One of the things I see as I watch the slow-motion train wreck that is the budget deadlock in Congress is a battle between two competing theologies.
These two competing theologies have, above all, differing notions of sin and salvation (soteriology):
On the one side, the possibility of salvation is understood to reside primarily in individual humans. To put it another way, fighting sin is primarily the responsibility of an individual. The way to fight sin, and move towards salvation, is to assign the highest level of responsibility to individuals. This theological position tends to deplore government intervention in social problems, such as providing health insurance; thus in the context of this theological position, individuals, not impersonal social structures, are ultimately responsible for saving themselves and, e.g., taking care of their own health.
On the other side, the possibility of salvation is understood to reside both in the individual and in social institutions; however, in practice the emphasis tends to be on social salvation and social sin, since social sin is perceived to be so much more powerful a force than individual sin. To put it another way, fighting sin is primarily a battle that must be fought in social institutions. The way to move towards salvation is to assign the highest priority to fighting sin in society. This theological position tends to urge governmental solutions to social problems; thus in the context of this theological position, individuals are not powerful enough in themselves to fight social sin, and must use social structures such as government to fight sin and reach salvation by establishing a moral society.
These two different theological positions also have differing understandings of the nature of human beings (theological anthropology): Continue reading “Theology deadlock”