Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
February 6th, 2017 by Joel Watts

Salt’s Flavor is non-Partisan

This week’s lectionary includes the section of the Beatitudes about the worth of the Church:

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. – Matthew 5.13

We know what the commentary says. Salt was a form of payment. Salt preserves. Salt secures. Salt represents worth.

That got me to thinking about something that has chapped my hide this week. The episcopal leaders of Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church issues a statement this past week in response to President Trump’s Executive Order regarding the “ban.” I say “ban” because Trump himself labeled it as such.

Besides the rather heterodox theology (i.e., modalism) and eisegetical interpretation of Matthew 11, I agree with the tenor of the letter. I do not support the ban, nor do I support, generally, executive orders.

However, I wonder where all of the statements are issued against President Obama for other things against the principles of The United Methodist Church, such as his stances on gay marriage. Okay, poor example, and I think we all know why.

But, President Obama broke records in deporting illegal immigrants. To be fair, two bishops wrote letters. Nothing in tone with what the NEJ bishops did, of course.

The UMC seems to side with one party over another. I have recently joked that the many believe the ancient tetragammon is actually D-N-C. Because of that — the sentiment, not the joke — we are losing our ability to be seen as the loyal opposition. In Mark Noll‘s work, Clouds of Witnesses, he speaks about several saints who led the Church against their governments — not in battle, but as a remember that the Church stands separate from the world. All too often, we are caught up in the trends and cultural pace setting of our contexts, leaving us no witness.

We are angry over an executive order that would have temporarily prevented (if all things said were going to be true) a several thousand refugees from settling in the United States. However, there wasn’t much anger raised on the denominational level about 2.5 million Christian Mexicans ripped from their loved ones, their jobs, and their homes and sent south of the border, sometimes to lands controlled by ruthless gangs. Perhaps, because we had a Democrat in the White House, we didn’t have to be the Church.

As The United Methodist collapses into something new (or perhaps, somethings new), perhaps the new episcopal leaders will remember to be Christian — to be salt — rather than to be Democrat or Republican.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. 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).

Comments

2 Responses to “Salt’s Flavor is non-Partisan”
  1. Tom McCann says

    You raise an excellent question. I’m not sure why Obama led history in removals – whether it was a targeted action or just the natural result of having a lot more ICE agents than any previous President.
    But why are Methodists up in arms? Perhaps our leadership is guilty of reacting to the whims of society. Fact is, there’s a lot more sentiment in the U.S. about Trump’s travel ban than there was about Obama’s removal program. And while the gay marriage decision is directly opposite our doctrine, the country is split / slightly in favor of gay marriage.
    But there is a bigger reason we should be against the travel ban: Christianity simply does not need any more enemies in the Muslim world. We can play word games all day long, but if you’re living in one of those seven countries, it sure looks like a Muslim ban. As a matter of fact, if you’re a Muslim anywhere in the world, it looks like a Muslim ban.
    Christians everywhere should be demonstrating against the (call it what you want). Trump called it a ban on Muslims, Guliani called it that, and those words are never going to be forgotten, despite the best efforts of Sean Spicer and Kellyann Conway. Continued enforcement of the executive order will simply create more ill will and more jihadis every day.

  2. There is a definite trend that if Obama did it, it is OK but if Trump does it then it is a problem. Just the other day I brought myself up to speed as to why all of a sudden there is a Cuban immigrant problem at the Texas/Mexico border. It is because in his last weeks as President, Obama suspended the preferential treatment of illegal Cuban immigrants–for quite a while if a Cuban made it into the US they were accepted with no question asked. When Obama started normalizing relationships with Cuba, the feeling was there was no need to give Cubans immigrants preferential treatment; as a result, Cuban immigrants are now stopped at the Mexican border with nowhere to go. Where is the uproar over that?

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