Left-Wing Christianity vs. Right-Wing Christianity

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NeantHumain
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03 Aug 2008, 12:37 pm

In the United States, Christianity seems to have at least two major strains: what may be called left wing (here) and what may be called right wing or fundamentalist. The left wing tends to be less directly politically involved or at least not involved in the name of their church; it keeps a healthy separation of church and state. Left-wing Christianity emphasizes personal discovery of meaning, compassion for the less fortunate, peace, and tolerance of diversity (including differences of religious belief); they are less inclined to proselytize constantly and in the most annoying way possible, preferring instead to set an example that others may find attractive. In sharp contrast, right-wing Christianity, or fundamentalism, is at times very nearly indistinguishable from the Republican Party; its evangelists often promote political positions that seem to have little to do with religion and everything to do with the Republican Party. Right-wing Christianity is extremely insular and paranoid, projecting "sin" onto all those who do not share their exact beliefs, which requires them to enact draconian laws to check the nonbelievers' sinfulness. Instead of compassion, they emphasize, "The Lord helps those who help themselves." If their church does charity or missionary work, help is often just a carrot to bludgeon the needy into belief (only offering food if the Third Worlder listens to a sermon, for example, or requiring an oath of faith). They look forward to being the heavenly elect who will look down to the wicked burning in hell. They prefer to create a secondary culture of alternative, explicitly Christian versions of everything: rock music, children's TV shows, small businesses, etc.

Now to me it seems as if right-wing Christianity is a distortion of the religion for political gain, but maybe it's the inverse. Is left-wing Christianity's emphasis on compassion, good acts, and tolerance a political creation of the Left? Is fundamentalism the true practice of Christianity as its proponents claim? Is Christianity in its purest, most fundamental form an agent of hatred and selfishness as the fundamentalists show?



ed
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03 Aug 2008, 1:00 pm

Left-wing Christians worship Jesus. Right-wing Christians worship Paul.


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Awesomelyglorious
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03 Aug 2008, 3:12 pm

I think the division you see is very overstated. There are a number of scales amongst Christians:

fundamentalism vs liberalism
authoritarianism vs individualism
sinfulness(the law) vs redemption(grace)
Government for God vs Government against God
justified violence vs pacifism
communalism vs individualism

and perhaps some others.

The right you see would be fundamentalist, authoritarian, focused upon sin, views the Government as God's servant, believes in justified violence, and more individualist than communal, however, the break down does not necessarily have to be that simple, it just often is. The Christian left is basically the opposite of the right, except usually not on the point of "government for God", as they usually try to use their religious values for their voting as well, they just emphasize different values so they usually do not get labeled as combining church and state.

I think that a major part of your view of Christianity is just really slanted, and is completely ignoring that Christianity is a part of the US culture. Neither strain is created for political gain, and neither strain really is entirely wrong. The extremes are, but conservative Christians try to worship Jesus just as liberal Christians do, and I would say that the bigger dividing point between the two groups would potentially be just "fundamentalism vs liberalism" in terms of the hermeneutic, as otherwise, I think that many conservative Christians would be able to get along with liberal Christians and vice versa on the basis of a common referent doctrine.



greenblue
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04 Aug 2008, 12:09 am

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
I think the division you see is very overstated. There are a number of scales amongst Christians:

fundamentalism vs liberalism
authoritarianism vs individualism
sinfulness(the law) vs redemption(grace)
Government for God vs Government against God
justified violence vs pacifism
communalism vs individualism

But, those seem to ilustrate right-wing (conservative/fundamentalist) christians vs left-wing (liberal) christians actually, in all these aspects. Although the thread might refer mostly to evangelical and protestant christianity, which is the majority in the US, when it comes to catholics there is also divisions, some liberals and some conservatives.


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Last edited by greenblue on 04 Aug 2008, 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

Awesomelyglorious
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04 Aug 2008, 12:17 am

greenblue wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
I think the division you see is very overstated. There are a number of scales amongst Christians:

fundamentalism vs liberalism
authoritarianism vs individualism
sinfulness(the law) vs redemption(grace)
Government for God vs Government against God
justified violence vs pacifism
communalism vs individualism

But, those seem to ilustrate right-wing christians vs left-wing christians actually, in all these aspects. Although the thread might refer mostly to evangelical and protestant christianity, which is the majority in the US, when it comes to catholics there is also divisions, some liberals and some conservatives.

A major issue that I am emphasizing is that there isn't an overall binary quality, but rather a set of various, very different qualities on a continuum. I am not denying the possibility of the "ideal right" or "ideal left", but simply de-emphasizing the notion.



oscuria
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04 Aug 2008, 2:34 am

There is no such thing as a traditional Christian in America.

Jesus cannot be divided and neither can he be usurped by any political party in the US--both of which are corrupt to the point that any association would diminish the relevancy of the Christian belief. You want pure Christianity? You won't find it in this kind of system. Scripture can be interpreted multiple ways which is why there are many kinds of people who believe. How can the fundamentalists be further from the way it should be taught? Equally so why should the reformers be accused of introducing heresy? There will always be fundamentalism which in my opinion is the true path, and there will always be reformers which in my opinion correctly purge impurities and interpret the scripture in a way to facilitate spiritual awakening. Eventually one replaces the other, and so goes the cycle.

The political parties in short are garbage and know nothing about religion. One sticks to one's own beliefs, finds it in scripture and advocates that part only forgetting and ignoring what other verses say. People already have a mental picture of what they want.


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DentArthurDent
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04 Aug 2008, 6:05 am

NeantHumain

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Dogbrain
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05 Aug 2008, 8:26 am

If your Christianity can be classified as either left-wing or right-wing, you're doing it wrong. A Christian life should defy classification into either of the dominant political "wings". It should be simultaneously consistent with itself and incompatible with both of these political "wings".



DentArthurDent
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05 Aug 2008, 12:31 pm

Dogbrain wrote:
If your Christianity can be classified as either left-wing or right-wing, you're doing it wrong. A Christian life should defy classification into either of the dominant political "wings". It should be simultaneously consistent with itself and incompatible with both of these political "wings".


Yeah your quite correct, trouble is people use religion to bolster their political veiws, especially it seems those with reactionary right wing views.


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