November 30, 2004

Spoken Like a True Lawyer

In an essay on something else altogether, Prof. William Stuntz writes:
Christians believe in a God-Man who called himself (among other things) "the Truth." Truth-seeking, testing beliefs with tough-minded questions and arguments, is a deeply Christian enterprise. Evangelical churches should be swimming in it. Too few are.
What's interesting about that Jesus of Nazareth fellow, though, isn't that he defended his doctrine in the face of tough questions; it's that he came up with wholly surprising answers that rarely related at all to prior doctrine. When asked, for instance, whether people should pay taxes to support a Sweden-style welfare state (or something like that, I can't remember), he responded with his witty little "Render unto Caesar" thesis, which spawned an entirely new line of thought on the separation of church and state. Nothing he had ever said before could have predicted this response. (He could have just as easily declared, "Render everything unto God!" without contradicting himself.) Now if today's fundamentalists showed that sort of dexterity, we'd have a lot more to talk about!
-- Brad Plumer 8:37 PM || ||