God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: ‘Constantinianism of the Left?’

posted by gp_intern

My friend Chuck Gutenson, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, has written an excellent piece – “Constantinianism of the Left?” – on his Imitatio Christi blog. He explains the history and meaning of the term “Constantinianism”:

In 313, the emperor Constantine, who had recently become a Christian, issued an edict making Christianity the official religion of the empire. In so doing, Constantine tightly bound the survival of the empire with that of the church, and the church went from being a marginalized, disempowered group to occupying a central place in the corridors of power. In exchange for this new-found power, the church was expected to serve as a cohesive force within the empire as well as to give religious cover to the emperor. Many consider this “an unholy alliance of religious and political power.” In our contemporary setting, when someone is charged with Constantinianism, they are being charged with too closely uniting these two – religious and political power – so that the church begins to see the state and legislation as a way to accomplish its goals.

He notes the charge often made against progressive Christians engaged in politics is that, in attempting to come up with some solutions to social problems through legislative and other political activity, we are putting too much faith in the state. (Something which is also true of conservatives.) And, he says, we may be guilty of the charge:

Too often, our presentations emphasize so much the need to change public policies and institutions that it is entirely understandable that our critics would think we have forgotten we are members of the church first and of the state second. We can easily sound more like advocates of a particular political agenda than advocates of the Gospel of Jesus. The focus, of course, should be that we are advocates of the Gospel of Jesus, but that commitment to the Gospel leads to a particular kind of political advocacy. Second, we must also own that, by and large, our use of Scripture is rather slipshod. Frequently, when you read pieces on the Christian case for progressive politics, they read as if we have arrived at a particular set of political positions on other grounds and that we have then gone to Scripture in search of passages that give the appearance of supporting our case. (Of course, the same can be said of those of more conservative political leanings.) I sincerely believe that the folks I know who are active in progressive politics are firmly committed to the Gospel of Jesus and I believe that their political activism grows out of their faith. We must, however, do a better job of making this evident. If we do, we will go a long way toward undermining the charge that we are merely engaging in a “constantinianism of the left.”

It’s a useful admonition, and Chuck goes on to suggest four steps that can more seriously ground political activism in faith. They are good and important suggestions. I commend Chuck’s piece for thought and reflection.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(48)
post a comment
evolver

posted February 26, 2007 at 7:30 pm


The edict of Milan did not make Christianity the official religion of the state. It was an edict of tolerance – it added Christianity to the slate of legal religions, and nothing more.



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted February 26, 2007 at 8:22 pm


God is in the details, but Gutenson’s general principles are awful tough to argue with. Wolverine



report abuse
 

chris haw

posted February 26, 2007 at 8:28 pm


I’m interested to hear responses to this criticism. I personally share the belief that religious left is just as constantinian in hope as the right. While the red-letter movement purports to shy away from becoming a new-left, I do not yet know how. Whoever responds to Chuck’s article, I recommend staying away from the soothing language of sincerity. As with the presidency and the atrocious iraq war, “sincere faith” is not the issue here. The issue is about what the aims and goals of the Church are. Is it to Christianize the state? If the red-letter movement seems to have a blind spot it is that it cannot clarify this goal particularly. That is because the red-letters, taken out of context of the larger scripture narrative of forming a peculiar people, are simply seen as political axioms for the state.



report abuse
 

Kris Weinschenker

posted February 26, 2007 at 9:02 pm


I think it’s more antinominialism by the Left than it is “Constantinism” For example, why is some many “pastors” and “Reverands” are already jumping on the Obama bandwagon…. http://my.barackobama.com/page/group/ClergyForObama yet the FEC doesn’t seem to be investigating if there churchs have forsaken their tax-exempt status (as FEC law requires)? Or does that law only apply to church leaders who support Republicans?



report abuse
 

ron

posted February 26, 2007 at 9:20 pm


“Frequently, when you read pieces on the Christian case for progressive politics, they read as if we have arrived at a particular set of political positions on other grounds and that we have then gone to Scripture in search of passages that give the appearance of supporting our case.” So the Dobsons, Falwells, and Robertsons of this world derive their positions from an objective, non-culturally biased reading of scripture? Perhaps it is the presumptions that we bring to our bible reading that biases us against agreeing with the religious right when they opine from Bible prophecy that the United States should attack Iran?In another more irenic time, this might be a conversation worth having. But not today.



