Lawrence O’Donnell is right. I don’t know if O’Donnell is a Christian, but this segment show a deeper understanding of Christian theology than the court evangelicals.
A recent Washington Post op-ed by an Australian observer of the American religious scene should serve as a wake-up call to United States Christians. Michael Bird is a professing Christian and New Testament scholar at Ridley College in Parkville. Here is a taste of his piece “Jesus isn’t interested in America’s two-party division“:
As a scholar of the New Testament and a professing Christian, I simply do not recognize the plethora of American “Jesuses” spawned by the political left and right. What I see is neither the Jesus of Nazareth I know from history nor the Christ of faith that I know from my church.
To begin with, I am not remotely convinced by the Jesus of American conservative culture. A Jesus who sounds like a deified version of Ronald Reagan. A Jesus who believes that God helps those who help themselves. A Jesus who rejects biological evolution but ostensibly believes in an economic contest of survival of the fittest.
Then, among progressives, their Jesus is often described in ways that would probably best fit the long-lost love child of Lenin and Lady Gaga who grew up to become an Antifa activist. The industry of progressive politics trades in a secular Jesus sanitized of anything that sounds too religious.
I understand that everyone wants Jesus on their political side. In fact, I find it heartening that Jesus is still the endorsement that everyone wants! But there are immense costs being paid when politicians and pundits claim Jesus for their own side.
The primary problem is, of course, the absurd anachronisms.
Read the entire piece here.
Back in November, I noted that Rep. Steve King of Iowa’s 4th Congressional District is a white nationalist, favors a concrete border wall, compared immigrants to dogs, retweets Nazi sympathizers, said that only white people contribute to “civilization,” said that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” and has a Confederate flag on his desk. Read my post, with complete references, here.
Earlier this year, King lost his spot on the House Judiciary and Agriculture committees when he said in an interview that he did not think the phrases “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were offensive.
You would think that King has learned to keep his mouth shut. He has not.
Here is a taste of Alex Kirkpatrick’s piece at KCCI-Des Moines:
Rep. Steve King told constituents Tuesday that he has “better insight into what (Jesus) went through for us,” likening criticism from “accusers” in the U.S. House after fellow GOP colleagues stripped him of committee assignments.
King made the comments at a town hall meeting in Cherokee, a couple of days after Easter Sunday in which Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“For all that I’ve been through — and it seems strange for me to say it — but I am at a certain peace, and it is because of a lot of prayers for me,” King said, according to a Facebook live video posted on his page.
“When I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives and look up at those 400-and-some accusers, you know we just passed through Easter and Christ’s passion, and I have better insight into what he went through for us, partly because of that experience,” the Kiron Republican, who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, continued.
Read the entire piece here.
The following exchange takes place between Jesus and the Pharisees in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22: 16-22.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.[b] 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.[c] 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Several Trump evangelicals are using this verse to justify their support for the POTUS.
Over at the Anxious Bench, Chris Gehrz asks a question about coins:
So how might we hear Matthew 22:21 differently if we’re looking at the metallic relief of a long-dead president who held limited power for a relatively short period of time, rather than that of a living emperor with the hubris to believe himself a figure of unimpeachable power?
Gehrz, a history professor at Bethel University, adds:
Perhaps we’d then hear “render unto Caesar” as a reminder that, if American Christians owe limited allegiance to any secular authority, they owe it to no one person, but to the American people, who govern themselves through elected representatives sworn to protect the Constitution. The same Constitution that keeps even presidents from benefiting financially from their position, from obstructing the work of those who investigate lawbreaking, or from inventing fake national emergencies in order to subvert the work of those who make laws.
So render to God what is God’s: your image-bearing self commanded to love other image-bearers. And render to Trump what is Trump’s: your responsibilities as an American citizen to dissent from unwise and unjust uses of American power and to hold American demagogues accountable for their attempts to play Caesar.