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IN THEORY:Christians and social justice

September 16, 2006

Jim Wallis, founder of the progressive Christian magazine Sojourner and author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It," called on Christian leaders at a recent conference on politics and spirituality in Pasadena to join him in a national movement for "good religion." Wallis believes the Christian right's preoccupation with abortion and same-sex unions misrepresents their faith.

"How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war, and only pro-American?" he asked. "How do we get back to a historic, biblical, and genuine evangelical faith rescued from its contemporary distortions?"

He urged Christian leaders to overcome poverty with religious commitment and political leadership. Do you think some Christians have lost track of Jesus' message of social justice?

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Amen! I stand with Jim Wallis and many others across the theological spectrum of Christianity who feel uncomfortable believing that Jesus only died for eternity and was not concerned about our daily lives. In fact, this weekend, I am starting a 10-week message series on it.

"I want to see liberals in Washington, D.C., talk about out-of-wedlock births and the need for personal responsibility and better choices," Wallis said. "And I want conservatives to talk about strategic investments in child care, healthcare, housing and education. If that were to happen in Washington, D.C., it would be an explosion."

Do not distort Wallis' message to mean that the right is all wrong. He names both the right and the left as distorting the historic focus of our faith. Neither of them are exempt from the shame of turning Jesus into a poster boy for their causes, and yet their causes look very little like the ministry Jesus actually had on earth.

The left has replaced the gospel with "love" and made their message to merely be defined by "the most loving thing." Belief means nothing in their paradigm.

On the right, belief has become king, and you can live like a heathen but still get into heaven if your beliefs are right.

Both views are absurd and would make Jesus sick. Our faith should affect our lives, and we should be changed by it. That change will include the love of the homeless and the helpless and the hopeless.

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