Cross Purposes

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In the American Conservative, Darryl Hart worries that evangelicals are going to start joining up with the Left.

In the 1970s, concerns about declining standards of social morality and decency made evangelicals seem like a natural Republican constituency. But biblical standards of morality have a way of nurturing interest in biblical standards of social justice. Where the older generation of evangelicals reads the Bible for its application to sex and family relations, younger evangelicals are turning to holy writ for guidance on war, hunger, and poverty.

Christopher D. Levenick takes to the Claremont Review of Books to worry… actually, he doesn't worry about this at all.

The new Religious Left appears unlikely to gain many converts, preaching an old-time progressive gospel to an aging choir. Dubious assumptions, unsatisfactory methods, and theologically problematic conclusions render much of the project intellectually inadequate and (speaking for myself) spiritually unfulfilling.

Is it possible that they're both wrong?

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  1. Yes it is possible. Likely even.

  2. Meh. As a christian this is ridiculous. The church needs to stop it’s love affair with politics, compassionate conservatism, etc. Remind where Jesus said the Roman government should really start giving more to the poor, loving their neighbor, etc. Nope. Didn’t happen. Jesus pushed for personal responsibility. Frankly, removing the notion of responsibility for your fellow man as an INDIVIDUAL, is killing the church. Being righteous just comes down to going to church and casting the right vote. Brilliant.

  3. “The new Religious Left appears unlikely to gain many converts [with] [d]ubious assumptions, unsatisfactory methods, and theologically problematic conclusions render much of the project intellectually inadequate and (speaking for myself) spiritually unfulfilling.”

    And the religious right doesn’t have any of these flaws, except all of them. I guess point his was that the left wasn’t going to win any converts whereas the right can have all the same faults but keep its base due to inertia.

  4. Dubious assumptions, unsatisfactory methods, and theologically problematic conclusions render much of the project intellectually inadequate…

    [GENERIC ATHEIST SARCASM]

  5. Indeed.

    Modern leftist’s beliefs are rooted in the ideology of socialism and communism. It has nothing to do with Christianity.

    The so-called “religious left” is merely concocting another artifice to push that socialist ideology.

    Their ideology is all about using government to force some people to subsidize other people. And that has nothing to do with Christianity.

  6. Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.

  7. I tend to agree with that, Gilbert Martin. Of course, we have to understand that the religious right is pushing its own version of social control.

  8. “Of course, we have to understand that the religious right is pushing its own version of social control.”

    Yeah but the leftist version costs me a lot more money.

  9. Two words “Liberation Theology”. You can twist the Bible to support anything. Further, God knows people love the chance to feel superior and feel like they are making a difference, especially if it involves spending other people’s money. When people get older and have families and move to the suburbs they tend to get more religious. What scares me is today’s hipster city dwelling leftist doofus gets married, has a couple of kids, moves to the suburbs, finds Jesus and hallelujah we get a crusade for social justice. God help us all because I don’t think this is that far fetched.

  10. “feel like they are making a difference, especially if it involves spending other people’s money.”

    LOL

    That is one of the things that always gets me about leftists – the attempt to protray their desire to control and spend other people’s money on something as “compassion”.

    It’s only compassion when you’re voluntarily spending your own money – not when you’re lobbying the government to force somebody else to spend theirs.

  11. Where the older generation of evangelicals reads the Bible for its application to sex and family relations, younger evangelicals are turning to holy writ for guidance on war, hunger, and poverty.

    Actually the Bible is dispicable in its treatment of both genres.

    The world needs more atheists. And nothing will get you there faster than reading the Bible.” – Penn Jillette.

  12. “That is one of the things that always gets me about leftists – the attempt to protray their desire to control and spend other people’s money on something as “compassion”.”

    Yeah like John Edwards preaching to us without one whit of irony about “two Americas” from his 28,000 square foot mansion.

  13. Modern leftist’s beliefs are rooted in the ideology of socialism and communism. It has nothing to do with Christianity.

