When Pharisees Attack
There is a little confusion mixed with much cynicism at the Wall Street Journal editorial page these days. The background: to many political observers, it was interesting when Presidential candidate Howard Dean spoke about wanting to be the candidate for the white guys in the South with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks. But to the WSJ, this is nothing compared to Dean making occasional mention of Jesus. This opens up two lines of attack on Dean.
On the online site, Opinionjournal, it's something like Well, OK, he's mentioned Jesus, but does he Really believe it? And the verdict apparenty, is No:
[Opinionjournal] Here is how Dean describes Jesus Christ:
"Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised, people who were left behind," Dean said. "He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything. . . . He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2000 years, which is pretty inspiring when you think about it."
Do you notice something missing from Dean's description of Jesus? Well, does he use the phrase "Son of God"? Nope. "Messiah"? Ixnay. "The Way, the Truth and the Light"? None of the above. To hear Howard Dean tell it, Jesus Christ was just a socially conscious celebrity, like Princess Diana only less glamorous.
We hasten to add that if that's what Dean believes, we have no problem with it...It's just that if the above quote is an accurate summation of how Dean sees Jesus, it seems unlikely he'll convince anyone he's a "committed believer."
As usual, their protestations of having no problem with Dean's beliefs signal the exact opposite. A three sentence quote from Dean is taken as a complete summary of his Christian beliefs, to which is added a "Gotcha!" because Dean left out some magic words. One suspects that it's Dean's legitimate vision of Jesus as some kind of, dare we say it, socialist, that has the WSJ boys so upset.
Meanwhile, back on the WSJ's print pages (which overlaps in personnel with the online page), it's a different line of attack: a supposed double-standard in which Dubya is criticised for invoking Jesus but Dean is not. Of course, they lack even a shred of evidence that Dubya suffered the slightest negative consequences when he invoked Jesus, but when has lack of evidence stopped them before?
Mr. Dean's public embrace of Jesus hasn't generated nearly the fury it did when then-candidate George W. Bush declared, during a GOP debate, that Jesus was his favorite philosopher...As for Mr. Dean, we're in no position to judge the sincerity of his relationship with his God.
Note, by the way, the extreme disengenuousness of the last sentence, where on the web they are exactly putting themselves in the position of judging Dean's sincerity. Which in fact generated a little followup:
Several readers also wrote to point out that the correct biblical phrase, per John 14:6, is "the way, the truth and the life," not "light." We stand corrected--but then we've never claimed to be a committed believer in anything.
Except, of course, in our real Lord and Saviour, George W. Bush.