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted February 26, 2007 at 9:24 pm


Good article. It’s nice to see Mr. Wallis and his fellow progressives examining themselves for the same flaws they see in conservatives, because many of the editorials in Sojourners seem to be getting more and more inclined to commit the same sins of the Christian Right in reverse — Jesus isn’t a white middle-class Republic, but, rather, is a poor minority Democrat. The same rhetoric of “God on our side” used to support capitalism is now being used to support socialism. —— “and nothing more.” True but kind of misleading. It had been technically legalized two years prior to the Edict of Milan; the Edict extended a much more friendly protection.



report abuse
 

phil

posted February 26, 2007 at 9:42 pm


I agree. Sojourners has to be careful not to become more and more like the religious right, except with different political leanings. Wasn’t John Howard Yoder on the board of Sojourners and didn’t Sojourners publish some Jacques Ellul essays back in the day? They have come a long way.



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted February 26, 2007 at 9:45 pm


Great ron… “In a better time we should seek to examine whether our positions are Biblical, but until then let’s just act.” If that isn’t the fatal flaw of progressivism, I don’t know what is. (Contrarily, the fatal flaw of traditional conservatism is to offer critique but NO solutions)



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted February 26, 2007 at 11:58 pm


Good observations.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted February 27, 2007 at 12:39 am


…yet the FEC doesn’t seem to be investigating if there churches have forsaken their tax-exempt status (as FEC law requires)? Under federal law, pastors are allowed to endorse or oppose candidates, even in the pulpit as long as they are speaking only for themselves. Churches themselves, on the other hand, are not. On top of that, it’s an IRS issue, not FEC.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted February 27, 2007 at 1:06 am


The purpose of the Gospel, basically, is to herald a new Kingdom that is different from any that is in the world. In my experience many of the conservatives in the 1980s forgot that (but now are beginning to understand), and it’s good to see that some “liberals” are taking stock to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes. While I don’t think political action is in and of itself wrong, the danger has always been that we risk making the church into another lobbying group trying to get the politicians’ attendtion — not only did doing so compromise the “religious right” but it also sabotaged the civil-rights movement. After reading some Chuck Colson in the 1980s I’ve come to the conclusion that the church should first model what God’s agenda should be regardless of consequences and then we will gain an audience. It will be so much easier both to evangelize and to speak out against injustice if this is done.



report abuse
 

Dale

posted February 27, 2007 at 2:39 am


Jim, I so want you to engage a bit more on this one. I am a long time supporter/reader, and have read a lot of your books over the years. Lately, I have been reading several like Stanley Hauerwas and others writing in what is becoming known as the “Radical Orthodoxy” category, and in those circles, such issues as this are often bandied about. I have debated with more than a few people about this, and I am deeply desirous of a full-fledged dialogue between a “Progressive theology” and an “ecclesia-centered” theology. I hope this thread doesn’t die out before much is hashed out, and perhaps some more formal dialogue planned and undertaken. I posted on my blog over at Theoblogical on this topic. I plan on commenting on Chuck’s blog, too. I thank you for taking the intiative to link to Chuck and acknowledge his concerns. I hope this can be carried on, and that you can give it some contemplation. Dale



report abuse
 

Don

posted February 27, 2007 at 2:40 am


I think Rick Nowlin (previous post) is on the right track. We Lutherans sometimes talk about the “theology of the cross” vs. the “theology of glory.” If I understand it correctly (and I’m not always sure that I do), so much of the political posturing appears to many of us to be in the theology of glory category. And that critique would apply equally to those on both sides of the so-called liberal/conservative divide. The theology of the cross, by contrast, puts God in control of history, not us humans, and teaches us to seek for God’s hand in the insignificant and ignored, not in the well-publicized and highly visible. Our Redeemer and Lord was born in a stable, not in a palace, an event that went completely unnoticed by the so-called important folks of the world–even in the Jewish world, to say nothing of the Roman world. But that unnoticed event turned the world upside down. God’s Kingdom rules from the bottom up, not from the top down. The servants are the rulers, not the kings. Christian political action can become just another power game, i.e., another exercise in the theology of glory. But doing the work of service, whether that be trying to be peacemakers, preaching the Gospel to the poor, or welcoming the stranger, allows the theology of the cross to do its unseen work and eventually witnesses more powerfully to a broken society than political action alone will do. In fact, it provides the only solid foundation for legitimate political action. This becomes the prophetic voice to our society that Jim Wallis so often speaks about. Peace,



