The sanctimony is growing and there seems to be no stopping it. Ever since Donald Trump’s budget was introduced, Social Justice Warriors on the left have been up in arms. And one of their favorite tactics is to proof-text Scripture as though it were a blueprint for government social policy rather than a Divine revelation of God’s redemptive plan to save us from our sins.
As a general rule, when someone places greater value on using the Bible to change men’s earthly circumstances than on using the Bible to change men’s eternal circumstances, that person doesn’t get the Bible.
Take blogger and author Rachel Held Evans who considers herself a progressive Christian. She wrote, “There are few things the Bible is unambiguously clear about, but from Hebrew Scripture to Matt. 25, care for the poor and needy is one of them.” First of all, this is an incredibly disingenuous statement for her to make given that she advocates ignoring the Bible’s unambiguously clear teaching on human sexuality.
But beyond that, does it necessarily follow that anyone who obeys the Bible’s teaching to care for the poor and needy must oppose President Trump’s budget? Nonsense. And this reveals the truth about Evans. She wants you to pay attention to the Bible when she can use it to advance her political position. She wants you to ignore the Bible when it opposes her political position. So what is of greatest value to her – the Bible or her political position?
Certainly Evans isn’t alone. An entire posse of progressive proof texters descended upon Erick Erickson when he (correctly) noted that in Matthew 25 when Jesus refers to caring for “the least of these brothers of mine,” He isn’t talking about the poor in general. He’s talking about His disciples and followers. This was blasphemous to the innumerable Twitter prophets of the left’s social gospel. But it was completely logical, Biblical, and accurate to those who embrace and love the Word of God. Andy Horvath confirms that in Christianity Today:
That “the least of these” are the disciples is perhaps less obvious upon a casual reading, but according to New Testament scholar Craig Keener, it “is the majority view in church history and among contemporary New Testament scholars.” Matthew 25 appears to be one of those passages where the commonly assumed meaning diverges significantly from the dominant scholarly and historical view.
No one would ever say that caring for the poor and needy is optional for a Bible believer. But properly understanding and applying the Word of God isn’t optional either. Jeff Jacoby writes,
It is reasonable to read (for example) Jesus’ words in Matthew 25…as a reminder that the ethical test of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members, and a call to each of us to extend a hand to those in need. It is not reasonable to claim that every faithful Christian must therefore endorse Meals on Wheels or defend public housing vouchers from budget cuts.
I can appreciate anyone whose convictions run so deep in caring for the needy that they sometimes get carried away. We all do that. And we would be a much happier, healthier society if we let the truth of Christianity influence our politics. The danger is when we let our politics influence what we see as the truth of Christianity.