Thursday, May 24, 2012

How are Christians to relate to Government?

Anita Wucinic-Turner continues her reflections on peace and justice

Until the crisis of Naziism struck into the heart of Protestant theological scholarship there was little question about the centrality of Romans 13: 1-7 as the foundation of a Christian doctrine of state.

Christians were to obey their rulers not only because they fear state sanctions but because they support its function of repressing evil and encouraging good.

John Henry Yoder also states that  "in light of the liberating core of Jesus message and the patriarchal culture into which that message came, Paul was concerned with trying to avoid occasion for persecution by hostile authorities."

 Yet, in fact, Christ and the early Christians openly and willingly opposed Jewish and Roman authorities. 

Jesus changed all the normative rules: "But I say to you...."

People had to choose between the the radical rabbi/prophet and  the institution.

Finally, political and religious conservatives accused Jesus of insurrection.

Later, Christians opposed Rome's political rules - and willingly went to the arena to be devoured by lions rather than submit to Rome's mandate to worship Caesar -  

What this showed is that
The Christian who accepts subjection to government
retains moral independence, conscience and judgment.
The authority of government is not self-justifying.

Whatever government exists is ordered by God
BUT the text does not say that
whatever the government does
or asks of its citizens,
is good.

Give unto Ceasar what belongs to him (taxes and revenue)
and give onto God what belongs to God
(love, honor, fear and praise)

 Christ's liberation
reaches into every kind of bondage, even from the State.

Jesus modeled revolutionary subordination, (subversive holiness)
willing servanthood, in the place of domination.

The radical call of Jesus -
Jesus used the language of liberation and revolution,
announcing a new pattern of living
without authorizing violence to achieve his kingdom

Non-resistance is not meant as compliance or aqcuiescence in evil,
but the suffering renunciation of retaliation in kind.
ex: Bullet for bullet, bomb for bomb, blood for blood
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc.)

Non-violent,  non-cooperation
is a form of rebellion to Caesar.

Jesus was willing to accept apparent defeat
rather than engage in complicity with evil
and refused to do evil
in the name of "good"

Anita Wucinic-Turner

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