Salvation for sale
For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life. God is not mocked, and as the Bible clearly teaches, after this passing instant of life on earth, God’s great mercy in time will give way to God’s perfect judgment in eternity.
If there is a single reason I have tossed aside (well, almost) all concern with soteriology as the central tenet of Christianity, this argument would be an example of it. I really cannot distinquish this line of reasoning from a Chick tract:
distortion of Paul's theology, to begin with. It has, so far as I can tell, absolutely no connection to any of the teachings of Jesus in any of the four gospels. And it flies in the face of the refusal to be judgmental that gets Jesus so crosswise (no pun intended) with the Pharisees and Saduccees and lawyers and scribes (all of whom are, historically, caricatures, but that's another issue) in the synoptic Gospels (especially Luke's). Whenever Jesus is confronted with an opportunity to judge, he resolutely refuses to do so, and in fact tells the "sinner", more often than not: "Go, and sin no more." What happens most often is that the blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed, and there is no payment involved. Not only no payment in coin or discipleship (none of the healed become named apostles), but not even a down payment in faith. Even the disciples, of course, weren't interested in giving away something for nothing, and they'd tell the beggars and the little children to leave the Important Man alone. Jesus, however, always had other ideas.
Which isn't to say Jesus didn't set boundaries, didn't establish standards. He tells the prostitute in Simon's house that her trust has saved her, that her sins are forgiven, and that she is to go in peace. But after the Transfiguration, he tells would be followers to sell all they have if they want to follow him, and to leave the dead to bury their dead. Following Jesus is hard, and he knows it; and he knows it's not for everybody. There are ways of serving; but there are also ways of judging; and Jesus never encourages judging.
Perhaps the closest he comes is when he sends the disciples out and tells them to sleep in the house they are invited into, and to give that house their peace as they enter. If they are accepted, the peace stays there; if they are rejected, that peace leaves with them. The house isn't condemned into dust and ash; it just isn't blessed with the peace the disciples bring. The people living there don't go to hell; they just missed the point. They excluded themselves; but from what? From eternal life, and bliss?
Well, yes, according to Jack Chick. But what is his authority? Is it really any greater than that of Bishop Daniel Jenky?
I realize that is a very Protestant question, and I don't raise it to start an argument about the superiority of Protestantism against Roman Catholicism. But let me draw the line on this question of soteriology very directly: Jesus doesn't condemn the tax collector Zaccheus because he is working for the hated Roman government, the very government which will soon nail Jesus to a cross and hang him naked in the air as a traitor. Jesus doesn't pass Zaccheus because his political loyalty to Rome is at odds with his loyalty to "the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life." Jesus doesn't even challenge how Zaccheus makes his living. Jesus just sees Zaccheus in the tree, trying to get a better view of the renowned rabbi, and invites himself to lunch. It is, if anything, a violation of everything a holy man in 1st century Palestine should be doing; but then, Jesus spends a lot of his time in Luke's gospel violating everything a holy man in 1st century Palestine should be doing.
The situation is the same throughout Luke's gospel. When the people come to hear the preaching of John the Baptist, John doesn't tell the Roman soldier to give up his political loyalty to Caesar and become a disciple of John or of Jesus. He doesn't tell the tax collector to give up working for Rome. John tells them to be fair in their dealings with others, which means keep being a soldier, and keep collecting taxes. Again, this soldier could well be one ordered to nail Jesus to the cross, or to arrest him. Certainly someone that soldier knew was involved in the crucifixion. Is there no judgment for his sin, for at least his association? Because surely the Bishop's argument is one of guilt by association: your vote determines the state of your eternal soul, because whatever the candidate's do in office, it is as good done by you.
Which makes representative government a very dicey game indeed. My salvation depends on the choices those in office make, especially if I approved of them enough to vote to put them there. Hmmmmm.......
Sorry, but honestly, if there is a defense for Bp. Jenky's argument, I can't imagine what it is. And if there is any theological justification for his soteriology, I don't know what that is, either.
Maybe that's why I just don't understand his actions at all.