Isaiah 55; the Great Physician trumps ObamaCare

In an April 17 story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, respected religion reporter Tim Townsend writes about a gathering of theologically liberal clergy who gathered to rejoice in the passage of ObamaCare.

Townsend begins with the laments of the group and how they too often feel like the children of Israel during the Babylonian captivity (I suppose anyone who opposes their views, like conservative Christians, are like Babylonians). They apparently feel this way because our elected leaders will not support much of the liberal ideology they espouse. While I applaud their passion to help others in need, that noble goal does not trump Christ’s command to spread the Gospel, that man is a sinner and that Jesus offers eternal life for all those who repent and confess Him as their Lord and personal Savior.

Not only do I disagree with their emphasis on social justice at the expense of the Gospel, but do not share their views – or that of Townsend’s apparently – on the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. For example, Townsend embraces liberal “higher criticism” to pronounce with seeming certainty that “an anonymous prophet, one of those in exile, wrote part of the biblical book we now know as Isaiah.” Yet there is a considerable number of scholars who maintain that Isaiah was indeed the lone author – and for good reason. The book clearly has common themes and vocabulary that unite it. There is also the dependence on Isaiah by other pre-exilic prophets. The first verse clearly attributes authorship to “Isaiah ben Amoz.” The citations in the New Testament that spoke of the entire book as from the hands of Isaiah are convincing.

Another issue I have with the story is the interpretation of Isaiah 55 offered by the Rev. David Greenhaw, president of Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves. During the meeting, Townsend wrote, Greenhaw walked to the middle of the room and began to read Isaiah 55:

“‘Ho, everyone who thirsts,’ Greenhaw began, then stopped. He looked at the choir he was preaching to. ‘Everyone who thirsts,’ he repeated, emphasizing the word everyone. ‘Everyone who thirsts.’

“He began again, striding through the room, his voice rising. ‘Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!’

“Greenhaw closed the book, and looked up.

“‘Everyone,’ he said, ‘Everyone. Everyone.’”

I’m not sure how the Isaiah passage connects with ObamaCare because Chapter 55 is God’s invitation to repent of sin and join in his lasting covenant of forgiveness, joy and the fulfillment of all of His promises. The legitimate concerns about socialism withstanding (Greenhaw and his colleagues apparently oppose free markets and individual liberty since such a view was applauded at their meeting), there is nothing in Scripture that looks anything like ObamaCare. But Scripture does speak of a Great Physician, One Who not only heals, but saves whosoever repents and calls upon His name.

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