Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Liberation Theology And Academia

I usually get academic news about the University of North Carolina from Mike Adams over at TownHall. But once in awhile, an academic will make pronouncements that get beyond the local news. And so it is with UNC Chapel Hill professor Jonathan Weiler. Says the good professor, "the right's hostility to socialism is quite striking given its simultaneous insistence that our first duty as Americans is to pay fealty to God's law which explicitly calls for re-distributing wealth."

That thought is one of the tenets of liberation theology. Depending on which preacher and which pulpit it comes from, Jesus was himself something between a Euro-socialist and a communist. But hearing this nonsense from an alleged intellectual speaking from a secular pulpit drew a bit more public attention. We expect this sort of thing from the Rev. Jim Wallis, who finds things in the Bible that would mystify the Apostles. Wallis is President Obama's unofficial guru, which only partially explains Obama's trip down the road to serfdom. It must please The One that a professor at a respected university agrees with both Wallis and himself.

What brought the professor's crazed rant to the public eye was his fury at Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck quoting Wallis, who said: "My hope is that more Christians will come to view the world through Marxist eyes." Professor Weiler promptly went on that bastion of clear-thinking, the Huffington Post, to say that "Beck says Christians should leave their social justice churches, so I say Christians should leave Glenn Beck." I've mentioned before that though I admire his good intentions, and his blackboard style of presenting his ideas, I personally find Beck a bit too emotional and a bit too simplistic in some of his interpretations of historical facts. But that's a matter of preference in style, not an indictment of Beck's basically very logical and very patriotic stands.

As always, leftist theologians and leftist academics read the Biblical texts on the poor as meaning that the rich should willingly or by force give up their wealth to those who have nothing. Willingly, OK. But the Bible says nothing about the state taking it away from the rich and giving it to the poor. The most often out-of-context quote of Christ regarding the matter is when He said that the chances of a rich man entering into Heaven are the same as those of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. When a follower said that was impossible. Christ responded: "With God, all things are possible."

Likewise, the left repeats that the rich should give up all their goods to the poor. Once again, that's out of context. Christ spoke those words for those who would become his messengers on earth. In other words, his disciples and their successors, and all who preach the gospel. "Many are called, but few are chosen." He drove the money-changers out of the temple, but he did not condemn commerce. There is a time and a place for everything. Christ spoke out against pride in wealth and class, not wealth itself.

The Bible is clear that those who reap the harvest from their lands leave some gleaning for the poor. "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field . . . thou shalt leave them for the poor and strangers." But if everybody is poor, who will take care of the poor? That's a question the left ignores. If the creators of wealth cannot do their jobs, then there is no wealth to be spread around. Except, of course, for the ruling elite, who give nothing away. Check on Obama's and Biden's charity-giving if you think that's not true.

Then check on Bill Gates, or the history of Carnegie, Ford, and the Rockefellers. Those who make great wealth, then horde it to the exclusion of helping those less fortunate are to be condemned, at least in Christian theology. "For those to whom much is given, much is asked." And however, wrong the foundations set up by them may have gone over the years, their clear intention was to give back in the form of great sums of money to help the helpless.

And while we're at it, why not ask liberationists like Jeremiah Wright and Wallis why they are living so large? Wright, particularly, preaches to some of the poorest people in America. He preaches government redistribution of wealth, but seems a bit reluctant to give up his own wealth. Of course, Wright claims that mansion he lives in belongs to the church, so he's not really all that well off. When half his congregation moves into the residence and starts eating his food and spending his money, I'll believe him. For now, the word "hypocrite" comes to mind.

Back to our illustrious professor. He seems to have overlooked the fact that the Founders recognized that equality of opportunity was the only real way to level the playing field between the haves and have-nots. The Bible itself says that "the poor are always with us." We should teach them how to fish. So consider some of the Old Testament words that showed up in the Constitution and oaths of office. "Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause (show preference for the poor man in a dispute)." "Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the great as well as the small (equal justice under law)." "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty (government is to be neutral between the rich and the poor)."

Christ did not preach poverty for the world at large. This was reserved for his disciples, who should not become servants of Mammon. But both the New and Old Testaments make it very clear that all acts of charity are to be done for the love of God and fellow man, and that reward would follow in the Kingdom of Heaven. Supporting the poor rather than helping them is not a Biblical concept. That doctrine which grants the state the power to support the poor at the expense of those who have wealth comes from a different testament--the Communist Manifesto.

