Palin, Jesus, and Retaliation

Sarah Palin

In an interview with Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin offered up this criticism of Obama’s continuity with America’s policy of reducing its nuclear arsenal:

“No administration in America’s history would, I think, ever have considered such a step that we just found out President Obama is supporting today. It’s kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, ‘Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.’

I’ll bypass the obvious point that Obama’s treaty is a simple continuation of nuclear disarmament policies that began with Ronald Reagan. What’s most interesting to me is Palin’s apparent belief that a person in a fight would be wrong to refuse to retalitate. This is interesting to me because Sarah Palin describes herself as a “bible-believing Christian” and often peppers her speeches with exhortations to politicians to express their faith in political life. So you would think that her opinions about retaliation would be more in line with what’s in the Bible–which is very, very clear about how Christians should respond to violence.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

So I guess my question is, is Sarah Palin not a Bible-believing Christian when it comes to the teachings of Jesus Christ on retaliation? Or does she simply not believe that Jesus’s very clear teachings on the matter are relevant to a country that she has described in the past as being built on Judeo-Christian values?

FILED UNDER: National Security, Religion, US Politics, , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    So I guess my question is, is Sarah Palin not a Bible-believing Christian when it comes to the teachings of Jesus Christ on retaliation? Or does she simply not believe that Jesus’s very clear teachings on the matter are relevant to a country that she has described in the past as being built on Judeo-Christian values?

    She’s simply an idiot.

  2. Got any more false dichotomies Sarah Palin must answer for?

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    Charles,

    I fail to see what’s false. If she’s truly a Christian, and truly follows Jesus Christ’s teachings, and truly believes that politicians should be have according to Christian principles, then she should be opposed to violent retaliation.

  4. Dantheman says:

    Alex,

    I think Voltaire said that the only true Christian died on the Cross. Palin is no different in this respect than thousands of Christian politicians over the centuries.

  5. Drew says:

    Oh, please, Alex. There’s snark. And then there’s sillines.

  6. Wayne says:

    Pretty lame argument. The bible teaches turning the other cheek so if you don’t you are not a Christian. Please. I suppose we shouldn’t have retaliated for 911 or Pearl Harbor? If you think we should have then you are not a Christian. Great logic.

    All Nuclear reduction treaties are equal? Right. I’m pretty sure Reagan didn’t give the Russian pretty much all they want. He didn’t tell the world that we wouldn’t use nuclear weapons against those who attack us with chemical or biological weapons.

  7. Alex Knapp says:

    Drew,

    It’s silly to ask a politician who believes that politics should be guided by Christian principles why she doesn’t uphold Christian principles in a particular political case?

    Wayne,

    Are you saying that Jesus was wrong about violent retaliation?

  8. Wayne says:

    Alex are you a Christian?

    If so do you think shouldn’t have retaliated for 911 or Pearl Harbor?

    If not where do you get off telling others how to be a Christian?

  9. Eric Florack says:

    Got any more false dichotomies Sarah Palin must answer for?

    Really.
    By those rather dim lights, we’d all either be speaking German or Japanese by now. Or living under Sharia law.

  10. Alex Knapp says:

    Wayne,

    Do you think that Jesus Christ was wrong when he said that one should not violently retailate against violence?

  11. Wayne says:

    The bible teaches there are times to turn the other cheeks and time not too. To say we must turn the other cheek every time is wrong and is impractical.

    Alex where do you get off attacking people’s faith and saying who are and are not Christians?

  12. mpw280 says:

    Weren’t Palin’s comments in referral to Obama’s statement about not using nukes to retaliate against anyone who uses NBC weapons against US interests home or abroad if the nation using the NBC weapons was a signer of the Non-proliferation treaty. Obama’s exceptions were Iran, No Kor and maybe Syria. I don’t believe that this was in reference to the reduction treaty that Obama is trying to get the Russians to agree to. mpw

  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, ‘Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.’

    No, Sarah, it’s like saying if you hit me, I’ll hit you back, and a hell of a lot harder. But I won’t shoot you in the face then kill your family.

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    Wayne:

    The bible teaches there are times to turn the other cheeks and time not too. To say we must turn the other cheek every time is wrong and is impractical.

    Show us where in the New Testament it says any such thing.

  15. Alex Knapp says:

    Wayne,

    The bible teaches there are times to turn the other cheeks and time not too. To say we must turn the other cheek every time is wrong and is impractical.

    Please direct me to the exceptions to the principle of non-retaliation that Jesus Christ describes in the Gospels.

