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The Perils of Presidential Prooftexting (Obama citing scripture at Prayer Breakfast)
Acton Institute ^ | February 3, 2012 | JORDAN J. BALLOR

Posted on 02/05/2012 6:01:37 AM PST by NYer

Much has been made already about President Obama’s comments yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast concerning the Christian faith’s teachings about social responsibility. During his time at the breakfast, the president opined that getting rid of tax breaks for wealthy Americans amounted to a Christian obligation:

In a time when many folks are struggling and at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income or young people with student loans or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually thinks that’s going to make economic sense. But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that, from to whom much is given, much shall be required.

The president is referring to the passage that concludes Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the watchful servants in Luke 12. It’s a good thing that the president isn’t the theologian-in-chief!

As Breanne Howe has pointed out (HT: The Transom), the text itself has to do with the basic idea of stewardship (the best resource for exploring the truly biblical conception of stewardship in its fullness is the NIV Stewardship Study Bible). I do think Howe draws a bit too sharply the lines between obligations and giving, as she writes, “Giving out of obligation is not truly giving, it’s merely following the rules.” There’s a complex relationship between legal requirements, moral obligations, and Christian gratitude that can’t be summed up by simply juxtaposing Christian charitable giving and government taxation.

But at the same time, paying your taxes can’t be simply conflated with meeting Christian social obligations, either. Christians are to pay taxes, certainly, but that doesn’t mean that Christian social responsibility is reducible to paying taxes.

More problematic, perhaps, is this latter identification, with our responsibilities before God being transferred to our responsibilities to government. If the president can use a text like Luke 12:48 to argue for progressive taxation, then what kind of tax policy should we implement on the basis of Luke 19:24-26?

Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

“‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

It’s too easy and sometimes irresistibly tempting to move directly from the text of Scripture to the text of legislation.

Prooftexting for the purpose of political posturing does violence to the Scriptures and damages our public discourse. That might be the most important political lesson arising from yesterday’s breakfast.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: obama; scripture; taxation

1 posted on 02/05/2012 6:01:49 AM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...
Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico now joins the fray, having been called upon by Fox News Channel to add his insight to the discussion. In case you missed yesterday’s appearance on “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” we’ve got it for you.

Watch the Video

2 posted on 02/05/2012 6:03:29 AM PST by NYer ("Be kind to every person you meet. For every person is fighting a great battle." St. Ephraim)
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To: NYer

Social Justice is communism and taking over many churches.

Pray for America


3 posted on 02/05/2012 6:06:04 AM PST by bray (More Batting Practice for the Bambino)
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To: bray
Thou shalt not kill babies. King Solomon

Thou shall not be inconvenienced by a baby...kill it!! King Obama

4 posted on 02/05/2012 6:09:17 AM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: NYer

bump


5 posted on 02/05/2012 6:22:45 AM PST by Christian4Bush (PSA. As of 2/5/12, 275/350 days 'til we vote out/take out the trash. (11/6/12, 1/20/13))
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To: NYer

Every time Obama props for new or higher taxes to help the needy, remind him of the words of Jeses:

“‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”

LOL


6 posted on 02/05/2012 6:25:55 AM PST by plangent
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To: All

The Harbinger from Isaiah - Daschle and Edwards curse America and don’t even understand the context of the Scripture they chose out of 31+ thousand verses.

on 9/12/2001 and 9/11/2004, respectively.

Obama on numerous occasions has shown he’s roughly as adept. For a Christian, he sure spends a lot of time promoting and apologizing for islam.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlrDYRVlUf0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcsv4t9SzTg


7 posted on 02/05/2012 6:30:32 AM PST by F15Eagle (1 John 5:4-5, 4:15, 5:13; John 3:17-18, 6:69, 11:25, 14:6, 20:31; Rom10:8-11; 1 Tim 2:5; Titus 3:4-5)
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To: NYer

Obama is a communist/liberation theology type. The heart of Christianity is based on the individual free will of each person and their own charitable (alms) choices.


