The head of a Christian renewal organization says a far-left presidential candidate who claims to be a follower of Jesus exhibits more of a political understanding of Christianity than personal.
In an attempt to ramp up churchgoers' support for his run at the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, South Bend (Indiana) Mayor Pete Buttigieg – a self-described Episcopalian – spoke at Rev. Dr. William Barber II's Greenleaf Church earlier this month, focusing on poverty and racial inequality.
For two hours on December 1, Buttigieg – the first openly homosexual presidential candidate for a major political party – pushed political activism on social justice topics such as racism and the role of big government in public education and healthcare access. His push came after Rev. Barber pushed the ideals of his "Moral Monday" movement opposing conservative Republican policies rooted in the Bible, according to report by the Institute of Religion & Democracy (IRD).
The pastor of the North Carolina church played up the race card, blaming Republican victories on "interlocking injustices" such as "systematic racism" and "voter suppression," while Buttigieg blamed poverty on a low minimum wage – before promising to raise it and increase welfare benefits.
Check that …
Institute of Religion & Democracy (IRD) president Mark Tooley challenged Buttigieg's and Barber's leftist morality as being anything but Christian.
"For them, 'moral' means politically left-wing, and 'revival' means political mobilization," Tooley wrote in an email to IRD supporters. "Buttigieg … has made much of his liberal Episcopal faith, [is] married to another man and supports unrestricted abortion rights. His understanding of Christianity is essentially political, but not so much personal."
The pastor and the politician are pushing their own brand of Christianity, Tooley argues.
"For Barber and Buttigieg, among other 'Religious Left' activists, Christianity is about big government, identity politics, unlimited immigration, sexual revolution, grievance, entitlement and often demonizing America, while indifferent to religious liberty, abortion, and defending traditional families," the IRD leader argues.
"Traditional Christian moral teachings about personal behavior are discarded in favor of political themes focused on statism – claiming God's Kingdom can be achieved through political activism and legislation."
"Typically, the Religious Left – from its theologically revisionist and liberal perspective – does not focus on, and in some cases denies, the need for personal salvation …. Instead [it] transposes the gospel onto political and governmental affairs, and often implies that the kingdom of God is a political creation that can be engineered through activism and legislation."
Mark Tooley, president
Institute for Religion & Democracy
(in an interview with OneNewsNow)
In this case, says Tooley, biblical Christianity has been substituted for a social gospel.
"The Religious Left view of Christianity is the opposite of traditional Christianity, which stresses salvation, holiness, self-denial, morality, evangelism and faithfulness among believers within the Church," Tooley points out.
"Of course, Christians are called to work for better societies," he acknowledges, "but politics is NOT the Church's focus, and Christians are called to be realists in our fallen world. No government or politics can build God's Kingdom."
Tooley offers a decades-old warning to not equate Christianity with socialist and communist idealism. "Conflating government and politics with Gospel is dangerous!" he exclaims. "IRD was founded nearly 40 years ago to combat churches equating God's Kingdom with Marxist revolution! Thankfully, the fall of the Soviet Union mostly ended that debate."
He contends that many evangelical churches are now – more than at any other time – adopting their beliefs from big government policies instead of the Bible.
"But today, the Religious Left is as active as ever, equating Christianity with the welfare state and endless new government entitlements, [but] here's the troubling part …" Tooley continues. "The Religious Left used to be confined to declining mainline Protestant denominations, but now it's spreading to evangelicalism, including evangelical colleges and seminaries. Sometimes, even the National Association of Evangelicals touts Religious Left themes. Evangelical young people often accept Religious Left claims unquestioningly, calling it social justice."
Tooley further laments that nothing biblical comes out of the left-wing churches.
"Too often, the Christian Left is simply the secular left … with a religious façade," Tooley concludes. "Traditional Christianity says government is ordained by God, chiefly to provide security and public order. The Religious Left – with its disdain for law enforcement and the military – doesn't like that! It wants big government to be our therapist and nanny."
12/13/2019 - sidebar added.