Jesus–American Politics

Was Jesus a Republican or a Democrat?

I have decided that the historical Jesus series is too general. I will come back to the topic eventually, blogging a particular book or part of the gospels.

My reason for getting into the topic was what I see as the current political misuse of Jesus on both the left and the right. It is not that Jesus has no political implications. Jesus’ prophetic grace-on-the-eve-of-destruction message calls empires and ideologies to account. But would he really align himself with the oil lobby or the public service unions?

These and many other special interest groups are what really drive American politics. I am afraid that these interest groups use the religious folks on both the left and the right to further their own agendas. The Protestant churches have become very polarized about this. There are red churches and blue churches. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others were right to oppose Nazism on Christian grounds. The same with those who oppose other totalitarian regimes. But is Jesus’ stance on current American political issues really clear enough to be worth polarizing the churches over?

My own political position is that of a deficit hawk. As a pastor I took a position similar to Dave Ramsey’s that people and families needed to get out of debt. It would be irresponsible, I said, to give 10% to the church as long as you were still spending 120% of your income. I took a little heat from fund-raiser types for that.

Way back before the banking crisis, I got a survey that asked pastors to name the main social issue facing their congregations. It listed stuff like abortion, poverty, crime, racism, sexism, the breakdown of the family and so on. In the line for “other”, I wrote “debt, public and private.” Debt wasn’t even on their list,. After everything went to hell in ‘08, I felt prophetic. But I wasn’t happy about it.

Living beyond our means ruins a lot of things. I think that both families and the government ought to get themselves into the position to cut up the credit cards.

This is not to persuade you, but to show that I am not above politics. I do have a dog in the fight. I will even admit that I usually vote for conservative Democrats (we still have one or two of those in Missouri) or Republicans. A lot of people in my own Mainline churches, if they knew this, would think Jesus doesn’t like me much because of it. I imagine Democrats in red churches have the opposite problem.

I would be very reluctant to base my position on Jesus. I certainly never applied my views above the personal and family level from the pulpit. Jesus lived in a time when the economy was very different from ours. I have no real basis to say what he would say about the Fed and qualitative easing.

Maybe Jesus would say:

Are you a Democrat? Great. It’s better than being apathetic.

Are you a Republican? Great. It’s better than being apathetic.

Are you and your community working irrespective of party to untangle people’s tangled lives?

That’s even better.

Disclaimer: the above quotation is actually from me. It was not channeled or even inspired. : )

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About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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