E.J. Dionne Jr, of the Washington Post Writers Group, wrote a piece last week that was entitled "A Senator's Faith -- and Humility" that I found in my Denver Post a couple of days ago. EJ, if I may call him that, was happy to tell us a tale about a Senator from Delaware whom he really likes. Why does EJ like this Senator? Because the good Senator is a Christian who does not judge anyone or anything. He just wants to get along with everyone. EJ loves the fact that Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, believes it is possible to reconcile Christianity and secular statism. EJ describes Coons as "a devote Christian and practicing Presbyterian." It is hard to see any evidence of that profession in what he says about him but I will allow you to be the judge of that. Here is some of what EJ had to write about Coons:
- Coons told the crowd that he is uneasy with rigid certainty on religious questions. He understands that many are skeptical of faith, both because religion has come to be so closely associated with right-wing politics and because the Bible has been used as a document to justify discrimination.
- The revered text is, to some, the basis of intolerance, based on outdated teachings and moral codes and has been a source of pain and distance and discomfort for many.
- Early on he quoted the very Bible others find offensive, noting that Jesus' command in Matthew 25 to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned had driven him throughout his life.
- And he offered this: When I think about this country's founding, the central tenet of secular governance, I also think about the importance of doubt and of humility.
In another veiled reference to homosexuality, and probably abortion as well, Coons declares the Bible to be filled with "outdated teachings and moral codes" that have been a "source of pain and distance and discomfort for many." Boo Hoo. Is it not fascinating that when Jesus says to love our enemies everyone believes that is not a part of the biblical text that is "outdated" but when He says that He is the only path to salvation that assertion is a part of that intolerant and outdated moral code? Just who decides which parts of the Bible apply today? Even more importantly, what is the rational basis for the decision about what applies to our lives today and what does not? It sure seems to me that people like Coons and EJ make their decisions about what applies and what does not exclusively upon whether they agree with what Jesus said or not. That means they place themselves as final arbitrators of truth and proudly stand in judgment of Jesus and what He said. That is a dangerous place to be.
EJ believes the Bible is offensive and should never be quoted. Even referring to the Bible is hurtful to so many tender-hearted, God-hating sinners that EJ believes it should be banished from the public square forever. But EJ loves Coons because he quotes a portion of the Bible EJ likes. What does Coons quote? Coons quotes Matthew 25 where Jesus ostensibly told His followers to "feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned." This passage is taken out of context and that is not what Jesus was saying but EJ likes it because it turns the Church into a public service organization. Everyone loves the Church when it is a public service organization, just like how everyone hates the Bible when its outdated moral code is trumpeted as authoritative over the lives of God-hating sinners. As long as Christians are giving their money to bums and providing places for those bums to spend the night when it is cold, people love Christians. But don't think for one moment that any Christian ever has the right to address matters of public policy and, even more important, remember that the Bible is permanently banned from all such discussions when they do come up.
EJ concludes by praising Coons for his emphasis upon the importance of "doubt and humility." I have always loved that argument. It has been used against me many times. People who are engaged in debate with me will tell me that I must finish each of my assertions with a phrase that goes something like this, "That is what I believe but it is probably wrong and I really have no idea what I am talking about so please feel free to ignore everything I have said." I find it wildly ironic that my opponents never make statements like that after they make confident assertions about how the Bible is outdated and contains an immoral moral code. I guess the sword only cuts one way in the mind of a secularist.
Although Coons and EJ do not like it, Jesus said a lot of things that upset the apple cart. Besides the things already mentioned, Jesus insulted Nicodemus by mocking him for his lack of knowledge about the Bible. Jesus rebuked Peter by referring to him as "Satan." Jesus disrespected Herod by speaking of him as a "fox." Jesus disrespected the Temple guard by entering the Temple and engaging in a violent act of cleansing during which He overturned the tables of the money changers. Just a day or two before Jesus told His disciples to "feed the poor" He had also called the Pharisees a "brood of vipers" and declared that they would not escape the sentence of hell. Seven times He calls them hypocrites. One of my personal favorites of Jesus' statements was when He affirmed the Law of Moses and declared that parents have the right to execute their incorrigible juvenile delinquents. So many times I have wished that people today would follow that teaching of Jesus. Just imagine how the modern problem of gang activity would be ameliorated if the parents of gang members had them all killed.
EJ and Coons are a perfect illustration of what happens when God-hating secularists who also happen to worship at the throne of government attempt to talk about biblical Christianity. They demand, in the name of secularism, that Christians lay down their spiritual arms and adopt their methodologies and presuppositions prior to entering into discussions in the public square. They pretend that such behavior is somehow morally neutral and they praise self-professing Christians who agree to do what they demand. Sadly, many Christians have bought into the myth of neutrality and believe that it is somehow possible to ethically engage non-believers in some sort of ethically neutral universe. Those who do are praised by the world for their humility and doubt. Those folks should remember some other words of Jesus when He said, "I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."