Was Jesus a liberal? A political liberal that is. That’s the argument Elisabeth Parker made recently at Addicting Info. Typically I steer clear of politics on this site. I happen to be conservative, but my mission with Steak and a Bible isn’t to promote political views, but biblical ones.
But Parker’s list was simply too absurd to ignore and is an illustration of exactly how NOT to handle scripture. Every verse in the Bible should interpreted in light of the whole, not ripped out to “prove” a point about something not addressed in Scripture — or not addressed in that passage when read in context.
Point after point Parker she took Bible verses out of context or eisegeted verses (reading into the text, rather than exegeting). There were also plenty of straw men arguments. She argued that on issues such as ObamaCare, capitalism, marriage equality and even the 10 commandments Jesus was a liberal. I believe the Bible makes a far different and more important point: Jesus was the Messiah who offers us forgiveness if we repent of our sins and trust in Him.
I don’t have time for a point by point rebuttal, but here were some of the most ludicrous or offensive claims she made.
Her first point about “religion,” is a straw man attack on the “Christian right.” She rips Matthew 6:7 out of context to attack them, but it is a flimsy attempt. It is true that Jesus condemned the Pharisees, but the Bible makes it clear it was because they were hypocrites who had added rules to God’s own and who self-righteously failed to see their own sinfulness.
On the subject of paying taxes, Parker rightly points out that Jesus said to “render unto Caesar, what is Caesar’s,” but her conclusion that the Christian Right is wrong to complain about higher taxes does not logically follow from that statement. Complaining about tax rates is not wrong. Cheating on your taxes or just refusing to pay them would be a sin. Desiring a change in the tax code, not so much.
Parker claims that Jesus “loathes” capitalism and cites Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple as evidence. This had nothing to do with Jesus hating capitalism and everything to do with him being furious at people being cheated out of worshiping God by being overcharged for the animals they needed to sacrifice to God. I think it also had to do with disrespecting the house of God.
Laughably, Parker also claims that because Jesus went around healing everyone’s diseases that he would be a supporter of liberal government health care policies. I think that is a bit of a leap. Jesus healed because He was compassionate, and also because He is God. It was confirmation that He was the Messiah. It’s absurd and illogical to say that means he would support ObamaCare or some such government program.
Jesus on the War on Women. Parker has a point here, or at least a half of a point. I agree completely that Jesus elevated the status of women and treated them far better than their position in society at the time. But I take issue with the way she handles John 8:7, about the woman caught in adultery.
The most appalling item on the list was abortion. This was offensive, as she argued that “The Christian Right” is wrong about abortion since Jesus never condemned it. Citing Jesus’ healing of the woman with the issue of blood is eisegesis again. This passage has absolutely no bearing on what she’s trying to claim.
It would be more relevant to note that Jesus raised the moral standard for murder (he did not lower it) saying that if you hate your brother in your heart you are a murderer. So if you actually commit murder, you are still very definitely a murderer. Unborn babies are very much alive and abortion is killing them. Thankfully, Jesus extents the offer of forgiveness and grace to any (even murderers) who repents and believes in Him.
On the subject of crime and punishment Parker distorts the meaning of one of the most mishandled Bible verses: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” [Matthew 7:1-2 KJV]
I could go on, but I think I’ve made the overarching problem clear. Bible verses aren’t to be wrenched out of their context and used to prove unrelated points by anyone. And that goes for liberals, conservatives and anyone else.