"For Love of Neighbor" is a new documentary film offering a hopeful vision for Christian engagement in politics. Click here to learn more.

What Would Jesus Blog?

One of the simple pleasures I enjoy in life is – and I know this sounds crazy – when former CBS investigative reporter, and current political commentator, Bernie Goldberg makes his weekly visit to The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News.  Goldberg, you may remember, was an award-winning tele-journalist for nearly 20 years on CBS until when in 2001 he penned a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed that called into question the inherent bias of the predominantly liberal mainstream media.  Despite the fact that he had never voted for a Republican in his life, and still maintains Center-Left political views himself, Goldberg was fired from CBS and for the past 9 years or so has been forced to author multiple best-selling books and be a regular contributor on the most-watched cable network on the planet.

This past Monday evening, on The Factor’s weekly “Weekdays with Bernie” segment, the discussion centered around Bernie’s latest syndicated column, “Thank God for the Rich.”  Now, I must preface the rest of my remarks by saying, as I stated in the beginning of this post, that I really enjoy Bernie Goldberg.  I especially appreciate his unique perspective, his humor, and the lively banter he engages in with O’Reilly.  And while I basically agree with the thrust of his column – that “rich” people are the ones who start the companies and spend the money to employ most of us and fund technological innovations, so we shouldn’t harbor the resentment and hatred many of us do towards them– there was something BG said that I felt needed to be addressed.

(For the entire conversation between Goldberg and O’Reilly, click here.)

O’Reilly: How do you react to the Bible passage that says, “It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it would be for a camel to go through a needle’s eye”?

Goldberg: Well, this is going to offend even my friends out there in TV-land…I don’t care what the Bible says on matters like that.  As a matter of fact, you know, Jesus would be – except for one or two issues maybe – a liberal Democrat if he were around today.  So I don’t care. We’re not governed (in this country) by the Bible.

Where to start, where to start…

First, Old Bilbo (a self-described “Irish Catholic”) should never have asked such an out-of-place question on a political talk show.  As an avid viewer of The Factor for the past decade, I know first-hand that Bill isn’t, shall we say, theologically adept enough to wade through the implications of Christ’s message to the rich young ruler.  In the context of their discussion, and Bernie’s column, I can see why O’Reilly thought it would be a clever, controversial question to ask, but I feel it was in poor taste.  It put Goldberg (a Jewish man) in the awkward position of having to critique the teachings of the Christian Messiah.  Clearly neither of the two men had a firm grasp on the text in question.

Second, while Goldberg’s commentary on the hypothetical political affiliations Jesus would have if he were he physically among us today is par-for-the-course in the minds of many Americans, I couldn’t disagree more thoroughly with the assertion that Christ would be a liberal Democrat.  Let’s think through the major issues of the day.

Would Jesus be pro-choice?  Would Jesus support gay marriage?  The legalization of marijuana?  How about something like welfare, which has enslaved people to generational poverty and devastated the black family in this country since “The Great Society” was enacted 45 years ago?

What about the centralization of power in the hands of fewer and fewer people that big-government liberals and progressives hold as a core tenet of their ideology?  Or the policy of having A take from B to give to C, and then calling that “compassion”?

Certainly there are legitimate debates that can arise over how God would feel about “conservative” things like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but those debates happen on the Right already.

Biblical principles and teachings such as property rights, personal responsibility, the right to life, building a society on faith and the family, and a de-centralization of power here on earth are the pillars upon which what we happen to call “conservatism” today has been built.

I generally agree with Bernie Goldberg, but here he got it wrong and it’s a fruitful exercise to be able to critique your own “side.”