Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Socialist Exegesis and Cheap Grace

Lawrence O'Donnell is a liberal political commentator on MSNBC who in this clip functions as a liberal televangelist. He is a false prophet who, like his master the Devil, expertly twists Scripture to make it sound as if the Bible said the opposite of what it obviously does say. It is enough to make one sympathetic to the calls to get religion out of politics. The real problem is not that orthodox Christians get involved in politics, the problem is that unorthodox liberals are already there doing damage day in and day out.

Don't be put off by the fact that this clip happens to contain an attack on Rush Limbaugh for Rush is incidental to my point here. Plenty of people other than Rush Limbaugh find the liberal Scripture-twisting that obscures the Gospel and co-opts Jesus for some kind of neo-Marxist political agenda to be pernicious. O'Donnell is really attacking all conservative Christians, that is, he is saying that all non-socialist Christians are not real Christians. I confess that Rush Limbaugh is not my idea of a great Scripture scholar, but O'Donnell manages to make Rush look like a veritable John Calvin by comparison.

What makes this clip especially galling is the smug complacency and self-assurance with which O'Donnell speaks. I think he really believes what he is saying and is not in the least ironic or deliberately deceptive. He thinks his lame attempts at exegesis are absolutely knock down arguments that we conservatives never heard before and cannot answer. He reminds me of Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion taking three whole pages to refute Thomas Aquinas' arguments for the existence of God - just think, three whole pages!

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Limbaugh said that the left is happy to co-opt Jesus as the first socialist and use him to justify their agenda of state control of everything, but that is the only use they have for Jesus. They are not interested in hearing Jesus on other topics and they twist his words on this topic. Rush is completely correct in this, as we shall see.

Limbaugh replies to the current propaganda slogan being advanced by the Soros-funded, former Evangelical Jim Wallis that the real question is not "What would Jesus cut?" but rather "What would Jesus take?" implying that the socialists are pitting Jesus against the Eighth Commandment and the New Testament against the Old Testament, which they always do. The Socialists think it is fine to break the Eighth Commandment so long as it is done by majority vote and so long as it is done in the name of their great idol: Equality.

Give O'Donnell this much credit: he knows Limbaugh is shooting holes in his whole socialist agenda and he knows it is absolutely crucial to discredit Limbaugh's arguments. He is right about that; the problem is that Limbaugh is right and he is wrong. But since when did that ever stop heretics?

Let's look at the exegesis one passage at a time.

First, we have the story of the rich young ruler. O'Donnell points out that in Mark 10:21 Jesus tells the man to go and sell all his possessions and give to the poor. He then claims that this verse is an answer to the question of how much the government should tax us. Jesus, he says to Limbaugh, "takes" it all - 100%.

Well, how many holes are there in this sophistry. For one thing, Jesus gave the man a choice, something that socialist governments never give citizens. Jesus used no coercion; he called for a free commitment of the will. This is basic to human dignity and moral responsibility. Socialism infantilizes people and deprives them of their basic freedom to act morally by determining what their behavior must be and coercing them into doing whatever the State deems correct.

For another thing, Jesus was not talking about giving all you have to the control of the Government. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. Jesus wants our commitment but we don't follow Jesus by voting socialist and submitting to the dictates of a socialist government; we must follow Jesus only.

O'Donnell stresses that this means "give all of your wealth to the poor, not just some." So this is what he claims the Bible teaches. Fine. Has he given all his wealth to the poor? Has Barack Obama? Joe Biden's income tax return last year showed that he gave 1% of his income to charity. (Obama did a bit better by giving 14% to charity, but he made over 1.7 million!) John Kerry won't even pay the taxes on his yacht let alone sell it and give it to the poor. What blatant hypocrisy and cunning double talk!

Socialists like O'Donnell are people who want the government to take money from other people and give it to the poor. They could just follow their interpretation of the Bible and give their wealth away - but they don't. Instead they want the government to confiscate your wealth and redistribute it while they continue to live the good life.

