Metal Friday

Metal Fridays is up a little late because I forgot again. I dipped out of work early, went to the gym and then home to play video games. I had all the intentions of putting on up real quick. I was reminded when I turned pandora on.

So this song is a few years old, but it is from the band Oh, Sleeper and come from their latest CD ‘Children of Fire.’ The song is called ‘Endseekers’ and appears to be one their only produced videos. Enjoy:

 

In the News

In uncertain things, liberty; in everything, compassion: Her.Meneutics says we can agree to disagree on Ordination of Women; while the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests says the newly revealed Frescos of the Catacombs of Priscilla show female priest.

This is a topic I am admittedly unsure of. One the one hand the original Greek is pretty clear (though, even that is disputed) to me, but on the other hand I’m a big believer in trying to understand the text in the original meaning (also disputed).

In my mind, I do differentiate between preaching and authority. I don’t find as much evidence to disallow female preachers as I do not permitting them to become Elders or have ruling authority. Maybe I’ll try to go into further detail in a later post.

Speaking of controversial: The United Methodist Church found Frank Schaefer guilty of officiating a same-sex wedding; which isn’t surprising as he never denied it. Along with a suspension of 30 days he was told that if he cannot up hold the Book of Discipline he would need to surrender his credentials. It will be interesting to see his actions in the future as he as stated he is not a LGBT advocate. Church members interviewed were torn on the reverend.

One seems worse than the other: One is your reminder that it is truly criminal to be a Christian in some parts of the world. Please pray for our brothers and sisters around the world.

The other is your reminder that some people either don’t like Christians or like messing with them. I really do not think this is an issue we should get worked up about. They quote the pastor who found/tweeted the incident as wondering if Costco would do this to a Koran. My guess would be no, because they probably don’t sell Korans.

And some people really dislike Christians and have made a living messing with them: Bill Maher is right here, there aren’t atheist marching in the streets to attach Christians and Christmas in the US can barely be considered a religious holiday considering what it has become.

 

Christians and the ACA Continued

Last week I had a post up about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and specifically whether or not pastors should be speaking about it. That post ran long, so this is basically part 2.

I’ll be up front and state that I support the ACA. I don’t think it is a great law, especially with all the exemptions, and I fear it will be implemented poorly, but I have to support the idea behind it. If anything, I think the law doesn’t go far enough. I’d have preferred a true universal single payer system. I am fairly alone in the Evangelical community in my support for this. A lot of people have doubts and concerns about it, and I think that’s fair, but I’m not sure their criticism is based on the Bible.

Not the Government’s Job

From the article:

Wages says the Bible teaches that the care of orphans, widows and the sick are given to the church, not to the government. Early Christians were the first to create hospitals, orphanages and hospices.

“I have an issue with the government coming in to get money through me – through taxes – to take care of people, when my argument is that I should be free to give to charities or to my church in order to take care of the sick and destitute,” he says.

Wages says he has no doubt that lack of health insurance is a monumental problem, and that many people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control. Yet there is no New Testament example of Jesus trying to shape public policy on behalf of the poor.

“I do not see any biblical precedent where Jesus ever went to Herod or Pilate and said you should be taking care of the poor,” Wages says. “Jesus told his disciples to take care of the poor and the apostles said the same thing to the early church.”

This is probably the most common line I hear about why we shouldn’t support healthcare for the poor. It’s not the government’s job, it’s the churches.

Frist, does the Bible prohibit the government providing healthcare? No. We are simply told to take care of them. Where the Bible is silent, we should remain silent. Forget the long laundry list of things that would be prohibited due to not being mentioned in the Bible, we’d also be required to be against Medicare and Medicaid, and I’ve never heard those arguments before.

Second, the writers of the Bible couldn’t have imagined the power Christians would have today. The early Christians were an upstart maligned sect of a minority religion who weren’t considered citizens of an empire ruled by a Caesar. This is why we don’t have Jesus arguing for public policy. Forget for a moment that modern medicine didn’t exist 2,000 years ago, but try to figure how such a small powerless group could have even gone about making the change to have care provided from the empire. Today, however, the President puts his hand on the Bible to be sworn in. The congress opens its sessions with a prayer. The majorities of Americans attend a Christian church and believe in God. We have to read the Bible in the context it was written and realize we have far more power to do far more good than Paul could have fathomed.