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted February 27, 2007 at 3:14 am


Interesting distinction drawn between the theology of the cross and the theology of glory. I’d be curious to see it more hashed out, as I tend to see all things — the Cross included — as a means to the glory of God ultimately.



report abuse
 

Collective conscience

posted February 27, 2007 at 3:25 am


Jim: Many have written and commented about this issue to you on this very site. You still seem to “brush it off” of your shoulder by referring to your friend’s blog. Do you see yourself as moving in this direction, or are you so in bed with political operatives in Washington (and quite comfortable) that you are really not willing to admit that SJ and your operation is too close to the power structures? Will you continue the dialogue, will SJ change? If not, then don’t waste our time with this fluff.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted February 27, 2007 at 4:29 am


Don — I think you nailed it. Before our LORD wore the crown of gold He wore the crown of thorns.



report abuse
 

Kris Weinschenker

posted February 27, 2007 at 3:40 pm


“Rick Nowlin”…. Then why is the IRS is considering tax-excemption some churchs whose pastors made very ambigious statements that the IRS claims supported Bush?



report abuse
 

Joseph T

posted February 27, 2007 at 5:02 pm


What you are describing doesn’t seem to me to be a substantive problem. If it is it needs to be more substantively dilineatedRight now the planet is headed toward the “nukem first” Fast Fry or the “gotta get me another oil fix” slow fry. Our faith communities should be real enough to energize us to act in the real world. Of course the state and legislation and redistribution of wealth are a way to accomplish justice and peacemaking and freedom and of course it is a small part of our pursuit of fullness of life, but without our participation we are as sounding brass and the state is as as the falling warheads. Right now I’m worried about the real Constantine with the mountains of cash and the weapons for sale, with the legions at his command and the hunger for more, part Democrat, part Republican, Part Euro Part Chinese, Part Israeli, Part Saudi, Part Mugabe, Part Putin, part Swiss banker, all consumer, all bully, all self righteous,all too willing to fiddle and feast and dream of endless dominion while the fires burn.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted February 27, 2007 at 5:03 pm


Then why is the IRS is considering tax-exemption some churches whose pastors made very ambigious statements that the IRS claims supported Bush? I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I do remember last year or the year before there was a move afoot to change the law so that tax-exempt organizations may directly support political candidates, never before permitted. And back in 1992 Randall Terry’s church took out full-page ads in USA Today and the New York Times opposing Bill Clinton — in violation of the law.



report abuse
 

Eric

posted February 27, 2007 at 7:32 pm


I think the major issue progressive Christians need to grapple with is how they view those who have problems with their legislative means to a Christian end. Just because someone doesn t support the progressive legislative objective doesn t mean they aren t following the message of the Gospel. (Obviously, conservative Christians need to grapple with this too, but since this is a progressive blog we re focusing on the progressive side of this issue.) For example, there’s no doubt that Jesus tells us to care for the poor. Some Christians take this as an admonition to tithe and give to charities that help the poor. Other Christians take this as an admonition to use the government to redistribute wealth and set up various social programs for the poor. The Bible doesn’t inform our debate too much on which way to care for the poor, just that we should do it.* Progressives have to be careful when they advocate for greater government mandated redistribution of wealth that they don t conflate the Bible s admonition to help the poor and their own means to this end.*The Bible does say to be good stewards of our resources. If one truly believes giving more to the government to help the poor is the most effective way to do so then government programs make sense. To those who think giving to charity is a more effective use of their resources then this avenue makes more sense.



