amy courts: en route


Was Jesus a Socialist: The Discussion Continues…

A point of clarification I’m allowed to make 30-comments-in, just because I’m the blog owner (and I get to do what I want): While I believe the Christian values of caring for the needy, and the least being treated as the greatest are reflected in socialism, I don’t believe Jesus was an *actual* socialist, or that He would – were He walking among us today – endorse any of the various forms of government. In fact, I believe that since the Devil is currently in charge of the world’s governments (according to Matt. 4:8-10, when the Devil offered Jesus all the Kingdoms of the world [which Jesus turned down, obviously] which implies they were the Devil’s to offer), none will ever earn the endorsement of Christ. I ought to have said that from the start instead of saying “Jesus sanctioned socialism.” I was dumb to have said that…or at very least, not paying attention. But, you live and read comments and learn and amend. Moving along…

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I won’t lie: I’m a little frustrated right now. My brother-in-law, who is a pastor in McCook, NE and blogs on theology, apologetics, culture, and more as part of his church’s ministry, responded in his own blog to my post-election thoughts. But that’s not what’s making me nuts. What’s driving me crazy is the fact that I can’t log in to respond to his blog on his blog.

So I’m left with one option: to move his blog over here and continue the discussion. I certainly don’t mind – but in fact, find immense joy – in the conversation.

I just hate technology sometimes.

Anyway, I’d like to respond point-by-point to his responsive blog entitled “Jesus Institued Socialism?” (which I’ll only quote here in red, to save space, but can be found in full here):

[Quoted from my previous blog: What we see happening in Acts 2 is exactly that: socialism, if not communism, even. The equal distribution and sharing of all wealth, goods, and property among all people so that no one is richer and thus more significant, or poorer and thus less significant.]

First, one will notice that Jesus is not even present.

Really!? Jesus wasn’t present with the early Church!?

Forgive the sarcasm. I think it should be obvious that while Jesus may not have been <i>physically</i> present with the early Church, He was most certainly present in their hearts, at the forefront of their thoughts, His principles, values, and teachings foremost in their consideration of how to “set up shop.” To assert otherwise is just plain silly. His promised Holy Spirit was among them, reminding them of Christ’s Way. So while Jesus may not have explicitly said, “This is how I want you to live in community with one another, by sharing everything,” His daily teachings and the way in which He continually engaged with His twelve closest disciples and hundreds of other followers is certainly reflected in their “share all things; have everything in common” lifestyle. They were, indeed, continuing His work in His Way. Whether sanctioned by explicit word or implied by deed, their way was Christ’s Way.

Second, we must consider that the church, not the government, is the primary subject here. There are distinct roles given to church and distinct roles given to government. What is the right and responsibility of one is not necessarily the right and responsibility of the other.

Indeed, the Church IS the primary subject here. However, while it’s not our government’s responsibility to obey Scripture, it is arguably every American Christian’s right and responsibility to vote for the candidate we believe most fully (though will never completely) reflects our Biblical values and makes Christian priorities National priorities (or abstain from voting if participating violates one’s conscience). This doesn’t mean seeking, electing, or promoting a “Christian” President, but supporting a platform that reflects Christ’s heart for people. (And, inevitably, we will often disagree about who’s platform best reflects Christian values.)


Third, Acts is written as historical narrative. It is not didactic in nature so what we find there is a record of what happened, but not necessarily what should be. A good example of this is the life of the patriarchs described in Genesis. Many were polygamists. We cannot make the leap that just because something is recorded that it therefore has God’s sanction. We must go elsewhere for our doctrine of marriage. In Acts we see that people are doing something (sharing their things), but that in no way makes it normative.

First, that Acts is written in historical narrative does not negate its usefulness as a model for the current day Church. In this instance, I believe the early Church is a model for the Church today and forever. Why? Because they lived, breathed, ate, and drank the life and teachings of Christ. Having been born of His death, resurrection, and ascension, and being the only examples we have of people who knew Christ in person as close friend, Savior, and God, it seems obvious by extention that their fellowship without His physical presence would model the fellowship they shared with Him. Theirs are the nearest hearts to (and thus, I’d say, the most reflective of) Christ’s heart for His established Church, all people worldwide, and future of His Kingdom that we can see modeled in action. They were living and setting up shop in the wake of the single most defining moment in the history of the God-human relationship. No doubt they did everything with deliberation in light of all Christ did and taught, explicitly and implicitly.

Second, I find the example of the patriarchs and their polygamy ill-fitting to the context, since polygamy was expressly condemned numerous times throughout the Mosaic Law (most notably in the Ten Commandments). We find no such condemnation – implicit or otherwise – of the Way of the early Church. His endorsement of their Way, though not explicit, I believe is inferred simply by their doing it.

Third, while its record in Acts doesn’t make the sharing of all things normative, the more-than 2,000 commands in Scripture to care for the orphan and widow, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and otherwise treat the least as the greatest certainly support their communistic fellowship as “standard behavior” for Christians. Certainly Christ’s explicit warning in Matthew 25:31-46 in which He describes exactly how He will separate the sheep from the goats – i.e. by whether or not we have fed the hungry, quenched the thirsty, clothed the naked, visited the prisoner, and welcomed the stranger – serves as ample evidence that this is the Kingdom Way: to give selflessly from every possible reserve, whether financial, time, or goods.


Should Christians be gracious? Yes. Compassionate? Yes. But here is the catch: grace cannot be mandated. For grace to be grace it cannot be a requirement. If it is required (such as a wage) it is justice, not grace. The church can therefore encourage its members to live out these virtues, but not even the church can put it into ecclesiastical law.

