This is going to be quite a rant, so if you’re not interested in reading about the intersection of theology and politics, and why some conservatives are a bit brain-dead, there’s nothing to see here, move along. By the way, I’d use MoveableType’s extended entry system, but I doubt the template for it is set up, so the entry would look terrible….


I’ve become a regular reader of King Kaufman’s daily sports column on Salon. A few weeks ago, he commented about Rush Limbaugh’s new gig on ESPN’s Sunday Countdown football show. Nothing terribly negative, just the same sort of thing you heard when Dennis Miller got the gig on Monday Night Football. Well, the Freeper got wind that someone had something negative to say about their mouthpiece, and someone started a little discussion about it. The discussion begins around a fairly innocuous comment by King (“Football is nothing like life”), but as conservatives, someone had to claim that because of that comment, Kaufman is a limp, pencil-necked liberal.

But even that didn’t bother me much. I mean, I like what Kaufman writes, but I don’t know him, and I’m not going to be upset if someone verbally assaults him. But one comment did anger me. A lot.

Jesus: “Those who are not with us are against us.”

Kaufman would probably have trouble with that one, too. Unlike Kaufman and modern Europeans, Jesus saw things in terms of black and white, and advocated a straight path. Too simplistic for the sophisticates.

First, what exactly does the quote from Christ have to do with the discussion at hand? Suddenly, because Kaufman believes that football doesn’t mirror life, not only is he a pinko-communist, he’s also anti-God. The second part of the comment angered me too, but the poster had this to say as well:

Football used to be like life used to be…The best man for the job…hard work and preparation pay off in the end…

But now football is quickly becoming too much like life has become under liberalism…quotas, affirmative action hiring policies, the United Way…

Ahh, yes, the good old days.

Now, here’s where the theology starts. After much thought and time spent looking over the New Testament, I’ve come to the conclusion (along with many other folks) that Jesus was a subversive. The very basis for His coming was to complete the old covenant established with the Jews, and begin the new covenant, which moved faith in God away from the law (the Ten Commandments) and toward grace and redemption (but that’s another discussion). The Jewish leaders were waiting for a messiah who would come with military might and defeat the Roman empire and return the Promised Land to God’s people, but instead, the messiah came as a humble carpenter who taught peace and love. Jesus was, in many ways, everything many Jews weren’t waiting for. And what he taught went against the rigid law these people were fighting to protect.

That said, I’m going to make an assumption about what this poster believes about Christianity. Obviously, he/she believes that hard work is a mark of the Christian (which I don’t necessarily disagree with). But this is taken further — if you’re not for hard work, and the best man winning, you’re obviously a liberal, and therefore not a true Christian. Hmmm. So Christ only rewards people that work hard, right? Hmmm.

First, how about Luke 23:32-43. Hanging from the cross, a thief crucified next to Jesus asks Christ to remember him. Jesus’ response? It wasn’t “too bad fella, you had your chance. You think you’re getting away with this?”. It was:

“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

To recap, a convicted criminal asks Jesus to remember him (he doesn’t even specifically ask for forgiveness) and Jesus says you will be with me heaven. That could be the most subversive passage in the Bible. Jesus’ action flies in the face of the Old Testament law (which would have the man put to death) and it flies in the face of the leadership of the day.

How about another example? Perhaps Matthew 9:1-8. Jesus heals a paralytic. Let’s put this into a bit of context first.

The typical conservative doesn’t like welfare or government assistance because they are free handouts. There are no strings attached. You could a single parent receiving welfare, and you could be the best parent trying to make it with little, or you could be a crack addict who doesn’t know your kids’ names, but you still get the money. Conservatives just can’t handle that. But take a look at this passage. No where does the writer say the paralytic was a man of faith (though it does say the people who brought him were). No where does it say that the paralytic was trying really hard to live a normal life, or that he refused help from people because he didn’t think that was right. Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven, but the teachers of the law don’t like this, and claim he is blaspheming. Jesus’ response? He heals the paralytic and goes on His way. No-strings-attached forgiveness. Now, there are cases where Jesus added “and sin no more” (the story of the adultress comes to mind), but even then, the gospel writer never checks up the woman to be sure she’s doing what she’s supposed to. Her sins are still forgiven at that point.

In both cases, Jesus subverts the old law, and shows what love really is. And the powers that were saw it as subversion — Jesus was everything they didn’t believe in. And personally, I think many conservatives would see Jesus as a pinko communist if he walked the earth today — a person helping the underprivledged, asking nothing in return. Going back to the original Freeper post “If you’re not with us, you’re against” — Jesus came to put aside the old way (“how life used to be…”) and teach a new way. If you’re not for Christ, you’re against Him.