Russ Moore, Dean of Theology of The Southern Baptist Theology Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, still hates former president Bill Clinton with a passion. It still amazes me that some individuals who consider themselves conservative Christians can hate Clinton so deeply for his sexual indiscretions, yet turn around and fawn over George W. Bush, a president who called the Constitution of the United States "nothing more than a G%^D(*$&$ piece of paper" and whose lies and deception have led to the deaths of more than 3000 American soldiers and 600,000 Iraqis.
The only explanation I can think of for such warped ethics is that to some conservatives, anyone who bears a hint of the label "liberal" is unforgivable, unless the sinner completely renounces his or her liberalism. Conversely, those who bear the label "conservative" are eminently forgivable, no matter how hateful, unethical, slanderous, deceitful and otherwise filth-fully sinful. Conservatives, without even acknowledging their sins, can easily be pardoned from their sins by simply claiming they believe in God. But when liberals say they believe in God, they are obviously lying. Thus, George W. Bush is a saint, and Bill Clinton is the worst sinner on the face of the earth.
Strange (and certainly unbiblical) though such a view of sin and sinner is, it does help explain fundamentalist aversions to Jesus. When Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his fellow fundamentalists so crafted the 2000 edition of the Baptist Faith and Message to remove acknowledgment of Jesus being the "criterion" for interpreting scripture, they did so out of fear that some Baptists were daring to put their trust in the liberal Jesus.
That's right, the liberal Jesus. After all, he was quite the religious liberal in his day. Jesus, the one who enjoyed drinking wine and was even accused of being a drunkard. Jesus, the one who violated the religious laws and taught his disciples they could so likewise. Jesus, the one who was a friend to prostitutes and the other dregs of society. Jesus, the one who refused to execute a woman caught in the act of adultery, thus refusing to follow the law. Jesus, the one who taught that Christians have a social responsibility to the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the marginalized. Jesus, the one who taught that shirking one's responsibility to providing for the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden and the marginalized has a direct bearing on one's very salvation. Jesus, the one who taught experiential faith over propositional (that is, doctrinal) faith. Jesus, the one who had not a word to say about abortion and homosexuality, but spent much time expounding upon the evils of religious legalism (fundamentalism). Jesus, the liberal.
Some conservatives so dislike the liberal Jesus that they deny him in this respect (hence, his demotion in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000), holding him at arm's length ... but at the same time trying to dress him up in fundamentalist clothes, because you can't claim to be a Christian and not publicly hold on (to at least a part of) Jesus.
What I want to know is this: when are these conservatives going to move beyond denying the liberal Jesus and instead forgive him for being other than they want him to be? Indeed, are they even capable of forgiving Jesus? If they can't extend forgiveness to Bill Clinton for being a liberal, how can they possibly forgive Jesus, the Son of God, for being a liberal?
Obviously, they can't.