Was Jesus Political

If you have an overwhelming urge to explore the weightier theological ideas, this is the place to seek fellow-travellers.
Post Reply
User avatar
Ernest
Auxilium
Posts: 3508
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:24 pm
Location: North Kent, UK
Contact:

Was Jesus Political

Post by Ernest » Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:36 am

It seems that Jesus was political? Inspired by this tweet from Rev Daniel on twitter:

evDaniel 2.0...18


@RevDaniel

For Christ's sake... YES!
Jesus WAS political.
Jesus WAS concerned about economics.
Jesus DID address those with political power.
Jesus WAS concerned about "this world".
Jesus DID see sin in material as well as "spiritua"l terms.
Jesus DID come to do more than just die.

Quite powerful statements. I wonder what you think, I can agree with each of his statements, but where is the evidence? Any thoughts?
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

User avatar
Caroline
Site Admin
Posts: 1954
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:55 pm
Location: On the settee
Contact:

Was Jesus Political

Post by Caroline » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:00 am

He was fully human, and as a human He was naturally concerned about all of those things. It is almost impossible not to be political - with a small 'p'.

He wasn't party political though, which is what most people understand by the word 'political'. Everything worldly that He was concerned about related to 'Love God and love one another', which certainly can't be said for any political parties!

Remember 'Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God that which is God's'? He did make a clear distinction between the things He was concerned about and the things that could be left to the world, and He made that statement so that He wouldn't become embroiled in worldly politics.
Kindness is underrated.

User avatar
Joyce
Posts: 1924
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:54 pm

Was Jesus Political

Post by Joyce » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:39 pm

There's the story of the coin in the fish that Jesus found for them to pay their tax with. He was in no way that we know of involved in questioning civil authority. The Temple authorities were another matter.
Politics is unavoidable whenever there are two or more humans together. Organisation, leadership, fair-sharing of tasks, and money-matters have to be decided upon.It doesn't always go well. Who decides who sits and who stands on a crowded bus ?
In His earthly lifetime Jesus was the leader of the group; Judas was the treasurer and look where that went. Early in Acts they had to get their act together over managing practical matters, such as caring for the widows and fundraising. When they went to non-Jewish areas there were decisions to make about food,Sabbath-keeping and circumcision. They must have asked one-another, 'What would Jesus say ?'

User avatar
seeker
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:53 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Was Jesus Political

Post by seeker » Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:13 am

I hope you don’t mind me jumping in on this when I am new, but the question of whether Jesus was political really got me thinking. First I should introduce myself - I am a mature (i.e. over 50) Anglican divinity student in Canada and, in my working life, a public servant. So you can see why this topic caught my eye. (Please let me know if I speak out of turn or miss any of the norms of this online community)

First, I wondered just what “political” means – my trusty Concise Oxford Dictionary gives four definitions:

1. of or affecting the State or its government; of public affairs; of politics
2. engaged in civil administration
3. having an organized form of society or government
4. belonging to, or taking, a side in politics; relating to person’s or organization’s status or influence

This led me to think that Jesus was political in some ways, but not in the conventional ways we think in definitions 2 or 3. I am with Caroline in seeing that Jesus’ humanity is central to the question.

I see Jesus most definitely in definition 1 …there is no doubt that he affected the State and its government –so much so that the state arrested, tried and executed him for promoting revolution and civil unrest. He was also very concerned with “public affairs” – not just with how the poor, sick and outcast were treated, but concerned that society (including the religious elders) considered this treatment to be normal and right.

And while Jesus did not ‘belong’ to a side in politics (definition 4) he most certainly took a side related to his status and influence – he took the side of God. Which surely overshadows any other human side.

So I conclude that Jesus the human was political, while Jesus the divine was above and beyond politics.

My thinking, anyway.

Peace,
Louise
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. (Julian of Norwich)

User avatar
Caroline
Site Admin
Posts: 1954
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:55 pm
Location: On the settee
Contact:

Was Jesus Political

Post by Caroline » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:31 am

Hi Louise and welcome! :thumbs:

:welcome:
Kindness is underrated.

User avatar
Pam
Web Pastor
Posts: 2084
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:15 pm
Location: UK
Contact:

Was Jesus Political

Post by Pam » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:27 pm

Welcome, Louise!

:welcome: :dog:
Jesus WAS political.
Jesus WAS concerned about economics.
Jesus DID address those with political power.
Jesus WAS concerned about "this world".
Jesus DID see sin in material as well as "spiritua"l terms.
Jesus DID come to do more than just die.
I can agree with all these statements from what I know of Jesus' life. I wonder what would be left of the gospels of all these aspects of his ministry and teaching were left out?

User avatar
seeker
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:53 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Was Jesus Political

Post by seeker » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:01 am

I think Pam you raise an interesting point. We'd lose huge chunks of the Gospel if the "political" Jesus was missing. Yet I think when churches stray from Jesus' politics - of social justice and peace and service - into real human politics, things can go awry.

Louise
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. (Julian of Norwich)

User avatar
Ernest
Auxilium
Posts: 3508
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:24 pm
Location: North Kent, UK
Contact:

Was Jesus Political

Post by Ernest » Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:34 am

It is interesting to hear other perspectives.

I was in the Military for 43 years, where Queens Regulations forbade you to voice anything political or controversial involving politics even not being allowed to talk to your Member of Parliament or the Press, most certainly not the press. So for us, Politics were a private matter and while we were able to vote, very rarely was politics discussed openly among soldiers.

