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Jesus Creed

That’s our new bracelet idea: “Who Would Jesus Vote For?” On the question of the politics of Jesus, many have put forth their proposals, none more influentially than The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder. And now from the African American professor (New York Theological Seminary), Obery Hendricks, Jr., comes The Politics of Jesus: Rediscoving the True Revolutionary Nature of the Teachings of Jesus and How They Have Been Corrupted (NY: Doubleday, 2006).
Here’s my question: We have voted and it appears the Democrats, riding upon public disaffection for Bush and the Iraq war, have gained control in the House and Congress. What difference will a Democratic control of the Congress and House mean for you? On what basis do we make our decision?
I’ll be looking at Hendricks over the next week or so, and I’m not saying I’ll agree with him, but he’s asking for me a very important question — what were the political contours of Jesus’ message and vision? And that means for me, and not enough of those who contemplate Jesus’ political message ask this, how congruent is our view of Jesus’ view with what Paul thought the gospel was designed to do? And, that means what is the relationship of kingdom to church? It’s one thing to talk about the political shape of Jesus’ message; it is another to explain how we got from such a message to Paul’s establishment of Diaspora churches. Some have a view of Jesus’ kingdom that is totally out of sync with Paul. Is it likely that Paul got it completely wrong? Is it possible, at times, that we get Jesus wrong and therefore find ourselves out of step with the movement from Jesus to Paul? Enough of prolegomena.
Hendricks begins with this: “I was raised on the bland Jesus of Sunday school and of my mother’s gentle retellings, the meek, mild Jesus who told us, in a nice, passive, sentimental way, to love our enemies, and who assured us that we need not worry about our troubles, just bring them to him” (1). I’m willing to say that plenty of us heard about this Jesus in Sunday school; I heard about this Jesus in what our church called “Sparks.”
And this: “But black Christians can be some of the most religiously conservative people in America” (3). As a teenager he questioned this Jesus, and “I left the Church altogether, vowing never to return. Famous last words” (4).
And now: “Today… Called God’s name in drafty one-room backwoods churches, in sweltering urban storefronts, in sprawling compounds that could be mistaken for college campuses, and in structures so ornate and opulent that they embarrassed me and made me wonder if they wouldn’t embarrass Jesus” (4-5).
Hendricks was called back to the church by the revolutionary Jesus.
What does that mean? Jesus “proclaimed [a message that] not only called for change in individual hearts but also demanded sweeping and comprehensive change in the political, social, and economic structures in his setting in life: colonized Israel” (5).
He then ponders “if Jesus had his way” … and that’s the point of this post today. WWJVF? What would Jesus “value” when it comes to voting or contemplating candidates?
You’ve heard this before; I say it again because it’s true. Sit down and contemplate these passages, and you tell me: Was Jesus a political revolutionary?
Luke 1:46-55
Luke 1:67-79
Luke 4:16-30
Luke 6:20-26
Luke 7:18-23
Add to this Acts 2:42-46.
Three parts to Hendricks’ book:the roots of Jesus the revolutionary; the strategies of Jesus the revolutionary; an analysis of Reagan and Bush — were Jesus’ politics conservative or liberal?
OK, a comment on the elections: Why, I ask myself, did George W. Bush wait until Nov 8 to sack Rumsfeld? Why not last June? Why wait until after the election? Is it not a little too late to make the point that we need a change? This act makes no sense for the Republicans (to me).

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