Saturday, October 13, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

My brother sent me some articles he copied out of Decision Magazine. I tried to look them up on the web, but only subscribers can see magazine articles on the Decision website, an organ of the Billly Graham Evangelistic Association.  The articles were "The Road to Destruction" and "Can an Evangelical Christian Vote for a Mormon?" both by Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham, CEO of BGEA), "A Nation Out of Control: An Interview with Cal Thomas" (Moral Majority, Fox News), and "Putting Our Faith on the Line" by Charles Colson (Watergate, Christianity Today columnist).  Here are some thoughts on those articles.  I've been working on this for quite some time. 

This is from a blog by Monte Asbury (Nazarene Pastor, Least First blogger) titled, "A Bible Argument for Government Aid to the Poor."  You can find it at:

"...[T]he poor, sick, and rejected are easily Jesus’ main preoccupation, getting more space than prayer or the new birth or the end times or evangelism or Bible exposition or worship or family or immorality or any of those things men and women in my position have so frequently preached about.  Jesus goes so far as to suggest that caring for the poor -- or neglecting to do so -- is caring for or neglecting him. He plainly suggests that merely ignoring the poor is cause for eternal loss (see stories of sheep and goats [Matthew 25.31-45], and Lazarus and the rich man [Luke 16.19-31]). And brother, that doesn’t fit our theologies!"

Okay, it's clear we need to take care of the poor, but is it our job?  Or the government's job?

The other day I heard an interview with Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus.  She cited some figures.  If churches were to take over the current budget for the programs that help the poor, each congregation in the country would have to come up with another $50,000 above and beyond their current giving budgets.  Clearly, we can't do it.  Government has to, but.... what does the Bible say about that?

Psalm 72.4: "He [the king] will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor." ...
verse 12: "For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help."
verse 13: "He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.
verse 14: "He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.

Then in Isaiah 1:
verse 15: "When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.  Your hands are full of blood!"
verse 16: "Wash and make yourselves clean.  Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong."
verse 17: "Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."

The evangelicals have the first part right -- we need to stop doing wrong.  But they have failed miserably and disastrously on the second part -- we need to learn to do right!  And what is right?  To take care of the poor.

Franklin Graham, in the article "Can an Evangelical Christian Vote for a Mormon?", says that we God-fearing Americans need to "restore" America.  He states, "We must use our influence to elect those who will govern with respect for the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman; the sanctity of life; and yes, the protection of God's beloved nation Israel."  What happened to Jesus's emphasis on the poor?  Jesus never said anyone would go to Hell for marrying someone of their own sex.  He never said anyone would go to Hell for having an abortion.  But he did say a person who hurt the poor would go to Hell, Matthew 25.31-45 again.  So why don't we put some emphasis on that?

In the Book of Leviticus, God laid out the plans for an economy in the Promised Land.  All the land given to the Israelites was parceled out equally to all the people, so everyone had a chance to take care of their family and grow the economy.  But as happens among humans from time immemorial, once a chicken was put in every pot, it didn't take long before some had two or more chickens, and many had none.

But, and this is a big "but", every 50 years, everything went back to the original owners and everyone had one chicken in their pot again!  See Leviticus 25.10.  So no one got too rich.  And no one remained poor forever.

So did God intend this only for the Israelites?  A theocracy is a government that is based on a theology, a religion.  Saudi Arabia is a theocracy.  All its laws are based on Islam.  So should we in America promote a Christian theocracy?  I don't think so, because our founding fathers were fleeing a theocracy in England, and wanted to make sure that never happened again! 

But God holds even non-Christian and non-Jewish governments accountable for their treatment of the vulnerable.  See Daniel chapter 4:

verse 27: "Therefore, O King [of Babylon], be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed.  It may be then that your prosperity will continue."

And in the New Testament, notice what Paul writes in Romans 13, that all governments are "established by God," and accountable to him to do good and to punish wrong.  Again, the charge to secular government is two-fold.  And remember, in Jesus’ eyes, standing by while the poor suffer is wrong, and he sternly warns the rich that they may be punished for it.

So even if the US government is a secular government, which is fine with God, God still holds us accountable for "doing good" and "punishing wrong".  So we should stop abortion and throw gays in jail, right?  Not according to Jesus.  According to Jesus we should help the poor and throw the rich oppressors in jail ("crush them" -- Psalm 74.4) .  See Matthew 19.21: " Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."  The guy went away upset because he didn't want to give up his many possessions.

Today we justify our marvelous wealth by saying God has blessed us.  But Jesus didn't come down among us as a wealthy man.  He came to the people he identifies with, those he came to help and save, not those who didn't think they needed him.  "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  ... For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9.12, 13.)  The "righteous" wouldn't have listened to him anyway.  They didn't want anyone listening to him.  So they had him killed.  So much for wealth being a blessing from God!

No, hurting the poor is sin.  Wealth is evil unless it results in sacrifice for the poor.  What is Republican or conservative about that?  Nothing.  It's liberal.  It's progressive.  It's radical!  Go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and then BE poor, like Jesus was. Buddhist monks do this.  Buddhists are more Christ-like than Christians.  Remember what the Hindu saint Gandhi said? "I like your Christ.  I don't like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."  The Hindus too are more Christ-like than Christians.

God doesn't care if you were born liking your own sex better than the opposite sex.  He cares if you're taking care of the poor and the vulnerable.  And he expects rulers and government to do that! 

Now on the issue of abortion, my views are the same as Vice President Biden's.  I believe life begins at conception, and I don't believe there should be abortion on demand.  However, I am "pro-choice".  I just think the choice should be made before intercourse.  If the woman who is pregnant had no choice in becoming that way, then she should be allowed to terminate the pregnancy.  If she did chose to have intercourse, then she should be helped to carry the child to term and the child should be cared for after birth by those with the means to do so.  This is something my brother and sister-in-law did for a young lady in their community.  They used their relative wealth to help and protect the mother, the father, and the newborn.  God bless them!

I just have no good-darned stomach for people who have such great respect for the unborn and no respect for people after they're born.

So here's what I say.  When you go to vote this election, ask yourself, What would Jesus do?  Would he vote for the guy who would allow abortion and gay marriage?  Or the guy who would starve the hungry, withhold water from the thirsty, strip the ragged, deport the alien, abandon the sick, and execute the prisoner?  You find all of these in the Republican platform even if you don't find the word "God" in the Democratic platform.  Lip service is one thing.  Show me what you're going to do to see that the "least of these, Jesus's brothers and sisters," are taken care of.

Randy Jones

Friday, October 5, 2012


When you go to vote this election, ask yourself, What would Jesus do? Would he vote for the guy who would allow abortion and gay marriage? Or the guy who would starve the hungry, withhold water from the the thirsty, strip the ragged, deport the stranger, abandon the sick, and execute the prisoner?