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Christianity started out as a very liberal way of life. Take a look at the things Jesus personally did and said. A red-letter version of the New Testament will help. I won’t cite chapter and verse, but if you’re up for this discussion, you will already feel right at home.

Above all, Jesus lived and taught love. He even made the blunt assertion that “God is Love.” Jesus pointed out that the greatest law was Love – of God and neighbor – and he used the parable of a good Samaritan to point out that everyone is our neighbor.

In contrast to the popular idea that “you are on your own,” a core liberal belief is that “we are all in this together.” That is, we are all neighbors and need to care about our common good at every level, not just our own family or religion.

While teaching personal responsibility, Jesus also taught us to not focus overmuch on individual liberties. He washed his disciples’ feet to set an example of submitting in service to others.

Jesus really came down hard on the Pharisees. These were the nation’s  religious and political leaders. Often the wealthiest, they created, enforced, and defended a system of traditions and laws that supported and sustained their own positions of privilege and power.

The Pharisees claimed the high ground of faith and values, but Jesus condemned them and called them hypocrites. Notably, he drove money changers, members of the privileged financial elites, out of the temple.

Jesus was tolerant of those in other social classes; He ate with tax collectors and sinners and he cared about the health and welfare of all. He gave his gifts freely to the poor and downhearted and he encouraged others to do so as well.

Finally, stop a moment to contemplate the fact that Jesus, along with folks such as Martin Luther. were the radical liberals of their time. They took issue with the existing systems of unfair power, privilege, and oppression. Without extending the point too far, they were, in fact, progressive community organizers.

©2012, David Satterlee


What does Christianity mean to you?

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Comment Preferences

  •  No True Scottsman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, enhydra lutris

    "The Big Book of Multiple Choice" aka the bible ... will let You interpret it anyway one likes

    Irony of Ironies though -- is when You bring Martin Luther into this ... even if it isn't the point You are making, by extension mentioning Luther in a diary about 'liberal christian' philosophy is ... odd .. to say the least!

    "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

    by josephk on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 09:21:01 AM PDT

    •  I understand that this (6+ / 0-)

      is a favored refrain from non-believers, and many Christians do use the Bible as a weapon.  However, the OP was referred to the words and actions of JC Himself, which are difficult, if not impossible, to interpret honestly as anything other than love for all.

      A sharpened blade may be used to prepare a meal, perform surgery, or commit murder, yet I seldom see DK diaries that condemn knives.  It is interesting to me that religion, particularly Christianity, causes so many people to be angry.  

      It  also saddens me that so many seem to feel they have been abused by people of faith, and I assure you that I love them all as precious children of God, whether or not they love me back.

      •  "seem to feel" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42, tytalus, raincrow

        actually, it's we actually were. there's absolutely no feel about it. I'm sorry about that too.

        I'm struck by how the meanest, cruelest, nastiest people brag about how they live in a Christian nation. It's rather telling.

        by terrypinder on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:08:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I did not mean (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David Satterlee, raincrow

          to belittle your suffering.  I just didn't want to assume.  

          I had the opportunity to share some thoughts on Pentecost Sunday about the "fruit of the Spirit"--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  One of the things I offered is that if the object of our love doesn't feel loved, then our action isn't loving.

          My only point in responding to your original comment is that the fact that some Christians misunderstand or misuse their faith, doesn't make it all bad.  Unfortunately, these people who seem to have the most time to "speak for" Christianity.  The rest of us are busy offering food, water, shelter, and comfort to those who need it.

          To my knowledge, I never have used my faith as a bludgeon, and I never intend to .  I realize that many of my Christian brothers and sisters sometimes do.  It pains me that this is the case, but it is no more appropriate for me to be condemned with them than it is for them to condemn others who don't share their particular version of faith.

          BTW, my name means "joyous peace" in French.  To me, that is what faith is about.

      •  Au Contraire, the two most critical and most (0+ / 0-)

        important parts of the jesus rules are:

        1) I am the one, the main one and the only thing that matters - accept me as your personal savior and go to heaven for eternity - I will ensure it

        2) As above, reject me and suffer eternal torment, and I will personally see to that too.

