Two or Three (.net)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. - Jesus

4.11.2005

Theologian and Biblical expert - Charlie Rangel

by Aaron Earls [+/-] show/hide

I'm sure you did not know that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D, NY) was an authoritative Biblical expert. If you were able to watch the April 7 edition of Hardball, you saw Rangel explain the words of Jesus in a new way, with host Christ Matthews agreeing and enjoying his time studying under such a renouned scriptural scholar.

Somehow, they managed to turn the Pope's funeral and Biblical passages into a political attack against Republicans and rich people (but I am assuming it was only rich Republicans and not rich liberals like Rangel and Matthews or George Soros, or Hollywood liberals, or Warren Buffett or...)

MATTHEWS: I mean, Charlie, Jesus didn't hang around with the swells, the rich people.

RANGEL: Well, he said the rich are going straight to hell. [Ed. I wonder what the income requirements are for Charlie Rangel's heaven.]

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, he did not.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He said it is harder to get through a needle's...

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: No. But the deal with St. Matthews and all these people are trying to get into heaven. And he said, hey, when I was hungry, you didn't feed me. I was thirsty. I was naked. I was sick. You didn't do all these - he's talking about food stamps, Social Security.

MATTHEWS: Right.


Of course that's right, of course Jesus was refering to social programs and not individuals. Why didn't I see it before? I guess I should have studied more at the feet of Dr. Rev. Rangel.

It is utterly ridiculous to assume that Jesus was speaking about food stamps and Social Security. Look at his audience. He wasn't speaking to the governmental powers of his day. He was not standing before Caesar denouncing him for not having enough "federal safety nets." Jesus' goal was not to change government, but to change hearts.

Conservatives (sometimes rightly so) are denounced for trying to force their morals on society through laws, but rarely are evangelical liberals forced to answer questions about the zeal for their own brand of morality. How many editorials have you read condemning Rep. Rangel for "legislating morality?" How many TV talking heads have called on him to keep church and state seperate? Any ACLU lawsuits? Any People for the American Way press conferences?

It should be clear to anyone watching that for those organizations (ACLU, People for the American Way, MSM, academia, any other place where the liberal establishment reigns) the only harmful religion or morals are those that lead someone to a conservative mindframe. But, any and all liberal ideas on religion are welcomed and encouraged. We do have freedom of religion afterall.

3 Comments:

  • I find it astonishing that anyone would think that Jesus would be against food stamps and social security for old folks. Xtianity isn't just some private religion where you just "get saved" and that's it. If it is to have any relevance at all it has to address the injustices and suffering endemic to this world. Otherwise, forget it.

    This isn't a "conservative" or "liberal" issue. It's one of simple decency.

    By Blogger Louis, at 4/11/2005 2:33 PM  

  • Nobody said Jesus would be against food stamps or social security. Only that Jesus wasn't talking about food stamps and social security when he said to feed the hungry (etc.) as Rangel claims.

    In the Bible, we have commands to governments (mostly OT commands to Israel's government), but we have a lot more commands to individuals (OT citizens of Israel, NT believers, etc.) I've spent the last 4 years or so studying through the Bible, and I can't recall a single time, anywhere, the government is told to care for the poor. Over and over again, individuals are told to care for the poor -- from leaving the edge of your field unharvested so the poor can gather the remainder to giving generously to the poor even near a jubilee year to paying the poor his wages immediately. Jesus tells his followers time and time again to care for the poor, and the apostles tell the church many times to care for the poor. But, never is any *government* commanded to care for the poor.

    Now, to some people, food stamps and social security are viewed as the right way or the only way to take care of the poor. Such people think that supporting food stamps and social security is an issue of "decency" -- as if you can't be a good person if you oppose those things. On the other hand, many think they're *a* way to take care of the poor, but they're not the best way or only way, and in fact they're only used because individuals in our society don't do enough to take care of the poor. This is where many conservatives stand, and this is why conservatives often take offense at statements like yours and Rangel's. Such a position assumes conservatives don't care about the poor because they don't support liberal's specific plans to take care of the poor. But, as can be seen from state-wide charitable giving statistics, "red states" tend to outgive "blue states", clearly contradicting that myth.

    Caring for the poor is, in fact, an issue of decency, and for Christians it's a matter of obedience to our Lord. But using or supporting a specific program (like food stamps or social security) to care for the poor is a matter of policy, NOT of decency or obedience to God.

    Personally, I, like most conservatives, would prefer a society where almost all caring for the poor was done by individuals and charities, and where programs like social security and food stamps were rendered unnecessary (and where, therefore, taxes were lower and individuals kept more of their income, enabling them to give more to help those in need.) There is, of course, considerable debate as to exactly what balance should be struck and how quickly -- there are some who think food stamps should be ended immediately, and others who think they should stick around long-term, and still others who think the government should divert those funds to food banks slowly over time.

    The point is: please don't insult me or anyone else here by supposing that we aren't "decent" because we don't particularly agree with specific methods some people support to help the poor, or because we think Chuck Rangel's Bible reading skills leave something to be desired. Helping the poor is a matter of decency and of obedience to Jesus, but the method by which it's done is a different question entirely.

    By Blogger LotharBot, at 4/11/2005 4:05 PM  

  • (1) Proscriptive v. Prohibitive Views of Legislating Morality
    One reason why liberals may seem (and be?) more generous in their legislation of morality is that they are seen as putting forth proscriptive rather than prohibitive laws, i.e. being "pro" rather than "anti" - to put it another way, they say "you must" while conservatives say "you must not."

    Of course, many issues can be seen as either pro or anti - are you pro-choice (vs. pro-abortion), or are you pro-life (anti-choice). Funny, even the "negative" side of the pro-choice position is a "pro" (pro-abortion). Maybe we need to coin and promulgate an "anti" word for that position. Anti-life?

    Another problem is that much of the liberal legislation is towards more centralized (a.k.a. socilized/socialism) funding for helping the poor and needy, while conservatives are more concerned about perserving the more intangible (but equally important) social mores such as sexuality and life - in both of these latter issues, we are against something, and we need to make sure that we present as *for* the preservation of the nuclear family and children and life, not just against gays and abortions.

    Regarding helping the poor, conservatives are very active in giving to charitable organizations, but don't believe that the wasteful govt should be in the handout business - but we have to be careful not to just be "against" big government, because the liberals cast that as "against the poor."

    We have to say that we are for helping people on their feet (hand-up, not a hand-out), that we are for personal autonomy and freedom through training and "workfare", that we support and encourage charitable giving (hence tax deductions for such) as the means to overcoming poverty.

    (2) Means v. Ends
    The place where Rangel is way off is that he contends that because conservatives don't support his means towards alleviating the plight of the poor (i.e. government programs), that conservatives are against his end of helping the poor.

    Christians could argue (and do) that, biblically speaking, God requires us to not only be personally concerned and active in helping the poor, but to administer this care from the correct spheres of government (self, family, church, business, civil). Some Conservatives argue that this is NOT one of the biblical mandates for civil govt.

    Now, in extreme cases, perhaps the govt has to step in, like FDR's New Deal during the great depression.

    And there may be a middle position here, where government can provide limited aid, but also have a tax structure that encourages indiviuals and civic groups to do the work.

    By Blogger papa, at 4/11/2005 5:14 PM  

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