    If this is true, please explain the converse…how the modern right’s beliefs are rooted in smaller government and greater civil rights. My point of course is that neither the modern left or right has much to do with their “roots.”

    The so-called “religious left” is merely concocting another artifice to push that socialist ideology.

    A flat falsehood and betrays your ignorance of a great number of social trends involving Christianity in general and evangelicals in particular. It’s a common myth that liberals are anti-Christian.

    Their ideology is all about using government to force some people to subsidize other people. And that has nothing to do with Christianity.

    And the right’s ideology is about using government to force rigid moral and behavior standards on other people…Which also has nothing to do with Christianity.

    Obviously both of those statements are so grossly overexagerated as to be meaningless. My statement is merely to illustrate how ridiculous yours is.

  14. What is really killing the church from my perspective, regardless of conservative or liberal political offiliation, is the dual theological mistakes of dominionism and triumphulism which pervert the gospel into nothing more than a handbook for self righteousness and self gratification. The problem is the same in both in that they take the focus off of what is holy and put it on what is worldly.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominionism

    This is the basis of the church’s love of politics, turning the Christian life into little more than a vehicle for furthering the political goals of politicians who can speak with the “correct” vocabulary; and demeaning God into little more than an ATM who must bless you (with money) if you just follow a prescribed schedule of actions. They no longer wish to exist as an entity apart from the world or worldly pleasures, but rather want to remake God into a worldly figure who will rule through a worldly kingdom, and bless always in worldly ways. The focus is no longer on what God sacrificed in His Son to bring us to salvation, but rather what we can do to be blessed. In short, the entire focus of the religion has been changed from God-centered worship where the individual’s role is to keep the faith and trust is God’s righteousness rather than rely on his own, into a self-centered worship where man can achieve righteousness by forcing his religious views on others through the state or just by being on the “right side,” if you will.

    The problem could be solved through the church going back to scripture and realizing that Christ didn’t die to save societies, nations, traditions, or laws; He did it to redeem mankind. Therefore as my pastor once said (paraphrase) “He doesn’t want your laws or legalism, Christianity isn’t about what you or a group does to prove your righteousness. He wants your heart, He wants your mind, and He wants to save your soul, if you give these things to Him, then righteousness will follow. That isn’t to say you’ll be perfect, but rather that trusting in Christ’s righteousness will save you, trying to act righteous and expecting salvation for it will not.

  15. “It’s only compassion when you’re voluntarily spending your own money – not when you’re lobbying the government to force somebody else to spend theirs.”

    While I tend to agree with your point, the above statement isn’t anywhere near true. Why can’t a government be labeled compassionate?

    John, if you logic held up, there would never be any representation for the poor. The second somebody got more money, they would cease to hold the ideas they held their entire lives, and become noticeably higher class. I wonder how you feel about middle class Republicans who favor more power for big business. Hypocrites?

  16. “What scares me is today’s hipster city dwelling leftist doofus gets married, has a couple of kids, moves to the suburbs, finds Jesus and hallelujah we get a crusade for social justice.”

    dunno how this is any different than the current batch of bigoted fuckfaces. actually, i’d be interested to see how this sort of thing would turn out in regards to gay rights, etc.

    yeah yeah, i know, team blue team red blah blah blah.

  17. Ron: I’m with John, I don’t think this is such a stretch. Jonathan Edwards, the godfather of American evangelism, concluded in the 1750’s that capitalism was un-Christian, and it wasn’t that much earlier that lending money held similar status. Gilbert Martin may be right that it is a “leftist” artifice in the context of today, but it would be a mistake to assume that there is not a considerable foundation for it in western theological thought.

  18. “While I tend to agree with your point, the above statement isn’t anywhere near true.”

    It is absolutely true.

    “Why can’t a government be labeled compassionate?”

    Because a government has nothing to give except that which it has taken away from somebody else – by force.

  19. Neither of them get it right. God gave us freewill. And with that freewill, we are to believe that we do need to help our fellow man. But NO WHERE in the Book does it say, you must force others to help.

