The most fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives is that question of which side you are on. Conservatives believe that the rich and powerful got that way because they deserve to be, that society owes its prosperity to the prosperous, and that government's job when they have to make choices is to side with those businesspeople who are doing well, because all good things trickle down from them. Progressives, on the other hand, believe it is the poor and those who are ill-treated who need the most help from their government, and that prosperity comes from all of us -- the worker as well as the employer, the consumer as well as the seller, the struggling entrepreneur trying to make it as well as the wealthy who already have.
Usually, I might spend my time arguing which of those worldviews gives us better policy outcomes, or which is better politics, but in this post I want to focus on something else: which side the God of the Judeo-Christian Biblical tradition is on.As my readers will know, that issue, which side the God of the Judeo-Christian Biblical tradition is on, is an issue upon which I touch frequently. I do not object to people having their own beliefs. Personally, I follow no religion and highly doubt the existence of a "god." However, since religion and the notion of god is still so much a part of the world's culture and although it can do many good things, I also believe all too often it is used as a weapon of mass destruction. All too often people twist what they say they believe into something that bears no resemblance with what is suppose to be the basis of their belief, which basis for conservative christians is the Bible. That is why what Mike Lux says hit a cord. From the article:
That's why I am always puzzled by how people who claim to be followers of the Jesus I read about in the Bible can be political conservatives.
Now I know there are many people who have not been brought up in the Christian faith, or who were but aren't interested in it anymore. Perhaps like a great many folks, you have been turned off by all the high-profile preachers who claim to speak for Christianity but preach a brand of narrow, intolerant conservatism that you can't relate to. My view is that even if that is the case, it is still important to know something about the Christian New Testament because it is such a historical and cultural touchstone in our country. I also think it's important to have a sense of just how different the Bible is from how conservative Christians represent it. For those of you uninterested in all this, I understand why: you definitely won't want to dig into what follows. But for those of who are, here is my argument about Christianity and progressivism in politics.
... if you actually read the Gospels, it is clear that Jesus' main concern in terms of the people whose fates he cared about was for the poor, the oppressed, and the outcast. Comment after comment and story after story in the Gospels about Jesus relates to the treatment of the poor, generosity to those in need, mercy to the outcast, and scorn for the wealthy and powerful. And his philosophy is embedded with the central importance of taking care of others, loving others, treating others as you would want to be treated. There is no virtue of selfishness here, there is no "greed is good," there is no invisible hand of the market or looking out for Number One first. There is nothing about poor people being lazy, nothing about the undeserving poor being leeches on society, nothing about how I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps so everyone else should, too. There is nothing about how in nature, "the lions eat the weak," and therefore we shouldn't help the poor because it weakens them. There is nothing about charity or welfare corrupting a person's spirit.Much as I wrote in my post "How Christians Too Often Fail at Being Christian" (http://suspiciouspackaging.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-christians-too-often-fail-at-being.html):
"Wealthy Christian" should be an oxymoron. In Luke 12:33, Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." In Matthew 19:21, he says, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor." In Matthew 6:24, he says, "You cannot serve God and Money." Christians are generally pretty huge on cleaving to the word of God. I just don't see how those particular words could be clearer.I should point out it is not that I object to people doing well in life financially. My point is that these so called "conservative christians" seem to have twisted their belief in the Bible into something that it just clearly is not. And that is where Mike and I agree. Mike goes on to say:
"Wealthy Christian" should be an oxymoron. In Luke 12:33, Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." In Matthew 19:21, he says, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor." In Matthew 6:24, he says, "You cannot serve God and Money." Christians are generally pretty huge on cleaving to the word of God. I just don't see how those particular words could be clearer.I think we could all be more charitable. That is what I would like to hear from conservatives, how they intend to help the poor and not simply by their making more money.