I heard this term, “political theology” used on the radio this afternoon. Regardless of the context for which the talk-show host was using this term, I’m curious about whether it better defines or confuses the mindset so many professing believers may have succumbed to (and yes, much to often, me included) in this very contentious time of our nation.
Unfortunately, if this term is meant to insinuate what I think it does, then we, as believers in Christ, should probably revisit the attitude and expectation of Israel during Jesus’ days on earth.
Remember, even Jesus’ closest friends were found longing for something that He made clear was not going to happen. They wanted to see Israel once again lifted to be a world power, as in the days of David and Solomon. Even at the ascension of Christ, they were still inquiring as to when this anticipated event would occur. Actually, they asked, “Will you do it now?” Acts 1:6
His response parallels every other occasion where he was interrogated about this or similar topics. Jesus makes it clear that their hearts and minds are completely off-base. He states, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority (1:7).”
But He doesn’t leave them without instruction. They are told, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (1:8).”
It is as though Jesus is emphasizing their mission, while concluding that the political agenda around them was in quite-adequate hands. While they anticipated a Jerusalem based kingdom, Jesus declares that His kingdom will be a community that inhabits the entire world; starting at their current locale and extending to the ends of the earth.
The Jewish people believed Jerusalem was the center of the earth and God’s most prized city where He would establish a world power. Jesus deemed the city a mere starting point for what He was building; His Church.
So, back to the term, “political theology.” With Webster’s help in defining these two words, here are the definitions written together to express the point I am making.
“(political) relating to government” + “(theology) the study of God” Maybe the host of the radio program wanted this to be heard as, “The study of God in relation to governments (humor me, I know that was not his intention).”
If so, the Bible expresses some very clear points about this. Such as Romans, chapter thirteen, where Paul instructs believers, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement.” Romans 13: 1,2
These are pretty stern words. Stern enough to warrant an interest in finding out how believers can be obedient to God, regardless of their personal feelings toward leadership.
The unrest and division in America today reveals something about our nation that just isn’t true. We act as if America is the new Jerusalem, the apple of God’s eye, His pride and joy. But the great commission of our Lord is unchanged. And His joy is found in those who reside in Him, no matter their global position.
We should be very grateful that we have been blessed by God to live in a nation with so many great privileges. When the opportunity comes, we should vote for the candidate(s) who will lead us with God honoring convictions. But after the election, we should pray for the victor(s), even when it’s not the candidate(s) we voted for. And biblically, short of being commanded to silence the gospel, we should willingly place ourselves in subjection to them.
If the term, “political theology,” is meant to provide an avenue for us to ridicule and demean our elected leaders, then maybe we should refrain from adding it to our vocabulary. But most importantly, I think we should place our confidence in God, rather than men. After all, the President needs a Savior… just like me.