Barack Obama, “Joe the Plumber” and Donald Miller

If nothing else this has been an interesting election cycle. Both major parties had a huge field from which to choose their candidate. But as Duncan McLeod of the clan McLeod declares in the opening narration of The Highlander,“In the end, there can be only one.” Of course, that is equally true of the Presidential election itself. At the moment the nation seems about equally divided between the candidates for the two major parties. One candidate represents age and experience (too much age and experience for some) and the other represents youth, energy, charisma and new ideas. The division between these two candidates extends into the Evangelical church as well. Emerging Church leaders such as Brian McLaren have formed the Matthew 25 Network to entice Evangelicals to vote for Barack Obama. In July of this year headlines read Conservative Evangelicals Discuss Backing McCain. In August the Evangelical Left was ecstatic as one of their very own, Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) gave the closing prayer at the DNC meeting the evening of August 25th. Randy Alcorn who is friends with Miller and was also personally excited about voting for Obama has since rethought his position and decided Not Cool: Obama’s Pro-abortion Stance, and Christians enabling him. Many on the Evangelical Left have turned a blind eye to the killing of innocent unborn toward what they consider more pressing issues. One of the issues they are aligned with Barack Obama on came up through an exchange between Barack Obama and “Joe the Plumber”. Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is considering buying the plumbing company he works for but is concerned that Obama’s tax plan would limit his ability to maintain much less growing the company. Obama was clear that taking money from one class of citizen based on a purely arbitrary number and giving it to another class of citizen in order to “spread the wealth around” is a good thing. Many have pointed out the practice of socialism in his response. It should probably be noted that neither candidate nor party could rightfully be labeled conservative at the moment. Both candidates and parties have a strong drift toward big government and Socialism as can be seen in the recent approval of the nearly one trillion dollar mortgage bail out, part of which will be used to buy into a number of banks. Government ownership of such businesses is the very definition of Socialism. For me the question is less about candidates and parties. There are enough problems in both to make me very uncomfortable with either one at the moment. I am more about emerging church leaders such as Donald Miller, Brian McLaren and others who proudly endorse sanctified stealing.

What do I mean by that? Obama’s answer to Joe was pretty straightforward, as President he would take money which Joe earned and redistribute the wealth to others who didn’t work for it. This is clearly in keeping with Donald Miller’s view which we find in Blue Like Jazz on page 208:

The resort we were working at was Black Butte Ranch in Central Oregon, and we were living about a mile off a ridge, beyond the cattle fence, down in a gully where stood stately pines and remarkable aspen. There was also a family of deer and a porcupine. The boys from New York worked at Honkers Café, named for the ducks, and Paul and I would merely have to sit ourselves on the deck off the lake and within minutes we would have a burger or shake or a slice of pie, always delivered with a smile, always for free. They were stealing from the rich to feed the poor. We were eating food from the wealthy table of the white man. This is how I thought about it, even though I was white.

I believe it is in Augustine’s Confessions where he talks about stealing an apple from a neighbor and expresses remorse as well as seeing that as an example of depravity. In Miller’s case there is no apparent repentance or remorse but rather a sense of pride for participating in class warfare and striking a blow against the wealthy white man.

I would like to say I am surprised that someone with such a low view of the inspired inerrant word of God is so popular a writer and conference speaker in the Evangelical community but with the severely low biblical literacy rate, I am not. Many will even read the above quote and not recognize the problem so let’s break it down a little more. First he tells us “…we were working…” That would typically indicate he was being paid for his labor. Of his friends and compatriots who were working at a restaurant he wrote, “They were stealing…” That is a clear enough admission. What were they attempting through what was by his own admission a regular practice of theft? Redistribution of wealth “…stealing from the rich to feed the poor.” In other words, restaurant employees were taking that which did not belong to them and giving it to friends who were working elsewhere and preferred to eat free at the expense of a victim who was being robbed by his or her employees rather than use their hard earned income.

We could ask questions like, were the owners of the restaurant actually rich or does simply being a business owner makes one fair game for pillaging? Was the owner or owners taking advantage of or ignoring the plight of the downtrodden in their community? If they are not Christians are they under any obligation to provide for the poor or did Miller and his comrades consider it their duty to lighten the potential load of largess of wealthy white men? How widespread was the employee theft which Miller is so obviously proud of benefitting from?

It seems to me that if we are going to speak to the church and/or culture about issues of morality we should be consistent in following what God has clearly said and He has already spoken quite authoritatively to the issue of stealing:

You shall not steal (Lev. 19:11)

To make sure He was understood He stated two verses later:

You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. (Lev. 19:13)

Miller’s very popular book seems to demonstrate utter contempt for the word of God on this issue at least but then that seems to have become a low priority in much of the church these days which might explain why so few recognized that there is something wrong with stealing even if it is from white men.


Comments

Barack Obama, “Joe the Plumber” and Donald Miller — 1 Comment

  1. Maybe it’s not innerant or inspired….well, we know its full of errors so maybe we will go with slightly inspired.

    Augustine? You mean the guy that supported torture? Just checking.

    Redistribute wealth? Wait, are you talking about Bush administration doubling the national debt and handing out rebate checks that the country can’t afford? Like Sarah Palin did with the oil companies in her own state and all those rebate checks? She didn…..heavens no…..redistribute the wealth did she?!!! Oh wait, I must be wrong, Repubs are supposed to be about smaller government. Oh yeah, what was I thinking.

    Gotta go deeper than that I’m afraid.

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