Monday, March 07, 2005

Richard's Mouw's "Modest Proposal"

Richard Mouw, the President of Fuller Theological Seminary (Hey! I went there), recently weighed in on the issue of posting the Ten Commnadments in public places. Writing at Beliefnet, Mouw echoed novelist Kurt Vonnegut's idea that what we really ought to be doing is posting the Beatitudes - not the Ten Commandments, around the country. That's right, the Beatitudes - Jesus' series of "blessings" recorded in Matthew 5.

I like Dr. Mouw's take on this:

On a more positive note, it might be better for Christians—especially those of us who talk a lot about "moral values"—to let our fellow citizens know that we do care a lot about the "blessed" traits that Jesus sets forth in the Beatitudes: meekness, peaceableness, empathy with the poor and the grieving, a spirit of mercy—things of that sort. To be sure, we will be criticized for this, too, by the folks who don’t want us to inject any of our religious views into the public square. But if we are going to be scolded by those who resist religious teachings, let’s at least be scolded for promoting something that comes straight from Jesus.

As a Christian Old Testament/Hebrew teacher and scholar, I've wondered at conservative Christians' passion for the Ten Commandments, given their frequent disdain for the Old Testament. (Yeah, I know. The "Ten Commandments" have become a symbol in the culture wars - it's really not about the content). But I like the way that Mouw and Vonnegut take this impulse seriously. If we're going to insist that some sort of biblical text be posted in public places, let's get something from Jesus.

(Hat tip to Rob Asghar at Dime Store Guru).

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