    Alex where do you get off attacking people’s faith and saying who are and are not Christians?

    I’m not attacking Sarah Palin’s faith. I’m asking why she’s deviating from a core Christian principle in this aspect of her politics. I do this because she claims that politics should be guided by Christian principles.

    mpw –

    You might be right–it’s not 100% clear from the interview. It might apply to both, too.

  16. Alex, I see your a big proponent of Alinksy Rule #4.

  17. Eric Florack says:

    Show us where in the New Testament it says any such thing.

    So, there’s no wars described in the bible?

    Gee….

  18. Wayne says:

    Jesus said “he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one” from Luke 22:36

    The Old Testament had laws regarding killing in self-defense. If you weren’t allowed to kill why have laws for it.

    A little background on turning the other cheek

    At the time of Jesus, striking someone deemed to be of a lower class with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person “turned the other cheek,” the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. The other alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect demanding equality.

  19. Ben says:

    I fail to see why an agreement to reduce nuclear arsenals from the “being able to destroy each other’s countries 10 times over” to “being able to destroy each other’s countries 3 times over” is such a big screaming deal.

  20. john personna says:

    A statesman, as opposed to a politician, will understand that every public statement on nuclear weapons is international gamesmanship. The statement should enhance the safety and welfare of the nation.

    Sometimes it is arguable that brash talk does that, as in Reagan’s “start bombing in five minutes” joke.

    Maybe it’s just my biases but I have a hard time seeing Palin speaking with conscious gamesmanship, for international policy and stability. It strikes me as feel-good political speech.

    (I haven’t bothered with the details of Obama’s nuke tsatement, but I certainly hope his advisers have help him craft the right game message.)

  21. Alex Knapp says:

    Charles,

    I’ve never read Alinsky. I simply believe that if a prominent politician believes that America should be governed by some religious principles and not others, I as a voter have the right to know which principles those are and by what criteria those principles are selected.

    Wayne,

    Jesus said “he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one” from Luke 22:36

    You’re taking this out of context. Jesus wanted the disciples to buy a sword so that some of the disciples were armed when Jesus was arrested. This was done to fulfill Old Testament prophecy. You will note that in Luke 22:49-51 that when Peter acutally uses one of the swords in question, Jesus immediately rebukes him.

    Your theory about equality, dominance, etc. don’t appear to be in keeping with Jewish tradition at the time that Christ lived, and it also doesn’t make sense in the context of the Sermon of the Mount.

  22. Wayne says:

    Alex
    And you and others are not taking “turn the other cheek” and non retaliation out of context?

  23. Wayne says:

    Alex
    Are you going to answer my questions on being a Christian and 911?

  24. Alex Knapp says:

    Wayne,

    And you and others are not taking “turn the other cheek” and non retaliation out of context?

    Nope. Jesus said don’t retaliate and gave no exceptions to that rule. This was in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, in which he made other, similar categorical ethical declarations.

    Are you going to answer my questions on being a Christian and 911?

    No. I don’t like to discuss my personal religious beliefs. If I ever run for office, though, that will be a legitimate question.

  25. Steve Plunk says:

    Alex, Your dislike of Palin is driving you to post some pretty silly things here.

    Palin’s statement is a about nuclear treaties and the secular world. You remember, give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s? That sort of thing. A person’s relationship with God is important but it does not define how that person might conduct negotiations for national security. You are stretching the limits of reasonable thought.

  26. Grewgills says:

    Wayne,

    Jesus said “he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one” from Luke 22:36

    followed immediately by

    37 For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered among the lawless’; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.”
    38 They [the disciples] said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
    “It is enough,” he replied.

    The two swords are in reference to Isaiah’s prophecy (53:12). This discussion is right before his betrayal by Judas and notice that the swords were not used during any of the violence against Jesus or the disciples that followed. Context matters.

    The Old Testament had laws regarding killing in self-defense. If you weren’t allowed to kill why have laws for it.

    That matters for Jews, but Jesus made a new covenant. The old laws were replaced by this new covenant, that is why Christians aren’t required to keep kosher or follow the other Old Testament strictures.
    Bit,

    Show us where in the New Testament it says any such thing.

    So, there’s no wars described in the bible?

    Many in the Old Testament. Do you see the difference?

    I’m still waiting on your response to my wager.

  27. Wayne says:

    Re “don’t like to discuss my personal religious beliefs”

    Sounds like you pick and choose on that one.