O'Donnell twists Jesus' words (at 2:25 in the video) saying to sell all that you have and give to the poor into Jesus endorsing a 39.6% income tax rate for those making over $250,000 annually! How does he get that out of the call to evangelical poverty? Wouldn't the people making over $250,000 who paid 39.6% still be "rich?" How, exactly, does remaining rich equal selling everything and giving it to the poor?

O'Donnell then quotes Luke 14:33 where Jesus says that anyone who does not give up everything cannot be my disciple and then says "That means you, Rush." He does not say: "That means me and that is why I have sold all my possessions and given everything to the poor." No, it only applies to conservatives, not to socialists. Confused? Don't be, you are just hung up on Aristotelian logic and need to embrace the Marxist dialectic in which "two legs bad, four legs good."

O'Donnell next continues his little trip through the NT by claiming that Jesus was the first advocate of the progressive income tax! His basis for this? It is Mark 12 and the story of the widow's mite. O'Donnell claims that Jesus saying that she gave more because she gave out of her poverty than those who gave out of their abundance means that the government should make her tax bracket zero and tax rich people at a high rate. Is that what Jesus meant?

Again, she gave voluntarily, which is what made it meritorious in Jesus' eyes. The progressive income tax is not voluntary. And under O'Donnell's socialism, she could not have earned praise from Jesus because she would be classified as a victim and supported by the nanny state. In welfare state liberalism and social democracy private charity dies out. This is by design. Yet, Jesus' words of commendation are twisted into meaning the opposite of what they actually mean. For Jesus, private charity is good; for socialists like O'Donnell it is an evil to be stamped out.

O'Donnell then makes Jesus into a Marxist by saying (4:25) "What would Jesus take? Obviously, he would take from each according to their ability to pay. That is the clear, Christian, philosophical basis of a progressive income tax." Rush is right: Jesus is being co-opted by the Left and people who don't know the Bible very well may well be taken in.

Then at the 6 minute mark, O'Donnell begins reading the parable of the sheep and the goats from Matthew 25 and then he basically consigns Limbaugh to hell unless he repents and turns to socialism. And here I thought Marxists didn't even believe in the after life or God or Divine Judgment or hell. I guess they will pretend to believe in anything if they think it will be a useful rhetorical trick to manipulate their audience. They are Sophists and Socrates had them figured out 2,500 years ago. And Jesus would have no time for their hypocrisy. He didn't come to make Caesar Lord. He came to be Ceasar's Lord.

But what is really intriguing about this altar call is that he calls Rush to abandon his opposition to the welfare state and socialist principles. He doesn't single out John Kerry or Obama's Hollywood actor supporters or any other rich Democrat and call them to sell all that they have and give it to the poor. Why not? Well, for O'Donnell they are already saved. They vote Democrat. That is it. That is all you have to do.

I challenge Lawrence O'Donnell to walk the talk and emulate the Rich Young Ruler by selling all that he has and giving it to the rich. When he does that, I will believe that he is at least sincere in his wrong-headed biblical interpretation.

But O'Donnell doesn't think he needs to do that in order to be a follower of Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus means supporting the Left politically and the latest Party edicts will inform you from time to time what this means you must do. Jesus says "Sell it all and give to the poor" but as long as you refrain from attacking the Democratic Party, that is close enough.

This is cheap grace. Break all the Commandments you like. Fornicate, abort, lie, cheat, covet and manipulate. You can even evade taxes! It doesn't matter. All you need to do do is vote the right way and never criticize Socialism or the Great God Equality.

If Rush just switched to supporting the Democratic Party, he could keep his fifty million dollar fortune and O'Donnell would be fine with that. You don't hear O'Donnell naming Oprah or Soros in his altar calls, do you? Want to be filthy rich and still go to heaven? Just get a party card.

Grace doesn't get any cheaper than that.

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