While I agree that giving and service to the church ought to be a matter of graciousness and selflessness – the deliberate decision of a cheerful giver (which God loves) – the mandate to care for the fatherless and the widow is, again, not optional. I don’t know how to make this more clear than to italicize and embold: True Christ-followers will be known, defined, and separated based on how they actively respond to the greatest commandment to Love the Lord their God with all heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. (Matt. 23:37-39, 1 John 2:3) Christ’s example, His teaching, and the teaching of His nearest discipes make abundantly and irrefutably clear that ours is a family, a nation, marked by love made evident in service, that the world may come to know the glory and salvation of Christ. We will be known (and judged, eternally) by our love and how its expressed in our selflessness (John 15:13, 1 John 3:16).

This is born out a few chapters later in chapter 5 when Ananias and Sapphira sell their goods and give it to the church (as we saw in ch 2). Their problem was that they lied. Peter makes it quite clear (v4) that they had no obligation to give it to the church. It was their money to do with as they pleased.

The difference here is that we’re not talking about tithing to the church or selling their stuff to give to the church.

We’re talking about the Biblical mandate, seen both explicitly and implictly throughout the entirety of Scripture and laid out in detail by Christ Himself, to care and provide for those in need, both physically and spiritually. This is not a matter of finances, but of how the true Gospel is spread and disciples are made.

If not even the church, as God’s ordained institution for effecting his will on earth, can make such demands on people, how can we legitimately make the leap to the government doing it?

Here we part ways. I believe God has commanded His people to care for and plead on behalf of the poor, impoverished, and desperately-in-need. And I believe my vote for Obama, whose policies reflect the Christian values and obligation to care for the least of these, is as justified by Scripture (I’d even argue more justified) as the votes of so many Believers who voted for McCain “on behalf of the unborn.”

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The Randomness: A Generalized Update

I’ve got a cold, so this may be random. But hey, what can you do with a cloudy braid but write a blog about everything?

I just read a blog entitled “The Music Debate” about the place of “secular” music in the church. Interesting. It got me thinking about the calling card of so many mid-90’s bands: “We’re not a ‘christian’ band; we’re christians IN a band.” I remember MXPX going on about it – mostly cause they were being hounded by Christians who didn’t appreciate their not-all-about-God music. I guess I didn’t really have a problem with it. What I had a problem with were the people who said, “I’m a musician who happens to be a Christian.” Cause that’s backward, to me.

Here’s why: Whatever I am, and whatever I do, I am identified by and with Christ. His blood runs in my veins; His DNA is imprinted on my genes; His priorities are my priorities, His values are my values; His new law of love and service and self-sacrifice are written on my heart. God is growing Christ in me to make me who I really am. At my very core, by definition, I belong to Christ and am identified as His.

So really, my faith is not just another part of who I am. It is the filter through which every other identifying factor is sifted. My belief system is a product of my faith. My politics are a product of my faith. My songs are all tempered – or salted, as it were – by my faith. The way I relate to people is filtered by Him who lives at my center. Indeed, whether I’m singing about my husband, hurting because of a broken relationship, angry about work, or overjoyed by an opportunity, I am doing so as a Believer, just as I’m doing so as a ‘Courts.’ Just as my family DNA has an effect on everything I do and say, so does Christ’s. It’s who I am…not just what I’m about.

So, in the end, I’m not an artist who happens to be a Christian. I am a Christian who happens to be an artist, a wife, a friend, a sister, a dog owner, a writer, a thinker. Whatever I am is primarily identified by Christ in me.

It’s just an interesting thread to follow.

Here’s another thread to follow: I’m a little bit obsessed with ebay and craigslist right now. Since our desktop PC crashed and now lives, unplugged and utterly useless, in our closet, I have been scouring tax-free sales lists for sweet deals on iMacs. Indeed, when I decided to buy my first laptop two years ago, I bought an Apple iBook G3 which solidified my committment to Macs. Then, when its screen started acting funny, I bought my second mac, a PowerBook G4 which I’ve upgraded to the max (it runs on Leopard with a 1.5gHz processor – the best of its kind – and at 1.25gb, is maxed out Ram) and am currently typing on. I love it. It’s given me some trouble for sure – not two months after I bought it, I had to get a new hard drive and dc-in…but I blame that entirely on an evil ebay seller who neglected to tell me the facts about the machine. Still, it’s a dream.

And so, as I peruse the cybersales looking for an iMac desktop, I inevitably get sidetracked by the oh-so-cheap $85 350gb external hard drive, and the $400 Dell gaming pc which Paul would love, Love, LOVE but about which I’m understandably wary, since our now-dead PC was a dream machine when we bought it, but which failed to make it through one itty bitty viral attack. So while I like the “cheap” factor, I hate the “PC” factor.

The worst part about our PC dying is the fact that I cannot access our 10gb of iTunes music, and can’t transfer what’s currently on the iPod to my de-lovely powerbook. Why? Because my iPod is formatted for PC, not mac, and because apple is totally anal about people not sharing music. So I’ve spent the last few sick days importing all our CDs onto my powerbook. I’m currently importing Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Will.” Good music, for sure.

I think that’s all I’ve got for right now.

Except one more thing: I really can’t wait for next Wednesday when voting will be over, the campaigns done, and we won’t have to listen to any more drivel from either side. At this point, I don’t really care who wins; I just want to get on with life.

Can I get an AMEN!