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Progressive Chrisianity?9 min read

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Bryanm over at The Narrow has a nice post on Progressive Xianity, i.e. liberal Xianity.  He mentioned the Issues page of the CAFP, which I checked out.  It definitely needs a satirical translation:

Caring For "The Least Of These" – Pursuing Economic Justice"
The Jesus of the Gospels calls us to good stewardship, justice, and care for "the least of these."  We call on our nation’s leaders to seek economic justice in the management of our nation’s wealth.

Translation:  We support socialistic wealth distribution because we know that most rich people got that way through lying and cheating, not through hard work. Because the poor are basically good, but the rich are basically evil, we can not count on the rich to be generous. We must force them to be responsible citizens through governmental solutions. We should not, however, force the poor to be responsible.

Caring for the Earth – Responsible Environmental Stewardship for Today
Jesus urged his followers to be good stewards and to act for good in the world here and now.  We respond by caring for God’s created world today, holding our environment in trust for our children.

Translation:  We should force all businesses to comply with strict environmental protections – well, except those in developing countries, where violations are the worst.  I mean, they need time to catch up to the first world countries.  So what if we penalize the west for it’s forethought and leadership?  These poorer nations need a hand up, so let’s let them slide a little on the environment, and give them an unfair competitive advantage over countries who had the intelligence and virtue to lead the way.  I mean, they only got that way through colonialism and greed, while the noble Communist/Socialist experiments at least tried to make everyone equal.  Since they were well meaning, we should not be so tough on them and let them catch up to the suprisingly more successful democratic capitalistic model.

NOTE: I actually agree with their simple stand on environmental responsibility – and I think a growing number of Xians do too (check out the Green Cross).  However, I’m not sure that their Biblical exegesis is very good.  While the God of creation told us to be good stewards of the earth in the book of Genesis, I am unaware of Jesus every teaching about caring for the earth, directly or even indirectly.  Their Biblical hermeneutic and homiletic have much room for improvement.  But hey, you don’t want to quote the OT, it is about the mean judgemental God, not the God of Jesus (guess they never read all Jesus said about hell.)

Rejecting Bigotry, Embracing Dignity – Equality for Gays and Lesbians
Jesus taught equality, justice and obligation.  We accept Jesus’ call to love one another and to welcome all God’s children at the table.

Translation:  Jesus never really said anything about homosexuality, but he did say a lot about love. Yes, Paul the Apostle does *seem* to oppose homosexuality, but scholars disagree on the meaning of many of these passages. And besides, Paul was obviously mysogenistic and a homophobe, so we should really just stick to Jesus’ words. Jesus loves the sinner, but he doesn’t really hate sin. He just hates it when we hurt each other by intolerance and ingnorance.

Honoring the Sanctity Of Childbearing Decisions Effective Prevention vs. Criminalizing Abortion
Jesus taught compassion, responsibility, and equality.  Following his call, we support responsible, compassionate programs that are genuinely effective in helping prevent unintended pregnancy.  We affirm that each woman’s body belongs to herself.  No woman should be forced either to bear a child or to terminate a pregnancy.

Translation:  We acknowledge that many women have undesired pregnancies, and we should have worked harder to prevent them. I mean, not going as far as discouraging teen sex or teaching abstinence, because God knows no one in a modern society could develop those "virtues." But in cases where an unwanted blob of cells is created, a woman should have the right to terminate it as long as it is in the womb. How silly to think that it is a human with rights before that point. Who are we to say that it is wrong to end a fetus’ life while it is still the property of its mother? We affirm that a woman’s right to choose trumps the fetus’ right to life until the moment it is born. Then, it has rights.

NOTE:  See that they force a straw-man dichotomy on this issue – it’s the "Sanctity of Choice" vs. Criminalizing Abortion. No talk of the child’s rights.  And anyone who opposes them is really trying to turn all women who want an abortion into criminals.  To them, it’s really not about a child at all – all about the mother, and anyone who opposes that is trying to "criminalize."  The real criminals here are the abortion doctors and abortion profiteers.

Forsaking Brute Power – Seeking Peace, Not War
Jesus knew power and he knew it could be used for justice or for conquest.  Over and over, Jesus blessed his followers with peace and urged them to peace.  Following his example, we call for restraint – not aggression – in the exercise of our nation’s power.

Translation:  George Bush is an idiot, and so is anyone who even remotely agrees with him.  Even though we are the most powerful nation in the world, we have no right or responsibility to interfere with oppression in other countries. So what if the tyrannical governments are killing innocent women, children, and dissidents? Is that our problem? Am I my brother’s keeper? Besides, that’s what the U.N. is for. So what if they are corrupt and poised for inaction and ineffectiveness? We should wait for them to get their act together, even if it means the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents. Even if it means the development of nuclear terrorism and danger for our allies.

NOTE: I agree that we should use restraint with our military, and that GWB might have gone into Iraq too quickly.  But let’s not make the opposite Pollyanish mistake of thinking that people in other lands don’t need help overcoming oppression.  And we need to remember that in these nuclear times, we need to take as much pre-emptive, proactive action as possible.  The old-school of reactive military action and politics is no longer good enough to help prevent catastrophes.  We must work at prevention through economic sanctions, but also through internationally coordinated and timely military intervention.  This is touchy becuase it can interfere with state sovereignty.  Should we physically prevent Iran from gaining nukes?  Probably not, but we better damn well have a way to disarm them if they become hostile.  But I’m not sure we can do anything about it except live in fear and preach the gospels of freedom, democracy, and Christianity to the crazy extremists.

Extending Healing to All – Health Care for All Americans
Jesus’ insisted on justice, equality, and care for "the least of these." Acting on his teachings, we claim every American must have access to excellent health care.

NOTE: I am not sure if they are calling for nationalized, socialized medicine, or that we should just do something about the sorry state of health care in the U.S.  I agree with the latter, but have no idea what kind of solution we need – probably a social/private hybrid, supported by a program of prevention education, and legislation to make healthy foods the norm in our public institutions (schools, etc.).  Again, though, their roughshod application of Jesus’ words and deeds to public policy are not too good. 

For a cogent and excellent start to a Xian perspective on health care, check out the excellent, comprehensive, (and long) Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA) article, Caring for Health, Our Shared Endeavor.  But the long and short of it is that it can’t be just a government program:

Governments have an obligation to provide or organize many of these services, but all services depend on active collaboration with the entire community.

OK, so I’ve had a little fun at the CAFP’s expense.  I’m glad they are raising the important issues.  Now we need to apply some good (conservative) logic to attackign the problems.  :D