Wednesday, November 02, 2005

On politics

Brad at Broken Messenger is not just a friend and brother in Christ, he's my de facto blogging companion because we see the world through a similar filter.

He posted an excellent commentary yesterday on the superiority of the Gospel over politics, with sentiments that could have just as easily been expressed on this blog.

Bill Gnade of Contratimes responded to Brad with a reasonable and familiar refrain:
Surely there are political actions that might lead some to lose their wits, if not their very souls. And I am not talking about a hell here, a Lake of Fire. I am talking about that hell created by delusional policies and philosophies. Can't the Church do battle with those, perhaps even with a ballot measure?
Brad returned with a Bible verse:
For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. - Romans 9:15
What's fascinating about Brad's choice of scripture is Paul is quoting Exodus 33:19:
And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
In that passage of Exodus, Moses is interceding on behalf of the the exiled Israelites, whom God had just referred to as a "stiff necked people." Moses was seeking God's mercy to prevent the destruction of Israel for their disobedience.

Paul's reference appears to be in response to Hebrews who determined Paul's Gospel message was one of an unjust God. Paul was pointing out God's soveriegnty to bless or condemn whomever or whatever he wanted -- and it is perfect justice because it is the omniscient, omnipresent God of the Hebrews.

To Paul, the Hebrews who had attempted to systematically gain entrance into heaven were now part of the rejected, because they had rejected Christ. Now, entrance to heaven was only throgh Christ, and it was available to even the Gentiles. God was about tear down the old Hebrew systems, their politics -- even their temple -- and expand his Kingdom on earth through Christ's work on the Cross.

Is that an unjust God? Did God break His promises to the Israelites? Paul says no, and in the first portion of Romans 9 he points to the Hebrew lineage of by which Christ was brought into the world, including God's promise of that heritage link.

Paul answers it in whole with this passage:
Romans 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
So God even chose the Israelites' enslaver for His purpose, Paul says in reference to Exodus 9:16.

Before, God had dealt with His chosen as a race and political body. After Christ's death and resurrection, God now deals with His chosen as those who receive and follow His son -- all races, no determinate political body.

Political power, however, has always been at God's discretion to give and take. Whom God empowers has never been based on man's political systems and philosophies. His will and His plan has always been the first consideration.

I believe this to be a powerful message to those who uphold the political philosophies of the world. If we are to accept God at His word, He can choose to raise up and empower an unholy dictatorship as easily as He can bless a democratic country who honors Him with Biblical law.

As much as American Christians can find the wisdom in democracy, pluralism, and capitalism, there is nothing intrinsically Biblical about those messages. God does not seem to endorse political philosophy of any kind, and our philosophies remain under the banner of man's wisdom.

Even Paul, our modern commentator of freedom, preached a message of slavery: to Christ, to His work, to serve man for the glory of God.

This is not a condemnation of all politics, because clearly God has allowed us these devices to govern ourselves. There is no shortage of scripture for us to seek justice in the world, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, to assist those unable to care for themselves. I believe it would dishonor God if we did not participate in those facilities given to us to the best representation of our conscience.

However, no political system should ever share the same authority of the Gospel in our lives. Our agenda is not a political one, and we are first citizens of the Kingdom of God, and secondary citizens of our physical nations.

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