report abuse
 

L'etranger

posted February 27, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Re: all the IRS investigating Bush/ Dem supporting churches not an awful lot seems to be happening as this article makes clear http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/01/turning_a_blind.html To give a sense of the sorts of things that come up – these are the examples given All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, Calif.: Currently the target of an IRS investigation triggered by a 2004 anti-Iraq war sermon. The sermon, delivered by former church rector Rev. George Regas two days before the election, imagined a debate between Jesus, President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry, with Jesus saying: “Mr. President, your doctrine of pre-emptive war is a failed doctrine.” All Saints has refused to cooperate with IRS investigators and recently hosted a conference on “The War, the Pulpit and the Right to Preach.” Fairfield Christian Church and World Harvest Church, near Columbus, Ohio: Triggered complaints to the IRS by a group of more than two dozen clergy, mostly liberal, for allegedly helping the GOP in the 2006 congressional election. The evangelical Fairfield Christian Church lent its facilities to Republican groups free of charge, while its pastor, Russell Johnson, headed a conservative activist group that featured Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell at many events. The complaints also alleged that Blackwell, who lost his race, flew aboard World Harvest Church’s private plane, but the church says the travel was not connected to a partisan political event. Both churches deny violating IRS law. Mount Ennon Baptist Church, Clinton, Md.: Drew a complaint to the IRS for a sermon in which the Rev. Delman L. Coates attacked Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele two days before the 2006 election. At the time, Democratic Senate hopeful Ben Cardin was sitting in the front row. “Everybody of color ain’t so kind,” Coates told the African-American congregation, in a reference to Steele, who is black. “All of your skinfolk ain’t your kinfolk.” Cardin, who went on to win the election, is white. The complaint came from the liberal Washington group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which typically focuses on fighting the Christian right. Coates denies the sermon was an endorsement. Light of the World Christian Center, Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene, and Topeka Bible Church, Topeka: Cited in an IRS complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington last year in connection with the failed re-election campaign of Kansas Republican Attorney General Phill Kline. In an internal campaign memo leaked to the press in September titled “church efforts,” Kline identified Light of the World and Wanamaker Woods as agreeing to do “lit drops” for his campaign. As another way to use churches, Kline’s memo suggests his campaign, “Get the pastor to invite five ‘money people,’ whom he knows can help.” The complaint also cites a news report that Kline used a Sunday morning breakfast at the Topeka Bible Church to invite parishioners to a political rally. The churches have either kept quiet or denied acting inappropriately.



report abuse
 

Katy

posted February 27, 2007 at 8:17 pm


I have often wondered as a progressive Christian if I’m just as guilty of taking scripture out of context to support my political leanings. Yet, I agree that the overall Gospel of Christ has influenced my political leanings and my socially progressive ideas. The complete picture of Christ’s coming is even more important than particular, individualized scripture.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted February 27, 2007 at 8:18 pm


Eric — Good points, but let’s take it a bit deeper. You are correct in saying that helping the poor is a Christian duty but also in that the Scriptures don’t exactly tell us how to do it. But the issue is that the problem of poverty is far different in 21st Century America than at the time of the fledgling church. That’s because in America the rich and the poor often don’t live in the same neighborhoods, and that’s especially the case over the last 50 or some years when folks fled the cities for often-remote suburbs. I thus find it problematic when the “rich” try to devise ways to help the poor but without giving up their privileged status, which is what the whole debate is about.



report abuse
 

Ted Voth Jr

posted February 27, 2007 at 8:25 pm


For me, for now, I just don’t want any of my Christian friends on the left establishing a church, any more than I want our sisters and brothers on the right establishing their church. Which is why I’m terrified when Christians get together with Democrats and teach ‘em how to talk ‘Christian ‘ Jim W, you say you read these comments; I hope so.Love in Christ TV2



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted February 27, 2007 at 8:34 pm


Rick, I rather doubt that the rich in Jesus’ time had their palaces and Roman bathhouses next to the poor :) Actually, the standards of living for the rich and poor are far closer in the Western world today than in Israel 2000 years ago (or in America 200 years ago).



report abuse
 

Eric

posted February 27, 2007 at 8:38 pm


Rick, I’m not sure what your point is. Do you mean to say that progressives don’t have to grapple with the issue I raised because our communities are different today? Or are you saying that government social programs can be justified by the Bible because our communities are different? Can you help me? Eric (For the sake of this discussion I’m assuming that your statement “the problem of poverty is far different in 21st Century America than at the time of the fledgling church” is accurate.) I agree with you that



report abuse
 

L'etranger

posted February 27, 2007 at 8:46 pm


I liked Eric’s point about government versus charity because this gets to the heart of the issue – what is more likely to work to achieve the commonly held objective. To know the answer needs research, evidence and thought which is compelx and time consuming rather than shouting the talking points of the right or left, which is easy but a waste of time. Perhaps it’s more useful to take about individual situations and think through the specific solution from charity of government and consider that efficiency and effectiveness and unintended consequences on a case by case basis. I’m pretty convinced that just having an ideological viewpoint and imposing regardless of the situation isn’t that helpful.



