Archive for March, 2009

JESUS 4 President-On Obama, Was Jesus Liberal/Democrat or Republican/Conservative?

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on March 4, 2009

To anyone concerned,

Politics have been interesting of late—especially in light of President Obama’s campaign and the intensity of feelings on both sides. Though looking at the issues, I’m still reminded of the reality of what occured when the election went on last year—as seen in one of the articles I reviewed when researching the political issues of the election and not being sure of which side to support (As I didn’t wish for either Obama or Mccain since I felt both were significant issues in their own right). As said there—in light of how many people are now Independent when it comes to voting (and others even decided not to vote):

The dreadlocked Christian activist from Philadelphia and his team parked a black school bus around the back. The hand-painted gold letters on the side read “Jesus for President.”

Claiborne is touring the country, packing churches and community centers, in support of the book he and Chris Haw co-authored, “Jesus for President.”

“This whole project is about the political imagination of what it means to follow after Jesus,” Claiborne said. “The language of Jesus as Lord and savior is just as radical as it would be to say ‘Jesus as our commander in chief’ today.”

Young evangelicals represent an important swing-voting bloc. They’re not a lock for Republicans as their parents were. Their feet are firmly planted on issues dear to both parties. Traditional family values are, as they have been in the past, an important issue.

But these voters say views on abortion and homosexuality won’t define them in November. The environment and social justice are moving to the forefront of their discussions.

About 26 percent of the United States identifies itself as evangelical Christians in the Protestant tradition, according to the latest U.S. Religious Landscape study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. In 2004, more than 75 percent of evangelicals cast their vote for George W. Bush.

“They delivered for him in some key states, like Ohio, without which he could not have won,” said CNN’s Bill Schneider, senior political analyst. “It was the rallying of the evangelical base that Karl Rove developed as a strategy, maximizing turnout among your base voters, not worrying about independents or swing voters.”
But polls have shown that evangelicals as a whole, following national trends, are disaffected with Republican leadership and increasingly up for grabs.

Thursday was the fifth night of the tour and it has already seen hundreds show up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Indianapolis, Indiana.

It was a hot, muggy June day in Pittsburgh. About 250 people came through the doors to find there was no air conditioning in the old church-turned-community center. They ran out of chairs so people took to the floors and leaned against the walls.
There were voters from across the board: Republicans, Democrats and independents. Most were young, Christian by background, evangelical in theology, and they say they’re hungry for something more than partisan politics.

Steph Walker and Amanda Widing had to settle for seats in the back.

“I would say that social justice and issues like that have definitely arisen as an important part of my faith and, because of that, it affects how I vote and think of those things definitely,” said 21-year-old Walker.

She grew up in a Republican household but has switched parties and will vote for Sen. Barack Obama in November.
Widing, 20, is a registered Republican but unsure who she’ll vote for.
“There are certain issues where I identify more with Republicans and other issues where I identify more with Democrats, so I really am completely undecided at this point,” she said.

Eric Sapp is a founding member of the Eleison group focused on getting people of faith out to the polls for Democrats. He sees younger evangelicals as prime targets to swing.

“These voters are starting to become independent swing voters instead of a lock for either party,” Sapp said. “For Democrats, also, it’s a successful place because when a group had been voting four out of five Republican and they start becoming a swing constituency that also has significant electoral implications.”

Back on stage Claiborne takes the crowd through a multimedia presentation.

“With the respectability and the power of the church comes the temptation to prostitute our identity for every political agenda.”

Controversially, he quotes Harry S. Truman and Adolph Hitler, saying each used Christianity to support their ideologies.

The speech is fiery at times, pensive at others. It emphasizes caring for the poor and the downtrodden. He talks about war and the environment. He also talks about how Jesus stood up to the Roman Empire, a message he believes is relevant to the United States now. “For many of us, Caesar has colonized our imagination, our landscape and our ideology,” he says while a picture of Mount Rushmore flashes behind him. On the screen “Vandalism” pops up in black letters.

Trading lines back and forth from a script with Haw, they save the most wrath for Christians who they say have missed the point of the cross.”We’ve profaned the blood at the foot of the cross and turned it into Kool-Aid and marketed it all over the world. We’ll make an art and a business out of taking the Lord’s name in vain,” Claiborne says as images of Christ on the cross and the American flag flash behind him.

