Monday, May 09, 2016

Liberation Theology Pops Up Again

With the current crop of presidential candidates, American Christians are wondering about voting this November.  Many Christians are saying that disciples of Jesus should be voting for a candidate who will help the poor and homeless, who will fight the injustices of racism and sexism and bigotry.  They quote passage after passage of Jesus' words about oppression and comfort and poverty. 

Hold on a minute, guys.

The problem Jesus came to solve was the problem of sin.

The solution Jesus offers is forgiveness of sin.

When Jesus talks about oppression, He is talking about the church leaders who oppress people with the laws and the rules and the demands for obedience.  The oppression is that we must earn God's favor through our behavior.  When Jesus talks about freedom, He is talking about the gospel of His mercy and forgiveness.

When we make an idol of our worldly goods and worldly comforts, then we think that's the main thing God cares about too.  When we make Avoiding-Suffering our top priority, we think that God is loving if and only if He frees us from temporal suffering. 

To be sure, the Lord does care about the temporal suffering of His creatures.  But sometimes He nevertheless permits it for the sake of faith, that people might call out to Him and rely on Him instead of depending upon themselves.  Christians, too, will care about their neighbors' suffering.  Insofar as they are able, they will offer help and comfort, food and clothing, clean water and mosquito netting, homes and medical care.  They will share the neighbors' burdens.  They will pray and they will give physical relief.

But we cannot eliminate poverty.  (Jesus said that too.) 

The government's place is to maintain order in society, to punish those who take what belongs to others, to take vengeance on those who do bodily harm to others.  It is not the government's job to be merciful, giving to people what they do not deserve.  That is the Church's job.  But what the Church gives is the word of forgiveness for Jesus' sake.  This may offend those who see the Church as a social agency, but it is nonetheless true:  Earthly blessings from Christians to the needy isn't the top priority; those works of mercy are rather an outgrowth of Christian love.

Those who say otherwise,
those who think Jesus is all about providing fairness in creature-comforts to everyone,
are looking for a Bread-King.  (See John 6.)
They are preaching "another Jesus" and "another gospel."  (See 2 Corinthians 11.)

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