SHOULD CHRISTIANS PARTICIPATE IN POLITICS?

There are Christians who want nothing to do with politics. They consider it a worldly matter and much too underhanded. So they avoid having anything to do with politics. When there is nothing in the Bible to justify such an attitude that’s a shame.

Consider The Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told the parable to illustrate what it means to love our neighbors. He told of a Jew who had been beaten, robbed, and left to die. He told of the Samaritan who rescued that Jew.

What if Jesus had told a different tale? What if the Samaritan had arrived just as the robbery was taking place? What if that Samaritan had drawn his sword and helped the Jew fight off the robbers? Would that have made his concern for his neighbor too worldly — too political? Is the soldier or the policeman who defends his fellow citizens from wrongdoers too worldly — too political? If we act to prevent a robbery are we being unChristian? If we are Christians, can we only help our neighbors after thieves have beaten and robbed them? Did Jesus actually suggest any such thing? Then where do we get such nonsense?

Does the confusion come from Matthew 10:16?

Matthew 10:16 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

To be as innocent as doves, do we have to refrain from politics? Did Jesus’ disciples refrain from all political acts? Didn’t the Jews of that day live under a theocracy? When Jesus established a new covenant, were the Jewish leaders wrong to regard that as a political act? Perhaps. Yet they did, and Jesus knew they would.

Does the confusion come from John 13:34-35?

John 13:34-35 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Is it an act of hatred to take part in politics? What if the Golden Rule dictates your political beliefs?

Matthew 7:12 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Does the confusion come from John 15:19?

John 15:19 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Yet Jesus told us what to do in Matthew 22:15-22.

Matthew 22:15-22 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

We cannot rightfully make Caesar our god. If our political beliefs cause us to render unto Caesar what rightfully belongs to God, then we have sinned. We have idolized Caesar. And if we take for our God what rightfully is Caesar’s, then we sin. We steal from our neighbor his right to seek and find God without our interference.

88 thoughts on “SHOULD CHRISTIANS PARTICIPATE IN POLITICS?

  1. Hi Citizen Tom, it does not matter which translation you use, the word of God is clear. Jesus was abundantly clear to all who have ears to hear. It seems many only want to hear part of the gospel, not the full gospel. They would rather hear they need only think a certain thought and that alone will result in eternal bliss. Jesus was clear that thoughts alone are not enough; we must do. That’s what many seem to not want to think about – what “do” means.

    Belief is indeed necessary, but then comes the necessity to “do” and “be” a true disciple. I believe all of the bible; not just selective verses. Christians are become christlike. But to do that, before one can even truly believe in Jesus, one must know him. How you can you believe in someone you don’t even know?

    Unfortunately, most people who say they are christians rarely read the bible — which is sad (cause the bible is wonderful), even dangerous (cause that’s the only way we can learn to do the will of the father; we first must learn what his will is).

    I fear for many who believe they are christians, yet don’t know what that means according to Jesus. It’s so important to read the whole bible; not just some of it. Especially the words of Jesus. Here’s what Jesus said:

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
    He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:25-28).
    Unfortunately, in the modern church, the expert in the law would have said, “Simply believe, have faith.”

    So, armed with a yellow highlighter pen, I worked my way through the printed-in-red teachings of Jesus to understand what He taught we must do to inherit eternal life. After all, He is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (John 14:6).

    Jesus does emphasize faith:
    Faith
    “Jesus said to the woman [who had washed His feet], “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).
    Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
    Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life (John 3:14-15).
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-18).
    Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him (John 3:36).
    I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).
    For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).
    I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life (John 6:47).
    I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins (John 8:24).
    I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26).

    Faith and . . .
    However, I was surprised (actually shocked), to find that three times more yellow-highlighted passages dealt with putting that faith into practice in tangible, practical ways.
    John the Baptist implies that both faith and obedience to Christ’s teaching are essential for eternal life: “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36).
    So, please read the following passages carefully and ask yourself, must I go beyond simply faith to experience eternal life. And for those who see a contradiction between “salvation by faith” and “salvation by works,” remember that in the infinitely complex mind of God, things that seem polar opposites to us, fit together in perfect harmony: a God who is three, yet one; a Son who is completely human and yet who is completely divine; a God who is absolutely sovereign and yet allows absolute freewill to His creations; etc.

