Traditionally evangelical Christians across the centuries have argued for lawful, limited government. They have themselves been pioneers in philanthropy, private social reforms, and entrepreneurship that flourish when government is restrained. So Wallis and the Evangelical Left essentially want their targeted constituency to abandon their own potent traditions in favor of reliance on and submission to state authority. “To disparage government per se — to see government as the central problem in society — is simply not a biblical position,” he insisted. No, biblical religion does not advocate anarchy. The state is divinely commissioned, but for limited, prescribed purposes, primarily centered on order, the rule of law, and civil freedoms. There may or may not be reasonable arguments for an expansive welfare and regulatory state. But they are not found directly in the Bible.
Amusingly, Wallis cited Romans 13, where St. Paul described the state’s role in “preserving the social order, punishing evil and rewarding good, and protecting the common good.” Wallis, who is a pacifist, does not typically quote this passage, which describes God’s having called the state to “wield the sword” to “execute wrath on him who practices evil.” All governments everywhere “wield the sword” not only through their militaries but also through their collection of taxes to pay for the vast social services that Wallis insists in their central mission. Force is apparently acceptable to Wallis in defense of the welfare state.
Wallis chided the Tea Partiers for their complaints about taxes. But who pays more taxes, Wallis’s campus activists, or the small business owners who form much of the Tea Party? Wallis claims “most of us would prefer smart and effective to ‘big’ or ‘small’ government.” But he is just striking his frequent post-ideological pose. When has Wallis ever argued for reducing government, except for its military, police and intelligence functions (ironically, the very functions prescribed by St. Paul)?
“Democratic accountability is essential to preventing the market from becoming a beast of corporate totalitarianism – just as it is essential for the government,” Wallis concluded. But why is he concerned only about “corporate totalitarianism” but not the far more dangerous government kind? He harrumphed that “God’s priorities should determine ours, not the priorities of the Chamber of Commerce,” with the elitist disdain for the private sector so common on the Religious Left. More spitefully, Wallis surmised that the Tea Party movement has racist overtones, though “likely not” every Tea Partier is racist. “Need I say that racism — overt, implied, or even subtle — is not a Christian virtue,” he intoned sanctimoniously, evidently forgetting that slander and judging hidden motives are also not very “biblical.”
Wallis urged a “dialogue” about “Just how Christian is the Tea Party Movement — and the Libertarian political philosophy that lies behind it?” But maybe there should also be a dialogue about Wallis’ Sojourners movement, which seems to judge religious orthodoxy almost exclusively by its commitment to Big Government.
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