God’s vision for reform does not simply replace the one at the center—in God’s vision for the reformation and renewal of the world, the One at the center instead gives their very life and self for the sake of the margins.
The core of the Christian message, that Jesus liberates us from oppression and demonstrates a means of non-violent resistance to evil through his example, is not often portrayed in Hollywood. More often than not, force is met with force, violence with violence. In blockbuster films, explosions, car-chases, and raw spectacles of destruction predominate, and for good reason—violence sells.
This course was conceived as a way to introduce undergraduates to the conversation about religion and politics in Western tradition. I wanted to give them a broad historical overview, with in-depth selections or snapshots to get at ways the relation between religious and political spheres has been conceived in different historical moments.
An article published in the Washington Post this past weekend notes that unlike previous midterm elections, this campaign has yet to see the emergence of a dominant, national theme. No one issue—or even set of issues—has taken center stage, cutting in, through, and across the various races. What we have instead is an election constituted through diverse, often locally- or regionally-defined issues that at the end of the day lack any sort of common ground.
As Christ speaks the truth of his kingdom to power, it is heard as if it were a foreign tongue. In Jesus’s cross-examination before Pilate we see two misunderstandings of the nature of his kingdom and a central challenge of Christian political theology is brought into clearer focus.
Increasingly in liturgical circles it is becoming politically incorrect to talk about the “kingship” of Christ. Such a term now brings with it all the baggage of patriarchal interpretations of the biblical text. It calls to mind the exploitation brought about by colonial powers, abuses of power at the hands of politicians, and perhaps every abuse of power—abuses which represent heinous tragedy and sin. However, while we lament such abuse it is important to remember that power, in political terms, is itself neutral. It is a gift given by God in creation, which when wielded in the hands of human beings can be used for either selfish or selfless purposes (usually with correspondingly negative or positive results). Unfortunately, too often we as human beings struggle to monopolize power for our own sakes and consequently abuses occur…