By now you have probably heard about what happened to Russell Vought, a Christian who appeared before the Senate Budget Committee (see above). When it was Senator Bernie Sanders’ turn to question Vought, he excoriated Vought for believing what Christians have always believed–that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved from condemnation. Not only did Senator Sanders attack this basic Christian belief, he also said that Vought’s belief made him unfit for office. Here’s how the exchange ends:
SANDERS: You think your statement that… they do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned, do you think that’s respectful of other religions?
VOUGHT: Senator, I wrote a post based on being a Christian and attending a Christian school that has a statement of faith that speaks clearly in regard to the centrality of Jesus Christ in salvation.
SANDERS: I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.
And so Senator Sanders closes his testimony saying that no one in this country should be believing what Christians have always believed–that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved. If Senator Sanders is right, then no faithful Christian would ever again be qualified for public office. Moreover, no faithful Christian would even be qualified to be an American. Why? Because what Senator Sanders finds so offensive is precisely what all orthodox Christians believe. To put it in Jesus’ own words:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him 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” (John 3:17-18).
The heart of the Christian faith is this. All people are born sinners and for that reason are under condemnation. Because of this, all of us need to be saved from condemnation. God sends his Son Jesus into the world to save sinners from condemnation and to reconcile them to God. Jesus took our condemnation for us by dying on the cross, for in Christ God “condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). The only way for sinners to escape condemnation and to be reconciled to God is through Jesus–which is why Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).
If it is un-American to believe this (as Senator Sanders suggests), then it is un-American to be a Christian because this teaching is at the very essence of our faith. Make no mistake, any Christian who agrees to the terms stipulated by Senator Sanders can in no sense remain a faithful Christian. In Senator Sanders’ America, one can be a Christian or be a good citizen, but he cannot be both. I can hardly imagine a position more corrosive of religious liberty than this.
Article VI of the United States Constitution forbids precisely what Senator Sanders is doing in this line of questioning—imposing a religious test on a nominee for public office. Article VI states “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” And yet here is Senator Sanders demanding that a nominee for public office betray his faith in order to gain that office. Disgraceful.
Watch the video above. You have to see it to believe it.