8 posted on 02/05/2012 6:49:50 AM PST by stonehouse01 (Equal rights for unborn women)
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To: bray

“Social Justice is communism and taking over many churches ...”

So true - the so called progressives in the catholic church are rampant - I understand it infests mainline protestant churches as well.


9 posted on 02/05/2012 6:52:13 AM PST by stonehouse01 (Equal rights for unborn women)
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To: stonehouse01
So true - the so called progressives in the catholic church are rampant - I understand it infests mainline protestant churches as well.

It sure does.

10 posted on 02/05/2012 6:53:54 AM PST by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the ark...www.siameserescue.org.)
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To: NYer
Democrats raise taxes. That's what they do.

Each Dem president just has to find his own way of selling it to the numbnuts who elected him.
Nothing new here.

11 posted on 02/05/2012 6:56:30 AM PST by cloudmountain
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To: NYer; NKP_Vet; Monkey Face; RIghtwardHo; pieces of time; Warthog-2; Tzar; word_warrior_bob; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.


12 posted on 02/05/2012 7:18:25 AM PST by narses
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To: NYer

Iz has to pay my taxez so iz can go to heavens


13 posted on 02/05/2012 7:23:17 AM PST by sgtyork (The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom, courage. Thucydides)
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To: Sacajaweau

TAGLINE


14 posted on 02/05/2012 7:23:53 AM PST by hattend (Jesus wants me to make churches pay for abortions. - Barack Obama)
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To: Sacajaweau

Thou shalt not be PUNISHED with a baby — King Obama.


15 posted on 02/05/2012 7:31:40 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: NYer

The Ten Gold Coins (Or Ten Pounds)

Bearing Fruit

LK 19:11-27

So he said, "A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, 'Engage in trade with these until I return.' His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, 'We do not want this man to be our king.' But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, 'Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.' He replied, 'Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.' Then the second came and reported, 'Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.' And to this servant too he said, 'You, take charge of five cities.' Then the other servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding person; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.' He said to him, 'With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.' And to those standing by he said, 'Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.' But they said to him, 'Sir, he has ten gold coins.' 'I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.'" (LK 19:12-27)



16 posted on 02/05/2012 8:02:41 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

The Master's Return

Being Prepared for Judgment

MT 24:45-51

MK 13:34-37

LK 12:35-48

"Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." (Taken from LK 12:35-40, 45-48)



17 posted on 02/05/2012 8:10:39 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

The Talents

Bearing Fruit / Proper Stewardship

MT 25:14-30

"It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one - to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master's money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.' Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, 'Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.' His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'" (Taken from MT 25:14-21, 24-30)


18 posted on 02/05/2012 8:12:02 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

You have God given gifts. Use them wisely and for good and the glory of God, don’t hide them away.

Odd co-incidence, it was our Priest’s text today.


19 posted on 02/05/2012 9:32:09 AM PST by EnglishCon
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To: Salvation

xthree - a trinity

Thank you Salvation —


20 posted on 02/05/2012 1:06:00 PM PST by stonehouse01 (Equal rights for unborn women)
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To: EnglishCon

You are blessed - our diocese never discusses the important issues -


21 posted on 02/05/2012 1:08:08 PM PST by stonehouse01 (Equal rights for unborn women)
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To: stonehouse01

What is more important than the way we live our lives?

I know, our live hereafter, but our Father is very very down to Earth. Said it before and I will say it again, I am lucky.


22 posted on 02/05/2012 1:58:47 PM PST by EnglishCon
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To: narses
http://www.investors.com/image/TOONclr0206.jpg.cms

Link only per copyright.

23 posted on 02/05/2012 4:27:11 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGS Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: narses
Obama to Catholics: Kiss My . . .

Link only per copyright.

24 posted on 02/05/2012 4:28:09 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGS Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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