Third, while early Christians were very active in care, we modern ones have failed. I’ve seen multiple new hospitals and urgent care centers built in the general area where I live. None have them been Christian based. Old city centers are filled with Frist Pres and Methodist General, but even with all the new urgent cares that pop up in old shopping centers over the past 5 years, I’ve never seen a Baptist Urgent Medicine. But you hear this all the time, Christians should care for the sick and needy, but we just don’t. There probably isn’t a financially feasible way to care for all the uninsured, but that is moot as there certainly isn’t the will.

Finally, related to the last two points, how much do you give? We hear the common line of leave it to charity, but how much do people who express this actually give? I certainly don’t give extra money to some Christian charity that helps with peoples’ healthcare, I’ve never even heard of one. My guess is that most people aren’t out giving more than to their church and that very few volunteer to provide free medical services. My understanding of the ACA is that unless you are extremely rich or frequent tanning beds, you will not pay extra ‘through taxes’ to help provide people with insurance. If your taxes do go up, you always have the opportunity to gain charitable deduction by giving away more money to organizations that care for the poor.

God’s concern for the poor

Wages’ position is impractical and unbiblical, says Ronald Sider, a longtime advocate for the poor and author of “The Scandal of Evangelical Politics.”

Churches and charities don’t have enough resources to take care of an estimated 48 million Americans who don’t have health care. The Bible is filled with examples of God’s fury over economic oppression of the poor, which Christians should regard as scandalous, he says.

“If you are not sharing God’s concern for the poor, it raises huge questions about whether you are a Christian at all,” he says about pastors who say nothing about the uninsured poor.

“As God’s spokespersons, you ought to be talking about God’s concern for the poor as much as God. In the richest nation in world history, it’s contradictory to have millions without health insurance.”

While I think it is too harsh and a jump to judgment to say someone isn’t a Christian, I agree with the rest of the sentiment. Again, maybe there are a lot of Evangelicals out there that care, but there just are not very many who show it. We are called to go the other mile and to give someone our jacket and I like people believe that, but when it is time to step up we get this:

“Government programs sometimes encourage dependency, unintentionally break down family structures, and become unsustainable financially,” Moore says.

This is probably true, but not to the extent that some people fear. My question is, so what? Christ didn’t ask us to determine how much someone needs and then to provide only that; he didn’t command us to judge how worthy they were of assistance; and there is certainly no mention of the question of why the person is in need.

Final Thought

I think this quote perfectly summarizes the American Evangelical Christianity:

… a memorable quote from the late Brazilian Roman Catholic Bishop Dom Helder Camara, who said: “When I feed the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why so many people are poor they call me a communist.”

Metal Friday

I came up with this idea two weeks ago and already missed a week. So it’s back, I’ll try to do better next time.

Today’s band is Emery, probably one of my favorite all time band for over 10 years. They are more on the post-hardcore side of things, which is probably my favorite style; but ‘Post-Hardcore Friday’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it. . This is ‘Walls’ from their first CD “The Weak’s End“. Early on, the top comment on their video was, “When did Jason Batemen start a Screamo band”, I thought that was hilarious. Enjoy:

In the News

Probably not getting enough attention right now: Evangelicals still hopeful for immigration reform despite Speaker Boehner’s announcement yesterday.

For the win: Pope Francis won the internet.

‘Tis the Season: The Archbishop of Canterbury reminds us to be mindful of rampant consumerism this Christmas.

Pastors’ Kids: A new study from Barna says that while only 7% of pastors’ kids are not Christians (9% for Millennials), 33% percent are no longer active in church. The article did not state whether this was in line with Millenials or not. Reasons stated for these kids leaving included unrealistic expectations of the children and a failure for them to make religion their own. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Evangelicals where more likely than mainline to still be involved.

Another reminder: There are worse things than Target calling it a holiday tree.