by Bil Aulenbach

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Some Positive Guidelines

Laura Ingraham is supposed to be a mature woman with a primetime TV show. Why did she verbally attack a seventeen-year-old Parkland High School survivor for not getting accepted at four of California’s top universities? She paid a price for her bad behavior, but why did she do it in the first place?

The world’s most prolific tweeter loves to call people awful names, accuse them of all sorts of terrible things, and then lie about it. The office of the president of the United States is highly respected around the world, but under the Trump administration, it has become a den of name calling, lies, bullying, deal breaking, and immaturity.

This undignified behavior seems to have opened the door for the trickle-down process, and such behavior appears to be the new norm.

Every time I see or hear such negativity (which is daily), I ask myself, How does one stop this? A sense of desperation sets in because we know trash talk can lead to wars, both verbal and actual; a total lack of trust; and unprecedented polarization of our entire society.

Last week, I received a document from my bishop’s office in Hawai’i entitled “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis.” I almost put it in the circular file because it started with lots of churchy language, but I kept reading and found that it provides positive guidelines for today’s Followers of the Way.

Here are the highlights of “Reclaiming Jesus:”

I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). . . . The global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. . . .

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the white resurgence of white nationalism and . . . doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language. . . .

II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. . . . There is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). . . .

THEREFORE, WE REJECT misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women. . . . We lament when such practices seem publicly ignored, and thus privately condoned, by those in high positions of leadership. . . . We support the courageous truth-telling voices of women. . . .

III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself (Matthew 25:31–46). . . . God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are “oppressed,” “strangers,” “outsiders,” or otherwise considered “marginal” is a test of our relationship with God. . . .

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable. . . . We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees. . . . We won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children, and we will resist the repeated attempts to deny healthcare to those who most need it. . . .

IV. WE BELIEVE that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives. . . .

THEREFORE, WE REJECT the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. . . . The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger. . . .

V. WE BELIEVE that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. . . .

THEREFORE, WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. . . .

VI. WE BELIEVE. . . . Our churches and our nations are part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries. . . .

THEREFORE, WE REJECT “America first” as a theological heresy. . . . We reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism. . . . We reject domination rather than stewardship of the earth’s resources. . . . Global poverty, environmental damage, violent conflict, weapons of mass destruction, and deadly diseases in some places ultimately affect all places, and we need wise political leadership to deal with each of these.”

These affirmations are great food for thought and study. My big question is this: Will mainstream Christian churches do anything more than just study them? Up to now, the mainstream churches’ silence has been deafening! What think ye?

(To read “Reclaiming Jesus” in its entirety and access a study course, visit ReclaimingJesus.org.)

 

Image courtesy of MartaZ* (CC BY 2.0)

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