Thursday, March 10, 2016

This Should Go Without Saying...

....but Christians really shouldn't turn to the Huffington Post to inform their faith. Exhibit A is a post yesterday from a Christopher Cocca with the provocative and yet inexplicable title "Bernie Sanders Is the Most Christian Candidate in History". Apparently Mr. Cocca is a fan of Bernie and has dubbed him the most Christian candidate, not in this election year mind you but for all time. That is a pretty bold pronouncement but as you might expect I have a couple of issues with his assertion.

There are two problems here, one that is huge and the other that is pretty significant.

The first problem of course is that one cannot be "the most Christian cadidate EVER!" if one is not a Christian. That seems pretty self-evident but apparently in this day and age even the most obvious and common sense notions need to be reinterpreted on a daily basis. Senator Sanders is, as I understand, a Jew and not only Jewish but a non-practicing, secular Jew who is Jewish by ethnicity, not faith. As such he seems pretty vague on the notion of God in general and to the best of my knowledge has never proclaimed Jesus as Lord. The Bible is clear on this, if you don't declare Jesus you deny Him and anyone who denies Him has no part in eternal life. Jesus said:
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
That is a pretty unnuanced statement but that is kinda how Jesus rolled. If you do not say Jesus is Lord, if you have not been born again, you are not and cannot be a Christian and if someone is not a Christian in any sense of the word, it follows that one cannot be "the most Christian candidate EVER!" if one is not a Christian. One person on social media commented that Bernie is the "nicest" candidate in the race and that makes him Christian, which is totally ridiculous theologically and to be blunt whenever I see Bernie he seems mostly angry, wagging his finger at those who have a nickle more than the next guy, engaging is class warfare and racial pandering (White people don't know what it means to be poor!). 

The second problem is the definition Mr. Cocca has for what makes one Christian and what Christianity teaches. Let's look at some of his statements....
Yes, I do believe that health care is a human right. Yes, I do believe that gainful education is a basic human right. We are not granted these rights from "The Market," or from our navigation of it. These are birthrights.
OK. Why exactly now, in 2016, are these "basic human rights"? Who declared them as such? More importantly what does the Bible have to say on these issues? The answer to that question is "nothing at all". Zero. Zilch. Now a progressive might retort "Oh yeah, well the Bible doesn't say anything about abortion or gay marriage!" That is technically true but the Bible also doesn't talk about shooting someone with a gun but that doesn't make it less sinful. The Bible does speak at length about willfully murdering another human being, which is what abortion is at its most basic definition. Also with "gay marriage", while the Bible doesn't say anything about "gay marriage" by name, it does define marriage as being between a man and woman for life and it also declares unequivocally that homosexual behavior is a grievous sin. Regardless, what Mr. Cocca is apparently talking about is not merely health care and education but those being provided by the government and paid for by coercion.

He then launches into a rambling and incoherent tirade about why Matthew 6:26-34 is an economic treatise which is anti-capitalism and free markets. Read it for yourself, it is equal parts progressive bogeyman pseudo-economic mumbo jumbo and leftist religious talk dressed up as Christianity. What follows that is the most off the wall "interpretation" of the Genesis account you will ever read. It is pretty clear that Mr. Cocca is skeptical about the Genesis account but apparently the Garden was a socialist paradise until Adam and Eve turned to capitalism and ate the fruit, eating more than "Enough". As an aside it is pretty funny that Mr. Cocca randomly capitalizes words like "Enough" and "Secondary Marketplace". After this rambling trip through the fever swamps of progressive economic theology. Mr. Cocca ends with this:
In this election, don't be so surprised that the person most in keeping with the prophetic vision of Jesus is a so-called secular Jew. Bernie Sanders is standing with the ancient Hebrew prophets and in the tradition of our Lord, Jesus the marginalized Jew, but, unlike some other populist candidates, he's not running a campaign of identity politics. As a Christian, I cannot judge the hearts of others claiming to also follow Christ, but am also taught that the faithful will be known by their fruits. Bernie Sanders may be a secular Jew by the standards of the media or by other modern indentifiers, but he may just also be the most Christian person running for president, maybe ever.
Notice that Mr. Cocca identifies Jesus not as God but as "the marginalized Jew". Is that the primary definition of Jesus or even in the top ten? Also note that while he claims to not be able to judge the hearts of other candidates, candidates who openly profess their faith in Christ, he does seem able to judge the heart of a cultural unbelieving Jew. If that seems a little inconsistent to you, don't adjust your TV because it is.

Blogs like this are the result of unmooring Christianity as a faith community from rigorous and robust exegesis of the primary means God has communicated with His people, namely through His written Word. It is a sign of how Biblically illiterate we are as a people that articles like this get serious consideration. Bottom line, socialism is not a Christian economic system. Neither is capitalism or Marxism or Libertarianism. These are all secular attempts by society to form an economic system that provides structure to human interaction. Trying to fuse Christianity and socialism is bound to fail because the Bible simply doesn't call on Christians to use the coercive power of the state to take from some who have earned money to give to others who have not. Bernie Sanders is not the most Christian candidate ever. He is not even a Christian. Likewise his economic policies are not Christian and they are incredibly dangerous and naive.

In this election let's try to avoid compounding the circus we already have with bad theology and for Pete's sake stay away from  the Huffington Post.

1 comment:

dle said...

Fine dismantling there, Arthur. I would add that as much as the author of that piece cries out for the establishment by the government of what equates to the Christian social Gospel, he would probably rather die than also cry out for the government to establish the Chrstian theological Gospel. While that's an assumption of hypocrisy by me of the author, it's pretty much par for the course for the line of thinking the author assumes. "We want everything wonderful that heaven promises, but we don't want Jesus," is how this thing always goes. Yawn.