Even our Army Education was geared towards government policy, in that when we did the topic, "The Army and the World" it was more about what we were for? ie. citizens, drawn from the community we came from, who gave up lots of the civilian rights in order to follow Army Discipline - basically, not to question or orders. The idea behind this was that being impartial in political matters we would be even handed when faced with conflict wherever we where and would keep the the criteria given to us on how to conduct operations. The so called, Rules of Engagement.

Many of us thought that government policy was sending us to engage in politics by extension, for instance the campaign in Northern Ireland was depicted as Peace Keeping, while for some of us, it felt like something quite different. But off course, we were trained to work as a team and our interdependence meant that we did what we were asked, albeit hard to reconcile with your conscience.

An example might be that you were a Catholic, involved in repressing a Catholic minority, expressing their wish for a united Ireland, you naturally felt for their aspirations, while knowing that your duty was to maintain the peace, to allow politics to be the the way to determine such things, without violence or resort to armed action.

So, I can see that Jesus was involved in radical politics and his teaching remains radical today, and perhaps challenging for many of us who are challenged by the world and how we treat other people. I also know that Jesus was a pacifist, in terms of violence which he condemned, his radical direction to "turn the other cheek" gives us pause for thought all of the time.

Like Louise, as a former Public Servant, I have had to restrain my thoughts and ideas, which in many cases I accepted as one of the conditions of service that I signed up too, but in retrospect I can recall those occasions when my conscience was challenged and I ignored it, because of my duty of service to my country. Something that I repent off still.

I thank God that I now have the freedom to speak out against the many injustices that I see day in and day out and to actively work to make things better.
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

User avatar
seeker
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:53 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Was Jesus Political

Post by seeker » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:03 am

Ernest, you raise an interesting point about being public servant. I do find that sometimes (fortunately rarely) my Christian beliefs are in conflict with my work - especially around poverty and homelessness. My local church does some social advocacy work, and I have to stay behind the scenes on that. I can't march with a placard criticizing our government's housing policy in front of our provincial legislature, having sworn my oath to the Crown with my hand on the Bible 20-odd years ago.

I think we all have choices - and if we are drawn into employment that is inconsistent with our beliefs, we might have to make a very hard decision to resign. Jesus demands a lot of us, and I know I fall short, but I do try and use my small influence for good at work.

Food for thought though.

Louise (seeker)
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. (Julian of Norwich)

User avatar
Ernest
Auxilium
Posts: 3508
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:24 pm
Location: North Kent, UK
Contact:

Was Jesus Political

Post by Ernest » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:31 am

There are difficulties in working for Public Service. The expectations of you being politically neutral are high and there are quite severe penalties for speaking out. There is 'whistle blower' legislation in the UK, but the experience of those who do speak out is in the negative. Basically, they put themselves out of a job, because their managers will say that the relationship of trust has failed - even if that very relationship has been one of abuse or worse.

On one or two occasions when I had to exercise my integrity about things that were being done in the wrong way, I was placed in a position of personal conflict with my superior officers - but fortunately, I was senior enough to be able to do this without significant repercussions for my career, particularly when they were able to see that if they continued on their course of action, I had the power to take it up with the chain of command (my appointment had that degree of independence) and any external investigation would mean repercussions for them, not for me. I don't like confrontation, but if I had condoned what was proposed, I would have compromised my own integrity, which being a bit stiff necked about it, I wasn't prepared to do.

Fortunately, it never went that far and I feel that it's important for those in positions such as mine, to maintain the values and standards and uphold them, at whatever personal cost. It's about the ethics of public service and the integrity of those who hold such appointments to be honest and transparent in whatever they do - and being held to those standard, you are obliged to see that others do the same.

And it's not about religion in that sense - it's about observing due propriety in your work place and not bending the rules for personal gain or allowing others to do the same.
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

User avatar
seeker
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:53 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Was Jesus Political

Post by seeker » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:41 am

Ernest, I agree. My father served in the RAF for three years, and perhaps some of his understanding of duty, ethics and integrity rubbed off on me. But I wonder if these concepts may be at least partly based on our Christian cultural background - like the idea that with privilege comes responsibility. I don't have the answer, just musing, but an atheist I know can't understand why I would "work for free" (volunteer!) to serve those less fortunate than me. He wonders why I would "waste my time." Its hard for me to explain without getting into my Christian-focused beliefs.

Louise
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. (Julian of Norwich)

User avatar
Ernest
Auxilium
Posts: 3508
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:24 pm
Location: North Kent, UK
Contact:

Was Jesus Political

Post by Ernest » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:51 am

Louise,

You are quite right about that stuff learned in Service are based on Christian Values (others might just say ethics) but Christian ethics are based on Christ's teaching, so there are obvious links.

The values and standards that I spoke off are now enshrined in Service Law in the UK, across all three services. They include "Courage, Integrity, Discipline, Loyalty and Selfless Commitment", which are recognizably Christian. Even before I became and active Christian and Anglican in 2008, I was living by those standards, but they are applicable to life in general, not just to Christians and similar themes can be found in Islam and other faiths.

Service life in built on teams from Section level upwards. Self reliance and interdependence are built in, but the aspect of our vulnerability which gives us compassion and care for each other are part of that as well. It's not all about bravado, and the interdependence of the military on each other, works in our parish here. We have a Ministry Team, that shares a lot, but also groups of volunteers who work across the whole of our community. One recent convert to faith with us is now working in a night shelter for the homeless, something he would never have considered before he came to faith. He is an Ex-Soldier, who I met when he came to an event that I organized and he just clicked when he heard the testimony of those who spoke about their own journey to faith.And he is as familiar with the values and standards of the services as I am.

This is indeed an interesting discussion. :cross:
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

Post Reply