From the April 27 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
Limbaugh : I would submit to you that people on the
left are religious, too. Their God is just different. The left has a different God. There’s a religious left in this
And, the religious left in this country hates and despises the
God of Christianity and Catholicism and whatever else. They despise it because they fear it, because it’s a threat,
because that God has moral absolutes. That God has right and wrong, that God doesn’t deal in nuance, that God doesn’t
deal in gray area, that God says, “This is right and that is wrong.”
Most of us when we hear the words "Protestant Reformation" think
of Martin Luther and his powerful points challenging an established religion and its priests about their behavior and how
they had twisted doctrine to support and sustain their considerable social authority.
If in his dissent Luther had great fear for his salvation and
the Judgment Bar of God he dealt with that concern very well. Subsequent events are proof that one person's absolutes are
not the absolutes of another and certainly not the absolutes of God.
Had the Catholic absolutes of that time been the absolutes of
God - and the Roman authorities certainly attempted and succeeded in many cases in intimidating those who agreed with Luther
- God would not have allowed the rise of Protestantism into the "formal" status it has today.
In thinking literally and inerrantly - as the Catholic priesthood
had for years insisted it was doing on behalf of all Christians - successful suppression of the Protestant movement leading
to its extinction would have been a repudiation by God of dissent and of the Protestant movement itself with the portent of
one terrible day of judgment at the hands of an offended God.
Obvious now is the fact that God did not intervene on the side
of those who pretended to a possession of absolute biblical Christian truth. If there was repudiation, it was at the least
an indication that the harsh, inflexible and unchanging God was in fact an illusion.
Today among Protestants we find ourselves widely divided over
authority, the literal definition of what it means to be Christian and a conflict between traditional inerrant letter-of-the-law
advocates and so-called "liberal Christians" who emphasize an approach to organized religion based more on including reason
with faith and an open-minded application of the meaning of scripture.
As Jim Wallis wrote recently A great deal is at stake in this
battle for the heart and soul of faith in America and for the nation's future itself. We will not allow faith to be put into
the service of one political agenda.
This is a call for the rest of the churches to wake up. This
is a call for people of faith everywhere to stand up and let their faith be heard.
This is not a call to be just concerned, or just a little worried,
or even just alarmed. This is a call for clear speech and courageous action. This is a call to take back our faith, and in
the words of the prophet Micah, "to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God."
Inherent in Wallis's and our own rhetoric needs to be an understanding
that Christian comportment remain consistent with those particular ideals upon which Jesus' life and words are based. Wallis
also stated that We must not demonize or vilify those who are our opponents. We must claim that those who disagree with our
judgments are still real people of faith. We must not fight the way they do, but fight we must.
We ought never to forget that in advocating for how we believe
Jesus meant for us to lead lives modeled after Him, that those with whom we disagree are advocating for the same thing and
the difference is in doctrine and form.
Which brings us to this new on-going Reformation-in-Progress
and the nature of the reforming seems to be a matter of perspective.
On the one hand, traditional Christian conservatism is experiencing
- from a minority element within - a push for more radical political and social applications of what appears to be a somewhat
redefined theology that hearkens more to the autocratic punitive-God-sense of the Old Testament. This minority, despite it’s
insistence that it is the voice of conservative Christianity, is not that voice and does not represent the majority.
That minority seems opposed to the God-of-compassion that most
of us grew up understanding as Jesus’ most powerful social impact on the Israel of His time. In combination with the
theology around Atonement and Redemption, Jesus offered a practical means for letter-of-the-law human beings to transition
into a compassionate and forgiving society, liberated - at least spiritually- from the either/or governance of God as managed
by Jewish leadership and either/or civil obedience as managed by Roman authority.
In that regard, as Wallis wrote, the battle lines are not drawn
between two equally powerful points of view. Rather, the public voices around which the publicity arises seem to be the words
and actions of the extremists lobbying for or against rapid radical transitions.
In the broad center we find both conservative and liberal Christians
whose strongest sense of Christian living has to do with an understanding of a traditional way of looking at the teachings
and role of Jesus.
In the center we do not have to reject those who see Jesus as
the Savior or as the Word who was with God and who is God.
In the center we do not have to reject those who see Jesus as
a historical figure absent divine status who - in the most powerful and potent of ways - taught humanity about divinity and
our relationship to divinity.
In this regard conservatives, fundamentalists, liberals - evangelicals
of both perspectives - have in scripture the recorded exhortation of Jesus to take his gospel to all nations. From my own
perspective, that exhortation had to do with bearing a message to as many as possible; a message having to do with our relationship
to God and how we partake of God's divinity. The exhortation did not include a mandate to find ways to force an acceptance
of Christ, but to bear a message of the knowledge Jesus revealed to all of humanity.
This on-going Reformation will not result in the resolution
of who is right over who is wrong. It could, however, result in a victory for one side over another based on human plurality
of thought and belief. Such would be a false victory in that both sides would lose,
The success of the historical Protestant Reformation might be
best described as a win/win circumstance in that God did not repudiate one point of view at the expense of the other. Both
survived and remain powerfully connected to God and Christ today.
The weakness of that victory displays itself among Catholics
and Protestants who remain steadfast in their insistence that the other does not have total truth or authority. This typified
by Mr. Mohler’s [Southern Baptist Convention] recent remarks about Pope John Paul as representative of so-called false
doctrine according to his [Mr. Mohler's] definition.
Many of us have a frustration that has been building for years
with the moral or ethical direction in which we have as a society been moving.
At issue is not whether the United States was founded with intent
that America ultimately becomes a Christian nation. At issue is that we have more than 225 years of experience living under
a Constitution that, in its own way, is one of the most successful historical documents ever. In our history we have seen
the evolution of a multi-faceted society based not only on religion and philosophy, but on cultural diversity without which
our positive American mythology of a melting pot came to be part of our national psyche. Under our Constitution we have seen
the growth of a habitual way of looking at things - an automatic stance if you will - that allows for diversity of opinion
and the freedom to express opinion.
It is hard to make the case that the deterioration of those
aspects of society that each of us have deemed "deteriorating" - according to our own sense of common good and the idea of
public decency - is the fault of the Constitution and can be remedied by taking its proven formula of success and modifying
it into something that codifies a specific viewpoint.
This Reformation, if you will, should not be about legislative,
executive or judicial imposition of religious control of the United States. It should be about dialogue over differences and
an honest look at the highest good of all concerned.
New theologies whether they be about “Prosperity“,
“Dominionism“, “Spiritual Warfare” or the “End Times” ought not be the basis for seeking
government power at the expense of society as a whole. If we are to reform our moral and ethical practices in this country,
we need to define Jesus’ Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son and Sermon on the Mount in relationship to our power as
a diverse society, our prosperity as a tool of reform, our dominant position on a global scale as an instrument
of advocating peace, our spiritual and cultural values as a means toward compassion toward one another.
© Arthur Ruger 2006