    Jesus was no doubt peaceful and willing to make many personal sacrifices. However nowhere does he say a nation or person for that matter should lie down their arms and be conquer, rape, pillage and killed. You may personally interpret his teaching and believe that but nowhere does he say it. If so please point it out.

  28. Alex Knapp says:

    Steve,

    Sarah Palin has stated, on several occasions, that the United States government should be guided by Christian values. I’m simply trying to ascertain her criteria for which Christian values it follows…

    As for her personal life, I think she would do well to meditate on Matthew 23:12, but that’s her business.

  29. Alex Knapp says:

    Wayne,

    Re “don’t like to discuss my personal religious beliefs”

    Sounds like you pick and choose on that one.

    I’m partial to Matthew 6:1-18.

    Jesus was no doubt peaceful and willing to make many personal sacrifices. However nowhere does he say a nation or person for that matter should lie down their arms and be conquer, rape, pillage and killed.

    I don’t see any other reasonable way to interpret “Do not resist an evil person.” Consider, too, that in context this is immediately followed by an exhortation to love one’s enemies. I fail to see how Jesus could have possibly made things any clearer.

  30. Wayne says:

    A sword was use to cut off an ear. Maybe it wasn’t one of those two but who knows. The whole scene was about Jesus and his willingness to sacrifice himself to avoid violence. If they did resist many would have died. Show me where he stands idly by why people were being rape and murder. Show me where he stated that Nations should lie down their arms and be killed.

    No one has yet to say that we shouldn’t have retaliated for 911. Is there no Christian out there? Typical liberals, holding others to standard they themselves don’t uphold.

  31. Wayne says:

    “Do not resist an evil person.”
    It can mean not to go out of your way to engage them and don’t allow them to taunt you into a fight. It doesn’t necessary mean you allow them to do whatever they want.

    You can love your enemy why still not allowing to do what they want. At times loving the enemy can in the end make them your friend.There is nothing wrong with trying to find a peaceful way to accomplish something. However sometimes peaceful ways fail.

    So since it is established that you are discussing your believes, answer my 911 question. Are you holding Palin to a higher standard than yourself?

  32. Alex Knapp says:

    A sword was use to cut off an ear. Maybe it wasn’t one of those two but who knows.

    According to Luke, it was Peter who cut off one of the guards’ ears. At which point Jesus rebuked Peter for employing violence and proceeded to heal the guard’s ear.

    If they did resist many would have died.

    If Jesus had wanted them to resist, my recollection of the Bible indicates that he was the Son of God and had the power to keep them from harm.

    Show me where he stands idly by why people were being rape and murder.

    To my knowledge, there are only two instances of Jesus Christ stopping any act of violence in the Gospels. I am presuming that there were more attempts than that in Israel circa 30 A.D., but I could be wrong.

    Show me where he stated that Nations should lie down their arms and be killed.

    Jesus says, quite clearly, do not resist an evil person. He exemplified that lack of resistance in the chosen manner of his death.

    Typical liberals, holding others to standard they themselves don’t uphold.

    I’m not sure I qualify as a liberal, but I do not believe that American governance should be dictated by Christian values. However, Sarah Palin does, which makes this a legitimate point.

    I will say, though, that our retaliation in Afghanistan does not appear to have been particularly fruitful in achieving its stated aims.

  33. Chris Brennan says:

    I don’t think it’s an issue so much with interpreting disarmament as the expression of a particular religion’s ideals, as the comments have tangented to.

    I think the issue at hand here is that Palin came up with an analogy for such disarmament that is EXTREMELY close in wording to a very familiar ideal of a religion she claims close ties to, yet completely backwards from that ideal.

    Palin’s typical tactic for any issue is to create a popular-sounding argument – like repeatedly citing “lame-stream media” or “death panels” or “I’m a maverick” – instead of debating the actual issue at hand. Her comparison here is terribly poor – we’re not defenseless, we’re merely able to blow up the world one less time over.

    This time, her chosen attempt at a buzz-worthy analogy is hilariously out of character for her on a personal level. Maybe this exposes her typical debate tactic for what it is.

  34. 3. Conservatism has becom simply another identiy group, so when a conservative says “I believe X”, it’s merely a way of signalling their membership in that group and should not be considered as expressing anything about what they actually believe or to predict their future actions of policy positions.

  35. The Q says:

    Wayne and Mr. Austin et al.

    The point I think which is painfully escaping your limited intellectual faculties is simple:

    If Jesus were in charge we all would be “Sprechen Sie deutsch” or Hanashema Nihongo because by true Christian doctrine this violence would have been met with pacifism or didn’t you see Gladiator and the Christians lying down in prayer only to be eaten by the lions.

