Defending a Liberal from a Bible-Wielding Bully

I’ll admit it right up front – I consider myself to be a moderate. There are some areas where conservatives get it right. There are other areas where liberals get it right. It’s foolish to think that either side gets it 100% right or wrong.

But one thing that really gets my blood boiling is when a person one side seeks to tarnish (or completely strip away) the salvation of an opponent on the other side. This was just the case this week as conservative blogger Matt WalshMatt Walsh wrote a piece partially titled: It’s Incredibly Obvious That Barack Obama Isn’t a Christian.

While Mr. Walsh and I probably agree on a great many things politically, ethically, and morally, I disagree with his admitted attack on President Obama’s Christianity. I have two fundamental problems with Mr. Walsh’s attack piece. First, the beginning part of the article is superfluous and unnecessary. Mr. Walsh let’s loose with a long list of grievances that show the President’s lack of Christian faith:

– he’s part of a radical heretical sect called Black Liberation Theology
– he attacked religious freedom in America
– he “aided and abetted” persecutors of Christians overseas
– he supports same-sex marriage
– he’s dishonest
– he exploits racial tensions
– he’s generally corrupt and unwaveringly narcissistic

Mr. Walsh invokes Jesus’s words in Matthew 7:16

You will know them by their fruit

It’s quite possible that nobody ever told Mr. Walsh that reading a Bible verse requires seeing the surrounding verses as well for context. In Matthew 7:15-16 Jesus actually says:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

Do you see it there? Jesus is talking about judging and gauging prophets. He’s not talking about politicians. While there may be a general life principle about watching a person’s behavior to know who and what they are, we mustn’t tweak Jesus’s words to fit our agendas.

Then, admitting that his entire list is irrelevant, Mr. Walsh says:

He could theoretically be all those things and still be a Christian.

So there is no biblical support to back up the initial accusations. They do not stand as proof of a false Christian faith. The real issue, what Mr. Walsh is really getting to, is his intense loathing for President Obama based on Mr. Obama’s stance on abortion.

Leave all of that aside, then. The thing above all else that really reveals his true faith (or lack thereof) is his undying passion for, support of, and belief in abortion.

Mr. Walsh then unleashes a plethora of articles and facts illustrating Mr. Obama’s stance on abortion.

Plethora

Here comes my second fundamental problem with Mr. Walsh’s article. He misuses the Bible again to support his point (c’mon, this blog is about the Bible, of course that’s going to be the issue here).

Mr. Walsh “quotes” the Bible and adds his own commentary:

If anyone causes harm to these little ones, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Did you catch that? Can we all take a moment to let that one sink in (no pun intended)? You would be better off dead than harming a child. It would be wiser to literally drown in the ocean than do anything that would bring harm, whether physical or spiritual, to a child. That’s God talking. Do we think He was joking? Exaggerating? Just blowing off steam? Does he need to calm down and be reasonable, as pro-lifers are constantly told when they make statements not nearly as strident and damning?

No. This was a direct statement. A command. A promise. When you bring harm to the innocent, you commit a sin so terrible that physical death would be preferable.

Mr. Walsh is creating his own meaning to Jesus’s words. No – it goes beyond that. Mr. Walsh is putting words in Jesus’s mouth. I looked at Mark 9 in 15 different Bible versions – including my Greek New Testament, the New International Version, the King James Version, The English Standard Version, the Holman Christian Standard, heck, even the Message! I didn’t see Mr. Walsh’s version anywhere.

Because it doesn’t exist.

After Jesus’s disciples have an issue with an outsider doing exorcisms in Jesus’s name, Jesus says, “Do not forbid him…. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble….”

Jesus is NOT talking about hurting children. He’s talking about Christian behavior damaging the faith of other believers.

It is dishonest (perhaps unintentionally) to use this passage to promote a pro-life agenda, AND I SAY THIS AS A PRO-LIFE SUPPORTER. Jesus gave no direct statement, command, or promise about abortion or hurting children. Abortion existed thousands of years ago but there was still no direct command against it.

I personally believe that a high view of human life being created in the image of God should lead people away from abortion, but don’t put words in Jesus’s mouth.

So let’s get down to brass tacks. The Bible DOES talk about faith and salvation.

Peter preaches, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

A jailer asks Paul, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul answers, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

We’re never called to hold to certain political positions in order to be saved. It’s about faith in Jesus. That means that, though we may not like it, there is a WIDE variety of people and political ideologies that still fall under the umbrella of Christianity.

