The Disaster of Compassion

The Banner for the Barmen Declaration, a statement written by Christians opposed to Hitler's agenda in Germany

Like anyone else in this country, I have my own political opinions.  Those who know me personally or read this blog are probably aware of the directions in which I tend to lean.  However, I normally try to avoid a direct discussion of partisan politics on this blog.  I fervently believe that the kingdom of God cannot be reduced to the platform a political party (of whatever ideological stripe).

In that vein, I normally choose to not acknowledge the polarized “infotainment” of both right and left.  It is my opinion that neither Michael Moore nor Glenn Beck are worth my precious time.  However, a recent rant by Bill O’Reilly has captured my attention.

Click here to read Mr. O’Reilly’s column in its entirety.

Mr. O’Reilly is responding to the question, “What does a moral society owe to the have-nots?”

“There comes a time when compassion can cause disaster. If you open your home to scores of homeless folks, you will not have a home for long…

…Personal responsibility is usually the driving force behind success.

But there are millions of Americans who are not responsible, and the cold truth is that the rest of us cannot afford to support them.

Every fair-minded person should support government safety nets for people who need assistance through no fault of their own. But guys like [U.S. Rep. Jim] McDermott don’t make distinctions like that. For them, the baby Jesus wants us to provide no matter what the circumstance. Being a Christian, I know that while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive.

The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?”

What strikes me is the similarity between Mr. O’Reilly’s comments and the following passage:

“We know something of Christian duty and love toward the helpless, but we demand the protection of the nation from the incapable and inferior… We want an Evangelical Church which roots in the national character, and we repudiate the spirit of a Christian cosmopolitanism.”

This sentence appears as part of the platform for the so-called “German Christians” who were ardent supporters of Hitler’s Nazi agenda during the Third Reich.  Pastors such as Paul Tillich, Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer vehemently opposed this agenda (some of them paid for their opposition with their lives).  I found the above passage in chapter 2 of Shirley Guthrie’s classic: Christian Doctrine, Rev.Ed. (WJK: 1994).

There are many things one could say in response to this, but I think I will let the passages from O’Reilly’s column and the “German Christian” platform simply stand side-by-side.

In his typical tongue-in-cheek manner, Stephen Colbert had this to say in response to Mr. O’Reilly:

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we have to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition (and then admit that we just don’t want to do it).”

I highly recommend hearing Colbert in his own voice.  A link to the video is posted below:

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/368914/december-16-2010/jesus-is-a-liberal-democrat

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