Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

I Wonder if Greg Gianforte Knows that Montana is not a “Biblical Concept” (or, fun with politicians quoting the Bible)

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Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

It hasn’t been a good week for Montana Republican (and now Congressman) Greg Gianforte. On the last day of the campaign he was charged with assault after losing his cool with a reporter, who apparently was being mean at him (pressed him on a policy question).

No worries, though. The charges amounted to a slap on the wrist, and, with his party’s loyal support, arose the next day Phoenix-like from the ashes of controversy to win Montana’s lone congressional seat.

Plus, he apologized—I’m sure with complete sincerity, and not at all for damage control.

But just when the dust seems to be settling on this fisco, news comes to light that Gianforte (I hope you’re all sitting down) has a record of violence: he assaulted the Bible two years ago.

And I can’t let this go. I just . . . can’t.

According to the Washington Post, Gianforte, while speaking at Montana Bible College in 2015, declaimed,

“There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement. And yet it’s been an accepted concept in our culture today. . . . Nowhere does it say, ‘Well, he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.’ It doesn’t say that anywhere.”

“The example I think of is Noah. . . . How old was Noah when he built the ark? 600. He wasn’t like, cashing Social Security checks, he wasn’t hanging out, he was working. So, I think we have an obligation to work. The role we have in work may change over time, but the concept of retirement is not biblical.”

Another American political leader with Bible in hand ready to speak truth.

But do you think, Mr. Congressman . . . just maybe . . .  that the reason the Bible doesn’t speak of retirement is that the Bible reflects Iron Age tribal culture where people didn’t have “jobs” they “retired” from? But I digress.

Gianforte is correct, though: retirement is not a “biblical concept.”

But—at the risk of getting beat up—I’d like to press the Congressman on this point. I can think of a few others things that likewise aren’t “biblical concepts” but that Gianforte likely embraces with heretical abandon, like:

  • Montana
  • Republican
  • United States of America
  • Bill of Rights
  • cars
  • white people
  • NRA
  • recycling
  • health care
  • English

There is, however, one “biblical concept” relevant to Gianforte’s abysmal week that he seems to have overlooked, namely, that people who claim to be guided by biblical standards shouldn’t beat anyone up for asking annoying questions.

Leaving that unfortunate incident to the side, Gianforte is hardly alone among politicians who make shallow appeals to the Bible to baptize their political opinions. But still  . . . I mean . . . “ The Bible doesn’t say anything about retirement, so it’s wrong. Oh, and Noah was 600 years old when he built the ark, so there’s that.”

Sheesh. Can you just leave the Bible out of this nonsense? Or if you really have to quote the BIble, find those verses about caring for the poor and destitute and how God absolutely hates it when the rich get preferential treatment.

 

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