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No points for passwords [Readings for June 1, 2008]

with one comment

“Did you pray X? And what did God say he would do if you prayed X? Then what has he done for you here tonight?”

Modernism leaves us no peace unless everything is black or white, one way or the other. Red or Blue. Pro-choice or pro-life. For us or against us. Government assistance or “up by your own bootstraps.”

Either-or thinking has its problems. For one, it’s usually fiction. I’d be reluctant to trust someone who could see no value in any of the positions above; they all, at their best, bring elements of the nature of Jesus to a discussion.  Can you see him there, in each place?

And either-or thinking has brought us to a place in evangelicalism where, because the next world matters, it can be all that matters. Or where because faith matters, the life I live doesn’t matter. Or where the Bible says X, X is wooden truth in every instance.

Fortunately, Jesus Christ is wonderfully pre-modern. Watch him look beyond such artificial divisions, into the complexities of the heart, in this Matthew reading.

Proper 4 (9); June 1, 2008

Genesis 6:9-22;7:24;8:14-19; Psalm 46; Romans 1:16-17; 3:22b-28, (29-31);

Matthew 7:21-29

21-23″Knowing the correct password-saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance- isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience-doing what my Father wills. I can see it now-at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 29, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Politics

Poverty, government, and the Bible

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[Please note that many helps came via Ron Sider’s excellent but aging book Just Generosity: A new vision for overcoming poverty in America. This page is also saved as a post, under the title A Bible Argument for Government Aid to the Poor. The text is about the same there, but the comments of others—and my responses to them—are different. Thanks for thinking along!]



Madison Free ClinicEvangelicals often struggle with the idea of a government role in addressing poverty. Often, I hear questions like these, from an honest blogger called RenaissanceGuy:

  • I want to hear a reasoned biblical argument for government-run health care.”
  • … if people are coerced, though the income tax code, to support the poor, then are they actually pleasing our Lord?”

Others put it like this:

  • “Is it government’s job to care for the poor, or should the church and their families do it?”

While sectarian government is antithetical to American democracy, people of faith in the USA do have the privilege of holding and sharing political values consistent with what they understand to be good. Those values may not well fit in either conservative or liberal camps, but there will be common ground that can be shared with both.

In order to do that, people of faith have to be deeply aware of their own faith, and not just the arguments of right or left. So here’s an attempt to think aloud on one of those issues.

Especially for evangelicals:

a Bible argument for government aid to the poor:

First, some assumptions on which I think all can agree:

1. Jesus, as described in the gospels, is much more focused on the poor than our evangelical theologies have been. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 12, 2008 at 12:24 am

Posted in

A Bible argument for government aid to the poor

with 38 comments

[Please note that many helps came via Ron Sider’s excellent but aging book Just Generosity: A new vision for overcoming poverty in America. This post is also saved as a page, at the link shown in the blog’s title bar (above) called Poverty, Government, and the Bible. The text is about the same there, but the comments of others—and my responses to them—are different. Thanks for thinking along!]


Madison Free ClinicEvangelicals often struggle with the idea of a government role in addressing poverty. Often, I hear questions like these, from an honest blogger called RenaissanceGuy:

  • I want to hear a reasoned biblical argument for government-run health care.”
  • … if people are coerced, though the income tax code, to support the poor, then are they actually pleasing our Lord?”

Others put it like this:

  • “Is it government’s job to care for the poor, or should the church and their families do it?”

While sectarian government is antithetical to American democracy, people of faith in the USA do have the privilege of holding and sharing political values consistent with what they understand to be good. Those values may not well fit in either conservative or liberal camps, but there will be common ground that can be shared with both.

In order to do that, people of faith have to be deeply aware of their own faith, and not just the arguments of right or left. So here’s an attempt to think aloud on one of those issues.

Especially for evangelicals:

a Bible argument for government aid to the poor:

First, some assumptions on which I think all can agree:

1. Jesus, as described in the gospels, is much more focused on the poor than our evangelical theologies have been. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 18, 2007 at 12:09 am

A Great Awakening?

with 3 comments

Justice in the BurbsHere’s some good news that dares my heart to hope. Listen to Will and Lisa Samson, authors of Justice in the Burbs: Being the hands of Jesus wherever you live

We both grew up in good Christian homes. … We figure, between the two of us, that we’ve heard about 4,000 sermons. … We went to Christian schools, Christian college, Christian camps. We were involved in Scripture memory programs.  And when did we memorize a verse about God’s concern for the poor? […]

And so one day we began to read Scripture with an open lens. One day we began to read Scripture for what was [really] there

Oooh-hooo, that causes trouble. Watch them tell it:

Justice in the Burbs

Ah, the mercy of God! Day after day, I see American Christians awakening from a long sleep, suddenly aware that their Bibles tell of a Jesus whose incredible passion for justice shouts from every page, and they have not known it.

Many of us—I speak of myself—have not well followed this Jesus. We’ve followed instead the less troublesome, personal-salvation-obsessed, who’s-our-enemy-now religion deduced from evangelical dogma and 20th-century eschatological novelties—and so startlingly absent from the Gospels. And now we scarcely know what to do when we look afresh at the breathtaking things Jesus says and does.

But something’s up. There’s a change in the air, I think. And I don’t know that I’ve sensed anything quite like it before. These things are subjective; I certainly could be wrong.

But dare we wonder if it might be so, or what it means?


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Written by Monte

September 20, 2007 at 2:38 pm