    In short, your brand and Palin’s brand of Christianity wants it both ways, when the Bible is convenient to whip up and foment the ignorant Bible thumping rednecks to rally around the flag of anti abortion and anti gay marriage, the authority of the scriptures is used to legitimize the debate.

    When gays say the bible is wrong on this, my God, the christian right explodes in righteous anger and indignation…yet here you “Christians” insist that the Bible allows us to drop bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which I am sure Jesus would support, no?

    I am a Christian and I support gay marriage, abortion and the dropping of bombs on Hiroshima (not necessarily Nagasaki)and the death penalty.

    I think the turn the other cheek thing is silly, just as the church’s view on homosexuality and priest celebacy (obviously i am Catholic)is antiquated.

    So, according to some, I am not really christian.

    Just as Wayne and Mr. Austin could be accused of not really being christian since they obviously support meeting violence with violence.

    Hence, lets get the church out of government, which I am totally for, but which I am sure Palin and you defenders are against.

    Alex is just asking how legitimate is church policy vis-a-vis political issues when it is invoked merely to serve a political end?

    And when this false christianity is questioned and exposed, instead of agreeing that this is a paradox, you parrots of the wingnut faction just dig the hole deeper by mouthing the stupid denials of the right wing blogosphere by writing tripe like this “Typical liberals, holding others to standard they themselves don’t uphold.”

    Wayne, I think you completely miss the complete irony of your moronic statement above.

  36. Grewgills says:

    Typical liberals, holding others to standard they themselves don’t uphold.

    The standard that Alex is holding her to seems to be either consistency or at least an explanation when her views are inconsistent. He has been willing to hold himself to that standard.

    Show me where he stands idly by why people were being rape and murder. Show me where he stated that Nations should lie down their arms and be killed.

    Show us where he says or does the opposite. Absent that his clear, repeated, and unequivocal statements of non-violence hold.

  37. PdInFull says:

    Look up the word ‘smite’ in the bible, snarky. Pretty lame blog, are you sad that the donks are at their lowest approval in like, well, ever? http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/35578.html

  38. The Q says:

    I guess Wayne and Mr. Florack and Mr. Austin missed the whole ‘sermon on the mount” thing about blessed are the peacemakers…er cheesemakers?

  39. The Q says:

    Also, as has been pointed out, there is a great difference between the old and new testament…most of you right wing christians here are really recycling the old testament jewish views on violence and not the “christian” views of the new convenant of the christ.

    Let me make it easier for you to understand, in the old testament, god asks man (abraham) to kill his son (Isaac) to prove his love for God…

    In my bible, god kills his son to prove God’s love for Man.

    I don’t think you heathens really understand this profound difference as illustrated by the snarky “Look up the word ‘smite’ in the bible” by pdinfull.

    Why do you even call yourselves Christians, when you really should be jewish?

  40. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    Another widely ignored teaching of Christ is Matthew 6:6. It seems that 99% of born-again american evangelicals have never even heard of this verse.

  41. Wayne says:

    Re “the Bible indicates that he was the Son of God and had the power to keep them from harm.”

    Having the power and using it is two different deals. He could have healed the world and stop all violence but that would be going against his own principles.

    Re “Just as Wayne and Mr. Austin could be accused of not really being Christian since they obviously support meeting violence with violence”

    To be consistent you would need to accuse anyone who supports meeting violence with violence in any case as not really being Christian including yourself. Do you? It doesn’t sound like it. Which is my point, you can’t justifiably accuse Palin of not really being Christian when you consider yourself or those you support as being Christian when you all are guilty of the same thing.

    Religion is a personal matter. Many Christians believe the bible doesn’t teach total pacifism and that you can defend your country and yourself while remaining a Christian. If your belief is different fine then you should hold yourself to that standard first. However you shouldn’t state what you believe as what someone else believes.

    Palin as many Christians do believes that one can defend your country and yourself while remaining a Christian. She has said so in interviews. Trying to say otherwise is a lie and a B.S. cheap shot. The Palin “haters” try to paint her as hypocrites when they themselves are the ones. They don’t apply the same standard to themselves or to ones the like as they do Palin.

  42. The Q says:

    Wayne, you are absolutely correct when you state, “Religion is a personal matter.”

    And that is where it should end. It does for me.

    If I ever run for office (a distinct possibility) I would never invoke scripture to justify a political position.

    Hence my criticism of Palin…she does so CONSTANTLY and therefore should be called out on her hypocrisy.

