The Bible, Barack Obama Translation
First, the line of the day from Jerry Bowyer at Forbes:
The government can only be our shepherd if we are its sheep…
Bowyer’s article re-addresses the President’s comments at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, which include a somewhat-tangled, but perhaps heart-felt (like the Jefferson Bible?) Presidential theology.
Here is a passage of much discussion from a transcript of the President’s speech:
…But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper…
One of Bowyer’s big points is that the President’s comment takes the context of the phrase and turns it on its head. The am I my brother’s keeper? phrase is actually used mockingly in Genesis by Cain after he has killed his brother. It constitutes a part of Cain’s lie to God.
At least one theologian has said the three most important things in Biblical study are context, context, and context. That’s why systematic theology, what the whole of the Bible says about the whole of a subject, is so important and cherry-picking verses may result in grievous error(s).
(And of course, since we live in a post-modern PC world, my sister’s keeper must be explicitly added.)
Bowyer’s biggest point is the President attempts to use the Bible to justify his social-political positions. The poor you will always have with you was somehow left out of Obama’s speech, perhaps because of its inconvenient truth and the fact the rest of the verse encouraged the disciples to focus on Christ, first and foremost. Also ignored in the President’s speech is the whole he who does not work should not eat idea.
An important part of the poor you will always have with you passage is not that we shouldn’t help the poor, but that there is always more to be done than there is time and money to do, and beyond that, there are even more important things to first pursue, or as Steven Covey might say, Put first things first.
Is this cherry-picking on my part or avoidance by omission on the President’s part (better, the part of his speechwriters)?
Of course, the President could have explicitly leaned on the give to Caesar what is Caesar’s idea since he is the closest thing we have to Caesar. Along this line, it seems he wants the nation (ideally, the people to include the the legislature–in the name of bipartisanship–but if not them, at least the courts and our myriad bureaucrats) to provide his desired social-political outcomes. Naturally, these outcomes are veiled in language like sound decision making and smart policies. After all, who could be for unsound decisions or foolish policies?
However, calling on us to give to Washington what is Washington’s (and especially when the government establishes its own boundaries and thus becomes the de facto grantor of rights versus having a Creator who has bestowed on us certain unalienable Rights) is a risky political position; saying such a thing with an out-loud Presidential voice would be most unimaginable. Now as to Joe Biden saying such a thing, that’s another story…
Finally, since the President mentioned the need to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, I have to wonder if that’s an anti-abortion reference.
No, after pondering my own question for a full nanosecond, I think it’s just me.
(Image courtesy of Thepeoplescube.com. Brilliant!)