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Tom Sine: "Transcending Ideology of Left and Right"

Excerpts from several posts from author Tom Sine, from the website of his organization, Mustard Seed Associates:

"My most serious concern about the religious right in America is that their world view is indistinguishable from the ideology of political right in the US. You can't get a piece of tissue paper between the views of the religious right and the political right.

For example, on everything from advocating an America first foreign policy and opposition to any gun legislation to favoring tax policies that benefit the wealthiest citizens and social policies that favor cut backs for our poorest neighbors their views are identical. Is is possible that the far right in the US stumbled on a biblical world view and then belatedly American evangelicals discovered the far right had it right all the time? Is it only a question of time until evangelicals in other countries finally acknowledge that the world view of the far right in America is what God had in mind?

I realize I am being provocative but I am very concerned about how many of my fellow American evangelicals in my country all subscribe to the same uniform right wing world view on all topics. It makes me wonder whether their views come from their own serious biblical reflection or conformity to the politically correct viewpoint that is constantly reinforced by right wing talk radio and much of Christian radio.

I am convinced that a biblical world view wouldn't be identical to the far right or the far left. I believe a biblical faith transcends Republicans and Democrats... right and left. I believe a serious study of scripture would lead us to recognize that we are part of a third way... challenging those on both ends of the spectrum.

I do have to report as I work with evangelicals around this country who are conservatives their world views don't generally reflect the sophisticated differences you are describing. In fact it is amazing to me how similar their views are on economic and political issues. It is as though they are all reading from the same script drafted by Fox News, Rush and religous right leaders like James Dobson. They are remarkably "on message" and are not usually open to talk with evangelicals who don't subscribe to the politically correct message.

I find they are not interested in hearing from other evangelicals that tend to see the world in a little broader and less ideological terms. Their economic views support a very conservative tax policy that tends to favor the rich. Their political views tend to support a very nationalistic foreign policy including unquestioning support for neo-con pursuit of American supremacy in the world... without really understanding it. And evangelicals in other countries are very put-off by the extent their cousins in the US tend to confuse the what's good for America with good for God's kingdom. They believe a biblical faith should be a trans-national faith.

For example, Christian leaders like James Skillen working from a reformed Christian world view intentionally uses scripture to respond to the complex issues that fill our world. Ron Sider does the same thing from an anabaptist Christian world view. And the Catholic Bishop in America work from both scripture and tradition and have formulated some very thoughtful statements regarding the American economy.

Quite honestly I find both my friends on the religious right and the politically correct left in mainline churches tend to both define their political and economic views almost exclusively from the ideologies of the right and left. Neither group is very good at bringing scripture to bear on the discussion.

As a consequence when leaders on the Christian right write on economic topics they simply attempt to baptize the very conservative economic views they have embraced. They don't seem to realize their views are powerfully shaped by ideas of western progress and free market economics born of the Enlightenment and very conservative economic theory fashioned by secular economists like Milton Friedman. I find that their writings are often in serious tensions with scriptural views that reflect God's purposes for the stewardship of the planet.

Let me recommend one book that attempts to explore a view of important topic of economics that starts with scripture rather than starting from secular theories born of the Enlightenment. It is enitled God the Economist by M. Douglas Meeks. As you read this book it immediately becomes clear when you start from a different beginning place you wind up with a very different view of how one does economics and politics...a view based on biblical ethics.

I know of no other way to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ than rejecting the ideologies of the left and right and seeking a third way based upon a biblical world view based that is committed to seeing the purposes of God's kingdom finding expression io our fallen world."



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