They endorse no candidate and make no effort to sway the voters for one party or another.

After the speech in an interview with CNN, Claiborne said, “This is not about going left or right, this is about going deeper and trying to understand together. Rather than endorse candidates, we ask them to endorse what is at the heart of Jesus and that is the poor or the peacemakers and when we see that then we’ll get behind them.”Claiborne says the movement of younger evangelicals is growing and looking at the Bible in more holistic terms. He is quick to say the call of Christ has more to do with how people live their lives on November 3 and 5 than how they vote on November 4.

To be clear, Shane Claibore also does work alongside others concerning Progressive Christianity in regards to social issues such as poverty, immigration reform, etc. And he happens to be apart of a ministry I’m connected with called Sojourners : About Us/ )—-founded by Jim Wallis, who wrote the book entitled “God Politics: When the Right gets it WRONG and the Left doesn’t GET IT” ., which I’m currently reading and I actually own many of the man’s books (including the one entitled “Faith Works” which dealt with running faith-based organizations….and the other one entitled “Soul of Politics”, which was much more intensive than “God Politics: When the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It” since it dealt with his life growing up among those who’re impoverished and experiecing life during the Civil Rights Movement, as well as offering practical solutions to the issues of our times..
Additionally, Shane Claiborne is someone I learned of when I him in an article I studied awhile back during his campaign for the group known as “Jesus For President”—as he is the author of Jesus for President, a Red Letter Christian ( //www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=about_us.redletterchristians )——-and a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. His example within the Emerging Camp is more of the side I’d be on—though being a Human Services Major and very much for CHristian Activism/networking, that may be my bias…

I’m still taken aback in light of how he not is accomplished (with degrees in Sociology/Youth Ministry and having done some graduate work)–but with how Claiborne’s outlook on ministry to the poor is often compared to Mother Teresa, whom he worked alongside with during a 10-week term in Calcutta

There was a conversation on the man recently that really spoke to me/my generation, as seen in Interview with Shane Claiborne

Also, If interested, found an interview by Claiborne on the issue of politics/religion that really intrigued me when I listened to it awhile back….as found here in Shane Claiborne: Jesus For President: CCDA 2007 Audio—as the audio dealt with the question of whether or not we’re political…& how are we political…and that God is forming a peculiar people & set apart from the nations, who are the embodiment of a political alternative to empires, and their markets and militaries.


The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?””

Martin Luther King, Jr. quote

“On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

“A Time to Break Silence,” at Riverside Church”
Martin Luther King Jr.

The other one that was HIGHLY insightful was entitled Three Degrees of Separation —as it dealt with the generational differences between three Evangelical leaders well known for their work concerning Faith/Politics. Others such as Shane Claiborne spoke with other notable Christians involved in political activism. One of the first notables was a man named Chuck Colson, who heads a ministry known as “Prision Fellowship” ( //www.prisonfellowship.org/site_hmpg.asp )–which does EXTENSIVE work among those who’re in Prisions concerning:

  • Promoting faith-based prisons to promoting the principles of restorative justice (i.e. an approach to justice focusing on healing broken relationships, repairing the damage done by crime, and restoring the offender to a meaningful role in society, etc),
  • stimulated dialogue between victims and offenders in order to facilitate reconciliation,
  • Assisting children and families of prisoners…
  • Post-prison support through the giving of small start-up loans to qualifying ex-prisoners to enable them to start small businesses–providing a means for them to support their families and lead a productive life within the community

I was HIGHLY impressed—as this seems to be a premier example of MISSIONAL LIVING (or at least, simple CHRISTIAN LIVING) among those who’re often most forgotten in society—taking the “Gospel of Christ to their side of the street” and seeking to make sure they’re taken care of. It was also refreshing to see the Wilberforce Forum and seeing the Christian Worldview/Advocacy aspect of the ministry, as well as seeing the justice reform efforts done through Justice Fellowship ( //www.justicefellowship.org/site_hmpg.asp)….. and it was interesting to see how Chuck Colson, by the way, has debated other prominent Evangelicals, such as Brian McLaren on the best response for the Evangelical church in dealing with the postmodern cultural shift. And I greatly appreciate the work he does Colson’s later life has been spent working with the organization devoted to prison ministry called PRISON FELLOWSHIP

