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The "Genetic Relationship" Between Theological Determinism and Political Oppression: Extended Excerpts from Amjad-Ali and Ruiz

I've been told there is no "genetic relationship" between theologies that conceptualize God as all-controlling, all-determining, and utterly unfeeling and the political, cultural oppression of human beings in societies set up by adherents of such views.

I've been told theologies that teach God "ordains" the unjust circumstances under which some human beings suffer (while others prosper) and "predestines" those circumstances hasn't been used as justification for continued injustice and oppression.

I've been told that people can have "good theology" and yet own human beings like chattel, deem them less than human, and brutalize them. Such actions, they say, don't reflect the slave-owners' conception of God at all.

But I think we all know Thomas Paine was right when he said, "Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel [person]."

Well, I'm proud to say at least two eminently qualified Christian theologians have had the intellectual integrity and courage to make the case for just such a "genetic" link, and to refute this classic copout with a clear argument from history, sociology, and politics.

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The Seduction of US Politics and the Freedom of Christian Discipleship

Whenever election time comes around in the US, the air is filled once again with polarizing partisan rhetoric. It is the candidate's job to paint his or her opponent's views, policies, administration in the starkest of terms when contrasted with his or her own. It's the candidate's goal to convince you and I that he or she will "do a better job," understands the "founding principles of America" better, or isn't an "Washington insider," etc. etc. Furthermore, candidates tell the story of the American dream again, selling us on hope that this is the "land of opportunity," that we can "make it, if we work hard." Each candidate wants us to believe that their election will ensure this outcome, remake the world.

I have a confession: I've bought into this sort of thinking more times than I'd like to admit. I confess that I have too often believed that the election of a particular candidate is the determing factor in my well-being or the well-being of those for whom I care. I've believed that if "those guys" are in office, the world will go to hell in a hand-basket. But if "my candidate" is elected, there will be justice, peace, [add your utopian ideal here]. I confess that I've fallen prey to the seductiveness of political coercion.

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Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

T. C.

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