Proverbs

Why folks are freaking out over article on Marco Rubio tweeting 'Most Republican Part of the Bible'

Why folks are freaking out over article on Marco Rubio tweeting 'Most Republican Part of the Bible'

To the casual observer, it looks like news.

Politico certainly does nothing to present it as something else — say, a single liberal theologian's opinion.

I'm talking about the article published over the weekend with this clickbait of a headline:

Marco Rubio Is Tweeting the Most Republican Part of the Bible

The piece has a byline and reads — to some extent — like straightforward, fact-based journalism:

Marco Rubio had a message for his nearly 3 million Twitter followers on the morning of June 26: “As dogs return to their vomit, so fools repeat their folly. Proverbs 26:11.”
That one might have been his most head-snapping, but Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, had been tweeting verses like that one since May 16. He has tweeted a biblical verse almost every day since then. Almost all of them come from the Old Testament, and specifically the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs is notable in that is presents a fairly consistent view of the world: The righteous are rewarded, and the wicked are punished. In the understanding of Proverbs, everyone gets what is coming to them; behavior is directly linked to reward or punishment. This worldview has social consequences: Those who succeed in life must be more righteous than those who struggle.

Some, including The Hill, interpreted it as a news story, reporting on Rubio's response:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday pushed back at a news article that claimed the conservative lawmaker was tweeting "the most Republican part of the Bible."
"Proverbs is the Republican part of the bible? I don't think Solomon had yet joined the GOP when he wrote the first 29 chapters of Proverbs," Rubio said tongue-in-check, while retweeting Politico Magazine's story on the matter.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a former Southern Baptist youth pastor, also weighed in via Twitter:

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Say WHAT?!? Did Jesus really teach that slaves should be abused?

Say WHAT?!? Did Jesus really teach that slaves should be abused?

REX’S QUESTION (Paraphrased):

How can anyone believe in Jesus when he was a liar who preached “liberty” yet instructed people to beat slaves?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

Rex, and any folks who appear to have influenced his thinking, seriously misread Jesus’ teaching, so it’s worth unpacking why and glimpse how experts advise us to understand the Bible.

Here’s the full question, as posted:

“How is it possible to believe in Jesus when he claimed to ‘set at liberty them that are bruised’ (Luke 4:18) but also gave bruising instructions on how to flog slaves? (Luke 12:47-48)  His first claim is clearly dishonest! His instruction to flog slaves for not knowing what they’re doing is malicious. After all, he also said “God forgive them for they know not what they do’! How can anyone trust a man who lies and contradicts his own instructions?”

If Jesus was deceitful, confused and advocated physical abuse of helpless slaves, yes, he’d be a flawed moral teacher, much less someone for billions to worship as the Son of God. When a passage like this seems puzzling or contradictory, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a couple Bible commentaries in your local library written by solid scholars familiar with the ancient idiom and context.

Rex’s interpretation follows a wooden literalism that makes Fundamentalists look liberal.

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Another newsy question: What does the Bible say about physical punishment of children?

Another newsy question: What does the Bible say about physical punishment of children?

AN ANONYMOUS READER ASKS:

In the U.S. there is a strong tendency among certain segments of the population to emphasize only the negatives of Islam and only the positives of Christianity. What would you say to the Christians who believe in beating their children?

THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:

This responds to our July 26 item on verse 4:34 in the Quran that directs husbands to beat rebellious wives, currently a political issue in the Muslim world. Islamic interpreters explain that beating is a last resort and should be done lightly, not severely. The questioner raises the fact that Christians (and Jews) have a similar issue on physical discipline of children. Poet Samuel Butler coined the maxim “spare the rod and spoil the children” but it’s a biblical idea expressed in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs:

“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (13:24; all translations from the Revised Standard Version). “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (22:15). “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. If you beat him with the rod you will save his life from Sheol” (23:13-14). “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (29:15).

However, other biblical Proverbs balance that, saying God’s people should be “slow to anger” and “overlook an offense,” while “love covers all offenses.” We find that emphasis in the New Testament Book of Ephesians: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (6:4).

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Is capitalism biblical? You don't have to be a pope to ask that question

Is capitalism biblical? You don't have to be a pope to ask that question

JOHN’S QUESTION:

It has always been my understanding from Proverbs (condemning the “sluggard”), and Paul’s instruction that missionaries earn their keep and not be a burden, that the Bible encouraged hard work and a responsibility to give of our blessings to the poor — personal responsibility vs. government responsibility. The trend toward government socialism seems to discourage that. Is capitalism biblical?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

In America, it’s springtime for socialism. A Harvard survey of those ages 18–29 showed 33 percent support socialism compared with 42 percent for capitalism, and socialist support reached 50 percent among Democrats. A poll of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers found 43 percent considered themselves socialist vs. 38 percent capitalist. Sliding regard for big business accompanies the related success of Socialist-plus-Democrat Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sanders is arguably the most secularized candidate ever to wage a major presidential run (can you name any competitors?). Even so, he was the only U.S. politician the Vatican invited to speak at an April economics conference (Sanders cited no Bible verses), where he briefly met Pope Francis. That was called a courtesy, not endorsement, but the pontiff appears soft on socialism, which sets conservative Catholics abuzz.

Francis joins previous popes in teaching biblical tenets of concern toward the needy and against the sins of greed and materialism. But he’s more outspoken than his predecessors in assailing free markets and urging government redistribution of wealth.

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Move over, 2 Corinthians: Proverbs takes center stage in latest Bible flap of GOP campaign

Move over, 2 Corinthians: Proverbs takes center stage in latest Bible flap of GOP campaign

Proverbs 14:7 says:

Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.

That verse seems appropriate in light of the latest Bible-related scrap by GOP presidential contenders — this one involving Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

In case you missed it, Cruz fired a top aide Monday over — as the Los Angeles Times characterized it — a "charge of dirty tricks":

Already fighting accusations of underhanded campaigning, Cruz asked his communications director, Rick Tyler, to resign after Tyler posted a video on social media and claimed that the senator from Florida could be heard disparaging the Bible. The allegation was false and Tyler apologized.
“This was a grave error of judgment,” the senator from Texas told reporters in Las Vegas. Even if the charge had been true, he said, “we are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate.”

The Los Angeles newspaper noted that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump — who made headlines when he said "2 Corinthians," not "Second Corinthians" at Liberty University — was quick to weigh in:

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