    Love for God and others
    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
    He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:25-28).
    [To those who showed compassion] “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

    [To those who showed no compassion] “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
    “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:34-46). A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
    And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
    “You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother.'”
    And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
    When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:18-22).

    Love for enemies
    But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45).

    Peacemaking
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).

    Communion
    Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

    Obedience
    Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
    Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
    “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17).
    “If a man keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51).

    Righteousness
    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).
    For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
    If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell (Matthew 5:29-30, also Matthew 18:8-9 and Mark 9:43-48).
    The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear (Matthew 13:41-43).
    Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:47-50).
    Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned (John 5:29).

    Childlikeness
    And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, also Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17).
    I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Luke 18:17).

    Self-denial
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:14-27, also Mark 8:34-35).
    . . . any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 134:33)
    The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me (John 12:25-26).

    Servanthood
    [To the servant who had wisely used his talent] “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” (Matthew 25:21).
    [To the servant who buried his talent] “‘And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth'” (Matthew 25:30).

    Speaking truth
    Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33, also Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26, Luke 12:8).
    But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37).

    Forgiveness
    And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25).
    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

    Fruitfulness
    Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit (Matthew 21:43).
    “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
    “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
    John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
    Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
    “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
    He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely?be content with your pay” (Luke 3:8-14).
    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:1-6).

    Perseverance
    All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22).
    By standing firm you will save yourself (Luke 21:19).

    Putting faith into practice
    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

    The apostle John wrote, arguably, the most familiar passage of scritpure: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
    However John also wrote three letters in which he argues works are an essential part of faith. In 1 John 2 he writes:

    Keep the commandments
    By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him . . . (2:3-4 NASV).

    Walk the walk
    . . . but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked (2:5-6).

    Love your brother and sister
    The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes (2:9-11).

    Don’t love the world
    Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (15-16).

    Do “the will of God”
    The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever (17).

    Practice Righteousness
    If you know that. He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him (29).

    I’m happy to discuss more.

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  2. “Regarding the other two — you’ll have to take it up with Jesus. He said we have to do the will of the Father to go to heaven. In fact he said this same thing 3 times more often then he said believing in Him alone was enough. ” My friend I do not know what translation yo are reading, but regarding salvation, there is only ONE WAY AND THAT IS EXCEPTING JESUS AS LORD AND SAVIOR OF YOUR LIFE< any other way is not what Jesus had said, any doubt please Check the followings :Romans 10:813, please read and do not make false faction statement under the banner of Christianity, One thing is always apparent with the left is the Spin. Mo, I do not know you, nor i would want to, but you are spewing Junk, And I for one will not take it. If you have solid argument, bring it on. But please do not say, "by the way, I used to be a strong conservative", for it sounds like "Oh . i am not Raciest, I have few black friends,)What you are putting out here to back your argument is false and I call you on that. Flat Out. if you want to use Bible as your defense use it correctly and properly. And then we might be able to have proper dialog. say what you mean and mean what you say. I leave you with the following scripture to read and think about:
    1st Contortions 15:33 Be not Deceived: evil communications corrupt good mannerrs.
    Love of Christ be upon you all 🙂

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  3. wish i had more time to address everything here. bottom line is certainly my views (and those of many other, particularly younger christians) is certainly impacted by the overstepping the religious right has done — as tony discusses. if there had been no religious right i doubt i’d care much about this. but there has been and i think they are so far off from what Jesus taught that I feel i have to say something. the emperor (powerful religious right) has no clothes on.

    There’s little doubt that most “christians” in America think they should be conservative politically and vote republican. I’m saying, no way, no way — the conservative republican philosophy is nearly opposite of what Jesus taught on nearly every issue (see my reply to Tom above) — so I just have to point that out.

    Apparently Citizen Tom once (maybe even still) agreed with me. it’s pretty obvious if one reads the sermon on the mount and the rest of the gospels.

    i hope to put together a web site addressing all of this in detail — in time.

    God bless!

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  4. “To have an open mind, why do I have to agree with you?”

