Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Calling Your Opponents Un-Christian

Russ from Winterset is uncomfortable with Gov. Mike Huckabee calling political opponents "un-Christian":

I'm a Christian, and I would have to think long and hard before I publicly declared an opponent to be "un-Christian". I'd like to think that a minister would be just as sensitive, or even more so, to the meaning of that charge as I am. When a believer declares that someone is against the tenets of their faith, it's reasonable for an observer to believe that he's alleging that that person has staked out a position against God himself. That's not a charge to be made lightly. I've got no problem with making that allegation when your opponent is strongly pro-abortion or pro-euthenasia, but is opposing giving government benefits to illegal immigrants REALLY contrary to God's law?

That's my view, too. Previous thoughts here.

UPDATE: Me likey Fred Thompson:

A woman asked him if he would “as a Christian, as a conservative” continue President Bush’s programs to combat global AIDS.

“Christ didn’t tell us to go to the government and pass a bill to get some of these social problems dealt with. He told us to do it,” Thompson said.

“The government has its role, but we need to keep firmly in mind the role of the government, and the role of us as individuals and as Christians on the other.”


Preach it, Brother!

17 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

That's not a charge to be made lightly. I've got no problem with making that allegation when your opponent is strongly pro-abortion or pro-euthenasia, but is opposing giving government benefits to illegal immigrants REALLY contrary to God's law?

Well, I agreed with where this person started, but then he/she went and did exactly what they condemned: Suggested that one can't have a different opinion about at least a couple of political issues (abortion/euthanasia) and still be a Christian.

I mean, if we're going to start picking political issues that one can't disagree with and still be Christian, let's add supporting war, or being opposed to benefits for immigrants (clear examples and laws about this in the OT, never disagreed with in the NT). Those can be life and death issues, too, issues of oppression and aggression.

Or what about support for continued subsidizing of the personal automobile, these contribute to the deaths of over a million people a year globally. Man, if you support personal autos, then truly you must not be a Christian.

You get my point, I hope. We can have differences of opinions about particular sins - even important "sins" - and we need not consider others NOT Christian merely because they disagree with our opinion.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that one has to be totally correct on every sin and political policy in order to be saved. Thank God. For we are saved by grace, through faith in Christ.

Those who demand that we agree with them on every sin are clearly not Christians... d'oh!

the reverend mommy said...

Personally, I think it's unChristian to get involved in politics.

(half tongue in cheek here... half serious.)

But what better place to meet up with sinners, eh?

Dan Trabue said...

“Christ didn’t tell us to go to the government and pass a bill to get some of these social problems dealt with. He told us to do it,” Thompson said.

But neither did Christ say that we could not let the gov't pass a bill or that we could even support the gov't in passing such a bill. In fact, in the OT, Israel had laws (ie, the gov't passed bills) to deal with these social problems.

One can't make the biblical case that Christians HAVE to implement assistance through the auspices of the gov't, but neither can one make the biblical case that Christians can't support ANY gov't solutions to some of these problems.

In fact, one can make the case that in the one and only gov't in the Bible where believers had a real voice (Israel), they did at times implement welfare-like laws to assist the poor, the marginalized and the foreigner. In fact, they were commanded to do so by God.

Jeff the Baptist said...

"In fact, one can make the case that in the one and only gov't in the Bible where believers had a real voice (Israel), they did at times implement welfare-like laws to assist the poor, the marginalized and the foreigner. In fact, they were commanded to do so by God."

Except that the believers did not implement laws or pass bills. The mosaic law was directly dictated by God. The only time Israel had anything resembling a representative government was the Judges period. You know, when everyone did what was right in their own eyes" and so injustice and unrighteousness reigned.

Dan Trabue said...

Except that the believers did not implement laws or pass bills. The mosaic law was directly dictated by God.

Well now, for most of Israel's history in the Bible, they were a monarchy, not a theocracy. God spoke through prophets who suggested that the kings need to implement policies that took care of the poor, the marginalized and foreigners or else God would be buggered, but it was the kings' call, not God's.

You are correct in that they weren't a representative gov't, but wrong in thinking they were a theocracy - and the people had a chance to try to influence godly policy, like we do. Now, doing so may (and did, oftentimes) incur the king's wrath and placed the prophets at risk, but they could and did do so.

