Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis Says It’s Time to “Reclaim Jesus”

on September 30, 2019

“Reclaim Jesus” was the prominent theme at an event I attended featuring the Rev. Jim Wallis on September 25 in the heart of Washington, D.C. At National City Christian Church (a Christian Church, Disciples of Christ congregation), Wallis kicked off a twenty-city tour for the promotion of his new book, Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus (available from HarperOne).

The event was hosted jointly by the progressive Sojourners Magazine and a local coffee shop and events venue called Busboys and Poets. The coffee shop provided the emcee; Sojourners provided its founder and editor, Wallis; and the Episcopal Church provided Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who responded with praise for the book after Wallis spoke.

Perhaps the most incendiary comment all night came from Wallis, who announced, “Trump is not the anti-Christ. He is too small. But what he runs – the politics – that’s anti-Christ.” Acknowledging its inflammatory nature, Wallis explained that what he specifically meant are those who are anti-immigration and anti-universal healthcare. Later in the talk, he added anti-gun control and climate change deniers. Those who support these political platform planks are, according to Wallis, part of the “anti-Christ.”

Wallis declared he was not speaking politically. Yet, his magazine is left-leaning on many public policy issues. His supporters lean left on most policy issues.

While all three speakers, the Busboys and Poets emcee, Wallis, and Curry, mentioned the need to “reclaim Jesus,” nobody delineated what that actually meant. The assumption appeared to be a reclamation from supposed right white nationalists, for the Social Gospel. The goal was laid out in a song before Wallis’ talk, wherein the artist sang about the need to focus on justice as “the prize.”

Curry focused on the theological, rather than the political. He was a charismatic speaker and made many points I agree with wholeheartedly. Jesus did say to help the poor, the widow, and the oppressed. But Curry’s exclusive focus on the Social Gospel–isolating God’s love and mercy from obedience and sacrifice–is problematic. Matthew chapter 25 is literally Gospel truth; it is absolutely true all the time. Helping the stranger is a God-given commandment. In Matthew chapter 28: 19-20, the instruction to “make disciples of all nations… teach them to observe all that I have commanded you,” is just as true.

Curry’s statement, “All the Bible is about love, and if it’s not about love, it’s not about God,” made me raise an eyebrow. That is true; God is love. Affirming everyone without regard for the state of their soul, however, is not love. Love wants to see souls saved, to be destined for eternal life. We are not meant for this world. We are meant for eternal life. Souls must be more important to the church than social justice, no matter how chaotic our societal problems.

Social justice is an admirable, and necessary, thing for Christians to strive. However, when the desire for justice outstrips the need to save souls–as the concept seemed to do here–that’s where a problem lies. I was supportive of all their broad brushstrokes: an end to racism, an end to sexism, loving all your neighbors as yourself. I drew the line at the Church’s call to go out and follow Matthew 25 with the apparent exclusion of Matthew 28: 19-20.

Another popular phrase of the night, besides “reclaim Jesus,” was “coming back to Christ.” None of the three speakers ever mentioned when we were with Christ. Were we ever with Christ? Was it when southern ministers explicitly supported slavery? Or when WASPs implicitly supported Prohibition statutes oppressing poor people of all races? Or when Martin Luther King, Jr.’s cries to the moderate whites to stand with the Civil Rights movement fell on deaf ears?

The night’s ultimate irony came during the final song. After excoriating those who supported “taking away food stamps,” doing nothing about “lead in water,” and “taking away [the] children” by calling them “anti-Christ,” the vocalist sang the old Christian hymn “Give Me that Old Time Religion.” The old-time religion that supported slavery? Jim Crow laws? That’s the song with which you want to end this event about coming back to Christ?

My point is that we cannot come back to Christ because we were never there. Only in eternity will the evils of the world be annihilated. While the aims of the Social Gospel are admirable, equality, prosperity, and love for all, the Bible is more than love and acceptance. God calls us to obey His commandments, and one of His most famous, and essential, commandments, is to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Saving souls for Christ is the Church’s primary exhortation.