        Those two rules trump all else that the alleged jesus is alleged to have done.

        Arguable? Of course, but so is any other argument based on the alleged aacts and speech of the alleged jesus.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 01:51:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's the good ol' Protestant spirit! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          enhydra lutris

          We Protestants get to read the scriptures and through them experience God speaking directly to us, with no earthly mediator. God has definitely spoken differently to you than he does to me. I mostly hear stuff about social justice and trusting that God's power is everlasting while material power is fleeting, and so far that seems pretty inarguable -- but that's just me.


      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
        It is interesting to me that religion, particularly Christianity, causes so many people to be angry.  
        It is interesting to me how often christians interpret anything and everything non-christians say about christianity as reflecting hate or anger. It is so much a knee jerk response that one can almost see it as a signature of some sort - Ah, accuses me of anger, must be really devout. Sometimes one cannot help but wonder if this is projection.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 02:07:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So much of what gets said by non- and (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          enhydra lutris

          anti-religious people about religious people IS angry, some of it rabidly hateful. I fully understand that most of the anger toward religion and religious adherents stems from centuries, millennia, of abuse and murder committed by people acting on what they claim (and/or believe) to be the will of their God(s). I am a liberal living in the South; a woman who was coming of age during the 60s feminist movement; and a very "unfeminine" woman who was subjected to extremely frightening threats of homophobic violence because of my untraditional appearance and manner of going. Believe me, I have been abused, denounced, and threatened for decades by right-wingers waving their Bibles and proclaiming to be True Christians.

          But it is illogical, not to mention sketchy empirical science, to (1) broad-brush all Christians, in the face of the amply documented good that Christians have done through the centuries; and (2) single out God(s), Christianity, or religion in general, as the source of the human propensity to be corrupted by power, commit every kind of transgression against the weak, and invent all sorts of weird, thin justifications for those transgressions.

          You make no secret of your interpretation of Christian scripture. However, your interpretation is extremely different from mine, and fwiw I would wager neither of us is possessed of perfect sight in our interpretation...

          My kittehs await me. Have a good night. We'll joust on this another day, I imagine  ;D

  •  It is not "what is sauce for the goose is sauce... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, IL clb, raincrow

    for the gander" but "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 09:28:34 AM PDT

    •  What if You are a masochist? (0+ / 0-)

      -- the "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." doesn't work well under all circumstances

      the confuscious presentation of this in the negative has broader application - in effect - DON'T do unto others what You WOULDN'T want done to You ...

      "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

      by josephk on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 09:37:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  if only history had actually turned out that way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, Kingsmeg

    I'm struck by how the meanest, cruelest, nastiest people brag about how they live in a Christian nation. It's rather telling.

    by terrypinder on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:02:54 AM PDT

  •  It's a little more complicated. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, mapamp, OrdinaryIowan

    Don't really disagree with the basic idea - except there are enough caveats I'd add that I wouldn't really state it that baldly.

    In general, biblical religions preserve very well a male egalitarianism, that always exists in tension with more hierarchical understandings of social arrangements also preserved in biblical texts.

    When it comes to women, Christianity has generally been a "conservative" tradition, steadily eradicating female symbols of divinity (though they pop up through the cracks over and over again).  And when it comes to sexual ethics, what 21st-century liberals consider the norm is really against the grain of everything the early Christian movement had to say on the topic.

    While there have been moments when appeals to "real Christianity" have been a powerful source of resistance to outright evils (such as the Barmen Declaration in Hitler's Germany, or the declaration of Apartheid as heresy), I generally prefer to acknowledge that Christianity has a mixed record, and that the mixed record extends back into the Bible.  This doesn't mean people can't derive liberal ideals from the Bible (history is full of examples of this happening), but it does mean that I'd be wary of saying a 1st-century religious movement is either "liberal" or "conservative" in 21st-century terms.

