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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Marginalize this Man, Please

"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder,"


The short passage above is taken from the 19th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus is about to shatter a young man's fantasy of being a great religious leader. He starts with the easy part - having him quote the great Commandments of Jewish Law. The young man then asks what else must he do, apparently taking the stance that following the Commandments was too easy. Jesus answer was to sell all he has, give it to the poor, and follow him. When he is unable to do so, Jesus laments how difficult it is for the wealthy to follow his teachings.

I couldn't possibly tell you how many times I have heard sermons on this passage. It is about as direct a statement on the evils of wealth and comfort as you could possibly imagine. Today, however, it suggests a different message to me.

My homepage is set to Yahoo, and one of the first things I do is scan the headlines to see what's going on in the world. Today, this headline was one of the first I saw: Televangelist Calls for Chavez' Death.

Surely that had to be a mis-print!

Well, it helps to understand that we are talking about Pat Robertson. The failed Republi-vangelical candidate for President in 1988 has a long history of making controversial statements. On the surface, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being controversial. After all, Jesus, Elisha, and Moses were all pretty controversial in their day.

But there is a distinct difference between being controversial by preaching a literal interpretation of the Bible - which is what Robertson professes to do - and injecting a militaristic nationalism into the Gospel. I do believe that Robertson is a very patriotic man - after all, he is a former Marine and Korean War veteran - but the Gospel is no place for patriotism. Christians are not called to advance national causes, but to profess and embody (as best as they are able) the teachings of Christ.

So how do you gel the outright call for the death of a person with Jesus' position that it is necessary to keep the Commandments? How can anyone claim to protect or even be concerned about life from a Biblical perspective and then say, "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."?

The Chavez in question is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is no friend of the Bush Administration. Fine. The Bush Administration is not mentioned at all in the Bible. Neither is their any Biblical imperative to prevent a country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

Forget the fact that the vast majority of Venezuelans are Catholic - and that those who are Muslim have roundly denounced terrorism. Forget the geo-political implications of sending US military into another country for the express purpose of bringing down their government. The singular fact is that this is a Christian Right leader and a member of the Republican Party establishment who is speaking. Just on the basis of calling for murder alone, Robertson should be thrown out on his ear.

The fact of the matter is that the 19th chapter of Matthew must be missing in its entirety. Here is a Christian who has not only repeatedly called for anti-Christian actions, including the use of a nuclear weapon against the United States government. Wait. Maybe he isn't so patriotic after all. And while he has said that he has used his great personal wealth for charitable causes, there are also reports that he has used it for some very unChristian enterprises.

Pat - wait, let me call you by the name you were really given - Marion Gordon Robertson, you have officially fallen off the deep end. You no longer preach the Gospel of Peace and Love, if you ever did. You are guilty of perverting the words and teachings of Jesus and remaking them into your own Semper Fi image. There is still time for repentance. Come to the altar and confess your sins. It doesn't have to be public; you can keep it between you and God. For the sake of your own soul, and for those who tune into your show and trust in your leadership, renounce your anti-Biblical teachings.

Until then, every Christian that claims that belief should turn off Robertson. Every Republican that cares about our country should demand a retraction. Every American should push this man to the fringe element of Eric Rudolph and Timothy McVeigh.

God have mercy.

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