Bernie Sanders and the Danger of Theological Ignorance

From left, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 14, 2017, about the Family Act.

By Rob Schwarzwalder Published on June 15, 2017

Recently President Trump nominated Russ Vought to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Russ Vought is an old friend. We haven’t talked in some time, but both of us worked for then-U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), he after me. Later, we worked for members of the House Republican Study Committee and regularly saw one another at various RSC meetings.

Vought’s qualifications for this position are excellent. Among other things, he was a senior aide to House Budget Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). His knowledge of the federal budget is wide and deep. And he is committed to constraining its unbridled and deficit-building growth.

Jesus Says He is the Only Way to Heaven

Vought has gotten into political trouble recently. He believes that his alma mater, Wheaton College, has every right to require orthodox Christian faith from its faculty. In a carefully reasoned piece in The Resurgent, he explains why Muslims do not, in fact, worship the same God as Christians:

Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned. In John 8:19, “Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” In Luke 10:16, Jesus says, “The one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” And in John 3:18, Jesus says, “Whoever believes in [the Son] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

These statements of Jesus make very clear that to reject Him is to reject the true and living God. One might not agree with Jesus; most people in our world who have heard his good news have rejected it. 

But what Russ is asserting is not only well within the circle of biblical theology, it is at the very center of it. He is quoting Jesus’ claims to uniqueness and to being the only way to know God. The bone his critics wish to pick lies with Jesus, not Russ Vought.

The ACLU asserts that “it’s so disturbing that Trump continues to pack his administration with appointees like Russell Vought, whose views threaten” religious liberty. It’s why, after grilling Russ at a Senate hearing, a livid Bernie Sanders (D-VT) said, “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

Tell that to the Founders, Mr. Sanders, the great majority of whom affirmed exactly what Russ did. 

Furthermore, religious liberty involves the freedom to express one’s convictions without fear of professional or personal reprisal. It means having the ability to practice one’s faith actively in all spheres of life.

Vermont’s Christian Colleges Agree with Vought

Sen. Sanders and others on the Left who object to Russ’s statement will be quite jarred to learn what historic Christian orthodoxy teaches about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and His claim to be the only way to the Father (John 14:6).

More immediately, several colleges within Sen. Sanders’ home state affirm exactly what Russ said in his article.

“Salvation … is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior … There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord,” according to Bennington, Vermont’s Northeastern Baptist College.

Religious liberty involves the freedom to express one’s convictions without fear of reprisal.

Green Mountain College near Rutland is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The Methodists proclaim that Jesus Christ “was and is the fulfillment of the ancient hope and God’s Chosen One to bring salvation to all peoples, for all time” and affirm “that the traditional Christian view” is that “those who refuse God’s love suffer endless separation from God.”

Then there are Vermont’s Catholic colleges, the College of St. Joseph’s in Rutland and St. Michael’s in Colchester. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, ‘will save his people from their sins’.”

The affiliate churches of four of Vermont’s colleges either are Christian or have a Christian heritage. Their denominations affirm, in whole or in part, what Russ Vought’s alma mater, Wheaton College, does. By saying that Christ and His plan of salvation are unique, they overtly or tacitly agree that all other faiths are “deficient” in what they teach about God.

Sanders: Legacy of Undermining Liberty

So, Senator Sanders, since these schools apparently “are not what this country is supposed to be about:”

  • Will you demand that any of their graduates who apply for employment on your staff disavow their schools’ theological beliefs?
  • Will you lead a movement to get these evidently un-American institutions out of Vermont?
  • Will you meet with the leadership of these colleges and demand they turn from their doctrinal beliefs?

Russ Vought is a smart man of orthodox Christian faith and moral courage. Our country will be blessed by his service. Unlike the “service” of Bernie Sanders, who has spent his life undermining the principles of liberty, prosperity, and family for which people like Russ Vought stands.

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  • Gary

    Bernie Sanders is an infidel and he wants a country where everyone is like him. Liberals claim they like diversity, but they actually hate it.

  • m-nj

    As i posted on a previous story about this, what does the nominees faith (and public statements about said fatih) have to do with overseeing OMB? NOTHING! He is basically a glorified accountant, a number-cruncher, if you will.

  • Wayne Cook

    Sanders appears to be goading his followers into the physical side of his rejection of faith. If you practice faith publicly, he’s going to code a hit command. The shooter this week was a rabid Sanders socialist.

    Dems want blood and there are enough inimical leftists to supply the violence.

  • ncsugrant

    We have been hoodwinked by the ACLU. Every level of government in the US is, defacto, atheist.
    How about some push back. Tell Sanders and the ACLU to push their atheist agenda on their dime. I have as much right to see Jesus in the public square as they do to pretend their is no God. Sadly, their religion has taken over our government, with the help of our flawed courts.

  • jgmusgrove

    Bernie Sanders took his honeymoon in the U.S.S.R. He has been infatuated with socialism and “god-less” communism ever since. I suspect his desire is to eliminate religion so that everyone worships the “state”; that is certainly the Progressives goal.

    • Gary

      Why do liberals now seem to hate Russia? They have always loved Communists.

  • Christine Wright

    I think Bernie Sanders was wrong constitutionally, however, I think Vought didn’t answer the attack in the manner he should have. I saw the interview (if we can call it that) and Vought kept trying to say “I am a Christian and was writing that for my alma mater and these are my Christian beliefs..” he was trying, in effect, to qualify what he wrote. He shouldn’t have answered in that manner, rather, he should have answered by saying the question should be can I separate my faith from my actions in government and to that question the answer is a resounding yes. My belief in the afterlife has nothing to do with how I would do my job.. so in a sense, both were wrong.

  • M Didaskalos

    Sanders’ beef (which he hopefully won’t carry into eternity) is not with Vought, but with Jesus, Who said unambiguously: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

  • eddiestardust

    Don’t like Bernie? What does Jesus say? Pray for those you don’t like!

    • Billy Chickens

      Actually Jesus says to love those we don’t like.

  • James

    Bernie Sanders is Jewish. Why do you think he has a problem with a nominee who says that those who don’t believe in Jesus stand condemned?

  • GPS Daddy

    Worldview matters. Here are the issues that need to be accounted for in a worldview:

    1. Right and wrong/good and evil/objective truth exist.
    2. The human condition is that anyone can do evil.
    3. Life and this universe exihibits exceptional design.
    4. The physical world really exists.
    5. The spiritual world really exists.
    6. Justice is necessary but rarely achieved by men.
    7. Love is necessary but love is not love without truth.
    8. There are competing and irreconcilable views of man. These views cannot all be true. Nor can they be true for some and not others.

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