    Oh and for “Liberation Theology”, I’ve got one more word for you Excommunication..:)

    Preach to thoughs who want to hear the word. Not force it down their thoats.

    Atleast that’s my Roman Catholic belief.

  20. is in the eye of the beholder.

    People really don’t like cognitive dissonance and will almost always recast the teachings of their favorite sky fairy to align with their personal biases.

  21. TF: Benjamin Franklin wrote an editorial (under a pseudonym) saying precisely what you said, although I daresay somewhat more eloquently.

  22. Should’ve previewed. The first sentence of my comment was supposed to read:

    (insert deity name) is in the eye of the beholder.

  23. TF-

    By “killing the church” I assume you mean it in a philosophical way. As far as numbers go the leftleaning, mainline denominations are slowly bleeding their members whereas the Catholics and Evangelicals are continuing to have strong growth.

  24. “Oh and for “Liberation Theology”, I’ve got one more word for you Excommunication..:)”

    Thanks to John Paul II that is true but that didn’t stop a lot of Jesuits from buying into it and don’t think for moment people wouldn’t twist the bible into supporting whatever their sacred cow is.

    “John, if you logic held up, there would never be any representation for the poor. The second somebody got more money, they would cease to hold the ideas they held their entire lives, and become noticeably higher class. I wonder how you feel about middle class Republicans who favor more power for big business. Hypocrites?”

    I am not really sure what you mean. Honestly.

  25. I’ll call bullshit on this one for a few reasons:

    1) The Bible is very pro-private property.
    2) There are clear-cut examples of the standards of Christ separating Christians from non-Christians in terms of moral expectations such as generosity and vengeance.
    3) The poor had to pay the tithe, the equivalent of the income tax in the Old Testament. No exceptions. Same rate as the rich.
    4) The only time that property may be taken from one man and given to another is as a form of restitution for a crime.

  26. The evangelicals were typically voting Democrat in the first half of the century. So this ain’t new.

  27. What part of “My Kingdom is not of this Earth” do the “Christian” Bible thumpers not understand? What part of “You cannot serve God and Mammon” do the “Christian” Bushophiles not understand?

  28. John in Nashville…I love that line ” My Kingdom is not of this Earth”, has always given me chills.

    John…Most Jesuits drive me nuts. I do know some Orthodox ones, but they are few and far between. And yes, quite alot of them by into well, Communism.

  29. Reading what conservative libertarians have to say about the “religious left” is like leafing through a Buddhist text for a good beef stew recipe.

  30. RegularRon,

    Jesuits drive me nuts to and I am not even a Catholic. Yeah, it is perfectly okay to think the Pope is an idiot and the Bible means what you says it does not what the Church says it does. There are lots of committed Christians who beleive the same things. They are called Protestants!!

    I just don’t get people who hate the Catholic church and everything it stands for yet insist on being not only a member but also pursuing a religious life within it.

  31. “Modern leftist’s beliefs are rooted in the ideology of socialism and communism. It has nothing to do with Christianity.”

    Historically, the socialist movements grew out of christian communalism, going back to the “Levellers” and before. This is not a biblical exegesis – as has been pointed out many times, you can support just about any argument from the bible – but a recognition of the historical origins of modern socialism and communism.

    Further, the church has always disliked the bourgeoisie: i.e. merchants, moneylenders, businessmen, and traders as opposed to Royalty and the Nobility.

  32. By the way…excuse my last comment. My computer is acting up.

    John..There is a schism begining in Holy Mother Chruch. Pretty much what it is, is what you just said. “Cafeteria Catholics” as some call them. But a lot of us are starting to call them, “American Catholics”. The Protestant influence in our church, here in America is disgusting.

    One thing I’ve always loved about my faith and it’s leaders has always been the belief that, You should always keep a skeptical eye on Government, and people who want power.

