Pastor Rick Warren, the Southern Baptist mega church minister, was interviewed by ABC. His interview was parsed into bite sized pieces and can be found all over the internet. He admitted that while there are lots of Bible passages in which Jesus implores us to help the poor, he says, “I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation.” He offers little spiritual support for this, it sounds more like a Republican talking point.
Rick Warren went on the news and was able to hit quite a few Republican talking points, I’m left wondering why he gets to do that and is his appearance an “in-kind” donation that serves as a commercial for the Republican party? Here’s a bit where he conflates God’s approval with our chosen wars and protecting the family,
(INTERVIEWER/TAPPER): When troops come to you, having seen, maybe even done horrifying things, how do you counsel them? How do you say this is how you reconcile war and Christ?
WARREN: Well, in the first place, military service, they don’t call it service for nothing. You are actually serving your country. And it is a worthy and valid vocation. In fact, the greatest compliment that Jesus ever gave, he gave to a soldier in scripture. He said, “I’ve never seen such faith in all of Israel.” And the Bible said God has authorized government to protect the citizenship.
WARREN: The Bible tells us that there are some things worth fighting for. In fact, the Bible says there’s some things worth dying for. You’re not really ready to live unless you know what you’re willing to die for. I would die to protect my wife and children. And so this is a valid calling. And the Bible says they are actually agents of peace. They are peacemakers. So I would say God hates war, but God loves every soldier.
Warren hop, skips, and jumps his way past the actual dirty stuff of war. He says that the Bible tells us there are some things worth fighting for, but doesn’t apply that to any actual reality. He mentions being willing to die for something, but doesn’t mention what that actually means to a soldier returning from war. He says he would protect his wife and children, but again, does not attach it to the reality for him or most Americans – which is a sanitized war that most of of have no clue why we are perpetuating it and don’t feel the pain or inconvenience of.
Warren insults the victims of war by calling every soldier “…actually agents of peace. They are peacemakers.” He says God hates war, but according to his own logic – his own frame – that makes no sense. If every soldier is a peacemaker, by Warren’s logic the answer to having peace on earth is to blanket it with soldiers. Just because Jesus reportedly spoke to a soldier does not mean he would say anything similar if he had the chance to speak to every soldier.
The hoarding part though bothers me the most, it is the frame that is the most problematic for this world. We see it all the time in its high brow and low brow forms. Low brow hoarding looks like someone living inside of a garbage pile that used to be a house. You’ve probably seen reference to “Hoarders” the show on A&E somewhere, an exploitative looky loo into some awful living conditions. Basically people start to value “stuff” over anything else. It is a mental disorder – you can see the disconnect on the hoarders faces when they are confronted with something like choosing between a loved one and a pile of literal trash.
This is the same disconnect I imagine for those who are into the highbrow hoarding – they believe that hoarding money, resources, or power will get them “ahead of the game” here and now on earth. They might be enjoying their hoard in the short term, but for their children and the future on earth, (and for their own eternity according to Jesus himself) they are doing the equivalent of throwing a party on the deck of the Titanic.
Wealth creation is hoarding. Ayn Rand was into hoarding, Jesus was into sharing. I know Pastor Warren kind of got things jumbled up and confused, but I’m here to tell you that Jesus specifically called out hoarding as a no-no. Take care of yourself, sure, but, buying stockpiles of product, filling our houses with stuff, owning fleets of vehicles, taking more land than you can use, wasting food, building ever bigger, helping yourself to a larger and larger slice of the American pie…Jesus wasn’t into that. Jesus mentioned several times about how the rich need to lose their baggage and give it to the poor.
A commenter on some of the Rick Warren interviews made two excellent points, so good I want to share it here (thanks Stuart in Austin):
The Hebrew Bible demands the remission of debt and the redistribution of wealth. The salvation that Christians keep talking about is the divine manifestation of the forgiveness of debt (sin) and redistribution of wealth (becoming heirs of the heavenly kingdom). One of the second century books that didn’t make it into the canon is the Didache. It tells how to identify a false teacher. If he asks for money, he is a false teacher.
It is ironic that what fundamental Christians want most – forgiveness and wealth redistribution – is what they say is morally wrong in governing practices. This is what drives the left crazy, much moral posturing when the end result seems only self serving.
The second point made by Stuart speaks to the problem that many folks have with holding the Bible up as the ultimate authority – human agendas had something to do with the book’s creation, assembly, and distribution. It is as fallible as the humans that put it together.
When confronted about the moral conflict, folks like Rick Warren start quoting Ayn Rand ideologies as if he got his bibles mixed up. Ayn Rand would have gassed Jesus for being poor or helping the poor. For clarity, Ayn Rand and Jesus’ philosophies were opposed, you can’t act on the imperatives of both simultaneously. Ayn Rand was Godless, loved a good hoard, and defended picking off the “parasites” that tried to get at it, Jesus advised ridding yourself of your hoard and sharing with the horde, no matter what its composition. The conflation of the philosophies of Jesus and Ayn Rand are purposeful by those that want Republicans to dominate government. The frequent mixing of these very different ideologies suggests that those who push both either erroneously believe that they are harmonious, or willfully play on the ignorance of others.
Ayn Rand ended up using social security and Medicare. Jesus’ ideas of compassion won out, even in the heart and mind of an avowed atheist.
Thanks to David Hayward, the Naked Pastor, for letting me use his cartoon.