The Theologian Colbert on the Liberal Democrat Jesus

Colbert may be the greatest theologian of the modern time, Jim West not withstanding. This in response to O’Reilly’s misuse of Christ and the use of Christmas by the GOP to go home...again:

Keith Olbermann returned to one of his favorite targets last night when he named Bill O’Reilly his “Worst Person In The World.” This time, O’Reilly got the honor for a column in which he cautioned against providing too much aid and charity for those in need:

There comes a time when compassion can cause disaster. If you open your home to scores of homeless folks, you will not have a home for long. There is a capacity problem for every noble intent…there are millions of Americans who are not responsible, and the cold truth is that the rest of us cannot afford to support them…being a Christian, I know that while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?

“I don’t know, pal, because the phrase ‘the Lord helps those who help themselves’ is not in the Bible, which is where one has to assume O’Reilly is getting his nonsensical, Catholic-school dropout holier-than-thou cant,” Olbermann said. He then went on to read a couple of Bible verses that he thought might be more appropriate to explain the book’s stance on charity and to mock O’Reilly, respectively.

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Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
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For all intents and purposes, Christ was not a liberal Democrat and wouldn’t have been today. I do get their point, however, and I hope you do too. He wasn’t anything near a Republican, nor, for that matter, a Libertarian, although He met one once when He was in the desert for forty days.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,051 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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11 thoughts on The Theologian Colbert on the Liberal Democrat Jesus

  1. Joel, this isn’t directed at you so much, since you’re more nuanced than this (usually…I think), but I’ve got to rant here. I probably could have written a post on this, but my readership would plummet 50% if I wrote this there.

    Why must Christians frame everything in terms of politics? Why can’t we be in favor of free markets because we are convinced that they work the best, that they raise the aggregate standard of living for all? That supporting a system that creates dependency is not in the best interests of the poor? Why is it always, “You think you follow Jesus? Jesus really was socially conscious; therefore, we look more like him than you do!”

    It’s one thing to think that statist solutions to social problems are the most practical way of going about fixing social ills. If you don’t believe free markets work, attack the theory — not those who are convinced by it. Why must politically liberal Christians uphold as an inviolable truism that conservative Christians are only so because they don’t care enough about the poor? Studies show again and again that Republicans give more of their incomes to charity than do liberals (for whatever reason, I’m not reading anything into it), so it’s patently false that not defending every single spending proposal by the Democrats in power means that we don’t love like Jesus loves. Yet as soon as a principled libertarian or conservative demands more fiscal responsibility – which is reasonable for anyone except the government, somehow or another – the sneers start rolling in from the enlightened left.

    If there’s anything I know, it’s that the Church could accomplish anything that needs to be done (that can be done with just money) voluntarily, by digging deeper in our own pockets, by calling out to the “haves” to soften their hearts, and by appealing to the sheep-and-the-goats social concern in the back of most Christians’ minds.

    Living like Jesus wants us to means giving our money, giving of our time and efforts, and if you want to go really hardcore, selling our possessions. It doesn’t mean self-righteously scorning the conservative Christian you just read about on your iPad who is against uncritically throwing money at whatever government programs the politicians tell us we need and who does not agree that we should demand that the government force other people to give more.

    Tell us, beg us to give more, to give ’til it hurts. But don’t think that our criticizing the politico-economic model of redistributionism is an indictment of our love for Jesus and our understanding of his ministry — it usually isn’t.

    • First, I would urge you to note the tags.

      Second, I think that free markets are disastrous to the human condition.

      Third, as I said, Christ wouldn’t have been a liberal democrat either. I think we get caught up with the Jesus that we want on our side and recreate Him as we see fit. Conservative, as O’Reilly as done, and as Liberals often do. The fact, of course, remains, that Christ was socially conscious and Paul showed some hints of this as well, but to couch them in terms of liberal, democrat, conservative republican, and unemployment, etc.. removes what that were really saying and we become no better than those who use Christ to promote hate.

      • Joel, of course it’s “humor”, and I enjoyed the clip. But knowing that it will be trotted out as serious and circumspect commentary (as I have already seen it done) is what set off my rant. I did appreciate your caveat about Christ, and your comment above. Sorry you happened to be standing nearby when I exploded!

        • Nah… I can take it. One of the things that bothered me about the justice movement was their use of the Cross and Christ, which I found as blasphemous as those on the right who do it.

          I will say that I enjoyed the clip because it is Colbert schooling O’Reilly on their shared religion

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