    Its like all these conservative family values guys who keep getting arrested for soliciting prostitution…isn’t that just a tad hypocritical?

    Like Sen. Vitter’s wife who said that if she were Hillary she would cut off her husband’s penis if caught cheating…and yet htere she was “standing by her man” at the Vitters press conference, sans penis of course.

    In short, we are tired of, (and I paraphrase you Wayne) “typical conservatives holding others to standard they themselves don’t uphold

  43. just me says:

    Ever heard of Just War theory? Most Christian denominations aren’t outright pacifists and never have been. You are asking the in order to be a “true” Christian by your definition that Christians must follow your own interpretations/beliefs about war, pacifism and Jesus’ teachings. The issue of wars has been debated for since the beginnings of the church, and most denominations follow some belief in just war that is based in biblical analysis.

    A few other comments.

    Also, the sermon on the mount was directed at personal relationships-wars are between nations and involve broader issues than personal relationships.

    As for the Old Testament vs the New, Jesus made it clear that he didn’t come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill the law. Matthew 5:17.

    When the Centurion expressed a faith and belief that Jesus could heal his servant, Jesus commended his great faith, and didn’t say a word of condemnation for the man’s occupation or tell him to quit, or condemn him for being an agent of war.

  44. Todd Kiehn says:

    Alex –

    Your question loses its barb when viewed within the broader question of Christian teaching, especially on questions of individual vs governmental responsibilities. While individuals are obligated to turn the other cheek, just governments are empowered by God to “execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Rom 13:4). This is the fundamental underpinning of Just War Theory. The Catholic viewpoint on individual vs governmental violence is well expressed at http://www.catholic.com/library/Just_War_Doctrine_1.asp.

    Ms. Palin’s schoolyard example does her a disservice here, as it does implicate the individual “eye for an eye” teaching specifically rebuked by Jesus. But as a matter of government policy, she is safely in the bounds of Christian teaching.

  45. John Cole says:

    Triumph had it in one.

  46. Gerry W. says:

    Palin gets into talking points that she does not know what she is talking about and she is looking silly. The nuclear issue is much to do about nothing, except that if Russia and the U.S. can reduce arsenals, that other nations should reduce theirs also. And many countries have decided not to accumulate a nuclear arsenal in which they could have, means that we can show the way of reducing these weapons. And what we have is overkill anyway and it is a liability. And I am quite sure we will be able to retaliate if that time comes, but the military has said that they don’t have much use of nuclear weapons in most cases.

    I fear all this talk on religious values as her religion is not the only religion. Those that want more religious teachings or more religious interference in our government has to take into consideration of the Koran, burkas, and prayer rugs. Do we want to go there?

    And finally another talking point by Palin is that we should go by “free market principles.” Somehow she heard this phrase and she keeps preaching this. Now, what kind of “free market principles” did Bush present to us? All I saw was our jobs leave the country. And “free market principles” only tells me that there are 2 billion cheap laborers in the world who want our jobs. And I wonder what she is going to do about that. Heaven forbid that we abandon the laissez-faire concept and put in some regulation or that the government should find a solution to our problems.

  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    As usual the Christians want credit for being disciples of Christ without having to actually believe what he very clearly said. Because that would be hard.

    Also as usual the conservative Christians speaking up here are thoroughly ignorant of their own religion. It almost never fails. The Bible is just another tool they use for political purposes and has no meaning for them beyond justifying their desires and resentments.

  48. UlyssesUnbound says:

    So just to make sure…

    Instead of discussing Palin and Obama’s words and actions re: nuclear armaments, and hashing out whether our not the U.S.’s moves were smart, we are discussing a former half-term governor’s religious views–and using that as a jumping off point for interpreting various passages of the bible?

    Yup, that sounds about right.

  49. mannning says:

    Seems to me that one of the tenets of Natural Law deals with the right of the people for self-preservation, and the right to defend against attackers. Since Natural Law is God’s Law, we have the right of self-defense, given to us by God, and this has NOT been abrogated by Jesus.

    Indeed, the exact meaning of “Thou shalt not kill” is: “Thou shalt not kill an innocent person.” —H. Rommen, “The Natural Law: a Study in Legal and Social History and Philosophy”, Chapter XIII, The Content of the Natural Law, 1936.

  50. Grewgills says:

    Alex,

    she has described in the past as being built on Judeo-Christian values

    I would guess it involves heavy reliance on the Judeo part.

    Just Me,

    As for the Old Testament vs the New, Jesus made it clear that he didn’t come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill the law. Matthew 5:17.