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:37:32 AM PDT

  •  Seems as good a definition as any. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, enhydra lutris

    that doesn't involve True Scotsmen:

    Snake handling pastor.... dead

    Personally, I prefer to look at the historical record, and take the sum total of all of Christendom's actions as a basis for defining what Christianity is or isn't.  Liberal?  Sometimes, but not bloody often.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:50:46 AM PDT

  •  Jesus spent most of his time (4+ / 0-)

    on economic and political disparity, healthcare, and self examination vs. judging others.  And he died in a politically motivated death penalty case.
    So what do today's evangelical Christians focus on?  And what do they cast aside?  How do they feel about the death penalty?

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel. Abraham Lincoln

    by Nailbanger on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:51:59 AM PDT

  •  Just one point. (0+ / 0-)

    Speaking as a fiscal conservative (social libertarian) and an ex-Christian and current agnostic, I do have to point out one thing.  While Jesus lived a life of giving of yourself to your fellow man (or woman) and sacrifice for your community, I never read anything in the Bible that would indicate these were values that government needed to impose on their people.  If anything, I'd feel that Jesus would be very anti-intervention...but I don't think that religion should mix with politics, so that argument is null and void either way.

    That's not to say that you shouldn't act on the principles of charity and sacrifice in your own personal life.  You absolutely should.  But the divide between the well-intentioned on both sides isn't over whether charity should be provided, but by whom.

    Conservative since 1992. Open-minded since birth.

    by ShowMe on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 01:58:34 PM PDT

  •  Even if the Bible were not myth and hence not (0+ / 0-)

    real, there is still no real christianity.  Endless excisions, exclusions, inclusions, editorializings and the like have gone into a very selective assembly of a gob of mostly long after the fact stories of the alleged jesus allegedly said or did. It is a hodge podge and no portion can be deemed to trump the others unless it is jesus' alleged personal declaration that he will personally ensure that all who do not fall down and kiss the hem of his robe (accept him as their personal savior, whatever) will be eternally punished with horrible torment. Not exactly loving, kind, liberal or anything of the like.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 01:59:18 PM PDT

    •  Seems there are ~1.2 billion followers of Christ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris

      who roundly disagree with you. Just sayin'...


    •  No REAL Christianity for a long time? (0+ / 0-)

      Yes. Or, at least there is very little real Christianity. I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian faith and was what most people would call a "true believer." It eventually occurred to me that my faith, along with the other contemporary Christian faiths, generally failed to really follow the leadership of Christ.

      And then, I ran across Gandhi's comment about preferring our Christ to our Christians. Faith should have the power to transform those who hold it. And so, I found myself transformed... and out of favor with my Church. Like my leader, Jesus, I was just too liberal and so here I am, urging conservative Christians to likewise rethink who they are hanging out with and who they are voting for.

  •  Jesus was radically liberal for his day (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Satterlee

    And I sometimes pretend I might develop the courage to go toe-to-toe with him. But I have my kittehs, my good-enough job and car and mortgage, my stepdaughter and her family, my tethers, so many good excuses.... Attempting to live the Two Commandments of the New Covenant -- (1) love God and (2) love your neighbor -- is an entire life's work for me, to the degree that I will do the work.

    Jesus recognized that life in God isn't for everyone, because God doesn't call all of us into relationship with Him/Her/It (John 6:44 is quite interesting). It doesn't matter to me who does or doesn't share my engagement in the First Commandment. But I have little patience with people who will not engage the Second Commandment, who have no compassion, who can ignore or deny the suffering of others, who try to pass off their stinginess and/or fear as some high-minded desire to be free of the shackles of tyranny, who make no effort to overcome or compensate for their thirst for power, indeed who rationalize their power-thirst by invoking "the will of God," liberty, survival of the fittest, etc., etc., etc., etc.

    •  ..and Jesus was also radically liberal for our day (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I appreciated the subtly of your first paragraph and the sledge hammer directness of your second.

      You kind of sound like the last of the Buddhist ox-herding pictures. After great labors to perfect oneself, the ox-herder "returns to the market." He no longer feels the need to meditate endlessly or live a deprived life. After all that struggle, he realizes that the struggle merely points out the futility of struggling. He can go back to the world, and engage in daily life without shame or fear. Bless you.

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