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Category: Politics of Scripture

The Politics of Scripture series follows the Revised Common Lectionary to connect the biblical text to political issues in ancient and contemporary thought and practice. You can search past archives by scriptural book here. We welcome contributions from scholars, religious leaders, and activists. Contact the series editor, Tim McNinch at politicsofscripture@gmail.com.

A Biblical Case for Binaries

If Christians believe in a God of the oppressed, it is incumbent upon them to similarly locate themselves on the side of the oppressed.

Knowing Who You Are

Jesus does not need others to define who he is because he rests in the knowledge that he is called and beloved by God. Jesus does not need the man with the unclean spirit to proclaim that he is the “Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24) in order to own and live this identity for himself.

Caught in the Undertow

As we enter a new election season with our polarized political communities occupying different epistemologies and worlds, it remains an open question what it will look like for us to cultivate a better politics. We are caught in a riptide, being pulled further apart with few resources at our disposal for anything other than the zero-sum game we’ve inherited. The Jonah story, however, offers a different kind of political imagination, where God confronts and offers grace to enemies by putting them into contact with one another. This multi-layered grace introduces moral complexity and political uncertainty, but it also opens the door to a world not entirely determined by scarcity and competition.

Listening to the Call

Listening and responding is a blueprint for us all: it’s amazing and wise to discern God’s leading in the context of community. 

Chaos, Community, and Creativity

Our reception of Genesis 1:3 emphasizes the inherent power of God’s word, not only to improve lives but also to change (and create!) new structures. Just as God once brought order from chaos, God can do so again.

Paul’s Propertied Incarnation

Those who read Paul’s propertied incarnation in Galatians should not run away from its horrors or theologize them. We should find truth in them (though perhaps not the truth Paul intended). We should tell truth from them.

Reading The Magnificat as a Member of the Empire

In the face of systemic injustice, it is difficult to hold space for a desire for peace and the knowledge that empires usually outlast the people who protest against them. While it may be tempting to shut down at feelings of powerlessness, the Magnificat gives us another option. We can be like Mary and the generations before her, singing and hoping and praying for change.

The World Turned Upside Down

Mary, an unmarried peasant girl, is pregnant. Though scarcely an intimidating figure, her words in the song ascribed to her in Luke’s Gospel—known as “The Magnificat”—ought to make those of us who are privileged people stop to think, if not to fear.

Waiting as a Spiritual (and Political) Practice

The author of 2 Peter maintains that in order to wait well one must place trust in God and God’s promises (3:13). What sets a follower of Christ apart in the communities to which this epistle is addressed is that they do not act according to their own interests, or even their own timeline, but rather, in accordance with the promise of God.

Advent is a Time of Learning the Skill of Waiting

Hope orients one to look beyond the horizon of suffering and to see the resilient light of new beginnings.

The Potential of Creative Misinterpretation

Perhaps the tension between honest reading and creative liberatory “misinterpretation” should not be solved at all but rather retained as an unsettling force in our work.

Redeeming Refusal

The third slave, as truth-teller and whistle-blower, validates what Jesus’ listeners know about their reality. They know that the deck is stacked against them, if they choose to buck the system.