Joe noted today some furor over President Obama’s invocation of Luke 12:48 (“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.”) to justify an increasingly progressive tax code at yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast (over at the Acton PowerBlog I write how glad I am that the president stopped reading at Luke 12. Imagine what a tax code based on Luke 19:24-26 would look like!).
By all accounts Eric Metaxas brought down the house with his talk, although from watching the speech online, it seemed to me that it took the crowd a little bit to warm up to him. This says more about the crowd’s stodginess than the merits of his speech, though.
One of the things Metaxas contrasted was “dead religion” with living faith in Jesus Christ. Dead religion, Pharisaism, and legalism use the Bible as a political weapon, he said. Did he have something like the comments from the president in mind?
Now as my friend Joseph Sunde notes, the president did add a caveat to his statement about the tax code by quoting C.S. Lewis: “Christianity has not, and does not profess to have a detailed political program. It is meant for all men at all times, and the particular program which suited one place or time would not suit another.” Joseph calls that “a flat out contradiction of the entire first half of Obama’s address, in which, as detailed above, he methodically explains how his redistributionist schemes are consistent with Biblical teaching.”
Part of the question turns on how strongly you think the president was in his use of Scripture. It’s one thing to say that something is consistent with the Bible; it’s quite another to say that something is mandated by the explicit teaching of the Bible. Here’s some broader context from President Obama’s remarks:
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required”… To answer the responsibility we’re given in Proverbs to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” … Treating others as you want to be treated. Requiring much from those who have been given so much. Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper. Caring for the poor and those in need.