Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ben Witherington on Evangelical Political Fallout

Check out what Asbury Theological Seminary's Ben Witherington has to say about the unholy alliance between Evangelicals and conservative politicians in the wake of the Midterm elections, the Ted Haggard scandal, and Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation. Witherington and I don't often agree on theological issues, but he is one of the world's best New Testament scholars, and is one of the most honest Evangelical figures. Like Duke's Stanley Hauerwas, his primary allegiance is to the Gospel, and so his views are often difficult to pin down. Simply put, he doesn't make many concessions to the culture of American power, making him a prophetic, even if conservative, voice.

Here's the money quote:

Until the Evangelical Church actually gets religion about the big ticket ethical items in the NT, it will not have much of a witness to the least, the last, and the lost, never mind to our global neighbors who are tired of our saber rattling. Why should anyone believe we believe in the sanctity of life when we vehemently oppose abortion but are strong advocates for capital punishment and war!! Over and over again. Our agendas are all too often not in sync with those of the NT writers on these issues.

Of course, that is but one of many incendiary passages in an Evangelical "come to Jesus."


Troy said...

May I say:

Witherington is dead fucking right.

When does a political agenda justify dead children as collateral damage? That question must be asked in advance. When is war for economic purposes ever right (and why else are we in the Middle East at all)? The NT opposes the rich, the rights of vendetta, and the death of innocents. And the fact is the OT prophets present many of the same complaints, mixed with horrific warnings of judgement.

The atrocities which have occured in Iraq occur in every extended war. That should have been weighed going in. And supporting Israel, the country, as though they still have a divine right to treat Palestinians as non-people is the height of theological stupidity. It makes about as much sense as arguing God favors suicide bombings of civilians.

I have to run to class, but we can never forget the love-ethic Christ reduces the entire OT to, his consistent warnings regarding wealth and the wealthy (ditto James' letter). And I fully agree with BW3: the death penalty is wrong. It removes the possibility of Christian conversion during the criminal's ;ater life, if nothing else.

Love to you Chris. I've been too busy to blog and it's good to be back. Sorry to hear about your wrist! My doctor is sending me to a physical therapist because of my back/hip injury. Sucks, doesn't it?


crystal said...

Funny coincidence - I just read his post right before I came here :-). He has a nice past review of the film The Prestige too.

Sandalstraps said...


Yes, you may say that. Thanks for asking. And you're absolutely right in your analysis.

And yes, injuries suck. Good luck with your Physical Terrorist! (That's what PT really stands for)