Friday, July 16, 2004

The Liberals are not Immune! (Part II)

Last Tuesday I chastized a group of secular liberals who have begun sneaking into churches to spy on their political activities, seeking to "raise awareness about the separation between Church and State."  In Part I, I discussed why church engagement in politics is constitutionally permissible.  Today I show why engagement in Christian politics is religiously required.
The religion Jesus preached was not something you could practice in the quiet of your home.  It was a communal, not an individualistic religion.  When Jesus preached his most famous sermon, he did so from the mountain tops (Matt. 5:1). 
Jesus repeatedly called his followers to create and enter "the Kingdom of God."  Many scholars dispute the translation of the Greek word "basileia" as "Kingdom"  (John Crossan argues, for example, that "basileia" simply means "rule" or "sovereignty" and does not imply monarchical rule.)  But if the Kingdom of God is not a literal kingdom, then what is it?
The Kingdom of God is "humanity organized according to the will of God."  (Rauschenbusch, A Theology for the Social Gospel 142).  Or, as Crossan puts it, it is "an ethical kingdom": "what the world would be if God were directly and immediately in charge."  Jesus: a Revolutionary Biography, 55-56.
It is clear that the Historical Jesus focused on this idea of the Kingdom of God.  There are twelve Kingdom sayings with multiple, independent attestation.  Thus, the Kingdom of God ideal is "situated...deeply and broadly within the Christian tradition."  Crossan, The Historical Jesus 266.
Jesus calls us, then, not simply to a personal, transcendental, otherworldly experience.  He calls us to create a society based on Godly principles.  And while I certainly disagree with mainline Christians as to what those Godly principles are, I agree that they have a responsibility to act publicly, politically -- and to construct a "Kingdom of God."


At 11:24 PM, Blogger ats54 said...

The idea of a communal religion is completely supported by the Old Testament as well. It was always "the people" or "my people", etc. I can think of very few instances where it was really pointed out that an individual had sinned (except for kings, priests, patriarchs, those that took on responsibility for the people).
Walter Brueggeman talks about this in his book "The Prophetic Imagination" - which I highly recommend; especially for anyone hoping and striving for social change through Christianity. It focuses on the prophet as presenting an alternate society to that of the royal consciousness. Great book.


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