report abuse
 

Eric

posted February 27, 2007 at 8:54 pm


Rick – One more comment, I agree with you that helping the poor should involve some sort of personal sacrifice. Both conservative and progressive Christians (including myself) don’t remember this. When you speak about “the rich” in your comments I assume you’re talking about wealthy Christians and that they don’t sacrifice enough for the poor. Although it’s a generalization, that may be the case. I’d also like to make a generalization though. I’d bet a lot of progressive Christians feel they’ve done their duty to the poor by simply checking off a particular box in the voting booth. Both sides have a lot more to do.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted February 27, 2007 at 9:09 pm


I’m not sure what your point is. Do you mean to say that progressives don’t have to grapple with the issue I raised because our communities are different today? Or are you saying that government social programs can be justified by the Bible because our communities are different? Can you help me? I’m saying that in Roman society you could actually see the poor on a constant basis because to get anywhere you had to either walk or take an animal, while today cars provide transportation. As a result, because we don’t often see poverty close-up there isn’t much of an understanding as to whether “diaconal” programs (i. e. charity) or “political” programs (i. e. redistribution) have more of a positive effect.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted February 27, 2007 at 9:36 pm


Both sides have a lot more to do. Which is why I’d love to see them put aside their differences and work together for the common good. My church actually does this — which we have plenty of well-funded diaconal ministries we also speak out against racism and other political and social injustices, plus we have voter-registration drives at appropriate times. Indeed, the then-mayor of my city, whose son attended our after-school program, visited the church in 2000. In this way we helped to influence some of the political leadership without casting a vote or mounting a campaign.



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted February 27, 2007 at 10:36 pm


For the record Rick, I agree that it is both sad and pathetic that we can be so insulated from the poor surrounding us. I’m not sure that it really changes the issue between politics and charity, but I agree that it is a huge problem in tackling apathy in American Christianity.



report abuse
 

dlw

posted February 28, 2007 at 2:34 am


I also commented on the post there. Chuck’s history is a little bit off. Xty did not become the official religion of Rome in 313 or under Constantine. The increase in hierarchy in Xty was actually a relatively gradual process starting about a century after its beginnings when Xty began facing heresies like Gnosticism that resulted from its translation into Greek culture. I think it’s wrong to think that “what went wrong” with Xty mainly took place in the 4th ctry. There were some serious antecedents before then and so I’m not sure it’s fair to say that Xtn involvement with politics is the culprit. I wd say that rivalry among Xtn bishops for influence over the Emperor of Rome did terrible damage to Xty. This is especially the case with later Byzantine Xtn treatment of the Assyrian Xtns who later might have influenced Mohammed and the rise of Islam. I shd also add that I think there are valid reasons to differ with the language used by Chuck/Wallis, but I think there also needs to be a more generous Orthopraxy when it comes to Christian Church-State relations than most Hauerwists permit. dlw



report abuse
 

Joe V. Peterson

posted February 28, 2007 at 4:53 pm


I don t know why, but I am amazed at how willing the organized Church world of 501 c(3)s are to subordinate themselves to the rules of modern day Caesar (IRS) to the point they willfully subordinate themselves to be muzzled and even recommend the same muzzle for their opponents ! If that isn t a product of the Constantinian shift I don t know what is?? What makes a voice prophetic is it will speak and act in the face of the Creasers even at the risk of losing its profit . It could be that just the fact one would be worried about being Constantinianized might mean you already are? (Never-the-less, it s a good question to ask yourself!) If God has given you something to say or do, then do it. Constantinianism may just be the Christians buying back into the dominate culture for the sake of getting heard or recognized legitimized in the eyes of Caesar?



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted February 28, 2007 at 5:44 pm


I don t know why, but I am amazed at how willing the organized Church world of 501 c(3)s are to subordinate themselves to the rules of modern day Caesar (IRS) to the point they willfully subordinate themselves to be muzzled and even recommend the same muzzle for their opponents ! For a time I used to think like that myself. But, on a purely spiritual level, I have come to appreciate that to speak freely they cannot allow themselves to become lackeys of any political party, so in that way they are protected. Besides, to say that God supports or opposes X candidate for whatever reasons is more than a tad presumptuous.



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted February 28, 2007 at 6:54 pm


“Besides, to say that God supports or opposes X candidate for whatever reasons is more than a tad presumptuous.” Some/most of the time, but not always.



