy getting executed. I do think the US should put a moratorium on the death penalty until the system is cleaned up, and then only use it in situations like you described above, where someone commits a murder and there is absolutely no doubt that they have done it.



report abuse
 

Gregory Wonderwheel

posted June 20, 2008 at 8:13 pm


There is only one political directive from what might be called God, that is the Golden Rule. Whether it is called karma, the Golden Rule, “reap what you sow”, or whatever, the injunction to do to others what you would have them do to you is the primary directive of a spiritual politics. That’s it. If you want people to torture you if they get it into their mind you are a bad person for whatever reason when you are visiting their country, then by all means vote for torture. If you want to pay back the Chinese from your own taxes for the mooney we are borrowing to pay for the Iraq war, then by all means vote to have your grandchildren pay for it when the debt comes due. If you don’t want to have the right of habeus corpus if you are mistakenly arrested then by all means don’t vote for habeus corpus to be applied to Guantanemo.
As I see it, by following the directive f the Golden Rule, one will be voting the “liberal” side of the ballot far more than on the “conservative” side, since the one thing the conservative side is all about is “I got mine, so you go take care of yourself.” which is an variation of the opposite of the Golden Rule.



report abuse
 

Megan Stewart

posted July 11, 2008 at 5:00 pm


I’d had a difficult time fitting into churches in my conservative Bible-belt community for many years when it occurred to me that my political views were a product of my upbringing. My mother considered herself a liberal Republican, my father would probably have qualified as a libertarian. Though neither of my parents embraced “big government,” the concept of social conservatism is totally out-of-context with anything in the way I was brought up.
It dawned on me a few years ago that changing my political views to suit the stated opinion of my church or anyone else was actually a violation of the commandment to “Honor thy father and thy mother.”
When totalitarian political regimes such as the Communists have taken over in various countries, one of their first strategies is to turn the hearts of the children against their parents. This is exactly the approach many Christian leaders have used in recent years. It’s immoral, no matter whether the politics are liberal, conservative, or communist.
C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called “Meditation on the Third Commandment,” in which he argued the creation of a Christian political party was blasphemous, no matter what the political views that party held.
Christians can argue until they’re blue in the face whether the Bible is liberal or conservative. I’d argue the act of stating your party is the biblical party violates twenty percent of the Ten Commandments.



report abuse
 

talapoku

posted August 6, 2008 at 2:17 pm


In your opinion, what’s the best movie ever created?



report abuse
 

jason

posted August 20, 2008 at 1:36 am


the word y’all are looking for and forgetting is social contract. the bible is libertarian. it’s also a-political. when put on trial, jesus told pilot, “my kindgdom is not of this world.” god would not and does not vote. it is written that he creates and appoints and directs all powers and authorities, and in Romans paul writes, “every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” in revelation, when this social order is wiped out, the “new earth” will be a monarchy, and luckily the king will be the perfect creator of the universe, not some hokey brit, or some crazy fascist dictator.
you can ask all you want about any politician’s politics, but the sad answer is they’re all chasing the money. george bush, ted kennedy, obama, pelosi, byrd, they’re all the same damn person. oh sure some of them have personal agendas like their own corporations, racism and homophobia, but in the end they’re all liberals. “conservative” is just a catchphrase to spend money on other ventures like the military and intelligence. george bush wants to be your daddy, and hillary clinton wants to be your mommy. but my social contract says I’m an adult. every policy above and beyond basic protection of civil liberties and from enemies foreign and domestic is a violation of the social contract and, because it inherently takes from someone else, is against god. christian socialism is the most comedic response; surely jesus loves egalitarians extorting the poor to give to other poor people, in His name no less. luckily they’ll be judged for their crimes. as for me, I will vote for neither. my kingdom is not of this world.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted December 5, 2008 at 2:50 pm


Jesus stated that the two commandments that were the most important, and encompassed ALL of the law and the prophets, were to Love God with ALL your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength ~ and to Love your Neighbor as yourself.
He was persecuted by the religious establishment and executed by the state. He spent time who were considered the wrong types of people – the lowly and outcasts – ignoring conventional boundries. He exemplified a life of service, and stated that he who wishes to be great must be “a servant of all”.
To say that the Bible would direct one to be a conservative is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever read.