    Absolutely not. You just have to agree that you do not have the “only” God given answer, that sometimes there is no clear answer, that sometimes the answer may be a compromise between competing possibilities. You know, you have to be sort of rational about it.

    “Politics does not and cannot operate in isolation from religion.”

    Seems to me that you were awfully political before you were particularly religious, and your politics has remained fairly consistent. Were you wrong then or are you wrong now?

    “You want me to consider my religious beliefs a personal flaw. That is absurd.”

    Not a “personal flaw”, but when you santify every debate with them, they functionally end real debate, and instead become a pontification rather than a discussion that could lead to a compromise, or God forbid, a changing of minds.

    “I don’t believe anything all that unusual. With respect to our political system, I just think Christianity supports a belief in individual responsibility, not collective responsibility.”

    Actually, at the risk of an endless war of Bible quotes, the Bible is full of calls for collective responsibility as well as personal responsibility. “Politics” itself is always some kind of call for collective responsibility, even when we are using politics to collectively require more personal responsibility. However, I certainly don’t want to be put in the position of defending personal irresponsibility, or immorality. I just don’t think God was that clear on the correct balance between personal and social responsibility (for example, when are we required disobey immoral orders and when are we required to follow orders and have a collective responsibility to defend the rest of the nation?), so, despite your knowing what all we Christians should believe in this regard, until God enlightens the rest of us to the extent that He/She has enlightened you, I just think that we will have use more practical institutional methodology.

    “When government redistributes the wealth, I think that is stealing.”

    When the government redistributes your wealth to pay for rural highways and roads, is that stealing? When the government redistributes your wealth to pay for inner city or rural police and fire protection, is that stealing? When the government redistributes your wealth to defend American missionaries living in some foriegn nation from terrorist attack, is that stealing? What about when the government redistributes your wealth to pay for a multi-billion dollar nation building scheme in Iraq? You have a right to your opinion, but sometimes even when we disagree, the democratic process makes the call and, if we respect the process, since “stealing” implies illegality, by definition, it is not stealing. On the other hand, if your opinion is not an “opinion” but you believe that in each complex situation, it is the immutable will of God, then there is not room for compromise, for democratic process.

    Is it so hard to see the difference between searching for God’s grace and God’s will in each complex situation while realizing, at best, you can only hope, not be certain of God’s real answer, or instead saying that you “know” what we Christians should believe in each one of these political situations?

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  5. Mo argued that Christianity supports Socialism, and I disagreed. You did not agree with him either. So what is your beef with me? To have an open mind, why do I have to agree with you?

    Jesus wasn’t political? No. He was just political enough so the “Conservatives” executed him. Pontius Pilate was Conservative Republican? And in our day that makes Obama…..

    If Jesus did not pose a threat, why did Jewish/Roman political system execute him? Why did the Romans persecute Christians for centuries? Jesus did not preach a political doctrine, but the religious doctrine he taught had political consequences. All the great religions have both political and theological consequences. Even the so-called political ideologies have religious consequences. Politics does not and cannot operate in isolation from religion. That’s why we protect our religious rights from the government, not the other way around. Politics with ethics is difficult. Politics without ethics is lethal.

    When we confuse of freedom of religion with freedom from religion, our system does not work. You have every right to the former, but you cannot have the latter. Therefore, I have no reason to debate you on your terms. You want me to consider my religious beliefs a personal flaw. That is absurd.

    If you are going to debate me, please read what I write. Conservatives advocate limited government, not the absence of government. Those people are anarchists.

    I don’t believe anything all that unusual. With respect to our political system, I just think Christianity supports a belief in individual responsibility, not collective responsibility. That is why, for example, you cannot get away with a war crime by saying you were just following orders. We can participate in collectives, but government cannot relieve us of individual responsibility. Hence, when government authorizes something immoral, we each have a religious obligation to do something about it.

    When government redistributes the wealth, I think that is stealing. When government insists upon taking over the education systems I think that interferes with religious freedom. Unfortunately, the problems that result from statism may take decades to manifest themselves, and we tend to live for the moment. Strange as it may seem, even people who preach the theory of evolution don’t seem to be able to consider anything but the immediate consequences. That’s why I don’t think we should try too hard to run each other’s lives. Without fully realizing what we are doing, we can create havoc for generations not yet born.

