FAITH FILE: Hillary To Preach The Gospel; Just Not The One About Jesus
Hillary Clinton shockingly failed in her long quest to become President of the United States, so she is now taking up another mission and, although unexpected, it’s one she’s been pursuing far longer than becoming America’s Chief Executive. She wants to become a gospel preacher.
We know that’s her desire because she recently told her longtime pastor, who told The Atlantic’s Emma Green, who in turn penned a highly readable article full of fascinating details. It’s been on Clinton’s mind since 1994 when she told Newsweek editor Kenneth Woodward, according to Green.
But which gospel does Clinton want to preach?
Traditional Christians for more than two millennia have understood “The Gospel” to mean the good news about the grace of Jesus Christ. Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Protestants differ on how His grace is received, but there is no disagreement about why it is needed — all of us have the sin problem.
If you have ever been envious, selfish, hateful, spiteful, lustful, vengeful, or any of the hundreds of other daily manifestations of “Me first” thought and action, then you, like me, have the sin problem. God is perfectly righteous, but we’re not, so He has to make a way for us to be with Him.
John 3:16 is likely the classic description of how He makes that way and it comes during Jesus’ talk with Nicodemus about what being “born again” means: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” His resurrection is the proof of His claims.
That’s not how Clinton describes the gospel. She spoke at length about it during a 2014 speech to the United Methodist Women meeting in Louisville, Ky. Her Methodist church membership has been important to Clinton since her childhood.
Of the United Methodist Church of Park Ridge, Ill., Clinton said “I loved that church. I loved how it made me feel about myself. I loved the doors that it opened in my understanding of the world and I loved the way it helped to deepen my faith and ground it …”
What it grounded her faith in, she explained, was “the great obligation of social gospel, and, for me, having faith, hope and love in action was exactly what we were called to do. I took that very seriously and have tried, tried to be guided in my own life ever since as an advocate for children and families, for women and men around the world who are oppressed and persecuted, denied their human rights and human dignity.”
If that sounds familiar, it should because it is a contemporary summary of the Social Gospel, the 19th Century movement that grew mostly, though not entirely, out of Mainline Protestant churches that converted the Christian ethic of loving thy neighbor into the political, social and economic agendas of secular liberalism.
Social Gospel proponents were and are today found in all of the major denominations. Among the most prominent at the outset of the movement was Walter Waschenbusch, a Baptist minister who, according to Christopher H. Evans, “linked Christianity to emerging theories of democratic socialism which, he believed, would lead to equality and a just society.”
In other words, The Gospel is about the grace of the Resurrected Jesus Christ changing the hearts of sinful men, whereas the Social Gospel is about men acting on what Clinton calls their “very strong sense of what was right and what was wrong and what justice demanded.”
The former changes people from the inside out in the transformation Christians call being “born again.” The latter seeks to change the outward circumstances of people. Born-again Christians take The Gospel to the ends of the earth, as Jesus commanded. Social Gospel followers advocate for social justice and campaign to make government their tool for making it so.
Clinton’s Louisville address ran to 4,131 words. Despite its length, however, Jesus appears only as she discusses His feeding of the 5,000. She notes that when the disciples suggest the multitude be dismissed for the night to fend for themselves, Jesus told them “you feed them.”
Then she puts a twist on it: “Feed them, rescue them, heal them and love them.”
Jesus put His own twist on it: ““I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
Hillary Clinton shockingly failed in her long quest to become President of the United States, so she is now taking up another mission and, although unexpected, it's one she's been pursuing far longer
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