Saturday, September 26, 2015

Obama the Christian radical

Dear Hannah,

Jesus Christ is frustrating because we're never really sure whether to take Him literally.  It might be argued that He was never meant to be taken practically, and that a good portion of His sermons were meant to make us be humble.  It could be that after all the talk about poking your own eyes out what He was really trying to prove is that being perfect is beyond us -- and maybe even suicidal.  If you look at it this way, the Sermon on the Mount may not be about behavior.  It may be an attempt to get us to cry "uncle."

This doesn't mean that Christians have ever taken it this way.  The dangerous thing about religion is that people tend to want to take it religiously -- which means that they often want to take it literally.  And so when Jesus says things like "you have to turn the other cheek," we wonder whether there was ever a time when we shouldn't.  We wonder if there was ever any other response which was Christian.  And this taking every little thing that Jesus said and making it seem like the only thing that He ever said tends to make Christians imbalanced.  So imbalanced, in fact, that we think men like President Obama must be Muslims for the way they treat Muslims, when the obvious fact is that men like Obama are trying to be radical Christians.

Contrary to the American perspective, which is that radical Christians are Baptists with assault rifles, history's given us a hundred examples of radical Christians and nearly all of them have been dangerous.  There's really only one thing you can safely take radically in Christianity, and that is that Jesus Christ died for your sins and He's coming back to judge the world and you had better personally live like it.  Any radicalization beyond this causes lots of horrible problems.  You end up idolizing some particular aspect of Christianity so exclusively that you begin to forget about all the other ones. And we have to remember that there are a lot of particular aspects to idolize, because Christianity is extremely complex and vibrant -- like life.

The Judaizers took portions of the Old Testament so seriously they ended up forgetting about the purpose of the Gospel; and the anti-nomians became so obsessed with the Gospel that they forgot about the best portions of the Law.  The Gnostics and Celestines and Franciscans focused so much on the soul that they made everyone miserable about having bodies; and the preachers of the wealth Gospel focus so much on the glorification of the body that they've forgotten about the purification of the soul.  The Jesuits took the authority of the Catholic Church so seriously that they became the worst of the world's casuists.  The Dominicans believed in orthodoxy and doctrine so seriously that they became some of the world's most intolerant persecutors.  The Calvinists were so bent on the sovereignty of God that many of them forgot about the agency of men; and the Arminians were so bent on the agency of man that they almost forgot about the sovereignty of God.  Anyone can be a radical on practically anything worth fighting for (and I think we can agree that everyone above was fighting for something essential).  The question isn't whether we take our truths seriously or even whether we take them religiously.  The question is what we do with the other truths.

People are very quick to say that half a truth makes a lie.  What they refuse to admit is that practicing half the New Testament gets you a whole hell.  You take a look at Obama's presidency and you see what I mean.  He takes charity so wildly he's almost forgotten there are more than one kind of person to be charitable to.  He values non-judgmentalism so totally he's forgotten how to condemn evil.  He values the foreigner and the outcast and the minority so much he's forgotten to love the rest of us.  He takes that saying of Paul's, that there is no law against love, and ruins his love by making it lawless.

If Obama had been a good Catholic, he'd know there isn't a law against love is because there's another virtue "against" it.  And when we balance charity with prudence, we don't question charity itself, but question whether our charity is effective.  A prudent charity is the difference between taking an orphan into your home and giving your kids' inheritance to bums.  It asks us whether our love is sustainable, and proper, and timely.  It asks whether there are other people affected by our decisions; whether we throw everything away on the moment or whether we invest it for a greater purpose; and whether there are times to risk everything or times for self-preservation.  It acknowledges Paul's statement that there is no law against love and it balances it with he who will not work shall not eat.  It hears Christ's calling to love our enemy and then contrasts it with Solomon's there is a time and a place to everything under the sun.

Unfortunately, Obama's Christianity is in everything from the homosexualization and feminization of our military to the extensiveness and unsustainability of our welfare programs to his weakness against our national enemies to his opening of our border and his approval of mass-infanticide.  Everything he does is done with the intent of "loving" the least among us -- and all the rest of us are paying for it because he's forgotten to love the most of us.  He sees the minority suffering injustice and so he alleviates it by causing injustice to the majority.  And he does it out of Christian sincerity -- which contrary to popular opinion makes him all the more dangerous.

Christianity has often been called a force for good, but we'd do better to just recognize it as a force in general.  The energy of religious conviction can be used to build a great and holy nation like it did with the Puritans.  It can be used to demolish economies and welcome rapists and terrorists like it does with our Democrats.  Christianity is a beautiful religion; and because it's beautiful it's dangerous.  It causes us to fall so in love with heavenly ideals that it leads us to mismanage our earthly affairs.  Our passions eat nations alive, and we comforts ourselves that at least we'll be getting into heaven -- by making the greatest civilizations in the world into a living hell.

Your father,

1 comment:

  1. Obama's Christianity, if he has ever actually affirmed his association with Jesus, is that of a child who desperately wants mommy and daddy to give all they have to that poor man on the street. A truly Christian child (as we wish Obama would at least act like) would reach into his own pockets to give the man a nickel for that was all he, not someone else, had to give. Obama thinks it's his to give away while his hands are in your pockets.