    Why then don’t Christians keep kosher?

    The issue of wars has been debated for since the beginnings of the church, and most denominations follow some belief in just war that is based in biblical analysis.

    Largely because when the Christian church was founded in its present form is was the religion of an expansive and militaristic empire and had to find a way to rule that real world empire and preserve at least the semblance of following the teachings of Jesus. An awful lot was added to Christian doctrine at that point and over the next several hundred years, much of it at best tangentially related to the teachings of Jesus.
    Honestly I don’t see how one can be Christ-like and effectively rule a real world nation.

    Wayne,
    The humor here is Palin’s turning the turning the other cheek parable on it’s head in her rather poor analogy of Obama’s actions.

    On the larger question of whether one can be a Christian and support war, the death penalty, etc.; that depends on your definition of Christian.
    If you are relying strictly on the teachings of Christ then violence is pretty much out (including both the death penalty and the mass violence of political wars).
    The Catholic Church has developed and redeveloped a just war doctrine, so you can certainly remain Catholic and support some wars. Though in order to support the war in Iraq, the death penalty, abortion, or same-sex marriage you would have to be a cafeteria Catholic.

    When it comes down to it the vast majority of Christians are cafeteria Christians. The same can be said of followers of other religions and other philosophies in general. People pick and choose what aspects of a philosophy or religion appeal to them and largely ignore the rest. The problem comes in when someone holds up that religion or philosophy as an authority on why others should or should not do something while simultaneously picking and choosing what tenets or that religion of philosophy they choose to adhere to. If this authority is used in support of a political agenda then it is fair game to call out the hypocrisy.
    ie Someone claiming that people who are pro-choice or support same-sex marriage are less than Christian, while simultaneously supporting the death penalty (or vice versa).

    Having the power and using it is two different deals. He could have healed the world and stop all violence but that would be going against his own principles.

    Being the son of an omniscient being he could also have let us in on germ theory and a host of other insights that would have made the world a much safer and healthier place. Would that have also gone against his principles? If so which principles would those be?

    Michael Reynolds,

    As usual the Christians want credit for being disciples of Christ without having to actually believe what he very clearly said. Because that would be hard.

    That is true of most followers of all faiths regardless of their political leaning.

  51. Alex Knapp says:

    just me and Todd –

    I’m sorry, but Just War theory is a Catholic doctrine, and so not relevant to Sarah Palin, unless she had a conversion that I’m not familiar with. But even if she does accept Just War doctrine, the Holy See has made it clear that there are no morally justifiable uses of nuclear weapons under Just War theory, which brings us full circle to: which Christian principles does Palin uphold?

    I would also argue that Just War theory is incompatible with Jesus Christ’s teachings, but that’s a discussion for another time.

    manning,

    From what Sarah Palin has expressed of her faith, she appears to believe in an literalist interpretation of scripture, and this is consistent with the church’s she has attended. To my knowledge, there are no literalist theologians in her faith traditions that support natural law interpretations of scripture–especially when scripture is so clear on the matter, as it is in the case of the Gospels.

    At any rate, I confess that I have read virtually every theological attempt to contort the plain and undeniable meaning of Jesus Christ’s teaching on violence, and I haven’t seen a single convincing one. Jesus was unequivocal on this point. Of course, he was also unequivocally against divorce and possessing wealth, but most Christian theologians try their damndest to dance around those, too…

  52. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Alex, having read your post and your comments in return to those who have commented here. You are what Jesus road into Jerusalem on.

  53. The Q says:

    Yes, everyone has heard of “Just War” theory, obviously ecumenical legerdemain to justify Papal conquests which thoroughly debunk Jesus’ very words and deeds.

    Again, if you don’t believe in any of this BS, killing people in defense of country is not a big deal…I don’t have a problem with it…if you don’t believe in this BS, gay marriage isn’t a big deal….if you don’t believe in this BS, abortion is up to a woman etc.

    Do you right wingers understand, the issue here isn’t teleological debate about picayune church doctrine, but rather the using of the “Christian” mantle to further a political cause.

    Palin and her idiotic followers go on and on about the unborn then leave the born to starve to death…way to go “true” christians

    Or as Gandhi so aptly put it, “why are you Christians so unlike your Christ?”

  54. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Correction: rode. That was an Ass. You can put the Jack in front of it or not.

  55. Alex Knapp says:

    Zelsdorf,

    I might advise meditating on Colossians 3:8.

  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    Grew:

    Too true.

