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Beliefnet Blogalogue - Debates About Faith…

~ Does the Bible “Command” Us to Be Conservative or Progressive? ~

New York , NY – June 20, 2008 – Is God a Republican, a Democrat, or neither? Would He support Barack Obama or John McCain, and which political issues would He view as most important? Two of America’s most influential religious and political voices are engaging in a spiritual debate about their essential beliefs and interpretations of the Bible. Journalist and scholar David Klinghoffer, author of the new book How Would God Vote? Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative, is engaged in a heated duel with progressive preacher and anti-poverty advocate Jim Wallis, author of The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith and Politics in a Post Religious Right America. Their opposing viewpoints on God’s political stance are the focus of Beliefnet’s latest spiritual debate.

Brief excerpts from the Klinghoffer-Wallis Blogalogue follow. The debate continues through June 24, 2008. Complete posts are available at http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/, where you can view daily updates, and join in with your own comments on religion and politics in America.

David Klinghoffer is a senior fellow in the Discovery Institute, the organization best known as the driving force behind the Intelligent Design movement. In addition to his most recent publication mentioned above, Klinghoffer has penned Why the Jews Rejected Jesus and the spiritual memoir The Lord Will Gather Me In. Klinghoffer contributes to The National Review and writes a column for The Forward, a weekly Jewish newspaper. He lives in the Seattle area with his wife and children.

Jim Wallis is an author, public theologian, preacher, and international commentator on religion and public life, faith and politics. Both his most recent book, cited above, and God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, are New York Times Bestsellers. Wallis is President and Chief Executive Officer of Sojourners, where he is editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine. He has taught at the Harvard Divinity School and Kennedy School of Government, and he blogs for Beliefnet at God's Politics (http://blog.beliefnet.com/godspolitics/).


Clarifying the Politics of the Bible:

· 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.

· 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. http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/2008/06/lets-clarify-the-politics-of-t.html

Does The Bible Approve War And Capital Punishment?

· The Bible is manifestly comfortable with a nation taking the responsibility to go to war, even without U.N. approval; with a nation taking the equally awesome responsibility of executing a person convicted of a capital offense; with a nation asking a would-be immigrant to take responsibility for assimilating the country's moral values. http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/2008/06/david-klinghoffer-the-theme-is.html

Does Government Responsibility Equate To Personal Irresponsibility?

· When too much responsibility is assumed by the government, that undercuts the personal responsibility of citizens to reach out and assist the needy. http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/2008/06/david-klinghoffer-the-theme-is.html


Real Life Often Defies Stereotypes

· I am not interested in trying to debunk your caricature of me and my ideas point-by-point. It appears to be mostly one-liners and sweeping generalizations about whole groups of people without much substance … The fact is that our taxes are dreadfully misused, not that they exist. http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/2008/06/jim-wallis-personal-and-social.html#more

Does the Will of the People Support the War in Iraq?

· The ideal of democracy is the collective will of the people speaking through their elected representatives. Our polity is certainly flawed. But I'd be willing to do a test. Let's ask the people if they'd rather have spent more than $500 billion over the last five years on jobs, education, healthcare and housing or on the war in Iraq. http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/2008/06/jim-wallis-the-bible-is-neithe.html#more

Does Religion Have A Monopoly On Morality?

· Religion has no monopoly on morality, it must be disciplined by democracy and contribute to a better and more moral public discourse. We don't get to win just because we are religious. http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/2008/06/jim-wallis-personal-and-social.html

The Bible is Neither Conservative Nor Liberal

· …the Bible does not prescribe specific policies on the issues facing us today. While we can use Scripture as a normative vision, we must, as the National Association of Evangelicals puts it, do detailed social, economic, historical, jurisprudential, and political analysis. Only if we deepen our Christian vision and also study our contemporary world can we engage in politics faithfully and wisely. http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/2008/06/jim-wallis-the-bible-is-neithe.html

In addition to following and commenting on the Klinghoffer/Wallis blogalogue, visitors can share thoughts, learn from others and debate Christian theology in the Beliefnet Community network. Check out http://community.beliefnet.com/?page_id=1107&group_id=262 for more information.

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