What Would Jesus Cut: Jim Wallis and the Line-Item Gospel

Today at Values & Capitalism, I join a chorus of voices that have been responding to Jim Wallis’ recent “What Would Jesus Cut?” campaign, in which he lays out Jesus’ preferred policy preferences in a cute little bulleted list (read more of his thoughts here).

In my critique, I focus on Wallis’ failure (or refusal) to address the actual economic arguments of the conservative evangelicals he disparages. In addition, I take a look at the narrow-minded view of the Gospel that results from such an approach.

Here’s an excerpt:

Rather than even consider whether conservative evangelicals might disagree with him on the actual success of such programs, Wallis skips past all of that, quickly stamping the “Love of God” label on his select list of Jesus-approved policies.

Wallis does not explain how bed nets will actually help the poor (as opposed to being sold on the black market, most likely for extra liquor). He does not explain how various social programs will actually alleviate poverty (as opposed to disintegrating family and creating slaves of the State). He does not explain why he thinks tax cuts for the rich will hurt the downtrodden (as opposed to helping them).

This unwillingness to even pay attention to the arguments of the opposing side is something I have come to see as common among progressive Christians. For many, if a policy is labeled as “pro-poor” it should simply be assumed to be effective. Any questioning of such policies is condemned as cumbersome at best and anti-Jesus at worst:

Rather than focus on the root economic disagreements and engage in deeper discussion, there is a tendency toward hasty advocacy of “action” on behalf of the poor, regardless of the real-world implications or results. Rather than talk about the earthly-realm implications of a higher-realm mission, or the actual economic science involved in completing that mission, such discussions are quickly curbed, avoided, or cut off altogether as a “LEAST OF THESE” sign is shoved promptly in the opponent’s face.

But if one is really going to take the risk of propping up Jesus in defense of some faulted economic policy (and yes, all of them are faulted to some extent), one should be ready discuss — or at least recognize — the significant doubts surrounding that particular policy or position.

To read the full post, click here.

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  • David

    The fact that the government needs a safety net to catch those who would slip between the cracks of our economic system is evidence that I have failed to do God’s work. The government cannot take the place of Christian charity. A loving embrace isn’t given with food stamps. The care of a community isn’t provided with government housing. The face of our Creator can’t be seen on a welfare voucher. What the poor need is not another government program; what they need is for Christians like me to honor our savior.
    i am in agreement

    the red cross, had once (early on) refused federal funds specifying that doing so would destroy the populations prerogative to help directly

    there is an account that a president refused ( he vetoed a bill) to fund citizens suffering from natural disaster in texas, th e people them selves returned the favor by donating directly ( peer to peer) 10x what the congress had allocated

    there are many time is the bible that God “waits” until ONLY he can do a thing

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/45927508733997056 Remnant Culture

    My comments on Jim Wallis and "What Would Jesus Cut" are posted at @CommonConcept (w/ a nod to @RayNothstine). http://bt.io/GmzD

  • http://twitter.com/evangeltweet/status/45935046246408192 Evangelical

    What Would Jesus Cut: Jim Wallis and the Line-Item Gospel «Remnant … http://bit.ly/fIjxgX #Jesus #christ #god

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/45938337785192448 Joseph Sunde

    RT @CommonConcept: "What Would Jesus Cut: Jim Wallis and the Line-Item Gospel" – @josephsunde comments on #TwoSenseBlog http://j.mp/dSsqdV

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  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/98803338589650944 Remnant Culture

    From the archives: Why is "What Would Jesus Cut?" the wrong question? http://fb.me/1aF1ANb06

  • http://twitter.com/commonconcept/status/98860706388119554 Common Sense Concept

    RT @RemnantCulture: From the archives: Why is "What Would Jesus Cut?" the wrong question? http://fb.me/1aF1ANb06

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