Contending Earnestly for the Faith: Refutation of Mayor Pete Buttigieg
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3, KJV).
As reported in a December 2nd article in Breitbart, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been stumping through South Carolina, Bible in hand, attending a Black church, and quoting scripture. He has made it abundantly clear that he’s a ‘Christian.’
Since his confession is public, he can be refuted in a public forum. The following two quotes are perhaps illustrative of his ‘Christianity'”
“I follow a God who came into this world not in riches, but in poverty, not as a citizen, but as a refugee, not as a political authority, but as a political dissident Who died for it,” he said, referring to the life of Jesus Christ….
“Jesus speaks so often in hyperbole and parable, in mysterious code, that, in my experience, there’s simply no way that a literal understanding of Scripture can fit into the Bible that I find in my hands,” he said in a November interview with Rolling Stone.” – source
I’ll concede that Mayor Pete was justified in using the word “poverty.” But everything else following that is in error. The infant Jesus was most assuredly a citizen upon birth, a citizen of Bethlehem, or Nazareth, a citizen of Israel. Granted, he was not a Roman citizen. But to say he was not a citizen is in error.
It is also in error to say that Jesus was a refugee, and that he ‘came into the world’ as a refugee. There is no scriptural support for that. A case can be made that his family were temporary sojourners in Egypt to escape Herod’s decree, but they returned to Israel following that.
Again, there is no scriptural support for Mayor Pete’s contention that Jesus was a “political dissident who died for it.” Jesus was, in fact, not political at all. He was hated by the Pharisees, and called a blasphemer, but that was a religious charge, not political. The Pharisees had to take the matter before Pilot; under Roman authority, only Rome had the power to execute an individual. That right was denied to the Pharisees.
As recorded in John 18:36, Jesus stated “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (ESV).
This is clearly an argument, or statement, that He is outside of the political realm. If that is not enough, then we must turn to Matthew 22:17-22 where Jesus directly addresses the Pharisees’ question regarding politics and taxes, where they had hoped to entrap him.
The Pharisees confront Jesus, asking, “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away” (ESV).
Cloaked in modern terms, Christ’s response speaks to the separation of Church and State. This is hardly the realm of a “political dissident.” Jesus was certainly executed on the cross, but not as a political dissident. He was a direct threat to the status and prestige of the Pharisees. It is likely they knew full well who He was, but their desire to remain self-important and self-righteous was too much for them to lose.
The claim that “Jesus speaks so often in hyperbole and parable, in mysterious code,” so that “there’s simply no way that a literal understanding of Scripture can fit into the Bible that I find in my hands,” is simply so much hogwash. Perhaps he needs a new Bible.
Hyperbole, far from being incomprehensible and beyond the grasp of a Rhodes Scholar, was a common teaching technique. From an article by Trystan Owain Hughes entitled “Camels leaping through needles: Jesus, Exaggeration, and Hyperbole” we read:
“In the Bible, Jesus uses exaggeration and hyperbole on numerous occasions, as he connected with his listeners by expressing deep truths in a nonliteral manner. He came from a Jewish tradition that was steeped in this technique of writing and speaking…
By Jesus’ time, hyperbole was a technique used by some rabbis, the teachers of the day. Jesus, though, particularly employed this technique, often as a way of grabbing his audience’s attention or to shock them into recognizing the deep truth he was asserting. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “Christ had even a literary style of his own; the diction used by Christ is quite curiously gigantesque – it is full of camels leaping through needles and mountains hurled into the sea.” – source
Parables are similar teaching tools. Unlike fables that often use animals, parables have people as the central character.
From Compelling Truth: “Why did Jesus use parables so often? we read:
“…parables were a common cultural form of communication. Though the religious leaders regularly resorted to quoting one another or used academic language, Jesus spoke in the storytelling format already familiar to His culture. In doing so, He connected with His audience in a way the religious leaders did not, both touching personal needs and communicating spiritual truth.
Jesus spoke as the Messiah and could have used any teaching format He desired. His choice of parables, stories with a spiritual purpose, was used for a variety of reasons. Among these were the ability to reveal information to those “ready to hear,” to communicate with the common people, and to assert His authority.” – source
Parables are stories designed to instruct, teach, and sometimes to entertain. The true message the parable delivers requires discernment. But they are neither mysterious nor code.
Pastor Alistair Begg has often said that in reading scripture, “The plain things are the main things, and the main things are the plain things.” In other words, it is what it says it is, and means what it says it means. There is no mysterious code.
What there is, is a decided lack of discernment on the part of Mayor Pete. And that may be stating it mildly. His conscious effort to bring his Christianity to the forefront, to use scripture to shame his political opponents shows not a lack of discernment, but a willful attempt to misuse scripture for his own benefit. Bear in mind that Satan can quote scripture as well.
We must leave a discussion of his defense of abortion and lifestyle for another article. I’ll say only that he is in deep conflict with Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1:5, Romans 1:26, and all of the early Church fathers. Please note I’m not condemning the man for having a political opinion. I may disagree with it, but we’re still free to have opinions. What I am troubled over is his use of Scripture to support his position.
At the end of the day, Jesus was not a social justice warrior, he was not a Socialist, or a Democrat, or a Republican. He was Messiah and King. Christ understood the human heart far better than any man ever could. His charge was to go into all the world, carry the Gospel, and change one heart at a time. That is the only meaningful transformative action that is necessary. And it is a spiritual transformation, not political.
Mayor Pete has a Bible. Sadly, he has created another Jesus, another Christianity, and another gospel. Some might call it hipster theology. Like other progressive theologians today, Pete wields his gospel, and his Jesus, like a sword at his opponents. I refer to this as a John 11:35 moment. There are a lot of them lately.
No journalist has yet attempted to sit down and talk religion with him. But as a confessed Christian, he should be able to affirm core Christian doctrines such as:
- Jesus is the son of God and equal with God; Jesus is God in flesh.
- There is only one God in existence.
- Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.
- Jesus is/was both God and man.
- Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life.
- Jesus was crucified to pay the penalty for our sins.
- Jesus rose from the dead.
- We are saved by the grace of God.
Jesus is the gatekeeper, the only path to God, that per John 14:6, “no man comes to the Father but by me.” (ref carm.org)
We could add more if there was time. For now, perhaps some journalist might consider asking Pete to address these doctrines. I have no doubt his many fans and supporters would be interested in how he answers them. All of us would be interested to hear him respond. I make no claim of being a good apologist; I still study scripture daily, I’m still learning, I still make mistakes; I apologize when I’m wrong. I would like to be wrong about Mayor Pete, but he’ll have to change my mind.
The church and the faithful are under assault on multiple fronts every day. If we don’t speak up, we give them our tacit approval. Jude urges us all to contend earnestly for the faith. We dare do no less.