  1. Comment by Samuel W. Setliff on September 30, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Neither Curry nor Willis gives a hoot about obeying God. You simply cannot support abortion and the LGBT agenda -wrapped with as much social justice as you may- and make an honest case that these guys are concerned about obeying God. So what does John 14:23-24 have to say about such people?

    Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 14:23-14

  2. Comment by Steve on September 30, 2019 at 8:58 am

    If you claim something from the lost and found that wasn’t yours in the first place, what does that make you? Before the lost and found gives anybody anything, the person claiming the thing should provide some ID and other proof that they are the rightful owner, including an explanation where and how the item was supposedly lost. I suspect Jesus would disagree with the notion that anybody owns him.

  3. Comment by Eternity Matters on September 30, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis is a wolf. Always has been. He’s a Soros-funded tool of the Left. He knows nothing of the real Jesus. He’s pro-abortion, pro-perversion, pro-coveting and anti-Jesus.

  4. Comment by Jim on September 30, 2019 at 5:22 pm


  5. Comment by Lee D. Cary on September 30, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    “Wallis declared he was not speaking politically.”

    Of course not! He would never do that.

  6. Comment by Pudentiana on September 30, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    “And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find a place: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.
    And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place.
    And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in.” This passage is referred to Paris Reidman’s Ten Shekels and a Shirt wherein the man of God uses Jesus to promote his own enrichment and his own agenda. Perhaps that is the reference to Sojourners origins.

  7. Comment by William on October 1, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    I thank God I’ve never heard of Jim Wallis. Wish I could say the same of Adam Hamilton —- of which I filed his books in File 13.

  8. Comment by Loren J Golden on October 2, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    In the Gospel accounts and in the Acts of the Apostles, Scripture recounts there were two predominant pseudo-political parties active in the religious life of First Century Israel: the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  Neither of these contended for political power in the accounts in Scripture, for to have attempted to do so would have been to run afoul of the Roman governors.  Rather, they contended with one another for the authority to govern the religious life of the Jews, with the Pharisees dominating the synagogues and the Sadducees dominating the Temple.  The chief difference between them was that the Pharisees believed all of the Old Testament Scriptures and believed the Scriptural doctrines of the resurrection from the dead and of the existence of angels and other noncorporeal spirits, whereas the Sadducees believed only the five books of Moses (the Torah) and disbelieved the doctrines of the resurrection and the existence of spirits, inasmuch as the Torah nowhere teaches the doctrines explicitly, and this difference was a source of tension and conflict between them (e.g., Acts 23.6-10).
    When first John the Baptist and later the Lord Jesus came along, neither of them allied themselves with either party, nor did they seek to build a third party to rival the other two.  From the Lord Jesus’ teachings on the resurrection (especially His own), it might seem that He would find greater affinity with the Pharisees than the Sadducees, but He eschewed both parties and had especially excoriating things to say about the Pharisees in particular (e.g., Mt. 22.15-23.39).
    The LORD Jesus is beholden to no one, and is no one’s to claim or “reclaim”, especially to be used as a figurehead for one’s political agenda, as is clearly Wallis’ intent—his disingenuous protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.  Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Risen Savior of the World, is the Master of all, to whom all of heaven and earth will bow in humble submission, not the mascot of a religious, pseudo-political subgroup attempting to humble other subgroups in order to further its own very political agenda, only some of which aligns with part of what He came to accomplish, while the rest is opposed to His Word.
    “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.  For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.  What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (I Cor. 1.10-13)
    “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2.1-5)

  9. Comment by Lee D. Cary on October 7, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    (The title) Jim, reclaim? How much did you hock him for?

  10. Comment by Dawn Lee Sitka on November 27, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    I am so thankful for Loren Golden’s comments. No name calling. No political bias. He started by paraphrasing Scripture and add the Bible references at the end so others can see if his paraphase agrees with Scripture. He ended with reading of St Paul’s instructions to Corinth. Since we are Christians we should go to Jesus for guidance. And if we think others are not following or are misinterpreting we should them to go back to Scripture.

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