Bryan Fischer
Tennessee house fire: "What would Jesus do?" That's easy
By Bryan Fischer
October 9, 2010

I don't think I've made comments on an issue that have generated so much anger from friend and foe alike as my comments on the Tennessee house fire. Christians have written to me and accused me of being evil and everything else short of calling me the anti-Christ himself.

This refers to the controversy over Gene Cranick's failure to pay his fire protection premium to the city of South Fulton, Tennessee, and who was consequently forced to watch his house burn to the ground as the fire department stood and watched with him. I argued that the fire department did the right thing, for which I have been blistered by critics from both sides of the aisle.

The left, of course, has grabbed the "What would Jesus do?" mantra — as if they really cared about anything Jesus would do — and used that as a cudgel. Friends in the faith community have likewise taken aim, saying that they too know what Jesus would do.

The odd thing is to see conservatives in the faith community essentially arguing for a mushy-headed liberal and secular-fundamentalist solution to this problem. They seem to be taking the position that the left has always adopted, that government has a moral obligation to protect people from their own folly no matter whose pocket government has to pick along the way, and no matter whom they endanger while doing it. It's a strange thing to hear evangelicals saying we ought to take resources without permission from responsible citizens (the ones who had been faithfully paying their fire protection premiums) and use them to bail out the irresponsible ones.

But this is exactly the kind of thinking that has created the hellhole our entire welfare system has become, trapping people in horrible dependence upon the largess of government. The left wants to reward the irresponsible by forcing the responsible to cough up resources to bail them out. Thus perversely the irresponsible are rewarded and the responsible punished. That frankly sounds more like the teaching of Jim Wallis than Jesus Christ.

I have, on the other hand, received emails from those in the insurance industry saying that no insurance company in the world would pay off on a policy when the policy holder had allowed his premiums to lapse. No insurance company would pony up for a man who waited until his house burned down to apply for coverage.

The truth is that the fire department's hands were tied by Mr. Cranick and Mr. Cranick alone. Only he could release firefighters to do what they were trained to do, by paying his annual fire protection fee. Mr. Cranick didn't do that. So it was Mr. Cranick that kept the fire department from protecting his home and not anyone from the city of South Fulton.

It's frankly odd to see the Christian community blame the fire department for something that was somebody else's fault. I'm used to hearing that from liberals, socialists, and Marxists, but not from followers of Christ.

Well, as long as we're speculating on what Jesus would do in this situation, I'm as entitled as anyone.

What would Jesus do? That's easy. He'd tell Mr. Cranick, "Man up, accept full and total responsibility, and don't blame anybody but yourself for what happened. That's the Christian thing to do. And next time, Gene, pay the 75 bucks, all right?"

And he'd say to my Christian critics, "Hey, it's time to realize that Mr. Cranick has no one to blame but himself. And nobody's stopping you from sending him a contribution to help him build a new home. What do you think about that? Instead of whining about how hard-hearted everybody else is, why don't you man up and send the man some money to help him rebuild his house? That'd be the Christian thing to do right there. Any takers?"

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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