18 February 2009

of god and country

Over the past number of months I have made my sentiments clear when it comes to bibliobloggers dedicating their sites to political commentary.  And I have chosen to avoid doing so explicitly here, only to pause and make observations from outside of the discussion.  Since one could easily surmise from my comments that I do not agree with the political comments made by many who choose to comment via biblioblog, I have been mostly ignored - though I know that I have been noticed.

Further, it might be thought that I do not make such comments because God and country do not belong in the same theological discussions; that church and politics do not mix.  Let me clarify my position.  It is not that I believe that church and politics do not mix, but rather church and bad politics do not mix.  And that is the root of it, I think.  For what I have witnessed (down to just about every keystroke) is the attempted synthesis of Christian theology and modern political ideals which has been done so improperly it is maddening.  Though I doubt it will help my case at this point, please understand that I am not assuming a flawed method simply because of a disagreement in principle.  That would be too easy, and I think too easily dismissed anyway.

I simply raise my voice because there is no other voice being raised in this arena.  Not all bibliobloggers relegate Christian belief to liberal social agendas, and many many non-blogging believers also disagree with such an approach.  But it seems that the very closed-off community of bibliobloggers think that their statements are often all-inclusive of the larger whole of the body of Christ - rather than doing theology out of love and humility.  (This might just explain why some of the rhetoric they spew toward other believers with whom they happen to disagree is so vile and un-Christian.)  Bibliobloggers (myself included) often have more disposable time to post thoughts on the internet than do other believers and theologians - many of whom have never even read a blog (*gasp*).

At present, most movement within western contemporary evangelicalism lies within social gospel.  This is what the current buzz-language and buzz-ideas are centered upon.  There is nothing inherently wrong with social gospel, but it must be kept in check with the whole gospel if it is to be properly utilized.  Unfortunately such is not the case, and our understanding of a gospel with makes a social difference into the world is so shaping our understanding of the biblical text that we are building a theology which resembles modern political patterns than one that holds the challenge of Jesus.

And perhaps this is why the church culture which is largely built upon the social gospel (such as much of the emergent crowd) has become obsessed with modern politics, believing that here is the path to true and lasting change in our culture for the kingdom.  While it is clear that they are able to get many theological words and concepts out there, I am convinced that they get them in the wrong order.  But when synthesized just right it, it would make sense that emergents and evangelicals of this ilk would back somebody such as Obama, who came with a flurry of the promise of hope and change.  Yet, for the past few weeks I have been unable to shake a simple concept from John Meier's work (which I have stated in another recent post): that Jesus ". . . was not proclaiming the reform of the world; he was proclaiming the end of the world."  When we hang our aspirations so low as a president (of any party), we strip the gospel of its Spirit and power.

The stripping of the gospel of Spirit and power means that the effects of the gospel will no longer be experienced - the poor will not hear the good news, the captive will no longer find release, the blind will not have sight, and the oppressed will not be free.  Such is the case when the human race is bent to begging and groveling for grace from human government and political authority when the true Messiah of the world has already brought such things to reality (though, we might also note that our sights have been set so low that true messianic fulfillment is being relegated to positions behind kitchens and baths).  

The full and true message of the gospel is not offensive and demeaning, although people sometimes say that it is.  The full and true message of the gospel is built in the premise that people have been created with the image of God, which now has become cracked and broken, but can find restoration and renewal through the God-given freedom which has been endowed upon all by the Creator as inalienable rights.