    As an atheist let me just say that I would be very happy to live in a world of actual Christians. That would be a wonderful world. But of course it would have no connection whatsoever to the creatures who currently misappropriate the name of “Christian.”

    This is why I would never want to set up shop as a messiah: you end up having your name and your beliefs dragged through the mud by bottom-feeders claiming to be believers.

  57. The Q says:

    And when Alex rides in on an ass, we will no doubt find Mr. Ragshaft’s head there.

  58. just me says:

    Why then don’t Christians keep kosher?

    Because keeping kosher was an issue the early Christians decided wasn’t necessary for gentiles that converted and did so in the book of Acts. Now I guess one could argue that those Christians were wrong and we should all be keeping kosher, but it was decided when the church was still in its infancy, but the issue was up for debate before there was a canon, and the issue was decided, so most Christians don’t sit around debating something that was clearly decided.

    I’m sorry, but Just War theory is a Catholic doctrine, and so not relevant to Sarah Palin, unless she had a conversion that I’m not familiar with

    First Just War Theory was developed before there were protestants, and many of the early theories of Catholicism did and still do influence protestant theology. Just War Theory was part of the curriculum at the Baptist Seminary where my husband got his degree.

    You are correct that the Pope’s current interpretations on the theory don’t authoritatively apply to Protestant beliefs, but most mainstream protestant faiths subscribe to some part or the theory.

    As for your discussion as it applies to Palin and nuclear arms, I can’t say I really care much, it was more your argument that Palin somehow isn’t a Christian, if she believes war-especially a defensive war is moral (I think the issue of whether nuclear weapons are moral is a separate issue, one worth having, but not as it applies to Palin-although the reality is Just War Theory was developed long before there were nuclear weapons, or really any of the modern day weapons we current use or could use.

    But it is pretty uninformed to think that protestants don’t know or believe in a Just War Theory because they aren’t Catholic, the main difference is that the Pope is able to make authoritative statements on the issue as it applies to modern weapons that Protestants who are proponents of the Theory (as initially developed by Augustine and Aquinas) aren’t any obligation to accept on his authority. Protestants basically can have a difference of opinion, and continue to debate.

  59. mannning says:

    Literalist interpretations of the Bible, both for the Old and the New Testaments, are frought with errors, in my opinion, which seems to relegate Palin to strange byways. Otherwise, as literalists, we might all be snake worshipers, or worse.

    Thus, my belief in Natural Law as coming from God and the Bible may well be somewhat off base, although its basic tenets are historically and logically sound enough(Roman Law, Anglo/Saxon Law, Cicero, the early Israelis, etc. and even the OT and NT!). It is not easy to trace the ideas in the Bible to the current ideas of the Natural Law in all cases.

    But this raises questions about the correct meanings of the words and statements attributed to Jesus as well, doesn’t it? We know little, I believe, about the many editorial processes that all of the books of the Bible truly went through before being more or less frozen, and we do not have perfect translations still from the originals, merely “accepted” ones. I have read of a number of word/meaning problems, which theologians and language experts have battled over to this day. (I am, of course, quite mindful of the inspiration from God that guided the editing of The Word)

    One major example is the controversy over the Book of Revelations, which some scholars believe is heavily redacted, thus spoiling the story line.

    Somehow, all of this doesn’t really affect my core belief in Christianity at all. It is my faith.

  60. mannning says:

    Small addition: I have heard of the Just War idea from my earliest time in the Episcopal Church, and later in the Baptist Church as well. It was a quite relevant sermon subject just before and during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

  61. Grewgills says:

    Just me,
    It is not just keeping kosher, most of Leviticus and Deuteronomy have gone by the wayside whether or not they were explicitly mentioned in the NT. My point here is that Christians tend to pick and choose which parts of the Bible (NT and OT) that they will internalize. Many still attach the authority of religion to the bits they like while ignoring or trying to explain away the bits they do not. That is where the charge of hypocrisy creeps in.
    For example many Christians are quick to go to Leviticus and Deuteronomy when they are looking for reasons to oppose same sex marriage, but look away when it involves them taking their child to the edge of town for a stoning after he talks back or some other act we now consider an abomination.

    On a tangentially related note, the early church made a host of decisions that were tied much more to the worldly concerns of expanding the religion, the exigencies of empire, and strengthening the earthly church than to the explicit teachings of Jesus. After hundreds of years of existence in Catholic doctrine they managed to migrate over into Protestant doctrine as well. Among these was the Roman practice of (official) monogamy.

