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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.