Covenant of Works vs. a Covenant of Grace


As a lapsed Catholic, my favorite part of the debate so far has been Kerry's invocation of the doctrine of works as a path to salvation (was disappointed that Bush didn't respond with the Pauline doctrine that all your works are rags in a fire…).

Both candidates are drawing sharper distinctions now, especially on health care and Social Security. Indeed, they're both shouting out the longstanding Dem vs. Rep wisdom on these issues. Which might mean this debate is besides the point.


NEXT: Sleazy, Sleazy, Sleazy

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  1. Hmm, can I claim Kerry said that because he read my column from the other day?

  2. It’s intriguing that Kerry chose that particular passage in response to a question about why he doesn’t apply his faith to his work. Probably one of the worst possible verses in the entire Bible to use in that context, though slightly better than “Blessed are they who will dash your newborns upon the rocks.”

    Of course, it’s most likely that he just wanted to show off his knowledge of the Bible.

  3. I was amused by Kerry’s moves to out-God Bush. But who knows, maybe he *is* more a “man of faith” than Bush, as Bush’s faith has always struck me as more a political maneuver than actual belief.

  4. Of course, it’s most likely that he just wanted to show off his knowledge of the Bible.

    Knowledge of the bible, of course, is proof of the charge that Kerry isn’t a real Catholic.

  5. Independent of the merits, I think the abortion litmus test in both major parties is a significant contributor to why the candidates we get suck. Not the only one (I think campaign finance “reform” is another big one), but a pretty big factor.

    No one who wants to have a snowballs chance in an Iraq summer to be nominated would ever say: “I don’t know if Roe should be overturned or not, but whether or not that happens I will respect the rulings of the court. There are other issues that are a hell of a lot more important for a Supreme Court justice I might nominate…like protecting the constitutional rights that are clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights.”

  6. Tim,

    I agree — and my comment was facetious, since I suspect Kerry was just repeating a Bible verse he’d heard without really thinking about what it meant. I mean, how do you say, “I have faith but it doesn’t influence my politics,” and then trot out “Faith without works is dead”?

  7. crimethink,

    Its kind of interesting how many Christians slaughtered each other over those doctrinal differences. Every so often, when I get a soft spot for Christianity, all I have to do is read Martin Luther’s thoughts on the Jews, and how mass killings and the destruction of their religion and culture by the sword were the best thing for them.

  8. So Kerry’s an ex-altar boy, and Bush is an ex-drunk. That JFK II is living in sin with a woman not his wife (no divorce for Catholics, right, and his {ex-}wife is still alive), means “he’s going to hell” anyway.

    His assertion that the doctrine of works requires him to use the government to rearrange society is nothing less than Liberation Theology, if in a diluted form. Peter, put up your sword would be my reply, if I were still religious. That’d apply to Bushie’s government support for “religious values,” too.

    (ex-altar boy, ex-Catholic, not currently drunk.)

  9. kevrob,

    The notion of a just prince creating a righteous society is a lot older than the fad of liberation theology; it was central to Luther’s theology for example.

  10. Actually, kevrob, Kerry obtained an annulment of his first marriage, so technically his second marriage is valid.

    The issue of Catholic marriage tribunals run amok is one for another forum.

  11. “works as a path to salvation ”

    As a lapsed Catholic myself, I recognize this as the complete opposite of what Jesus said according to the New Testament. But I figure most politicans have already violated the false god commandment, so nothing else they say on the subject matters.

  12. Patrick,

    Bush’s faith is doubtless self-serving, but I think it’s genuine for just that reason. Feeling that he’s been selected by God for the historic mission of saving the world is a very nice alternative to admitting that Poppy and his political connections have bought the presidency for him, like so many of his other failed ventures, and him as an empty vessel. It reaffirms his sense of entitlement, but gets him off the hook with his family and makes him out to be something more than just another worthless frat boy.

    I think that’s the subtext to his “higher authority” remark when he was asked whether he consulted his father before the war.

    If he loses this election, do you think he’ll try to go “mano a mano” with God?

  13. Er, meant to say, “used him as an empty vessel.”

  14. I know that Kerry sought an annulment, but I don’t believe anyone really knows if he received one. Such judgments are not public records in the U.S. What a crock, to make “bastards” (sic) out of his kids, though.

    I still think anyone who uses the teachings of Jesus as an excuse to order the world through coercion doesn’t get the Gospel message.


  15. “Actually, kevrob, Kerry obtained an annulment of his first marriage, so technically his second marriage is valid.”

    I wonder how much he had to pay for that?

  16. kevrob,

    If his marriage to THK was blessed in the Church, that’s a good sign the previous one was annulled.

    BTW, divorced and remarried Catholics are also forbidden from receiving Communion, so if it wasn’t annulled, I guess Kerry has two strikes against him in that regard. 😀

  17. On a damp May night on Nantucket nine years ago, John F. Kerry and Teresa Heinz exchanged wedding vows in a small civil ceremony at Heinz’s oceanfront home.

    Boston Herald, Wednesday, July 21, 2004

    Couple of fornicators, goin’ to hell. 🙂


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