Sunday, September 24, 2006

God has no politics

As a reply of sorts (no one has read this blog in a while, so who knows who will see it) to Jim Wallis, I offer this basic critique of the whole idea that God has policy positions. First, God's goal, as testified to in Scripture and revealed in Jesus Christ, is the final reconciliation of fallen creation with the creator. To that end, we are to live as we were created to live - loving one another, living for one another, praising God through our words and deeds. As such, there is no inherent political program in the Christian faith.
On the other hand, there can be no doubt that there is an irreducible political element to the Christian faith. We avoid it at our peril, because we are tossed and torn by conflicting priorities demanding more and more of our time and energy. Through prayer and the the sustaining power of the sacraments, we renew our strength to move forward. And that moving inevitably leads to conflict with a world that does not share our sense that God's will, God's call, comes first. These conflicts, however, are not part and parcel of a particular political persuasion, position, or party. God neither endorses nor condemns democracy, monarchy, or even dictatorship. As are to live our lives as we are called by God, and in doing so, if that conflicts with the powers that be, so be it. There is no final answer, and certainly no final political answer this side of the eschaton. We must meet the challenges as they come, with no preconceptions about the source of those conflicts, and no plan for overcoming them.
Of course, there are also things that we are called to do - in loving and serving others, we are to pay special attention to those who are weakest, most vulnerable, most despised - that lead to repeated conflicts. These conflicts, in and of themselves, however, are not part and parcel of the Christian life, nor is their resolution a once and for all solution (just consider Civil Rights!). Rather, we must go on, never sure we are doing enough, or even doing right, but believing that God's will is being done when we sacrifice our own comfort and complacency to feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned and lonely, clothe the naked, and return hatred with love, evil words with prayer, and violence with the obstinate refusal to succumb to the wicked temptation of retribution.
That is what I believe, in general. Specifics would take too long to delineate.


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