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  6. Tom,

    For most of your adult life you were not particularly religious, but you have always been one of the most ethical persons that I have known. The only difference therefore was that during most of your previous life you either believed or did not believe in certain practical governmental powers to tax and spend, in particular applications of the Rule of Law, in various theories constitutional reach, in certain social programs, and in the particular public oaths that you and others took without giving your own particular political opinion on such things the amazing presumption of God’s personal blessing. And that is an amazing difference.

    Once you bring the immutability of God’s sanction to your side of every issue, not only is there no possibility of balance, no room for compromise, you just stop listening. You just stop seeing. Any reality that doesn’t comport with your absolute truth simply does not exist.

    Let’s take “socialism,” again, as an example. Let’s start with a definition: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution of goods and services, of capital, land,etc, in the community or government. Examples of goods and/or services, including capital and land, that are socialized in most democratic industrialized countries include: roads and highways, national defense, police services, fire prevention service, institutions of legal dispute resolution (ie. courts), major airports and mass transit facilities, schools, child welfare services (to prevent neglect and abuse) and in many countries, medical care.

    Now you may dispute the need for some of these goods, services and capital to be controlled by the government, but very few people seriously want to have a mercenary army or private police force. We could also have a lively discussion about which goods are services should be public and which ones should be private(I know schools is your favorite bugaboo), but we never get to that point because you refuse to accept that every western democracy, including our own, is a quite successful compromise and balance between institutional socialism and institutional capitalism. That’s the real world that you never get to, that you simply block from your reality.

    And apparently we never get to that reality because, despite your enjoying and participating in the traditional benefits of socialism every day (driving on roads, etc.) you have tagged socialism as evil and against God’s will. And how you get to decide the will of God is beyond me, but once decided, how does one argue against that?

    Before you start, no, no, no, no, I am not arguing for pure socialism, meaning the government/community owns “all” the means of production of goods and services. Such a thing is not only impractical, for all the reasons that I have already stated, it is likely to lead to a closed, intolerant society. On the other hand, I don’t honestly think that Jesus has weighed in on the topic, so I don’t believe that even pure socialism, any more than pure capitalism (all goods and services owned privately) is inherently evil. Well at least not any more evil than any extremism tends to be, but that is just my very much debatable opinion – unfortunately, like most on this blog, God has not given all my mere opinions the gold plating of His immutability.

    I don’t think that Jesus was political. Unlike Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and Mohamed, Jesus was neither a military nor a political leader. In fact, on several occasions, Jesus publicly eschewed political leadership (Example: “My kingdom is not of this world). However, just as a theological exercise, as mere non-omniscient humans, let’s hypothesize whether Jesus was a liberal or a conservative.
    Biblical Jesus often railed against the hypocrisy of the conservative religious establishment. He drove the bankers and capitalists of His day out of His Father’s house of worship. His do-gooder, busy body, Bleeding Heart promoted love and compassion for the poor, for prisoners, even for the tax collector. He embraced sinners with forgiveness. He endorsed a passivity unto capture and death. He was crucified because He challenged the conservative dogma and orthodoxy of His time.

    How do you think that this hypothetical works out? It seems to me that before you started believing God’s heaven was a red state and that He had a Republican agenda for human perfection, you once admitted that Jesus would have had to have been a liberal by the standard of His time, or even ours. Perhaps this is why Mo Johnson finds the Religious Right’s wrapping of themselves in Jesus’ forfeited robes just a little frustrating.

    But to answer your question, no, I am not trying to use government to promote any dogmatic point of view, ideological or religious. And unlike Mo, I am not saying that God is a socialist, anymore than He is a capitalist. I don’t claim to know what God is, but I certainly don’t claim that God is a Democrat. Lord save us if He is. Instead, I believe that we need to take our dogmas and ideologies out of the discussion, and try to figure out how to “practically” improve our institutions and laws in ways that make things work better (never God’s perfection, just better) toward things we can actually agree on.