The other person involved in the discussion was a man known as Greg Boyd of the book entitled “The Myth of a Christian Nation” ( //www.gregboyd.org/books/myth-of-a-christian-nation-3/ )–who is a stellar Christian Scholar and who has done many studies in which he’s makes clear the church is in danger when seeking political power for its own gain at the expense of promoting the Kingdom of God/remembering that the Lord’s Kingdom is not of this world…..and for more info, one can go look up the following on Google Video by the following title:
  • Charlie Rose – Rick Warren / Gregory Boyd ( //video.google.com/videosearch?q=Gregory+Boyd&emb=0&aq=f# )
I own books from all of the men who were involved in the discussion—including Chuck COlson’s book “Born Again” in 1979 describing his transformation/change into a believer and his seeking to glorify God in politics/public life rather than isolating himself from it. It was intriguing seeing how they interpret and live out their values in varying ways. The lively conversation revealed a shared theology that guides these three men and it was very good to hear…alongside the interactions of what seemed to be Christian Liberal vs Christian COnservative perspectives—even though all sides have valid points. If looking at scripture, it’s also intriguing seeing how even the people Christ chose were among those who came from DIFFERENT Camps–some who were against GOVERNMENTS and others that were all for it, as seen when HE simultaneouly chose both ZEALOTS and TAX-Collectors to be apart of His inner circle—despite how BOTH sides had significant issue with the other, with Zealots wishing to overthrow Rome and feeling as if Tax-Collectors had “Sold out”…

Luke 6

The Twelve Apostles

12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.-Mark 3:17-19 /Mark 3 /Matthew 10:3-5 Matthew 10

Matthew 9:9

[ The Calling of Matthew ] As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector‘s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Matthew 9

Matthew 10

2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Additionally, interestingly enough that all of them are trying to fufill the following scriptures:

Matthew 18:4

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5″And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me

Matthew 18 (

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

Add to thatThe Parable of the Good Samaritan that greatly simplified things–Luke 10

Luke 10:1

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26″What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’]”
28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.
36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

All of that stated, does anyone have any thoughts on the matter? Do you feel that Claiborne and others had the right idea? Or were they off? And if so, why?
Additionally, what do you think the political stances of Christ were? For sincerly, when reading the Word, I cannot help but notice that on many things Christ said He was for—-whether regarding how we treat our neighbors or how we treat enemies and a host of other issues—seem to be left out by BOTH sides of the Political Spectrum when it comes to the ways in which CHristians choose to portray Christ…..be it on ABortion, War, The Death Penalty, Poverty, and a host of other issues. So, Was He a REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRAT, a MIXTURE, or SOmehting else entirely? ANd if He didn’t fit either mold, then does anyone think it’s an issue whenever it seems that both sides seek to make Him FIT THEIR IMAGES?
Perhaps it’s just where I’m at in life—as I’m not really for the Republican Party vs the Democratic party/”Conservative vs Liberal” silliness I see all the time as in any way dealing with the issues…though to be honest, I’m more akin with those who’re known as as Christian democracy & the group of people supporting Social Democrat views. But again, even apart from that, I’m amazed at seeing how quickly people will make it seem as if their parties are God’s Truth…..and then denounce others not holding to them. That is unacceptable, in light of scripture
Titus 3/ Titus 3

Doing What is Good

1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

Additionally, as Christ was Jewish and culture made a difference on MANY of His views, it’s always intriguing when people come many years later reading their personal views into the claims of Christ and failing to address the cultural perspectives He had—-trying to make CHrist out as if He was ONLY for the Democrats or Only for the Republicans, etc. Some of the books I’ve been considering of late that address the issue in regards to where it is I’m trying to come from:

The Politics of Jesus

Didn’t know whether or not I was the only one who had heard of them/was interested—-but I was curious as to what your thougths would be if anyone has researched them. For both were intriguing to investigate when it came to my views as a Believer in the Political realm and how it is that one should view Christ.



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