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Richard Davis

Dr. Richard A. Davis is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji Islands. He tweets on @rad_1968.

Essays

Following Christ in Resurrection Hope

This relativizes politics into a realm that cannot penetrate or disturb the Christian’s faith or take away our salvation and our hope. This is why the real danger for the Christian is not just biopolitics, but also ideologies that provide an alternative salvation through false gods.

The Politics of the Forerunner

The prophets serve as God’s messengers, both as conduit of information between people, as well as serving as forerunners, preparing the way for God’s will to occur in the world.

The Unshakable Kingdom—Hebrews 12:18–29

The created heavens and earth–indeed all of God’s creation—are fleeting, temporal, and ephemeral, not permanent like God’s eternal Kingdom. Our worldly kingdoms aren’t completely worthless, but they are penultimate and ought to be despised in contrast to God’s eternal stable Kingdom.

Only the Lamb is Worthy—Revelation 5:11-14

Christ sits on a throne, but it is not a worldly one. Christ’s throne is the true throne of God, which renders all other thrones secondary. Christ’s throne is the only throne that should be worshipped, and Christ the Lamb the only ruler that is worthy of our devotion.

The Implicit Grammar of the Transfiguration—Luke 9:28–43a

The transfiguration reveals the implicit grammar of Jesus’ politics and political identity. This identity did not require a retreat to heaven, but confrontation and crucifixion in Jerusalem.

Politics and the Sovereignty of God—Jeremiah 1:4–10

God’s prophets are those who call us to recognize our limitations before the sovereignty of God. Indeed, Jeremiah reminds us of the relativity of human politics and that in God alone does the individual and human society find meaning and security.

Justice Silenced—Amos 5:6-7, 10-15

In evil days, justice can be stifled and the voice of the prudent can be silenced.

Of Corruption and Cover-Ups—2 Samuel 11:1-15

The story of David and Bathsheba is a story of power’s corruption and of the cover-ups of abuse—a story with considerable resonance in our own day.

Some Trust in Chariots—Psalm 20

In a world awash with weapons of death, perhaps it is time to focus on the trust we have in guns and violence and threats of violence, in whatever form. Psalm 20 might be a good place to begin.

Giving Voice to the Groanings—Romans 8:22-27

Giving voice and hope to groaning and suffering creatures is the political task that we can take up for the oppressed creation in imitation of the Spirit, who advocates for us to our true Sovereign for the hope of our bodily redemption.

The Politics of the Children of Light—1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (Richard Davis)

Paul contrasts the children of light with the children of the darkness. This contrast is particularly manifest in the war that we fight and the weapons with which we do so.

The Politics of Crossing the Red Sea—Exodus 14:19-31 (Richard Davis)

The divine violence of the drowning of the Egyptians in the deliverance of the Israelites through the Red Sea raises challenging questions about the character of liberation and the foundation of nations.

The Politics of Fraternal Rivalry—Genesis 25:19-34

In the story of the rivalry between Esau and Jacob, we discover a typology that can shed an unflattering light on a number of the tensions that exist between people in the modern world.

The Politics of Nations and Boundaries—Acts 17:22-31 (Richard Davis)

Paul’s statements concerning the peoples in his Areopagus speech in Athens have historically been used as justification for racism and Apartheid. There are, however, other ways to understand his claims.

The Politics of God’s Reconciliation—Romans 5:1-11 (Richard Davis)

In Romans, Paul speaks of a God of reconciliation, who makes friends of enemies. Principles of reconciliation and of the love of enemies have often been quarantined from the political realm in systems of political thought that prioritize the enemy-friend polarity. However, a politics of love for enemies and of reconciliation with a creation from which we have become alienated may never have been more urgent.

The Politics of Identifying Jesus and John the Baptist—Matthew 11:2-11 (Richard Davis)

The interconnected identities of Jesus and John the Baptist are a matter of speculation in the Gospel of Matthew. The truth is revealed through the fulfilment Old Testament prophecy and against the foil of the brutal rule of Herod.

