Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Here's a guy who took the question to the extreme. While I think that the idea of immersing ourselves in the life and ministry of Christ, even to the point of consciously weighing what Christ would have done throughout our daily encounters is an excellent one, I'm a little disappointed. By all accounts, this is a man who knows Christ and the Scriptures more intimately than I ever will, and yet he seems to have gone about this in a very mistaken way (if the article portrays him correctly).

Christ's power was not the way in which he lived. In fact, if you've read anything at all on the "scandal of particularity", you know that one of the theological arguments people have engaged in over the centuries is the question of how one God-man, living in a single specific time and place, can adequately represent the human experience. I don't mean to delve into that question here, but just to point it out in passing to illustrate that Christ's humanity is, if anything, a "stumbling block to Jews and folly to gentiles" (I Cor 1:23). It is not the specific nature of his lifestyle or location that Christianity clings to, nor even the morality he espoused. Please don't mistake me here, these issues do have significance (some more so than others), but they are the mechanisms of something much larger. Christianity is about more than just creating nice and moral people. It is the radical idea that God loved his creation so much that he intervened personally and powerfully in human history in order to draw us closer to him. Being Christ-like is only a goal in that it helps draw us into a better relationship with our creator.

Unfortunately, that all seems to have gotten lost in the incidentals like shaving and kosher-keeping. By reducing Christ's meaning to his component actions, we may find ways to live a more "Christlike" life in a one-dimensional sense, but are we drawing near to his throne in the way he intended? I think not.

-----------------Entirely new, tangentially related topic--------------------

As for the comment about who he decided to vote for, while I have a funny feeling that such a statement is all that is keeping him from being dismissed as a complete kook, it was an unfortunate thing to say. I think I've made it pretty clear where I stand on the political spectrum, and while I can argue for hours about why my religious faith puts me there, it's unwise to make such claims about who Jesus would vote for. (And while you may not believe me, I'd feel the same way about the statement if he'd said McCain)

To the extent that the two can be disentangled in a theocratic society, Christ's mission was entirely religious rather than political. It had to be, living as he was in a culture that had so politicized the idea of the Messiah that they were just waiting for an excuse to rebel. (John 6:15) With one or two exceptions (such as "pay your taxes" and "don't fight back when the legally constituted authorities wrongly sentence you to death"...or maybe we should just call the one "submission to legitimate authority", hmm...) we can't even extrapolate his views on Palestinian and Roman politics. The idea that we can extrapolate his views on the proper marginal tax rate or the complexities of effective health care delivery in a 21st-century economy is pretty laughable. Therefore, the only way one can presume to know who he would choose to vote for is by reducing the views to one-dimensional caricatures. "John McCain doesn't believe in universal health care. He must hate sick kids!" "Barack Obama doesn't support Prop 8. He wants state-sanctioned gay orgies to be mandatory for first graders!" That doesn't mean that I won't vote based on my religious values. It just means that I'll do it based on those values coupled with my understanding of the practical complexities of living in 21st century America, rather than on the dubious recruitment of historical figures to my particular time and context.