As my mother said when I was advocating for the perpetuation of the poor through welfare, "to be poor but proud is a virtue; to be poor and proud of it is a vice."


AndrewPrice said...

I thought Jesus was a Capricorn? Just kidding, and with apologies to Kris Kristofferson.

Excellent analysis. I think the problem with the world's religions is that it's too easy for demagogues to pull out selective quotes and to spin, spin, spin until they craft an entirely new meaning. That's how you get the Jesus was a socialist garbage, it's also how you get the "God wants you to own an SUV" garbage, "God will punish everyone who doesn't agree with you," and "God wants you to blow up buildings."

It was interesting to me how the Catholic Church fell for liberation theology in the 1960s and 1970s, but then came back in the 1980's.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: In the Western Hemisphere, it was none other than the current Pope who as a cardinal pushed the liberation theologians out of the mainstream of Catholicism.

"Selective quotes" are a major problem. Most of the time, it just causes misinterpretation. Other times, it leads to cults, Jim Jones, and, umm, Nancy Pelosi.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I had no idea of the role of the new guy until Pope John Paul died. I always credited JP with it until recently.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: Leave it to a good Kraut to get rid of the namby-pambies. LOL

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--A lot of things seem to go wrong south of the border, and it seems that it included theology. Too bad it was run out there, only to reappear north of the border in too many pulpits and too many universities.

Anonymous said...

HamiltonsGhost: Jeremiah Wright preaches a particularly virulent form of liberation theology (along with his pseud-Catholic priest buddy Father Michael Pfleger). They call it black liberation theology, but it's really nothing different from the Black Muslims, who preach racial separation and racial hatred. They promote the best of both worlds--class warfare and race warfare. This is Christian? And now for those young people who don't attend church, Christianity will be taught to them by academicians who know nothing about history or theology.

Mike K. said...

"As always, leftist theologians and leftist academics read the Biblical texts on the poor as meaning that the rich should willingly or by force give up their wealth to those who have nothing. Willingly, OK. But the Bible says nothing about the state taking it away from the rich and giving it to the poor."

That's analogous to the "turn the other cheek" verse. It's a fine and Christian thing to do. But if I presume to force you to turn your cheek, then I'm just joining in the assault.

Tennessee Jed said...

Couple thoughts, Hawk: 1) your momma was no dummy. 2) I am concerned at what a cesspool our colleges and universities have turned out to be.

Anonymous said...

Mike: I think the government has already forced us taxpayers to turn all four cheeks to be slapped by the poor, the lazy and the indolent. When nearly half the people in the United States are paying no income taxes, we are running out of people to pay their bills. I give to my church and private charities to help people who can't help themselves. I don't pay taxes so the government can give my money to people who won't help themselves.

Anonymous said...

Tennessee: I wish I had appreciated my mom's wisdom much earlier than I did. It would have saved me a lot of wasted effort in my radical days.

As for our institutions of "higher learning," it's bad enough that so many of the professors are half-assed teachers. Now we have to put up with them being half-assed theologians as well.

USArtguy said...

Well done, LawHawk. Money, its use and purpose is one of those subjects in the bible that is mentioned more in scripture than practically any other. It seems important that we at least take a serious stab at trying to understand what God wants us to learn about it.

Context is everything. While all scripture is "for" everyone, not all scripture is "to" everyone. For example, there are promises made solely to the people of Israel. There are many, many examples of the opposite of Wallis' view point. In addition to the ones you list a couple that come to mind are the parable of the "talents" in Matthew 25:14-28. A man going away for a while entrusts his wealth to three servants. He gives one 10 talents, one 5 and one 1. The first two double their master's wealth, while the third whined about the man being too harsh and did nothing. The man's 1 talent was taken away and given to the servant who had doubled his to 20. Then the others were told to throw the "lazy and wicked" servant out.

Yikes! Doesn't sound very liberal, socialistic or Marxist!

Then there's always this gem... 2 Thessalonians 3:10 "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

Anonymous said...

USArtguy: You are now officially on Rev. Wallis's list. As soon as he actually reads the Bible, I'm sure he'll counter your argument. LOL

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