  62. Can anyone point to where I said I was a Christian?

  63. Drew says:

    Alex – and everyone else

    This whole premise was just ludicrous and laughable on its face. You should all be ashamed. 64 posts??

    Jesus H Christ !

  64. anjin-san says:

    Or living under Sharia law.

    Bit, why don’t you share even a single scenario with us that leads the to US coming under Sharia law?

    You know, craven cowardice is not an American value. You abject terror of the evillll Muslim hoards is an embarrassment. You, of course, are long past embarrassment, but some of us still know what it is.

  65. Michael Reynolds says:

    Anjin:

    I’m curious about this as well. Evidently wherever Eric lives there are a whole lot of jihadis. Me, I live almost entirely surrounded by elderly Taiwanese. Naturally I live in fear that they will take away my forks and force chopsticks on me.

    Wait . . . 9 . . . 10 . . . 11 . . . Okay, that proves it. I had 12 forks!

  66. just me says:

    One major example is the controversy over the Book of Revelations

    Just a note but is Revelation-not Revelations.

    But I won’t disagree with the issue of controversy.

    It is not just keeping kosher, most of Leviticus and Deuteronomy have gone by the wayside whether or not they were explicitly mentioned in the NT. My point here is that Christians tend to pick and choose which parts of the Bible (NT and OT) that they will internalize.

    Once again most of what you are referencing in regard to keeping kosher and other various laws about being specifically Jewish (the things that were intended to set the Jewish people apart from the pagans in the land God was sending them to) was decided in the actual New Testament. They had a very big debate in the book of Acts, where they determined whether Christians-especially the Gentile converts to Christianity had to be Jewish or follow Jewish law, and they decided they did not. That controversy was already decided and is part of the cannon.

    Jesus himself affirmed the 10 commandments, but basically said the whole of the law could be summarized in two rules-Love the Lord you God and Love you neighbor as yourself.

    Also Jesus made it pretty clear that perfection wasn’t going to possible as humans, which is why he died-if we could be perfect, then his substitutional sacrifice wasn’t necessary. The Old Testament was about showing humanity the need for a savior, and the New Testament is all about that savior.

    In the end I don’t particularly care what you or anyone else thinks makes me a Christian or not a Christian, what doctrines or beliefs you think I should be following or your judgement on how I live my Christian life happens to be. In the end it is God I am aiming to please, and only his judgement that counts.

  67. Eric Florack says:

    I’ll bypass the obvious point that Obama’s treaty is a simple continuation of nuclear disarmament policies that began with Ronald Reagan

    I can understand why you’d want to do that; it’s certainly much easier to make the assumption that Reagan would have extended the logic quite so far, particularly given the state of play in the nation’s and relationships involved. Frankly, the idea that Reagan would have taken such dangerous extra steps is laughable.

  68. Eric Florack says:

    Bit, why don’t you share even a single scenario with us that leads the to US coming under Sharia law?

    Oh, I think what’s going on about 60 miles north of me would seem to answer your question.

    And as others point out, it’s not much of a stretch to sugegst it’ll end up here as well. Let’s examine Harold Koh, who is Obama’s nominee for the position of Legal advisor to the State Dept… That’s a job, in which Koh would craft a wide range of international agreements on issues from trade to arms control, and help represent our country in such places as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.

    Now, Koh has claimned that “in an appropriate case, I don’t see any reason why sharia law would not be applied to govern a case in the United States.”

    And why wuld Obama put him up for such a post? Gee, do you suppose he agrees with the positions held by Koh?

  69. ann_in_Az says:

    Alex, I think you’re on the side of the angels here — it behooves those of us who call ourselves Christian to examine our attitudes and actions most carefully in political matters. Your question about Palin’s consistency or hypocrisy in matters of war made me re-examine my own beliefs, and sent me to Augustine, Aquinas, and Paul’s letters. I think Palin’s analogy was faulty. She should have said Obama’s unilateral surrender of the nuclear option was like a father in a violent neighborhood who places a sign on the front door saying the house, wife, and children are undefended and will not be protected by force if attacked. The Christian faith (dating back to the weakening of Rome in the fourth century, long before the papacy was a temporal power in Europe) believes that a duly constituted state has not just the right but the responsibility to protect its citizens’ rights, using force if no other means will suffice. It is this which allows devout Christians to serve wholeheartedly in military roles. But war is so hideous that it must truly be a last resort for a just nation. Thanks for making me think. It is way too easy to channel my “inner berserker” as a substitute for honest examination of myself and of evangelical Christianity.

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