  33. Aresen,

    I think you have to separate socialism from communism. Socialism most assuredly grew out of Christian communialism. There is a reason why many European Socialist parties have the word “Christian” attached to them. Communism of course is the radical materialism and atheism of Marx and most assuredly not Christian, although Eurpean Marxists now march hand and hand with radical jhiadists. I am frankly not sure there is any such thing as true “Marxism” anymore.

  34. Further, the church has always disliked the bourgeoisie: i.e. merchants, moneylenders, businessmen, and traders as opposed to Royalty and the Nobility.

    That’s because royalty sought the Catholic church’s endorsement as a legitamizer of their rule (divine ruler and whatnot).

    The Catholic church, in return, weiled a great deal of power throughout the dark ages and the renaissance.

    The reformation and the age of enlightenment pretty much screwed that up for the Catholic Church. They’ve been trying to get it back ever since.

  35. joe:

    I may be misremembering, but I could swear I read somewhere that the Dalai Lama has told his monks to give up on the vegetarianism. The thinking went something like this:

    (1) Monks are supposed to live exclusively on the charity of others, including begging for food.

    (2) If someone offers to feed you, but all they have is meat, turning them down implies you’re too good to accept their charity.

    (3) That’s not really conducive to the whole “destruction of ego” thing.

    So I urge patience: we may get that beef stew recipe yet!

  36. “Because a government has nothing to give except that which it has taken away from somebody else – by force.”
    Yeah, and once it takes aways its taxes (death and taxes, the only constants), it can spend the money on enriching its leaders or on more compassionate endeavors. Phooey.

  37. Jesuits drive me nuts to and I am not even a Catholic.

    Where do the Jesuits drive your nuts to? Are you allowed to follow?
    I don’t think that’s what Jesus would do.

  38. I just don’t get people who hate the Catholic church and everything it stands for yet insist on being not only a member but also pursuing a religious life within it.

    Simple: From their perspective, they are the correct ones and everybody else is a heretic.

  39. I still think what I’ve thought since I was a kid: church is boring.

  40. “Reading what conservative libertarians have to say about the “religious left” is like leafing through a Buddhist text for a good beef stew recipe.”

    funny joke – some buddhists eat meat, including some tibetan sects. and some justify it on karmic grounds – i.e. this used to be a person, and now i’m helping this former person burn off their karmic weight by feeding myself.

    is “religious left” any more quote worthy than “religious right” ?

  41. John

    I realize Marx rejected religion and embraced atheism, but in the Communist Manifesto he very explicitly acknowledges Communism’s roots in socialism, describing Communism as “scientific socialism.”

    Madpad

    I think it goes farther than you suggest. It was not merely the fact that Royalty [and the Nobility] supported the church – and this was true in the Orthodox as well as the Roman tradition – in return for their “divine” right and the Church’s endorsement of the social order. The bourgeiosie challenged the social order and were a source of independent ideas, which threatened the position of the church.

  42. “Yeah, and once it takes aways its taxes (death and taxes, the only constants), it can spend the money on enriching its leaders or on more compassionate endeavors. Phooey.”

    Phooey yourself.

    NOTHING except volunteering your OWN MONEY for something counts as compassion. Advocating somebody else be forced to pay for something requires no sacrifice on the part of the one doing it and it is therefore not “compassion”.

  43. ultron

    “I still think what I’ve thought since I was a kid: church is boring.”

    OTOH, the history of the church – scandals, wars, schisms, etc – is very enjoyable. Provided you didn’t have to live through it, of course.

  44. ‘Advocating somebody else be forced to pay for something requires no sacrifice on the part of the one doing it and it is therefore not “compassion”.’

    Political advocacy requires no sacrifice?

    Tell it to Archbishop Romero.

  45. I am happy that I am agreeing with John again but said that he is right.

    There is a very definite undercurrent in today’s Christian and Catholic churches that is pushing “social justice” through government action. I know this doesn’t make any sense to you purely secular aethiests but most “religious” people get their message from their leaders not the “book.” And as John said the “book” can be used to support any argument the leaders chose to present. And many of these leaders are becoming the same elitist socialists as those on the left.

