“..who gave His own life against the forces of injustice.”

Don Miller, author of popular books, Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What gave a benediction at the DNC convention last night:

“Father God,
This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.
Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.
Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world?
A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world?
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.
Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.
God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.
Amen.”

Disclaimer – If you are not a Christian, you may find this post meaningless. However – I am always interested in what exactly other folks think, so perhaps you will be too. The following is a little Christianity 101 in response to Don Miller’s strange prayer/political talking points list at the DNC convention:

I have many problems with this whole thing that I could comment about, (is it a prayer – or a list of political agendas?) but the last bit is, by far the most important (and disturbing).

…Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.

Against what ‘forces of injustice’, did Christ give His life for?

You could argue that Miller meant mankind, as the ‘forces of injustice’. However, he didn’t say – ‘gave His life for the forces of injustice’ – he said ‘against’ them…and right after running through a long list of (what he, no doubt, perceives as) social injustices.

The other argument you could perhaps make is that Miller was talking about ‘sin in general‘. But again – given this was a prepared prayer/speech, why say ‘the forces of injustice’? Sin is essentially a rebellion of man against God – thus, we/us/mankind are ‘the forces of injustice’ because of our own sins. In this case – again – is he saying that Christ gave his life against us…?

Here’s the point that I am driving at: Christ died for the sins of mankind to create a way for us to be with Him. We don’t earn His favor by being just. Neither did He die to grant better economic opportunity, or healthcare, or to further social causes. Christ took the punishment for our own wickedness upon Himself. As the Battle Hymn of the Republic puts it, “…He died to make us Holy…” If there was any injustice – it was the fact that He (Jesus) was punished for our crimes, and not us. The Bible could not be more clear on this:

(Be sure to read these full sections, lest you think I take them out of context)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8 (READ THE WHOLE SECTION)

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Colossians 2:13-15 (READ THE WHOLE SECTION)

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:23-26 (READ THE WHOLE SECTION)

The simple fact is that God wanted us back so badly that He took our just punishment upon His own shoulders. God loved us, despite our sin -so much so, that He was willing to do whatever He could to provide a way for us to be with Him. This was the passion of the Christ and is essentially Christianity in a nutshell.

It appears to me that Miller is somehow equating social and societal injustices with the cause of Christ. Jesus’ mission was to redeem individual souls – not fix societal injustices – (though this may be the end result from fixing souls). In my view – Miller is, at the very least – carelessly distorting religion to fit a political cause.

If this is the case – Don Miller, sadly – you have become the Pat Robertson of the left.

UPDATE – Dennis Prager had some strong words about some other aspects of Don Miller’s prayer/speech:

C.S. Lewis on -soft- Tyranny

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.

This is essentially why I am against increasing the power to the State. A lot of things come packaged nicely (welfare, healthcare, environmentalism, ‘No Child Left Behind,’ etc) and they end up being communicated as moral imperatives. There is a very real danger when governments believe that they decide what’s in the best interest of their citizens, as opposed to the people themselves. (Peter DeFazio talked about this very thing in his reply to my letter about the Fairness Doctrine).

As someone who is philosophically conservative, I believe that for freedom to flourish, is vital for each person to have the power to make decisions about what is best for themselves.

I think this is often why Conservatives are perceived to have a lack of compassion in regard to social programs. For instance, I was listening to a left wing radio show the other day and the host, who was discussing global warming, stated something in the effect of, “You see, Conservatives are always opposed to people coming together to fix a problem (in this case, the problem was global warming).”  Close, but the host left out one crucial point:

Conservatives are opposed to governments forcing people to come together to fix a problem. This is because, governments are the only entities that have the power to force citizens to do anything (in America, usually through taxation and regulation). Non-governmental organizations do not, instead relying on a person’s free choice to support that organization. 

The ultimate problem is that any time we hand over power and responsibilities to The State, it is nearly impossible to get them back. Not to mention, citizens become less self-reliant, instead counting on the government to make important decisions, or provide for important personal needs.

Back to what Lewis was saying. Whether we elect John McCain or Barack Obama this year, the country is not going to immediately spiral into tyranny. However, some of the ideas that BOTH McCain and Obama are pushing are small steps in this direction. Do not be fooled into feeling guilty when it comes to social issues by the nice (morally imperative) way that they are packaged: “It’s for the children, the elderly, the environment, fill in the blank… (One real world example: Al Gore has stated that the climate problem is not a political issue, it’s a moral issue. Thus, people who disagree, or might question his position aren’t just wrong, they’re immoral. I wrote a whole post about this topic called The Cost of Disagreement.)

The bottom line is whatever the issue, (oil prices, healthcare, environment, jobs, taxes, etc), don’t buy the, “you are morally obligated,” emotional fluff. The important question should be:

Does this idea promote personal liberty – or is it handing more power to The State?

In other words, is it a small step towards, or away from tyranny?

Now, there is a great deal of talk about what should be done about certain problems in society. Those thoughts can be reserved for another time or post. For now though, my opinion is that for most things, the government isn’t the answer.

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