The Politics of the Works and Fear of the Lord—Psalm 111 (Richard Davis)

Psalm 111, which may seem disjointed and a collection of sayings, does, however, offer a consistent political teaching. It emphasizes politics in virtuous imitation of God in his works and the rejection of the politics of fear.

The Politics of Unity, Division, and Discernment—Luke 12:49-56 (Richard Davis)

Jesus, against our expectations, comes to bring division in places where unity formerly existed. He calls us to be attentive to the way the winds of our age are blowing.

The Politics of Divine Coup Makers—1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 (Richard Davis)

Framed merely as a story about the call to discipleship, and omitting verses 17-18, the fact that God is instigating political coups through his prophets in this passage could easily be missed if we didn’t consider the scriptural context of this week’s lectionary reading. Reflecting upon this passage and the ensuing events, we can learn something about God’s relationship to political rule.

The Politics of the City and the Sea—Revelation 21:1-6 (Richard Davis)

Revelation 21:1-6 contains a dramatic vision of the new Jerusalem, the eschatological city. Unfortunately, the sea enjoys at best an ambiguous status within this new creation, raising important questions for peoples whose life depends upon the oceans.

The Politics of God’s Ways and the Politics of Our Ways—Isaiah 55:1–9 (Richard Davis)

God’s way are qualitatively different from ours, belonging to a different order, relativizing human good and exposing human evil. Isaiah’s vision presents and invites people to God’s way of abundance, mercy, and inclusion from their own ways of scarcity, revenge, and exclusion.

The Politics of Public Wisdom—Proverbs 1:20-33 (Richard Davis)

Wisdom’s publicly raised voice challenges the simple ones, who love being simple; the scoffers, who delight in their scoffing; and the fools, who hate knowledge. The reproof of Wisdom is especially relevant in the contemporary political world, where so many of our leaders and politicians thrive upon such popular attitudes.

The Politics of Fearing God—Psalm 34:9-14 (Richard Davis)

The psalmist calls us to the fear of the Lord, offering us the secret to its pursuit. Straightforward though it may be, the psalm’s challenge to avoid evil-speaking, deceit, and to depart from wickedness and pursue peace would have seismic effects for our political landscape were we to commit ourselves to it.

The Politics of Getting Justice and Peace to Kiss—Psalm 85:8-13 (Richard Davis)

Psalm 85 speaks of the meeting of justice and peace in a kiss in God’s new order. While we often futilely pursue such a goal through our politics, in Scripture we see its fulfilment through the cross.

The Politics of the Converted Official—Acts 8:26-40 (Richard Davis)

The account of the baptism of the Eunuch can be read in several ways. Fruitful readings have focused on the gender and the nationality of the person. The political implications have often been overlooked, even though this is an early and potentially fruitful tale for the political theologian.

The Politics of Food Sacrificed to Idols—1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (Richard Davis)

Paul’s teaching about the manner in which love for weaker brethren should guide behavior when considering eating food sacrificed to idols provides principles that remain relevant, long after the issue that provoked their articulation. The role that politics and the state play in contemporary forms of idolatry suggests analogies that can be drawn between the responsibilities of first century Corinthians and our own.

The Politics of Patience—2 Peter 3:8-15a (Richard Davis)

The Apostle Peter calls for the virtues of patience and peace in our waiting for the eschaton. At face value, these virtues might appear more congruent with an apolitical complacency. However, closer reflection reveals that they involve both the work of bringing peace and commitment to works of anticipation.

The Politics of Individual Responsibility and the Structures of Sin—Romans 7:15-25a (Richard Davis)

Paul speaks to our self-conscious understanding of tragic fatedness in Romans 7. Like him we long to be released from such an apparent fate, where we are not free to live as we know we could and should. This is more than an individual bondage to sin. It recognizes that sometimes we are prevented from living as we feel we ought by more than our own will; sometimes we are oppressed by the wills of others or even a system which seems to have a will of its own that is impermeable to reason.

PTN Mentoring Festival

On Saturday April 24th, the Political Theology Network will be hosting a virtual Mentoring Festival for graduate students, dissertation writers, and other emerging scholars.