This rhetorical theme isn’t limited to television. In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama addressed a conference hosted by the Christian social justice organization Sojourners. In addition to describing his own spiritual journey, Obama also questioned the biblical invocations of conservative leaders, asking, “Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination?”
Tim Suttle 05-24-2012
Image by Sergey Kamshylin / shutterstock.

Flag/scripture image by Sergey Kamshylin / shutterstock.

Both religion and politics are concerned with how we should organize societies. Yet the tendency for Christians has often been to begin with the politics and work backwards to find religious rationale for our political beliefs. As a result, most people read the Bible not to challenge our deeply held beliefs, but to affirm the decisions we've already made with our lives.

If you tend toward the political right you might say the chief political concern of the Scriptures has as much to do with smaller government, lower taxes, individual freedoms and gun rights as any explicit Christian concept.

If you tend toward the political left you might believe the chief political concern of the Scriptures has more to do with reproductive rights, religious pluralism, big government and labor unions.

Too often the ideologies of the secular right or the political left have been allowed set the terms for religious Christians.

Walter Wink preaching, from the Fellowship of Reconciliation archives.

Walter Wink preaching, from the Fellowship of Reconciliation archives.

Walter Wink, 76, a world-class biblical scholar and non-violent practitioner, crossed over to God on May 10 at his home in Western Massachusetts. Following a slow decline, he had been in hospice for several weeks in the company of his beloved June and their family. (See "Confronting the Powers," Sojourners December 2010)

As a first year seminarian in New York City, more than 35  years ago, I was fortunate to have Walter as my New Testament instructor. In a seminar session on the "pearl of great price" in Matthew, I have a vivid memory of him breaking the discussion so we could go round the circle and each reply to the question: "For what would you be willing to die?" I don't so much recall my own halting answer, as the depth of the question he understood was put to us by the text. It's since become my conviction that no one should escape seminary (or baptismal preparation for that matter) without facing with that query.

Which is to say he was himself an engaged scholar, connecting the academy with the risk of the streets. While filling his first teaching post at Union Seminary in New York he was simultaneously serving on the national steering committee of Clergy and Laity Concerned about the War in Vietnam (1967-76).

He was notorious for foundation-shaking works. When I met him, Walter was a rising star in the biblical guild, on the fast track at Union. Then he published a little polemical book called The Bible in Human Transformation (1973) which made bold to declare, “Historical biblical criticism is bankrupt." It assailed the myth of scientific objectivity, the disembodied approach which kept the text at arms length and pre-empted commitment. In many respects it anticipated the contextualizing hermeneutics of feminist and liberation readings, but it didn't win him friends in the academic guild.

Tim Kumfer 02-01-2012

Liberating Biblcal Study: Scholarship, Art, and Action in Honor of the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice, edited by Laura Dykstra and Ched Myers.

Derek Flood 01-01-2012

Paul shows us how to wrestle with violent passages in the Hebrew Bible.

Laura Robinson 05-17-2011
Growing up, I had never heard of John and Stasi Eldredge's Ransomed Heart Ministries and their co-written book, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400200385?ie=UTF8&tag=sojourners-20&am
Uri Dikulous 04-01-2010
On the heels of President Barack Obama's surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan on Sunday, Vice President Joseph Biden and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin revealed a surprise of their own:
Charles Gutenson 11-06-2009
Don't you love it when someone tries to argue for one thing by distracting your attention to another?
Steve Holt 08-28-2009

I need to find something to do until Sept. 13 or thereabouts. The Daily Show is on a three-week vacation until then. (Anyone have a good home remedy for the Stewart Shakes?) I kid.

Diana Butler Bass 04-17-2009
Wednesday morning, at 9 a.m. sharp, I took my tax payment to the local post office. When I handed it to the clerk, she said, "I hate tax day." I replied, "Not me.
Mimi Haddad 11-19-2008
Do you often find comfort and insight, even direction for your life, through a careful study of scripture? Do you believe that God's truth is found in the pages of the Bible?