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:03 am


Rick said: For a time I used to think like that myself. But, on a purely spiritual level, I have come to appreciate that to speak freely they cannot allow themselves to become lackeys of any political party, so in that way they are protected. Besides, to say that God supports or opposes X candidate for whatever reasons is more than a tad presumptuous. Not to mention really silly considering we don’t live in a theocracy. p



report abuse
 

Mike Hayes

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:37 am


Some conservative persons who regularly post on this blog often refer to some concept of “Christian beliefs”. They often mention the inadequacy of beliefs that are not Christian. I don’t think there is a “Christian” set of beliefs. Galeleo could tell us about that. Whoever came up with “limbo” could tell us about that. The reformation was all about that.



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted March 1, 2007 at 1:21 pm


“Not to mention really silly considering we don’t live in a theocracy.” Ah, so God’s voice doesn’t matter. Gotcha. “I don’t think there is a “Christian” set of beliefs.” True, in that truth need not be qualified with “Christian.” It’s just true or not. “Galeleo could tell us about that.” Let’s not make a martyr of Galileo. He was not persecuted for heliocentric beliefs (which were not uncommon at all — it’s just that Galileo’s telescope offered empirical evidence to support theoretical supposition. Up until the telescope, Ptolemy’s geocentric theory was sufficient, if overly complex). He was persecuted for being an ass who told the Church what they could and couldn’t do with their theology. The Church was basically saying, “Let’s work this out slowly” and Galileo would having nothing to do with it. The problem was not the Church telling Galileo how to do his science, as is often assumed (granted, there were some in the Church who *were*), but Galileo telling the Church how to do theology. “The reformation was all about that.” Not exactly. The Reformation was about Sola Scriptura versus Prima Scriptura/Sacred Tradition… and about what place human ecclesiastical authority plays in the life of the believer.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:50 pm


The Reformation was about Sola Scriptura versus Prima Scriptura/Sacred Tradition… and about what place human ecclesiastical authority plays in the life of the believer. Good point, but incomplete. A large part of it also proved to be about power politics, because whatever church the ruler of a particular region favored that’s where the people in it went. Calvin’s “separation of church and state” came about here, but in those days it was not about two different realms as such — in his view the state should take orders from the church but not the other way around. He also believed that the state should protect the church.



report abuse
 

Antonym

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:23 pm


Where is Jim in all of this discussion? Rick, et. al: point the discussion back to SJ and other progressive groups. Stop making this a personal tit-for-tat (as friendly as it may be). Focus!!!!



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted March 1, 2007 at 5:54 pm


Mark: Ah, so God’s voice doesn’t matter. Gotcha. No it doesn’t at least as far as our history is concerned. Please explain to me what he said during the last election. Oh wait I can help you w/ that one. “I will give you your white daddy myth so that you can put your trust in a Christian over me. I will show you the folly of men. Then you will return to me.” Are we talking that voice? Are we talking about the voice conservatives wanted to hear? Because I think Jesus the God/Man we both love was trying to do a lot more but conservatives (by and large) only listened to a voice that wanted to destroy the deep trust and belief in the republican party. I could be wrong about that. But I doubt it. Now back to the essay at hand. I don’t put too much stock in the state to solve my problems but I do think the state should be an avenue to address the problems it created. To not hold the state accountable for it’s past misdeeds means we enshrine certain practices (ie racism, genocide, prison camps, false wars involving the wrong people, unequal rights for women, evil experiments and host of other things.) p



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted March 1, 2007 at 6:11 pm


Rick, et. al: point the discussion back to SJ and other progressive groups. Ha! If you remember, the article at hand was about possibly avoiding the same mistakes that the “religious right” made beginning in the 1980s. Some church history is thus apropos.



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted March 1, 2007 at 8:04 pm


Payshun, you got me. I vote for white-middle/upper-class Republicans every day, all day, and I use God’s voice to justify it. I don’t compartmentalize my God. Well, better put: I *try not to compartmentalize God, with varied success. But I don’t think He takes a deist sabbatical when it comes to my decisions as a voter. But of course any time I speak of trying to follow the will of God in voting, what I really mean is that I want to vote for a government that is small economically, indifferent to poverty, and invasive on moral issues. Right?



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted March 1, 2007 at 10:59 pm


You tell me Mark. p



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted March 2, 2007 at 2:22 am


You seem to have made up your mind with no evidence, so why should I bother changing it, yes?