JD said...

These specific conversations are why I do not like it when politicians blatantly inject their personal faith into their campaign. It is annoying and really hard to gauge the sincerity of the individual and his/her overall commitment to the job. You have some politicians, like Huckabee, that wear their faith on their sleeve, and then you have others, like Clinton, who pull it out only when needed, like the dirty handkerchief that you keep hidden in your back pocket to clean up the mess you made.

I enjoyed John's comments the other day on his question of the day: "Could you vote for an atheist for public office?"

"I don't get the sense that most Christian politicians feel that they are accountable to any power, earthly or eternal. So a politician's faith just isn't much of a selling point."

And the way this campaign has gone so far, I continue to see that lack of accountability every day...from both sides of the aisle.

PAX
JD

John said...

I get what you're saying, Dan. But as much as I want to say that one can have any political opinion and still be a Christian, I have to make an exception for abortion. It's genocide in our midst, and I don't see how it can be seen as anything else.

John said...

One can't make the biblical case that Christians HAVE to implement assistance through the auspices of the gov't, but neither can one make the biblical case that Christians can't support ANY gov't solutions to some of these problems.

I'm onboard with that, Dan. The Bible has little -- if anything -- to say as a public policy manual.

Dan Trabue said...

So, John, if I have been saved by God's Grace by trusting in Jesus as my Lord and savior and repenting of my sins and seek to follow in Jesus' steps and yet am opposed to gov't outlawing abortion, you doubt my Christianity? Do you have any biblical support for that idea?

I mean, I think there IS some biblical reasoning that would cause me to doubt the sincerity of a Christian who supports war-making in (what seems to me to be) direct opposition to Jesus' words to love our enemies, overcome evil with good, etc, etc... BUT still, I wouldn't go so far as to say that such a person is not a Christian. I'd just say they are sorely and dangerously mistaken on that particular sin.

Do we need to be correct on EVERY sin (that is, have a perfect understanding of what's right and wrong in every situation) in order to be a Christian? Or do you think there are just some sins that you can be sincerely mistaken about and therefore "lose" your Christianity? If so, please provide that list of sins and the biblical support for thinking thusly.

Or, do you think as I do, that we are saved by God's Grace alone and that we should be about the business of following in Jesus' steps by grace, BUT, if we in our imperfect humanity manage to be wrong about a particular sin, well, we are saved by God's grace and not by our perfect knowledge?

John B said...

Dan T: "Well, I agreed with where this person started, but then he/she went and did exactly what they condemned: Suggested that one can't have a different opinion about at least a couple of political issues (abortion/euthanasia) and still be a Christian."

Here in lies the reason the conservatives & liberals will never come to a consensus on these issues. They are not political issues, they are moral issues. Trying to call them anything else demonstrates a lack of understanding.

Dan T: "So, John, if I have been saved by God's Grace by trusting in Jesus as my Lord and savior and repenting of my sins and seek to follow in Jesus' steps and yet am opposed to gov't outlawing abortion, you doubt my Christianity? Do you have any biblical support for that idea?"

This John does. Bible reference: "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." 1 John 3:15 NIV One must hate unborn children (the least of Jesus' sisters and brothers) in order condone abortion.

Now, I'm in no position to judge a person's standing with God, I am charged to warn people to flee from the wrath that is to come. That is what I am seeking to do,

Dan Trabue said...

"Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." 1 John 3:15 NIV One must hate unborn children (the least of Jesus' sisters and brothers) in order condone abortion.

The problem is that I agree fully with John's verse (another reason why I am opposed to Christians engaging in the SIN of war) and yet, those who oppose the criminalization of abortion don't hate unborn children. You are making a leap from

1. This verse says don't hate
2. TO COMMIT ABORTION, ONE MUST HATE

To arrive at the conclusion:

3. Therefore it is a sin to commit abortion.

You are making a further gigantic leap to:

4. And not only is it a sin, it is an unforgiveable sin - even if you don't recognize being opposed to criminalizing abortion as a sin.

Am I mistaken? I don't believe so.

And so I still wonder: Do you think that you have to be correct on every sin in order to be saved? Is that what you're trying to say?

