Saturday, March 13, 2010

BURN: Rev. Jim Wallis, typical collectivist

Glenn Beck, who says a great many things, says some things (because he's human) that are simply wrong.

But he wasn't wrong about the term "social justice" being an example of collectivist code.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, in attacking what Beck said, proved Beck's point admirably.

According to the Rev. Wallis, God just can't abide poverty. According to Wallis, Jesus came specifically to save the poor.

Either the man is a liar or he missed the whole point of Christian theology. Those are our options. Why such a harsh choice? Because Wallis, typical of collectivists, tortures language in pursuit of fostering the ends of the collective, and he attempts to pervert ideas.

Christ, if one reads the New Testament with even a modicum of understanding, was not talking about "the poor" in any earthy sense MOST of the time. He did not preach economics, or state-sponsored redistribution, or that anyone should take someone else's choices of how to use their property. He never suspended the commandment about stealing...regardless of your rationale for the theft.

Christ, as reported in the Gospels, more importantly used the term "poor" to address those who were "poor in spirit", or humble enough to hear his teachings.

This is not to say that he never used the term "poor" to describe an earthly dearth of the necessities of life. He did. He commanded his followers to voluntarily give of their substance to help the poor. We call that "charity". It was not a new concept in New Testament times. The Jews had received the same commandment in different terms centuries before, more than once.

But Wallis (I listened to him say it) simply recites the many times the term "poor" is recited in the New Testament, and never makes any attempt to delineate the meaning of "poor". This is an intentional distortion, IMNHO.

Christian Fundamentalists are OFTEN mocked by sophisticates for their literal interpretation of specific terms in scripture, imposing more-or-less current usage on terms that may have been used quite differently by people in history. How is the Rev. Wallis not doing exactly that?

Can Wallis' misuse of "poor" even withstand some light application of reason? Hardly. Consider, does Jesus appear to approve of a person who, while impoverished in earthly terms, hates God, his fellows, and all that is good? Conversely, did Jesus approve of people who had a great deal of earthly wealth or power, and who were prepared to love God? On which type of soil was the seed of Christ's teachings apt to grow?

Is Beck's larger, non-theological, historical point (the only one he was attempting) well made; that "social justice" as preached by perverse pastors of various religious denominations is, in fact, a call for some form of state collectivism? Well, yes. It certainly is. There is a long and sordid history of Christian pastors preaching collectivist dogma. Woodrow Wilson comes to mind, as do several present-day prophets of "taking".

Is there an argument suggesting that when people use the term "social justice" they are not advocating a state-sponsored collectivism? Sure. But that usage is FAR less common, both currently and in history. People who use the term without thinking about what it has meant, and means now, in its greater usage, need to be careful to define how they mean it.

Among Christians and Jews (especially those two traditions), there is a danger that concepts of helping others through charity or compulsion are readily confused. People like Rev. Wallis work at fostering that confusion. And the two concepts are at opposite poles of morality.


No comments:

Post a Comment