Political Theology

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.

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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23 Responses to Political Theology

  1. lambskinny says:

    M.T. – sorry; I’ve finally responded to your email. My answer is “yes.” Thanks; God bless. Carley

  2. Xander says:

    I struggle with the level of politics I should involve myself in as the American way is often confused with the way of God. I agree with several of the comments that we must stand true to the Word and proclaim the kingdom of God, but we can not be over zealous and try to make the US the kingdom of God. That process is one of the problems we have today. On the other side, we can not just stand by as laws are changed to take away the rights that have been given to people.

    Good post.

  3. bickleyhouse says:

    I have said for a long time that I am a Christian first, and a citizen of the US at least second. That was an excellent article, and I’m not going to express any more opinions here, because I don’t want to start a war in your comment section. 🙂

    • mtsweat says:

      Thanks my brother. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated. Also, I’m really excited about your ministry opportunity. I look forward to hearing how God blesses through your service to Him. God bless.

  4. lambskinny says:

    Well, I certainly agree with you, M.T. Just in case you were wondering. We must pray for our leaders, not abuse them. Thanks for this. Carley

  5. Elder Wesley says:

    I’ve been slowly reading about Christian resistance theory and discovered this:

    http://www.entrewave.com/freebooks/docs/21e2_47e.htm

    Haven’t fully read it but so far is an interesting examination of how Christians have acted in the face of tyranny.

  6. Elder Wesley says:

    “And biblically, short of being commanded to silence the gospel, we should willingly place ourselves in subjection to them.”

    Yeah, you mean like Ehud…

    “Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite….Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man… Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly.”

    I have to be honest this modern christian philosophy of bending over and taking it is just utter BS.

    ““The Nazi government led by Hitler used Romans 13:1 against the resistance movements in the German church. Nazi leaders argued that since Hitler was duly elected, opposing him was opposing God’s instituted authority. Faithful opposition countered by saying blind allegiance to Hitler was idolatrous and that what he proposed and lived out clearly opposed Scripture: “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29). “ ~ Ben Currin

    “For if God hold the place of sovereign Lord, and the king as vassal, who dare deny but that we must obey the sovereign rather than the vassal? If God commands one thing, and the king commands the contrary, where is that proud man who would term him a rebel who refuses to obey the king, when else he must disobey God? But, on the contrary, he should rather be condemned, and considered truly rebellious, who omits to obey God, or who will obey the king, when he forbids him to yield obedience to God.” ~Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos

    Am I suppose to put aside God’s law and pay for the slaughtering of Unborn children? Am I suppose to put aside God’s law so Faggots can run freely? Should I put aside God’s law so Humanistic philosophy can corrode my kids’ mind? All because the State tells me to? Is sharing the Gospel the suddenly only law that matters now?! Am I suppose to turn a blind eye until the government officially states, ” do not share the gospel”. ? This is preposterous!

    ‎”Christianity is free to exist in a very irrelevant private realm. It is not free to walk muscularly in the Public square. Sure, you can attend the Church of your choice but if Christianity is going to be reduced to church attendance that is a pretty poor Christianity. Besides, most Churches today are Statist Churches preaching the Statist civil religion Gospel…the fact that we do not have public square freedom indicates that most Christians are not genuinely Christians, for Christians always incarnate their spiritual freedom into the public square. The fact that we are not even trying to do that indicates either that we remain dead in our sins or that we have not understood Christianity.”~ B. McAtee

    You write some excellent stuff, but this seems like an attempt to justify the disobedience of God’s law by encouraging passivity when the magistrates break the covenant God makes between rulers and himself.

    • mtsweat says:

      Well hello Wes! Great to hear from you. Mom always said if you want to stir a hornet’s nest, just talk about religion and politics… but both in the same post? Thanks brother and God bless.

  7. A Living Christian says:

    Awesome. Totally started a change in my attitude about politics. 🙂

  8. Hank says:

    “And biblically, short of being commanded to silence the gospel, we should willingly place ourselves in subjection to them.”…

    I would have to add that there are many other areas that I will NOT willingly subject myself to the Government. There are other areas in scripture that deal with how men should be treated by those in authority other than how the Gospel is regarded. I will not “willingly” subject myself to the Government taking my children/family away from me. I am commanded by God to protect and provide for them. I will not willingly subject myself in the area of abortion because my government says its alright. I will not willingly subject myself to their thoughts and manners concerning homosexuality and the list could go on and on. There is more to take a stand on in the area of right and wrong and government, in light of scripture, than the Gospel alone. Of course, as the saying goes, this is just one man’s opinion. 🙂

    • mtsweat says:

      I’ve been waiting for this one all day long, brother. You didn’t disappoint me. Remember the words of the old Fleetwood Mac song… you make blogging fun! Thanks brother… God bless.

  9. cc says:

    Thought provoking post. Much depends on how the term “political theology” is used…doesn’t it traditionally refer to how ethics, religion and government interact? We need more discussion on that level and Christ’s Followers need to be actively involved in that dialogue. But if it is being used to refer to the “Christian Nationalism” fervor that equates flag waving with religion then the debate radically changes but is just as important. The Kingdom that Christ’s Followers are to be primarily committed to is one with no nationality, class, or gender…one that Christ said was “not of this world”…one with no borders! I am thankful to be an American, and I can show it by making a salty, and light-shedding impact IN this earthly kingdom FOR an eternal kingdom.
    “And biblically, short of being commanded to silence the gospel, we should willingly place ourselves in subjection to them.”…great point!…and in Romans Paul was speaking about an authority that was not particularly friendly with Christians…he was a citizen who subjected himself and it cost his life…I’d like to gloss over that point, but cannot escape it. Ouch.

  10. You are a great writer. I enjoyed this post very thoroughly. I have a simple request. Would you be interested in being a guest author on my blog. I would love to have an article that is focused on grief from a biblical point of view. Would you be interested? If so please feel free to email me @ jeffrey.miskell@gmail.com

  11. Leah Randall says:

    I appreciate this very thoughtful and timely post, brother! The preoccupation of believers with the rulers of this world is disturbing because all too often it indicates a focus on “men” that should be turned to “Him”. The Kingdom of God is the issue for us. However, I would make one observation. When Paul wrote to the Romans, nothing resembling the Republic that was “brought forth upon this continent” had ever been seen on the earth. In America, “We the People” are supposed to be the government (of the people, by the people, for the people). One of the guaranteed rights of the people under the first ammendment is the right to voice protest against the policies and actions of those vested with authority to “govern”. There is a right way and a wrong way (perhaps many wrong ways) to go about exercising that right. Your post should remind us to pause and give thought to how we can best show Christ living in us as we participate in “government by the people.” Prayer for leaders worldwide should never be neglected.

  12. Debbie says:

    Very interesting post. My son is a Political Science professor in NJ – and a passionate believer. We’ve had very similar discussions. Thank you for sharing your insights with us here.

    • mtsweat says:

      Thanks Debbie. The brevity of this post leaves a lot unsaid. I am not insinuating that believers should not be involved in politics. We need them there. But there is a difference between serving God through a political office and forgetting that it is God who is in control of the nations and their governments. What Jesus’ desciples failed to recognize, at least until the Holy Spirit came, was that the gospel was being forwarded through the lowly state in which Israel found herself. God bless and thanks for reading.

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