Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Monday, December 04, 2006

Now really, what would Jesus do?

There are many important discussions regarding the church floating around right now. Admittedly I am a right leaning liberal - meaning I'm progressive in my politics with a strong moral leaning. As those of you who read my blog know that I've been thrilled and encouraged by recent church leader's, namely Rick Warren and Joel Hunter, waking up to some of the pressing justice and poverty issues in the world. However, I'm saddened (but not surprised) by the reaction of extreme right wing evangelicals. In a recent ABC article rightly stated:
"This debate is just the latest in a number of contentious fights emerging within the Christian conservative community. Many evangelical Christians are openly questioning whether their leaders have focused too much on issues such as abortion while ignoring subjects more relevant to the vast majority of what's in the Bible — such as helping the poor and the sick.

"What would Jesus do?" they ask."

I am firmly in this camp. While against issues such as abortion I've chosen to focus on the root issues of our moral problems. I've found that by and large in urban communities most of the abortions are decided on economic (poverty) issues. Simply put, relieving poverty solves many (but not all) abortions.

David Kuo, who recently published a book on the White House faith based initiative office stated,
"Christians have spent so much time evangelizing their politics that they've really corrupted the name of Jesus," Kuo said.

He responded to those criticizing Warren by writing on his blog, "Are they so blind and possessed with such a narrow definition of life that they can think of life only in utero?"

However in a answer I believe is typical of many narrow minded evangelicals, Rev. Rob Schenck, who heads the National Clergy Council responded,
"We are not done with the big issues — again, the sanctity of life, marriage, our public expressions of faith in this country — we have not even begun to resolve these issues,"

When asked why Christian political leaders in Washington are more focused on preventing gays and lesbians from marrying than addressing poverty, Schenck said that's our "peculiar platform."

"Our peculiar platform is to address the paramount moral issues. That's our charge. That's my job," he said. "That is in fact in my job description." He said the morality issue sets the "direction for everything else."

"It's pretty tough to say, 'you should be concerned about that homeless woman on the street if in fact we have no respect for the dignity of human life,'" Schenck said.

The Bible that I read tells me that Jesus was less concerned about public morality issues than private morality issues. The gospels record Jesus' disdain for hypocrisy and moral posturing much more that sexuality and correctness. I applaud Warren and Hunter for being prophetic. They are fast becoming the Christian moral compass pointing to the issues at the heart of the gospel - the poor, the lost and those who need the Kingdom of God to change their lives.

Important discussions...

Read the entire article here.

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