Presentation on theme: "Part 1: Politics and religion 10 August 2008. Among these are: ◦ Religion and politics (just don’t go there please!) ◦ Environmental concerns (that’s."— Presentation transcript:
Part 1: Politics and religion 10 August 2008
Among these are: ◦ Religion and politics (just don’t go there please!) ◦ Environmental concerns (that’s for greenies) ◦ The world of work and industrial relations(umm… unions and bosses) ◦ War (a necessary evil?) ◦ Asylum seekers (aka ‘illegal immigrants’) ◦ Changing the world (oh so you are Miss Universe?) ◦ Tax (yeah we pay too much) ◦ Indigenous issues (tell me who they are again) The intersection of these things with Christian faith just doesn’t seem to get traction among many Christian or non-Christian leaders
Debates about personal morality (just avoid gossiping, quarrelling, jealousy) Sexuality (OK as long as you’re married, not gay or a eunuch) Abortion (especially good if you’re a man and never had to face it) Euthanasia and death Christmas and Easter (as long as it doesn’t interfere with the footy) Doctrine and truth Evolution vs Creation Eschatology (no, not snails)
“The greatest challenge today for leaders of all religions is to forego the opportunity to be amateur commentators on all manner of secular issues on which they inevitably lack expertise, and instead to find the spark of inspiration to give our lives greater moral and spiritual meaning”. (Alexander Downer) But: “If we are to say that religion cannot be concerned with politics then we are really saying that there is a substantial part of human life in which God's writ does not run. If it is not God's, then whose is it? Who is in charge if not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Desmond Tutu)
The logic: “…religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God…” (Jefferson) So there should be a clear line between matters of the church and matters of state And maybe a reaction to the excesses of powerful churches But does this therefore mean that Christians should be ambivalent about matters political?
Sources: Hirsch, A, 2006, The Forgotten Ways: reactivating the missional church, Strand Publishing, Erina Fair. Frost, M, 2006, Exiles: living missionally in a post-Christian culture, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody.
Did Jesus (or the apostles) set up a political party? ◦ Clearly, no! Was the gospel Jesus preached political? ◦ Clearly, yes! ‘How can that be?’ you may ask. ◦ Because in establishing his Kingdom, he threatened the established political order.
The definition of politics Firstly, we must define our terms. The words "politics" and "political" may be given either a broad or a narrow definition. Broadly speaking, "politics" denotes the life of the city (polis) and the responsibilities of the citizen (polités). It is concerned, therefore, with the whole of our life in human society. Politics is the art of living together in a community. According to its narrow definition, however, politics is the science of government. It is concerned with the development and adoption of specific policies with a view to their being enshrined in legislation. It is about gaining power for social change. Once this distinction is clear, we may ask whether Jesus was involved in politics. In the latter and narrower sense, he clearly was not. He never formed a political party, adopted a political programme or organized a political protest. He took no steps to influence the policies of Caesar, Pilate or Herod. On the contrary, he renounced a political career. In the other and broader sense of the word, however, his whole ministry was political. For he had himself come into the world in order to share in the life of the human community, and he sent his followers into the world to do the same. Moreover, the kingdom of God he proclaimed and inaugurated was a radically new and different social organization, whose values and standards challenged those of the old and fallen community. In this way his teaching had "political" implications. It offered an alternative to the status quo. His kingship, moreover, was perceived as a challenge to Caesar's, and he was therefore accused of sedition. Stott, J McCloughry, R and Wyatt, J, 2006, Issues Facing Christians Today, 4th Edition, Zondervan, Grand Rapids.
JN 18:36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.“ JN 18:37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.“ LK 18:16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.“ LK 6:20"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
He was certainly not apolitical (that is to say nothing to do with politics) And he wasn’t ambivalent to politics (that is to say he didn’t care less) He was anti-establishment (that is to say he disagreed with and disputed the validity of the political establishment) But he was also intensely interested in the stuff of polis and polités (that is to say he was concerned for the life of the community)
Wallis in his book “Seven ways to change the world” cites NT Wright: For generations the church has been polarized between those who see the main task being the saving of souls for heaven and the nurturing of those souls through the Valley of this dark world, on the one hand, and on the other hand those who see the task of improving the lot of human beings and the world, rescuing the poor from their misery. The longer that I've gone on as a New Testament scholar and wrestled with what the early Christians were actually talking about, the more it's been borne in on me that that distinction is one that we modern Westerners bring to the text rather than finding in the text. Because the great emphasis in the New Testament is that the gospel is not how to escape the World; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world… Our Western culture since the 18th century has made a virtue of separating out religion from real life, or faith from politics. When I lecture about this, people will pop up and say, "Surely Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world.” And the answer is no, what Jesus said in John 18 is, "My kingdom is not from this world.”… It’s quite clear in the text that Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t start with this world. It isn’t a worldly kingdom, but it is for this world. Wallis, J, 2008, Seven Ways to Change The World: Reviving faith and politics, Lion, Oxford. (pp. 43-44)
1. God hates injustice 2. The kingdom of God is a new order 3. The church is an alternative community 4. The kingdom of God transforms the world by addressing the specifics of injustice 5. The church is the conscience of the state, holding it accountable for upholding justice and restraining its violence 6. Take a global perspective 7. Seek the common good.
1. When we see or hear something political, let’s not dismiss it as spiritually irrelevant; 2. Weigh up what politicians say in the light of Jesus’ values (e.g. justice, love, mercy, grace righteousness, equality, forgiveness); 3. Look at the issues of the day (e.g. global warming, inflation, housing affordability, industrial relations, look for the spiritual dimension (there will be one!) 4. Vote with enthusiasm