Friday, March 31, 2006

I agree with Martin Luther; Scripture is the final authority because its main subject is God, reconciling all men to Himself through Christ. You’d better come up with a better answer than “just because” when an unbeliever asks why he or she should believe the Bible. This is the real reason why Protestants call the Bible the Word of God. But how many know that? Not too many, I’d judge. It’s not that I’m so smart, but reality’s contours are marked by this: a personal God revealing Himself in history. The Ten Commandments are useless if they weren’t written by God, and a reflection of His character. Seriously, what use does anyone have for manmade rules? Press some fake right-winger about this; you’ll see that they’ll blather on about ordering society, preserving the Republic, and saving families. But equally as obvious will be that noticeable lack of contrition, (repentance) and personal extension of the forgiveness of sins. Such a person doesn’t know Jesus; he is a means to an end. Law and grace are linked; without this, the Law is only death. If it were up to me, only baptized disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ would be allowed to invoke His Name in a political argument. Both sides would possess theologians, and these people would take turns critiquing the other. If you said, “Why, that’s not very Christian!” the very next question should be “How?” or, “Why not?” The obvious point is this: the political Right in America does not have a monopoly on truth, Scriptural or otherwise. But the Left in large measure has declared itself hostile to Christianity, and this makes it extremely difficult to package those arguments within a Christian worldview; as a result, when Christ is invoked, it’s facile, superficial, and otherwise reductionist. Jesus becomes warm and fuzzy, a glorified Oprah-watcher. If the right-wing Jesus wears a Microsoft hat while waving the American flag, the left-wing Jesus is a sissy, too compassionate to call anyone wrong about anything. But Jesus is bigger than all of this! You know where I stand by now, and mainly because compassion is not incompatible at all with various rightist positions; what is more, I found many more noble sorts on that side than is generally believed! As for the Left, truly Christian left-leaners already make common cause with rightist Christians on scores of issues (thinking of life and death, or human rights), and I’d be thrilled to respectfully dispute with a candidate of that description. (Many say President Bush fits this; no kidding) Can we have Bill Clinton back? Boy, I wish he hadn’t cheated on his wife. Then righties could not have so easily dismissed his confession of faith, which I fervently hope is genuine. Billy Graham is a Democrat. He was also friendly with the Republican of Republicans, Ronald Reagan. (Democrats just discarded all warm feelings for Billy Graham!) I like Jimmy Carter. No, I love him as a brother. At the same time, he might be among the most politically inept presidents in our nation’s history, in my opinion. The Left needs a new Bryan, a Niebuhr; Leftist but orthodox to the core. The Right needs a Mother Theresa; an identifier with the poor. Undercut the Left’s alleged monopoly on compassion. In short, both sides need to destroy the stereotypes of themselves.