  46. Modern leftist’s beliefs are rooted in the ideology of socialism and communism. It has nothing to do with Christianity.

    All I know is the species of liberal we have here in Nancy Pelosi country. A typical Northern California liberal is either not religious or has a fuzzy belief that all religions are valid. But its likely that same liberal was raised in a traditional religious home, still believes that all people have an obligation to help each other out, and sees the government as the obvious vehicle for organizing the collective effort.

    A typical West Coast liberal has never deliberately studied socialism and wouldn’t consider himself a socialist. His socialist ideas were absorbed by osmosis — he’s surrounded by pretty much nothing but other liberals. And the relatively rare hard-core Berkeley-style liberals are always injecting the strange socialist ideas they got from book learning into the local meme pool.

    At heart, most liberals around here aren’t that different from libertarians. They just haven’t been exposed to libertarian ideas.

  47. A fundy type told me he was called by Christ to be involved in promoting legislation that promotes Chrisian values. He cited both Paul and Peter (I think in Romans and I Peter)as saying governments are instituted by God and rulers are to punish bad conduct and wrong-doers. Anyone have a Bible handy to check out these assertions and comment?

  48. Actually, Marx’s beef was with religion, or rather certain aspects of religion, not God per se.

    Outside of the US Christianity is frequently associated with socialism. For example the Welsh socialists who were at the center of the Coal Miners Union were notorious Wesleyans.

    Not to mention the fact that Tommy Douglas, the father of Canadian Medicare was a Baptist preacher. I heard some of his speeches. When he railed against the evils of “monopoly capitalism” you could feel the fire and smell the brimstone.

  49. “Political advocacy requires no sacrifice?”

    Exactly what sacrifice have you made in your advocacy of the liberal welfare state?

  50. I’ve donated to campaign, and taken a lot of crap.

  51. I’ve also paid higher taxes, and worked to make sure that remains so.

  52. Profiles in courage.

  53. Ahhh come on joe, there is not much work involved in keeping higher taxes the status quo. 🙂

  54. I’m not holding out my efforts as heroic.

    Just refuting the point that political activism is without cost.

  55. “Modern leftist’s beliefs are rooted in the ideology of socialism and communism. It has nothing to do with Christianity.” –Gilbert Martin

    This leaps out as possibly the most ignorant statement ever made on Hit and Run, and that’s saying something.

  56. Yeah, Edward. Gilbert Martin’s done little other than try to ram his objectivist rants down everyone’s throats.

    He’s just an ignorant, partisan wanker pretending to be an intellectual.

  57. “I’ve also paid higher taxes, and worked to make sure that remains so.”

    Dick.

    😉

  58. 1) The Bible is very pro-private property.

    ‘Cept of course for the whole “Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle” thing, which implies at *least* that owning property makes it more difficult to get into heaven. Add to that the story of the rich man who asked Christ what he need do to get into heaven. “Give away your possessions to the poor and come and follow me” doesn’t sound conducive to private property ownership either.

    2) There are clear-cut examples of the standards of Christ separating Christians from non-Christians in terms of moral expectations such as generosity and vengeance.

    Yeah, but Christ *raises* the standards, he doesn’t lower them. The thing about giving away your possessions, for one thing, the demands in the epistles that followers of Christ take on vows of poverty and homelessness, as well as the demands that Christians both forgive and love their enemies and take care of any human being as if they were beloved family bear this out. Saying that the rules change without saying how they change is remarkably disingenuous.

    3) The poor had to pay the tithe, the equivalent of the income tax in the Old Testament. No exceptions. Same rate as the rich.

    Yes, but Christ also says that God loves the tithes of the poor more than he does the rich; Mark 12 and the story of the widow who gave all she had says this pretty clearly. It also says, no, demands in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that nobody can allow his countryman to go poor; he must find a way to help him.

    4) The only time that property may be taken from one man and given to another is as a form of restitution for a crime.