    I’m not trying to poo poo anyone’s spiritual epiphany here, least of all yours Tom. I genuinely believe such epiphanies can dramatically change who we are and give meaning to our lives because of our own best efforts and by such saving grace. On the other hand, I don’t believe that God’s grace requires that we close our minds to the fact that, although it may shape our personal lives and decisions (even our political decisions), such grace does not give us God’s endorsement for every complex political, legal, constitutional or social question. In doing so, we anthropomorphize the infinite, the unknowable, into our own little binary equation, an idol that we hold up and worship and fight for to the exclusion of any other enlightenment, any other expression of God’s grace. And nothin useful gets said or done after that. After that, all we can do is scream and fight.

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    1. Tony – If you don’t think government should spend money on charity for religious reasons, then what reason do you have? A “secular” philosophy that defines good and evil? Pragmatic self interest? What is pragmatic about letting Congress spend money on things the Constitution never authorized? Those men and women took an oath on the Bible. Must have been a secular oath.

      Look at where this discussion has gone. When I throw up a simple, straightforward secular objections such as what you want does not work in the long run, you will not discuss that. Nope, we just get nonsense about the appropriate balance between socialism and capitalism. Balance? From someone who voted for Obama. When I provide Constitutional objections, you blow them off. It is just too complicated for a layman. If I suggest freedom of religion objections, you decry my Christian Fundamentalism. In fact, it now seems that all you want to discuss now is religious extremism. Have you tried looking into a mirror? Who wants to use government tax and spend somebody else’s money and make other people do things? From my point of view, you are defending your “right” to use government to further your own religious beliefs.

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  7. Hey Wdednh
    I did not call you ignorant, I said that you displayed your ignorance. Ignorance is lacking knowledge, not the intelligence to understand it. You chose not to read Mo’s post. He was trying to say that his post gives additional context to his remarks. In bible study it is called “proof texting” where you take something out of context and try to force a different meaning than was intended. For example it says in Exodus 4:4 “to reach out your hand and take it by the tail” So taking that scripture verse I could defend my grabbing your butt instead of looking at the context of picking up a poisonous snake by the tail which of course was a death sentence back then.

    In proverbs 13:1 it says: “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

    In proverbs 9:8 It says: Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you,. rebuek a wise man and he will love you.

    Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go immediatley and make it right with your brother and then come offer your gift. Math 5:24

    So be admonished
    John Wilder

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  8. Mo Johnson — You asked three questions.

    Citizen Tom — do you believe christians should flee from churches that talk about social justice?

    Do you believe we must do the will of God to enter heaven?

    Do you believe in God’s kingdom on earth?

    Response to question 1: That depends upon how we define social justice. See my latest post.

    Response to question 2: I believe salvation is a gift, that we do not have the capacity to earn salvation. What God wants is for us to love Him. If we love Him, He will help us obey His commands.

    Response to question 3: Christ said we should pray for His Kingdom to come, a kingdom not of this world.

    When we pray for the Kingdom of God to come, what are we praying for? I think we are asking God to help us do whatever is necessary to cooperate with the King. We are asking God to help us submit to the will of the Holy Spirit.

    What is involved is freewilled choice. Since God gave each of us a free will, we cannot coerce our neighbors help bring on the Kingdom. All we can do is set the best example we can and pray.

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    1. Glad you at least don’t agree with Glenn Beck’s blanket statement regarding my question #1.

      Regarding the other two — you’ll have to take it up with Jesus. He said we have to do the will of the Father to go to heaven. In fact he said this same thing 3 times more often then he said believing in Him alone was enough.

      On three, if you honestly try to think about the things that a perfect kingdom (God’s kingdom) would be like, you have to agree it’s all sorts of liberal things like everyone have food, shelter, jobs, health care, etc. It’s protecting God’s creation. It’s welcoming immigrants. It’s a just society. I could go on and on. It’s liberal stuff my friend. Which is why you didn’t give a straight answer.

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      1. Mo – Think again about what I said about question 2. You can obey the Father’s commands all on your own? When was the last time you read The Sermon On The Mount?

        Do I want the Kingdom of God to come? Yes. Do I expect that to have anything to do with government? No. Politicians? Lead us into the Kingdom of God? To teach us to behave like angels? If men were angels, we would not need government.

        When Jesus is near to your heart, then the Kingdom of God is near. And then you will obey His commands.

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