Is the Christian Right Christian?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:43 PM

Dave links to an interview with President Carter. He comments that it is “An explanation as to why the Christian right is not Christian.”

I find this disturbing to say the least.

There are some good points made by Carter, but a lot of it borders on seriously misguided at best, I think. Carter suggests prejudice permeates the “Christian right,” for example, a sweeping — and, in my opinion, unchristian — generalization. Is their prejudice in the “Christian right”? You better believe it. Here's the big but: there is also prejudice in the “Christian left” and just about everywhere else.

Carter also notes that the Christian right has abandoned some basic Christian principles. I agree — but I also think pretty much EVERY Christian has. The question is, does that make the Christian right not very Christian? No.

Do you see the theme of my response? For every attack Carter makes on the right, it can also be applied to the left. And, for the most part, Carter attacks the Christian right on political issues, ignoring its strong points on theology (whereas, unfortunately, much of the mainline Christian left has been jetisoning away from Biblical theology — a bigger issue from the standpoint of salvation). The Apostle Paul faught modifications to the Gospel in his day:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” — Galatians 1:6-7 (NIV)

What is actually worrying is Carter's apparent hints at relativism. He talks about a person's “concept” of God and refers to his “concept of Christ.” Now, that might be harmless, but I almost get the impression in his abortion comment that he actually feels that while he opposes abortion it is only based on “his concept of Christ” and not the Christ. There is only one Christ and one Gospel — remember again Galatians 1:6-7.

Carter also talks about moderately accepting certain forms of abortion, which is disturbing — if he believes it is wrong, how can it be “acceptable”? I suppose it depends on if he thinks it is wrong or WRONG — but if he agrees that it is the killing of an innocent God created person, how can it ever be acceptable? Is murder acceptable so long as it is done within certain guidelines? I'm sure you'd agree it isn't. But if murder is murder is murder is murder, than where does it leave these “acceptable forms” of abortion in a Biblical worldview?

Also, a note on helping the poor. Carter overlooks that many on the right (myself included) don't have something against helping the poor at all, rather we feel that it isn't something done best by the government. That's what a lot of it boils down to: can the government do a better job than the Church at helping the poor (part of the Church's job)? Let's face it, government welfare has a dismal record — it seems to encourage people not to work. That's not what we want! If every dollar that is presently devoted to welfare was kept by taxpayers and was instead distributed by them to churches and charities to help the poor, I would be almost postive more good would come out of it and it would allow the Church to fulfill its job to help the poor rather than having a secular government do that job for it.

Every Christian is going to have some theological problems, but does that mean they aren't Christian? There are some theological issues I would argue are absolutely necessary to be Christian — Christ was fully both God and Man, He literally died for our sins on the cross, rose again physically, Christ alone provides for atonement and salvation, there is no God but the God of the Bible Jesus alone provides access to the Father, and other points — basically the points of the great creeds such as the Nicene Creed. If you deny the exclusivity of Christ as savior of the world, yes, I think it might be time to say you aren't Christian. If you worship Gaia and support “reimaging”-related theology, ditto that last statement. But is being against larger government programs for the poor because one doesn't believe that the government should do that kind of stuff in the same league? Is it even the same universe?

Short of the essentials — none of which Carter seems concerned about — I find such suggestions of an entire group of Christians not being Christian seriously problematic. Unchristian, in fact.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” —Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)
Tags: Faith

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4 comments posted so far.

RE: Is the Christian Right Christian?

Two items on which I feel provoked to comment: self-doubt and government power.

Where Carter talks of one’s concept of God and His Son, he makes a fatal mistake of mixing healthy self-doubt with a false application of it. Healthy self-doubt is the realization you might be mistaken on a range of things, because no one of us ever completely understands the Divine. To assume from that we ought not to live by our best understanding is sheer foolishness. Carter displays a common left-Christian foolishness.

Government is a necessary evil. It will seldom be good, and never for very long. Government is fallen people taking the reins of great power. Humans will create some form of government by reflex; without planning a bit it can be a very ugly government. Even with great planning, it will go wrong at places. Eventually, it will degenerate into something worthy of bloody revolt, as was observed by one the US’s architects. But the necessity of government is adequately addressed in Scripture, beginning in Genesis. There is also a completely adequate historical support for government as a necessary counterweight to non-government power. Any large institution — church, corporation, etc. — is yet another human institution subject to the foibles of fallen human nature. The temptation to seize power for the realization of one’s personal vision of Heaven is strong.

I don’t trust myself completely; how am I supposed to trust a government, made up of individual humans, most of whom profess no love for Jesus?

Posted by Ed Hurst - Apr 18, 2004 | 7:01 PM- Location: Rural SE Texas

RE: Is the Christian Right Christian?

I may well have said the intervew is “An explanation as to why the Christian right is not Christian.” However I did not comment as to whether the explanation was a good one or not. I posted it for others like yourself to be aware of. Carters “explanation” was inadequate but I didn’t think it was worth time critiquing it.

Posted by dave - Apr 19, 2004 | 5:10 AM- Location: nz

RE: Is the Christian Right Christian?

They asked the teacher to sum up the law…

Love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself…

But, who is my neighbor…

{Insert story about the good samaratain/conservative/liberal)

Who proved to be the neighbor of the person who fell?

The one that showed mercy to him.

Go and do likewise.

(also the mote and the plank story fits in good too…)

Posted by Gator - Apr 21, 2004 | 10:10 AM- Location: Plano

RE: Is the Christian Right Christian?

Dave: Glad to hear you didn’t think it was adequate. :-)

Gator: Your right. That fits well in this context. We as Christians spend way to much time attacking each other.

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Apr 22, 2004 | 9:45 AM- Location: Missouri

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