It reminds me very much of the so-called “search for the historical Jesus” of which the Jesus Seminar is the current media darling. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) was one of the first of that merry bunch back in the late nineteenth century. He even wrote a book entitled, The Search for the Historical Jesus. The one thing that has been said of such research is that the searchers inevitably wind up, unsurprisingly, finding out that Jesus looks very like themselves in a mirror. He has their attitudes, their beliefs, and their approach to life. The search tells us little about Jesus, but a lot about those on the hunt.
So it is, it seems to me, with those who want to convince me that Jesus would vote a certain way. Remarkably, Jesus seems to always vote exactly the way the author of the article would vote. As someone said, we have a tendency to make the gods in our own image.
I think it is nonsensical, foolish and insufferably arrogant to suggest that a historical figure would vote or argue a certain way on a modern question, a question of which the individual in view never considered nor made any pronouncements on. To try to extrapolate from what they did say to how we think they’d argue today about a given topic, it seems to me, is remarkably presumptuous.
How can we be certain we understand and know a historical figure well enough to be able to put words in his or her mouth? Though the little bracelets that some wear, with the initials, WWJD, standing for the phrase “What would Jesus Do?” are harmless and designed to keep their wearers from misbehaving, they remain, in my mind at least, a bit peculiar.
First, do you really need to literally wear your conscience on your sleeve? And second, do you really know Jesus well enough to be certain what he’d think about you eating that doughnut instead of the bran muffin? Then why imagine we can tell how he’d vote? Especially, considering that our vote is supposed to be private. Do you think he’d even tell us who he picked?
And besides, does it really matter? In a first century letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the church in