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted March 2, 2007 at 9:53 am


What did I make up my mind about?It’s purely up to you. If you want to explain where you are coming from, feel free. This is not a debate. This is a discussion. I may not agree w/ you on stuff but so what. I still would like to hear your opinion. p



report abuse
 

Tim Atwater

posted March 2, 2007 at 3:50 pm


hi… Might it be help at all to try bible study?I know (having tried) — It’s no easy thing to try to trace biblical theology just from the bible…(i think we all end up using tradition and experience, maybe even reason… no matter how hard we may try to go sola scriptura…) I am new to blogging and confess much hesitancy re the mode… it’s hard to dialogue w out seeing and hearing any of the vocal nuancing… but am impressed w many thoughtful posts here. What would Jesus do? what does Jesus do? I preached last Sunday on the temptations in the wilderness (Luke 4)… starting w a spin from a Henry Nouwen book… that the big three temptations of Jesus are (in Luke’s ordering) Economic Power, Political Power… and Religious Power… Jesus fasts from these Big 3 all his life… He fasts only once that we hear about from food…tho remember Mt 6 on fasting w out being seen… Acts 13-14, Jonah 3 on fasting and prayer as efficacious…and always Isaiah 58 on the main idea of fasting being solidarity w the poor…. Immediately after the temptations, Jesus goes into public preaching, and the main theme is from Isaiah 61 of course — and maybe(?) we in the Sojo blog may sometimes be just a tiny bit like the hometown Nazareth congregation? we are down w the message! Til the sermon illustrations are about loving enemy commanders… Then — better have your sneakers on Jesus! you know i’m not going to love brother Naaman (Chuck Colson, James Dobson,…)(c-:??) Where does Jesus go from here (Lk 4) re Econ, Political and Religious Power?? To the cross…and…all the way, with the poor, the oppressed, incl broad-brush, tax collectors (rightists on econ?) and other sinners of all stripes and types… then… up from the grave… to the end of volume one… and Luke seems to go to pains to show Herod and Pilate acting in coalition against Jesus and the church… Where does the Holy Spirit lead the church in vol 2 (Acts)? here is where it gets more complicated i believe… There’s an ongoing Christian anarchist strand of thought which i think is dominant… but isn’t there also at least an implicit strand of theo thought that involves conversion of even the empire? (Paul’s speeches and pilgrimage to Rome, with the several mentions of church members who work for the emperor… even the prominence of the place name Caesarea… (where the apostle Philip hunkers down between Acts 8 and 21, conducting subversive activities, fulfilling Acts 2 in slow mo…? (Theo disclosure: I like Jacques Ellul’s basic spin in his work on Kings and Christian Anarchy — tho i think he, like every one else, takes his thang just a few steps too far… I love the Catholic Worker personalist-anarchist spin alot… again find myself drawn to voting and paying taxes and not quite convinced that there isn’t some decent in-between??)Is it worth taking time to try to map out biblical patterns re God and politics/policies/polititical process and praxis? more Disclosure: I’m now a rural pastor after a relatively long time as a ‘career’ activist (NGO lobbyist, campaign worker, community organizer) i’m an independent now (grown up left dem) Now consider myself an evangelical w/ in a mainline denom (UMC)…have spent a fair amount of time pondering my own lack of clarity re these issues under discussion re God and politics/public policies… blessings, Tim



report abuse
 

Mark P

posted March 2, 2007 at 8:19 pm


“What did I make up my mind about? The tone of your response basically said I’d hear what I wanted to hear from God, and what I wanted to hear was pro-Republicanism. “It’s purely up to you. If you want to explain where you are coming from, feel free.” I’ve explained elsewhere. I’m a former-libertarian, currently I’d align myself closest with traditional Kirkian conservativism, though I don’t (by any stretch) agree with Kirk on everything, and the ex-libertarian pragmatism accidently burst through sometimes.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting God's Politics. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:14:07am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Why I Work for Immigration Reform (by Patty Kupfer)
When I tell people that I work on immigration reform, they usually laugh or say, "way to pick an easy topic." Everyday it feels like there is more fear, more hate. Raids are picking up in Nevada, California, and New York. A number of senators who supported comprehensive reform only a few months ago

posted 12:30:52pm Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Audio: Jim Wallis on "Value Voters" on The Tavis Smiley Show
Last week Jim was on The Tavis Smiley Show and talked about how the changing political landscape will affect the upcoming '08 election. Jim and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, debated and discussed both the impact of "value voters" on the election and what those values entail. + Down

posted 10:11:56am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

posted 9:35:01am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

posted 9:31:25am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.