In my column which ran July 26 in the Review, I noted that both MAGA people and Progressives criticize each other as being un-Christian, which led me to the question, “Are we talking about the same Jesus here?”
To me, it’s kind of like the chasm between one-third of Americans who believe that Trump is a danger to democracy, if not the devil incarnate and another third who see him as a savior.
Last month I tried to define the Jesus MAGA’s claim to follow, and this week I will take a crack at how Progressives view the man from Galilee.
To begin, Progressives tend to care less about Jesus than MAGAs do. For example, statistics from the PRRI research organization reveal: 69% of Democrats identify as Christian while 83% of Republicans identify that way. Liberals tend to be more secular: 23% of Democrats say they are “unaffiliated” with religion while only 13% of Republicans say they are “nones.” In other words, the question “which Jesus are you talking about” has been replaced by a significant cohort of Progressives with “no Jesus at all.”
When it comes to the topic of rights, Progressives seem to focus on two issues, abortion and minorities. The problem with connecting rights with Jesus is that he never talked about rights. Followers of Jesus will talk about the commandment to love while it’s children of the Enlightenment who emphasize rights.
So, don’t look to Jesus for support if you are pro-choice. Now Progressives might argue that Jesus was an advocate for the vulnerable, which he was, but the problem with going down that road is that pro-lifers will contend that the fetus is the vulnerable one when considering an abortion.
There are many different views regarding when life begins in the uterus, when a fetus becomes a person, so it seems that compromise is necessary on that issue in order to make public policy. What makes Republicans bristle is referring to abortion as being part of women’s health care, as if an embryo or a developing fetus is making the woman unhealthy.
Jesus used nature imagery in his parables, but climate change was simply not on anyone’s radar 2000 years ago. The Torah declares that we humans should “tend and keep” creation, and I suppose you could extrapolate from that to believing that Jesus would be for reducing greenhouse gases.
The theological conundrum for Progressives is that as children of the Enlightenment who follow the science, they have to acknowledge if they are honest that science and technology is what led to the internal combustion engine, industrialization, gun powder, and unsustainable population growth; and now they look to the same science and technology to solve the problem.
Four centuries ago Erasmus of Rotterdam and Martin Luther had a “virtual” debate conducted via books instead by Twitter. Erasmus wrote an essay called The Freedom of the Will and Luther responded with The Bondage of the Will. Erasmus was looking forward to the Enlightenment 200 years in the future, which declared that reason was the most reliable means of getting at truth and that human beings are more or less perfectible.
Luther in effect was looking backward 1,000 years to Augustine who maintained that sin was such a powerful force in human nature that it affects not only the ability of reason [follow the science] to improve the human orientation in life.
GUN CONTROL, WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION, RACISM, FOREIGN AID, ETC.
One of the reasons I tend to vote Democratic is that the goals of the left are, as I see it, more in line with what Jesus taught, than is the MAGA America first and me first attitude promoted by the right.
SMILE WHEN YOU SAY THAT
The trap Progressives tend to fall into is not regarding an understanding of the facts. They tend to be more educated than MAGA’s and have a better grasp of reality. The trap they fall into is the pretentious, disrespectful way they often communicate their opinions to those who don’t view reality through the same ideological lenses through which Progressives perceive “the facts.”
Jesus’ approach did not consist of rational arguments as much as telling stories which impacted even those many people at the time who were uneducated and illiterate.
David Brooks wrote, “The ideal that we’re all in this together was replaced with the reality that the educated class lives in a world up here and everybody else is forced into a world down there.”
You won’t find an advocate of big government in Jesus. He didn’t give any indication of wanting government to right the wrongs of society. He seemed, rather, to be a “hearts and minds” guy instead of an advocate of “changing the system.”
We can extrapolate from the values Jesus promoted and vote for liberal policies in an attempt to make a little progress in that direction, but he doesn’t provide a trip tick regarding how to get there.