Dan Trabue said...

Here in lies the reason the conservatives & liberals will never come to a consensus on these issues. They are not political issues, they are moral issues. Trying to call them anything else demonstrates a lack of understanding.

I don't disagree. But they are also - or have become - political issues, correct? Don't make the mistake to assume that so-called Christian Liberals don't believe in the notion of sins. We clearly do.

It is why we are so opposed to some actions (war, oppression, abortion even, sometimes) - because they are missing the mark, they are wrong. They are sins.

I think we can come to consensus - or at least some degree of understanding - but to the degree we find it difficult to do so, it's at least partially because many on both "sides" (a concept I DON'T much believe in, personally) tends to write the Other off as unreachable and beyond reason. From there it becomes a slippery slope to demonization and casting aside as Lost and Damned.

John B said...

There is only one sin which is unforgivable, "Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven." Matthew 12:31 NIV

With that exception, all sin may be forgiven by God. However, if one refuses to admit he or she has sinned and ask forgiveness and repent, God won't force forgiveness upon that person. God respects us so much that we have the privilege of rejecting God's offer of grace and forgiveness. And many people in their stubbornness choose exactly that.

This why abortion, like any other sin, may end up being unforgiven. Some people would rather say, "Abortion's not a sin! Abortion's not a sin! Abortion's not a sin!" rather than facing the uncomfortable reality that to condone the killing of an unborn child spits into the face of the life-giving Spirit of God.

Please don't assume that I believe abortion is the one and only sin which offends God deeply. It just happens to be the topic of discussion in this post. I believe my comments may be generally applied to all types of sin, including my own.

Dan Trabue said...

But my question is about UNKNOWN sins. What of the person who has read the Bible, found nothing on the topic in the Bible and, based on other principles found in the Bible, has made the good-faith call that abortion is NOT a sin.

Their heart's desire is to do God's will and (assuming you are correct) have come to the conclusion that abortion is not a sin. They have done so NOT in an effort to be rebellious, but in an effort to conform to God’s Will.

Therefore, in having one or opposing its criminalization, they have done nothing that they recognize as needing repentance and therefore never do repent.

Or, similarly for being a soldier or supporting war, if it turned out that THIS was a sin and the person supporting the war never realized it. Or, whichever "sin" you want to place in the conversation.

What if, in our fallen humanity, we fail to get it right on a sin and never repent (due to human ignorance, not rebellion). What do we do with those folk? (ie, you and me)?

Dan Trabue said...

I bring this up because I find the topic interesting. Although abortion is not mentioned at all in the Bible and there are only a handful verses that one might draw some conclusions about abortion, people are convinced that they are able to speak for God when they say things like “abortion is not the only sin that is an especial affront to God,” or, similarly, “war is not the only sin that is an especial affront to God.”

And when someone says, “but what of those who have studied the Bible and disagree with that conclusion?” our tendency is often to say, a bit bewildered, “But, but I don’t understand. That sin IS an especial affront to God,” as if that is an answer – GOD’s answer, failing to understand that the point of difference is not whether or not we should conform ourselves to God’s will, but the nature of a particular action. IS abortion a sin? IS war-making a sin?

I fully understand and agree that sin exists, that there is an objective right and wrong answer to questions. Nonetheless, what of those who have studied and prayed and sincerely come to a different conclusion than MY group of believers have?

I think most orthodox Christians will recognize the “correct” answer (ie, we ARE saved by grace and not by works. IF we sin unawares, God’s grace covers us.) AND YET, we (I’m including myself in this group) tend to think that, at least on SOME sins, that They are beyond Christianity simply because they disagree with us in good faith on a particular sin or two or three.

Perhaps put another way, on which sins should we break fellowship – even with those who are saved by Grace and are (from MY point of view) wrong on this particular group of sins (x, y and z for some; a, b and c, for others)?

Or does it have less to do with any particular sin(s) and more to do with HOW we're disagreeing?

Russ from Winterset said...

Hey, you've got some really intelligent commenters over here at L&H. I'm glad to start the discussion with my article, and I love where you've gone with it.

Thanks to google, I've now got another site to add to my bookmarks.

John said...

Thanks, Russ!