Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Arminian Commentian

(You have to listen to KROQ to understand the bad joke in the title. Yet the joke in the title is still better than some other jokes.)

Jason says:

Now that I have finished the Book of James, I'm moving on to Keith Drury's 2004 personal political manifesto How could a Christian vote Democrat? Drury, one of the leaders in American Wesleyan thought, names four political issues where he is closest to Republicans and eighteen others where he is closest to Democrats.

This is what he said. This is what Keith Drury said:

I don’t believe there is a “Christian party” in my country. Neither of them satisfies me as far as “Biblical Christian Values” go. On one issue one party is closer, on another the other party is closer to Christ-like values as I see them and on many issues neither party is Christian. And I admit that on some issues there is no “Christian” stance at all. But I don’t vote Democratic because I’ve “just not thought through the implications of a “Biblical worldview”. I vote that way often because my Christian conscience demands it. Like my Republican friends claim their “Christian worldview” demands they vote Republican, my own reading of the Scripture and history often takes me the opposite way.

I admit that I find affinity with Republicans on a few issues....

But on many other issues I care about, I find affinity with Democrats....

Let me look at just one of these issues (and stay tuned to Jason, because he'll address it in a few days).

The care of the poor is important to me too. Not because of my politics but because of the Bible. Caring for the poor is not an option for anyone who takes a serious reading of the Bible—it is a demand and even a test of whether I am really a Christian. I think Democrats have done a better job trying to do this than republicans. Sure, they have not produced perfect programs—almost all of them are flawed as badly as my local church’s pitiful attempts to run Sunday school or evangelism programs. But an imperfect work is better than no work at all. I know most evangelicals say, “This is what the church should be doing.” I say phooey! Show me where. What church does this in a serious way? There are a few, but it is a cup when an ocean is needed. Most churches gather money to spend it on themselves, not the poor. But even if we were willing to forgo our new building to care for the poor and pay the bills for all those aged parents in nursing homes (Oh, you didn’t know that Medicaid pays most of those?) I still don’t want the church to do it all. Why? I think rich non-Christians ought to pay their fair share too. When I pay my taxes I pay them like I pay tithe—some of that money fulfills Christ’s command to care for the poor. Democrats help me fulfill this command of Christ far better than most republicans do, even if there is “waste in the system.” Holy smoke—if “waste in the system” were the criterion, few of us would pay our tithe and none of us would pay our denominational taxes!

Meanwhile, Focus on the Family identifies the following social issues that are of importance:

Bioethics/Sanctity of Life
Law and the Courts
Marriage and Family
Sexual Identity/Gender
Worldview and Culture

So, where's poverty? Perhaps under Sanctity of Life? Here are the subcategories for that category:

Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia
The Sanctity of Human Life
Stem Cell Research

Hmm, maybe it's under Worldview and Culture.

'Human Capital'
What's a Worldview? After some searching, I did find some statements on poverty:

Although many Scriptures teach about the dangers of material riches, God's Word does not teach that poverty is God's alternative. God wants us to understand that money is a tool to use in accomplishing His plan through us. If we are to find true contentment we must establish some basic guidelines.

1. Establish a reasonable standard of living. It is important to develop a lifestyle based on conviction, not circumstances. God will assign Christians at every economic level. On whatever level He has placed you, live within the economic parameters established and supplied by Him. Just having abundance is not a sign of God's blessings. Satan can easily duplicate any worldly riches. God's abundance is without sorrow and is for the purpose of bringing others to Christ.
2. Establish a habit of giving. Along with the tithe, God desires that every Christian provide for the needs of others through the giving of offerings, gifts, and personal involvement.
3. Establish priorities. Many Christians are discontented—not because they aren't doing well but because others are doing better. Too often Christians look at what they don't have and become dissatisfied and discontented, rather than thanking God for what they do have and being content with what He has supplied.
4. Develop a thankful attitude. It is remarkable that in America we could ever think that God has failed us materially. That attitude is possible only when we allow Satan to convince us to compare ourselves to others. The primary defense against this attitude is praise to God. Satan uses lavishness and waste to create discontent and selfish ambition. Thankfulness is a state of mind, not an accumulation of assets. Until Christians can truly thank God for what they have and be willing to accept God's provision, contentment will never be possible.
5. Reject a fearful spirit. One of the most effective tools used by Satan against Christians is the question, "What if?" Dedicated Christians get trapped into hoarding because they fear the "What if?" of retirement, disability, unemployment, economic collapse, and so on. Although God wants us to be concerned about these things, when fears dictate to the point that giving to God is hindered, foolish risks are assumed, and worry seems to control every decision, contentment is impossible.
6. Seek God's will. "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8).
7. Stand up to fear. "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
8. Trust God's promise. "The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).

All true, but where does Focus on the Family concentrate on these verses?

Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.

If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Where is the litmus test in which the Republican (or, for that matter, the Democratic) candidates are being judged for their performance in this area?

This is the second, that was the first, and the third is yet to come.

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