report abuse
 

Mark

posted December 23, 2009 at 7:29 pm


I admit, I had to look up your Genesis 47 and 1 Samuel reference, because I was taken back by what you wrote. I have to say that you’ve come up with one of the most absurd misquotes of the Bible I’ve ever heard. The in 1 Samuel reference it actually means that the Israelites’ troubles will continue due to their lack of faith NOT because of their future slavery. There’s no such warning as you suppose. The “warning” is of their suffering for lack of faith! I won’t waste any more time arguing semantics or translations here, because you obviously are going to interpret what you read based on what you want to hear. How do I know? Because I read the rest of your article!
I agree with your critics here in the comments. There’s NO political side attached to the Bible. And to say so, well, is blasphemy! God has no politics; Christ’s kingdom is not of this world! And, as C.S. Lewis (who has better words than I) said, the devil is waiting in the extremes; liberal or conservative! Life is about balance and faith in God. For instance:
“Do not be over righteous, neither be overwise–why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool–why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” –Ecc 7:16-18



report abuse
 

fghfgf

posted January 26, 2010 at 11:44 pm


Welcome to our website: http://www.wellbbiz.com/
The website wholesale for many kinds of fashion shoes, like the nike,jordan,prada,adidas, also including the jeans,shirts,bags,hat and the decorations. All the products are free shipping, and the the price is competitive, and also can accept paypal payment.,after the payment, can ship within short time.
free shipping
competitive price
any size available
We do wholesale and retail! All are extremely CHEAP, please visit: http://www.wellbbiz.com/
Thank you for your visit



report abuse
 

girl

posted March 13, 2010 at 12:03 pm


Welcome to our website: http://www.wowhotsale.com
The website wholesale for many kinds of fashion shoes, like the nike,jordan,prada,adidas, also including the jeans,shirts,bags,hat and the decorations. All the products are free shipping, and the the price is competitive, and also can accept paypal payment.,after the payment, can ship within short time.
free shipping
competitive price
any size available
We do wholesale and retail! All are extremely CHEAP, please visit: http://www.wowhotsale.com



report abuse
 

lacoste shoes

posted May 7, 2010 at 3:33 am


From your blog, I can see that you are a very content man. I hope you can make friends with me generously. I think a good pair of shoes as my faithful friend, so I always find the most suitable and favorite shoes, if you agree with my view, you can look at my site.



report abuse
 

cheap coach purses

posted July 12, 2010 at 8:49 am


Thank you for sharing.I like cheap coach handbags



report abuse
 

2010 polo shirts

posted August 9, 2010 at 6:44 am


Welcome to buy top quality Polo Ralph Lauren,Cheap Polo Shirts,Polo Discount,Lxvii Ralph Lauren,Polo Shirts 2010. Always Low Price, Open 24/7, 365days A Year!



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted August 23, 2010 at 5:31 am


thank you for sharing with us,i like it very much and i will always give attention.Welcome to say something about my recent shopping experience:
guess mens watches



report abuse
 

cheap ralph lauren polo shirts

posted August 27, 2010 at 8:43 pm


hehe. thanks for your share.it is very useful for me. looking for your next your article.



report abuse
 

lacoste shoes

posted November 22, 2010 at 3:35 am


3 Jun 1999 VANCOUVER – The Consumers ; Association of Canada, British Columbia, today released its review of the automobile insurance rates issue in



report abuse
 

Steelers Jerseys

posted September 28, 2011 at 3:38 am


These Cheap Packers Jerseys from our Wholesale NFL Jerseys online shop will quickly make you really feel closer for your favorite crew while providing you the comfort to know you are obtaining the best of the most effective. You’ll be impressed with the quality and features of these NFL Jerseys.



report abuse
 

wedding gowns

posted November 10, 2011 at 2:32 am


If you have chosen to wear chiffon bridal gown, then how about your flower bouquet wrapped in chiffon piece? This could be white or any other contrasting color. A bouquet is your important accessory so be careful in its selection!
Bridal Shoes



report abuse
 

fashion eyeglasses

posted November 10, 2011 at 2:34 am


If you wear eyeglasses then you will agree that eyeglasses are a health item necessity for most wearers.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Blogalogue. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Inspiration Report Happy Reading!!!

posted 9:34:57am Jul. 06, 2012 | read full post »

How Do We Tell A True Act of God From A False One?
Dear Michael: Thank you again for this exchange, Michael; I am grateful that you took the time to teach me with such patience and tolerance. In all honesty, I can't follow your subtle discussion of the relationship between natural laws and Divine Providence. The fault is mine. I think you are sayi

posted 3:46:50pm Nov. 17, 2008 | read full post »

Do You Wonder About the Source of Meaning?
Dear Heather, I really enjoy the way you conduct a path through our disagreements. You are tough, but open to differences. As we have agreed from the first, to achieve real disagreement is a long-term task; it takes a lot of brandies sipped slowly together (so to speak) to get past the misunderstan

posted 10:51:30am Nov. 14, 2008 | read full post »

What About Other Religions?
Dear Michael: Thank you so much for your candid and probing response; it is most illuminating. Before addressing your final question, I am going to risk characterizing your presentation of religious faith. Some of our readers, if not you yourself, may find this presumptuous; if so, I accept their c

posted 4:21:02pm Nov. 13, 2008 | read full post »

Faith Is Not Just Belief
Dear Heather: There are many aspects of popular Catholic faith that have sometimes shocked me and turned me away. Yet I well remember visiting the great Catholic shrine at Czestechowa, in Poland, where once almost a million people turned out for Pope John Paul II when he first pierced the Iron Curta

posted 3:48:33pm Nov. 12, 2008 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.