Bernie and the Bible

Say what you want about Bernie Sanders, he’s determined to get his message out to a wide swath of Americans, even evangelical Xians. What, you mean that Hillary Clinton isn’t courting the vote of Bible-believing types? The answer would be a resounding, “no!” But I don’t want to talk about Hillary today (or any other day, really).

Bernie, the Bible expositor.

Bernie, the Bible expositor.

On Monday, the socialist Sanders was on the campus founded by Moral Majority leader, Jerry Falwell. Falwell’s the guy that said this about terrorists and also, Larry Flynt had this to say about Falwell and his mother. I’m not sure how either is related, exactly. I do know that any progressive Democrat campaigning for president must assume that they’re not going to carry the evangelical voting bloc, so most don’t bother to address it, period. So kudos to the socialist, running as a Democrat!

An argument could be made that some of what Sanders touched down on during his visit to Liberty University falls under the banner of biblical principles. For instance, when he said that “money should serve the people,” and that “the people should not have to serve money and wealth,” it kind of sounded like 1 Timothy 6:10. That passage from the Bible reads, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

There’s plenty in the New Testament attributed to Jesus about rich men with money not making it to the pearly gates, too. I like this one, which aligns well with what Sanders has been harping on, including his talk at Liberty.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24)

Seems like Sanders did his biblical prep work before coming to Liberty.

He even tossed some red meat into the mass of well-scrubbed millennials. What was that? The Twitter told me he said that “there is no justice in our country when youth unemployment exists at tragically high levels. Especially when college grads are leaving school with debt in excess of $100,000.

Bernie on Twitter, at Liberty, on jobs.

Bernie on Twitter, at Liberty, on jobs.

But when Sanders got going on social issues, I’m sure he lost a large segment—if not the majority—of the Liberty student body, although it’s worth noting the Liberty of 2015 isn’t the Liberty of, say, 1975. That’s when my former pastor, Dan Chamberland, graduated from Liberty. According to a post by a relative of one of the “fighting fundamentalists,” the late John R. Rice, Falwell’s school offers a watered down take on what it once was.

What, you didn’t know I was once a fundamentalist Xian? Yes, I was. And I rubbed elbows with a host of men like Pastor Chamberland, with much narrower views on marriage, gays, abortion, and race, than Sanders holds. Fundamentalist religion is funny like that.

My favorite Bernie.

My favorite Bernie.

Oh, yeah. And Bernie also gave the Liberty students a reminder of a lesson they probably heard in 4th grade—that it’s bad to discriminate against people based upon the color of their skin—and then, he diverged into blaming all White people for the sin of racism. I prefer ole’ Bernie on economics and the moneychangers, not his Marxist take on race and diversity.

But, give Bernie credit. He tried. That’s better than his chief Democrat rival, Mrs. Clinton. Perhaps she’s planning a visit to Liberty, or maybe even, Bob Jones University. I doubt it, but it’s a blast speculating.

Isn’t presidential politics more fun than a barrel full of monkeys?

5 thoughts on “Bernie and the Bible

  1. My daughter is a millennial, not well scrubbed, brought up Catholic but claims to be an atheist and likes Bernie….I will see if she can read your blog and give you her take…would be interesting to see what she has to say…I do vote for who she says I should vote for as she is more in tune with what is going on, it seems. Good blog post.

  2. Another very interesting and enjoyable blog post, Jim. You (and Bernie) are much kinder than I am when it comes to fundamentalist Christians and their rampant hypocrisy. In my opinion, Jesus was one of the first Socialists. The New Testament book of Acts is a wonderful socialist manifesto. It astounds me that this great teacher’s words of love, kindness, and caring for our brothers and sisters have been twisted into a religion mostly of intolerance, greed, injustice, violence, and ignorance. John 11:35 would describe Jesus’s response if he could see what his followers have done.

  3. It is a common practice to quote the words of Jesus Christ as proof text for many and various viewpoints. In spite of the danger in doing so and since humanity continues to seek an earthly king who will deliver us from the pain of living, the beat (and Bernie Sanders) goes on. Same as it ever was, divide and conquer, etc. etc.

    While Jesus walked the ancient world, he was followed by men and women who sought a political kingdom of justice, truth, and peace. I’m sure a few of them were also hoping for prosperity and fame. Maybe even riches. Because his political power and influence was increasing, Jesus was a threat to the power structure of the time (the status quo). He was killed. Many of his followers were disappointed that his hopeful promises did not come to fruition in their lifetimes.

    Before he was executed, Pilate questioned Jesus about his role as king and leader.

    Jesus responded “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)

    Upon further questioning, we read some “classic Jesus,” in which he tells Pilate “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into this world–to bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37).

    We all know how Pilate responded.

    Bernie the Sheltie remains my favorite Bernie. He had a wonderful way of snatching crumbs from the table of “the man” right before our eyes. He was particularly talented at this during the Christmas season, when the table groaned with rich and delicious foods.

    Bernie the Sheltie never quoted Jesus. Amen to that.

  4. I think 2,000 years out from the life of Jesus, it’s difficult to understand exactly who he was, and the religion that grew out of his teachings, has gone through a transformation that has created an orthodoxy that many call Christianity (or Xianity, as I prefer to represent it), but it’s become marginalized in our post-Xian world, including here in America.

    A book I found fascinating reading last year, and one I’ve recommended to friends and others when discussing Christ and Xianity, is Reza Aslan’s excellent, Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Aslan got me to think differently about Jesus, and offered a plausible way of understanding the historical Jesus in the context of the present.

    I think knowing the history about Jesus and his life is important. It’s also important to recognize that Jesus’ teaching was done in the midst of a very clear period of time and relative to the political elements of his day. That’s often air-brushed out of the very benign renderings of Jesus that I’ve found much of American Xianity clinging to—especially the evangelical strand practiced by Liberty University-types—which is one reason I no longer am affiliated with any kind of organized vestige of what passes for said Xianity these days.

    I’m not sure taking texts literally, without recognizing that Jesus uttered them at a specific time in history, taken out of the context of that time, can be accurately rendered here in the 21st century, and utilized dogmatically to support whatever your politics happen to be.

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