Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jesus And American Politics

I don't know if I've ever been explicit on this point, and I think it surprising that such clarity is even needed, but as it is the persistent belief among some that Jesus would endorse a particular partisan or ideological political position, I think it only fair to state quite baldly that I would never make such a claim. Furthermore, the idea that, say, "Jesus was really a liberal," or, "Jesus was pro-life," are two manifestly erroneous statements. Trying to lasso the Son of Man to any ideological or political commitment is wrong on many levels.

This does not mean that one cannot see in the teachings and life of Jesus certain tendencies and preferences. It does mean, however, that these are thoroughly theological in nature. One can be a devout Christian and hold diametrically opposed political views from the person sitting beside one in worship on Sunday morning and that's OK. There are no absolute demands for certain political or social or even cultural ends embedded within Christian doctrine. There are, to be sure, certain theological claims that impact how we interact with others, how we view others, how we are to live our lives toward others. These, in and of themselves, however, do not require any particular set of political principles in order to manifest themselves.

I do what I do here in the full understanding that the positions I stake out are my own, and could be wrong from top to bottom. Yet, I could not and would never say that this attitude necessitates I remain silent. As Barth said about the Christian faith, "We must never claim to have the truth. We must always live as if we had the truth," so, too, my attitude toward politics. I hold both as principles, well-founded on the merits, and avoiding all sorts of practical errors along the way.

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