    Incorrect. Leviticus 25 demands that all property sold be returned to it’s previous owners every 50 years. It’s called the Jubilee, and it’s to be carried out regardless of the term of sale of the land. It also says in Deuteronomy that a person’s slaves must be freed every seven years, regardless of their status. There are cases where property is taken for the common good all the time in the Bible.

  59. “Further, the church has always disliked the bourgeoisie: i.e. merchants, moneylenders, businessmen, and traders as opposed to Royalty and the Nobility.”

    [various other restatements of traditional Whig/liberal anti-Catholic historiography]

    Why not just summarize the history of the Catholic Church, from the liberal perspective:

    “Once upon a time there was this nice guy named Jesus, who thought that being nice was a good thing. That message was too threatening to the Establishment, so they killed Him. Then this guy name Paul came along and got together with some follower of Christ, and said, ‘I know! Let’s found a Church named after Jesus Christ. We’ll call ourselves priests and use our Church to rule the world.’

    “‘Can we wear dresses?’ asked someone in the audience.

    “‘Don’t see why not,’ said Paul.

    “‘Can we repress the divine feminine (except for our dresses)?’ asked another.

    “‘Knock yourselves out,’ Paul replied.

    “And from that day to this, the Catholic Church has tried to rule the world. They managed to overthrow the Western Roman Empire and institute the Dark Ages, during which they consolidated their power by overthrowing the Merovingians. They abolished science. When Galileo said the earth was round, they laughed at him and made him decant.

    “Then, brave freedom-lovers led by Newton, Einstein, Martin Luther and Henry VIII overthrew the tyranny of the Catholic Church in England and Germany, followed by liberation movements in other countries. Despite the best efforts of the Church and its albino monk assassins, freedom has been on the march ever since.”

    By the way, “albino monk assassins” would be a great name for a rock band.

  60. Is there a doctor in the house?
    Can you diagnose the girl in the picture by looking at her tongue?
    Has she been drinking milk or “cream”?

  61. “Just refuting the point that political activism is without cost.”

    It costs you nothing to advocate spending somebody else’s money. That money is coming out of their pocket not yours.

  62. “This leaps out as possibly the most ignorant statement ever made on Hit and Run, and that’s saying something.”

    The only response necessary to that is :

    Says you.

  63. The only response necessary to that is : Says you.

    Wow, Gilbert…you really know how to underscore our negative impressions of you. The plain fact of it is, you’ve pretty much been a caustic prick since your first post on this thread.

    That’s not – in and of itself – deserving of scorn. There’s lot’s of colorful obstinates on this board. But you have so little style and wit about you in this enterprise. You’re obviously not well-read and you don’t have the chops to keep up a good argument.

    If you’re going to throw out these arguments, have the nuts to go to the mat for your postition. “Says you” is for wankers.

  64. Where the older generation of evangelicals reads the Bible for its application to sex and family relations, younger evangelicals are turning to holy writ for guidance on war, hunger, and poverty.

    Libertarian Christians read of a sacrifice for each and every one of us and see it as a divine imperative for individual rights and liberties.

    …Does anyone else see a pattern here?

  65. When evangelicals join the left, they will have finally come home where they belong.

  66. Libertarian Christians read of a sacrifice for each and every one of us and see it as a divine imperative for individual rights and liberties.

    I’m not sure what exactly tou’re saying here, ken…but I’m pretty sure it’s based on your prejudices of liberal Christians rather than any actual experiences with them.

    Like so many others on this thread, you’ve just mashed together your hatreds of both Liberals and Christians into this straw man beast that has little to do with reality.

    Do you really think all degrees of liberals who happen to also be Christians really think like this?

  67. When evangelicals join the left, they will have finally come home where they belong.

    Fortunately we have things like evolution, abortion, sex education in schools and a bunch of other cultural issues keeping that from happening.

    It is a good thing that selfrighteous busybodies, whether secular or religious, have factional divisions. It’s the only thing keeping us from outright dictatorship. 🙂

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