Some Questions for Matthew25.org: Part I
Several weeks ago, I came across a website (via a YouTube video I’d watched) called “Matthew25.org”. For those who may not recognize the reference, this is the passage where Jesus sums up teaching to His followers with the words, “inasmuch as you’ve done it unto the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto Me”, referencing good works of charity done to help the needy. The site bills itself as a “community of Christians”, referencing then “Catholic, Pentecostal, Protestant, and Evangelical”, people committed, they say, to put their faith into action in order to serve their neighbors. Admirable and worthy goals, of course; serving one’s neighbor as a follower of Christ is pretty much a no-brainer, or should be. The group has come together to support candidates for office who share its ideals, and it mentions those ideals: promoting life with dignity; caring for the least of these; supporting families; stewardship of God’s creation; working for peace and justice at home and abroad, and promoting the common good. Depending on definitions, I’m on board with each of those goals, find them worthy of pursuit, and fully intend to support candidates myself who care about such things.
But therein lies the rub: smiling like a big dog on the masthead of the website is none other than Smokin’ Barry, with the caption, “We Proudly Endorse Senator Barack Obama for President”.
Houston, we have a problem.
In fact, we have a number of problems, and the only difficulty is in choosing where to begin. I may devote several posts to this topic, so I’ll start with perhaps the smallest: perusing the site, and the list of endorsers, it’s difficult for me to make out the name of an evangelical on the list. Of course, I don’t know every person there, and I recognize there are some people who call themselves “evangelicals” who (inexplicably to me) support Senator Obama. On a side note, I’ve been racking my brain for about two months now, trying to come up with the answer to this question: is there one reason I can find, even one issue, where I agree more with the position of Senator Obama than I do Senator McCain? I mean, can I come up with even one reason to vote for Barack Obama? So far, I have not come up with even one good reason to vote for the man. Now, I can think of a few good reasons why a person might not want to vote for John McCain, sure, but one good reason to vote Obama? It still eludes me. And of course while I join Senator McCain in saluting Obama for being the first African-American to reach this position, a person’s skin color is a lousy reason to vote for, or against, that person; in fact, it’s a racist reason, either way. But I digress…
My point is that, if you’re going to claim to be a coalition that includes “evangelicals”, you might do a little better than listing, assumedly, Brian McLaren and Bart Campolo to make your case. McLaren is a nice enough guy; I’ve met him and conversed with him. But if he hasn’t gone off the deep end already, he’s sure dipped his toes in the water a few times. McLaren made the statement recently that he’s only met one person who plans not to vote for Obama, and that person was a “single-issue voter” (presumably, abortion). Aside from the fact that the issue involves whether or not it’s perfectly OK to suction the brains out of unborn babies—making it a pretty important “one issue”—McLaren’s statement says a heck of a lot more about McLaren than it does about anything else.
Bart Campolo is a real piece of work himself. I posted on this blog about him back in November, 2006; here’s a sample of what he wrote (about which I posted):
Some might say I would be wise to swallow my misgivings about such stuff [like God’s sovereignty, wrath, hell, etc.], remain orthodox, and thereby secure my place with God in eternity. But that is precisely my point: If those things are true, then God might as well send me to Hell. For better or worse, I simply am not interested in any God but a completely good, entirely loving, and perfectly forgiving One who is powerful enough to utterly triumph over evil. Such a God may not exist, but I will die seeking such a God, and I will pledge my allegiance to no other possibility because, quite frankly, anything less is not worthy of my worship.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I am well aware that I don’t get to decide who God is. What I do get to decide, however, is to whom I pledge my allegiance. I am a free agent, after all, and I have standards for my God, the first of which is this: I will not worship any God who is not at least as compassionate as I am.
Thanks, Bart, for weighing in; I’m sure God is taking notes. But my point is that neither McLaren nor Campolo can very well be called “evangelical” with a straight face, at least not anymore (heck, for all I know, they don’t want to be), so I’m wondering just who the evangelicals are to which the website is referring.
Now…this is probably the tiniest issue I have with Matthew25.org; for some bigger ones, stay tuned!