Sample Newsletter: August 2011 EditionWelcome to the CWRC newsletter. This newsletter is designed to be thought provoking in light of the issues of our world. We also wish to reinforce the timeless elements of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Or, in the words of the apostle Paul, "to testify solemnly (diamartúrasthai) of the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24).
Recently we were asked to take a look at a letter sent to President Obama. The letter was conceived by an organization calling itself CASE which stands for Christians for a Sustainable Economy. The letter was composed in part to address a previous letter (and meeting with President Obama) by a group calling itself The Circle of Protection. This group is led by Jim Wallis, the president of Sojourners.
There are two issues at work here. One is obvious and the other is subtle. The obvious issue is that both groups claim to be Christian. Both groups are quoting the Bible and both groups are appealing to the President for a Christian based solution to the budget crisis. However, the two are in total disagreement as to whom and how the government should help. CASE opts for responsible giving and grassroots involvement. CASE wants more accountability and less big government. CASE wants responsible giving and guided help to ensure that those helped are lifted out of the spiral of continuous poverty.
The Circle of Protection wants to make sure there are no budget cuts that would affect the poor. The idea is to convince the President that the national debt cannot be placed on the backs of the poor and disadvantaged. All social programs that aid the poor should be improved but by no means cut say The Circle of Protection.
It appears to us that CASE has the better plan from Scripture in that their ideas are more in line with accountable giving and disruption of the poverty cycle, with some clear cut biblical mandates. You may look up both organizations and view their points on line. Now let us take a look at the subtle issue. The Circle of Protection group is composed of an array of religious organizations. The dominant party is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. There is a smattering of other religious and social agencies represented in the circle but the Roman Catholics dominate. As we stated earlier, both groups rely heavily on the word "Christian" and use it often in their statements. This is to be expected. The Christian label is ubiquitous in our nation. We lament that religious groups familiar with some biblical language, yet fully unaware of the reality of Christianity, still use the name freely. But all of this aside, here is the danger. In the first sentence of the second paragraph of the CASE letter to the President we read these words: "Wallis and the 'Circle of Protection' do not speak for all Christians…" (our emphasis)
This is what makes it so hard to sign up for this sort of thing. By saying that The Circle of Protection does not speak for all Christians there is a tacit acceptance of Roman Catholicism as an authentic Christian community. And by so doing does this not shape the battle as a skirmish between two very different but nevertheless real and valid Christian communities? We think this subtle recognition is unacceptable. Christians should not be willing to grant such status where it does not belong. In so doing they may win the battle of the budget but they will lose the war for the gospel. The price is too big to pay. rmz