Self Defense from a Fundamentalist Attack
12 Scriptures No Fundamentalist Believes
(Part 9 “Jubilee”)
In our nation, fundamentalism almost always favors conservative economic policies. Charity is praised, but those who would challenge the conditions that produce poverty are viewed as contaminating the pure message of Jesus with liberal politics. Martin Luther Kings preached about the Good Samaritan saying that, at some point, it is not enough to patch up the wounded traveler. At some point, he claimed, we need to make the road to Jericho itself safe. But did Dr. King understand Jesus or was he mixing his own politics into the story?
When Jesus began his ministry, he said he had come to preach good news to the poor, and to declare the acceptable day of God. Jesus’ listeners would recognize that he was declaring the time of Jubilee. Jubilee (found in Lev.25) was a longing people had for justice. At the time of Jubilee prisoners were to be released. Economic disparities were to be addressed by a redistribution of the wealth so all had enough.
If we look at the Fourth Commandment as it is presented in Deuteronomy, it is clearly a “little Jubilee.” On that day we are not to work, but neither are our servants, or migrants or animals. The Sabbath was not just a religious celebration., in fact, if you look carefully, there is nothing about worship in that commandment! Instead, the Sabbath is a day for healing each other and the land. As James says, such mercy is the worship most pleasing to God.
I do not believe we can say that Jesus was conservative or liberal, but it would be a strange thing to believe that Christ calls us to help the poor and then choose a form of politics that codifies their poverty. It would be a strange thing to say Christ calls us to feed the hungry and then cut school lunch programs, punishing children for what we perceive as laziness in their parents.
Some fundamentalists earnestly believe that a social safety net makes people lazy. But let me ask you this. Did it make you lazy to have your parents guarantee a roof over your head, and to promise you would have enough food to eat? Did that care make you lazy, or did it make you feel secure enough to go after higher goals than mere survival? If we say that what made us feel worthy would make others lazy, is it is possible that we believe ourselves to be superior?
I do not believe that the teachings of Jesus should ever be reduced to nothing more than a social justice message. But I also believe it should not be made less than that either. It is a strange thing to say we believe in Jesus, and then choose a political system that would make impossible the world to which he calls us.