Citing sacred texts

It seems they are always misused when employed to make a political point

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In a Dec. 27 letter (“The Bible Also Backs Up GOP Attempts to Limit the Welfare State”), C. Colpo cites verses from 2 Thessalonians to assert that the Bible supports Republican efforts to limit social welfare benefits.

Mr. Colpo omits the probable authors of 2 Thessalonians (Paul, Silvanus and Timothy), the probable era during which these particular verses were written (the first century A.D.), or the audience (first-century Christians in Thessalonica). In other words, 2 Thessalonians was a letter written to Christians in the first century to provide guidance for how they should conduct their lives. It is interesting to note that Mr. Colpo does not include any reference to the book of Acts in which early Christians held property in common.

As a Christian who views the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as sacred texts, I weary of the ahistorical, literal interpretation of biblical verses to support a political position, be that position on the right or left. To crudely manipulate the text is to dishonor it. Those of us who want to honor the text would do well to acknowledge that “pervasive interpretive pluralism” exists, as University of Notre Dame professor Christian Smith points out in his book, “The Bible Made Impossible.”

My wish for 2014 is that there would be a moratorium on using Scripture to support any political position, lest the sacred text be distorted in the process. Caution and humility are needed on both sides when citing sacred texts in political debates.

Professor and Chair of Political Science
Whitworth University
Spokane, Wash.

The writer is a native of Beaver Falls.

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