We may not like a person’s position. We may feel that they are downright wrong. But we don’t have the ability to revoke someone’s salvation because they differ from us on issues. C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity
that we don’t have the ability to say a person is or isn’t a Christian. We are not the judge of hearts. All we can say is that a person’s behavior doesn’t seem to align with what we think Christian behavior ought to be (forgive the paraphrase, I can’t find the exact reference right now).

I am pro-life.

I will not destroy the salvation of someone who disagrees with me, even though I personally believe that abortion destroys the human created in God’s image. Even on the big issues, salvation is still about Jesus. That’s it. The closer we walk with Jesus the more our morals and values will align with his, but we’re all in different places in our spiritual growth and development.

In the end, I’ll let God determine whose faith is authentic and who is merely faking it.

That’s kind of his job anyways – not mine.

_ _ _ _ _

I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

Breaking G.I. Joes

Yo, Joe!
Yo, Joe!

From the beginning of history, we have lived in a broken world. What does it mean when something is broken? It doesn’t work the way it is supposed to work.

When I was a kid I was playing G.I. Joes with my younger brother. He started teasing me and laughing at me. I can’t even remember what he was laughing about, I just remember that he was making me mad! The more he laughed, the angrier I became. I was holding a G.I. Joe in my hand. I became so angry that I threw it at him as hard as I could!

The Bible tells us that all of us do things that break our connection to God. Even if we try really hard to be good, we still do things that damage our relationship with Him. Anything that breaks our connection to God we call “sin.”

So as my G.I. Joe goes flying through the air, my brother ducks and the Joe sails over his head…and crashes into the window. CRACK! I broke the window! My dad came into the room and asked, “What’s going on in here?” So I confessed. I said that Kevin made me so made that he made me throw the G.I. Joe and it hit the window and the window broke. But my brother didn’t MAKE me do it, did he? I did it myself. And when someone breaks something, who should have to pay to fix it? The one who broke it. So my dad drove me down to the hardware store to buy a new window.

But remember – God says that we ALL do things to break our connection to him. Buying a window is hard enough – who is going to pay to fix our broken connection to God? You don’t have enough money. You can’t do enough good things to fix it. So God said, “I will pay the price to fix it myself.”

When you do something bad, what is the price you have to pay as punishment? If we are left to ourselves, we do bad things and we break that connection with God – the punishment is death. That’s a pretty steep price! And God said he would pay it himself. So God became a man, and his name was Jesus.

John 3:16 says: “This is how God loves us – that he gave us one of a kind son, so that anyone who believes in Jesus would not die but would live with God forever.”

Jesus came to pay the price we couldn’t pay – death.

So they put Jesus on a cross and he was punished so that we wouldn’t have to be. It hurt a lot to be on that cross. It even felt that God had forgotten him. And when it hurt the worst Jesus yelled out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

And then Jesus died. He died so that he would fully experience life and pay the biggest price anyone could pay. And, just to make sure he wasn’t pretending, a soldier took a spear and stabbed Jesus through the side, and blood and fluid came out. As the final act in his death they put him in a tomb carved out of rock and they closed it off with a huge stone.

So What?!? The cross makes a difference.

How do we respond to the story of Easter? This is a REALLY important question! God took the first step. He says, “Here, I want to give you a present!” If someone wants to give you a present you can choose to ignore it. Or you can choose to respond and to accept the gift. God’s gift is Jesus, who paid the price for what we broke.

How will you respond to Jesus? C.S. Lewis said that there are only 3 options for how we respond to Jesus. #1 – we can call him a lunatic, a crazy person for saying what he said and doing what he did. And then we ignore him. #2 – we can call him a liar, a person who wanted to trick everyone. And the new ignore him. Or #3 – we call him Lord (which means the boss) and we admit that he is who he says he is. And is Jesus wasn’t a lunatic, if he wasn’t a liar, then he must be Lord – and if he is Lord then we can’t ignore him but need to follow him.

Romans 6:4 says, “Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.”

The cross makes a difference.

Everyone who hears the Easter story needs to make a decision: how will you respond to Jesus? Is he a lunatic? Is he a liar? Or is he Lord? If he’s Lord, it’s time to tell him and time to start living the new life God wants us to live.

What’s your decision? Are you willing to say, “I believe Jesus paid the price for me”? Are you willing to say, “I want the cross to make a difference in my life”? Are you ready to say, “I will follow Jesus”? The cross makes a difference. Are you ready to say, “I believe, and I want him to make a difference in me”?

A prayer for you:

I believe that Jesus paid the price for my brokenness.

I believe that the cross makes a difference.

God, I want you to make a difference in me.

Change me.

Make me more like you.

Amen.

Related Posts:
~ They Imprisoned the Wrong Man