The Gospel and Politics

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

Luke 4:18-21 (Jesus begins his public ministry, quoting Isaiah)

The first question this website addresses is: What is the Gospel? The answer to that question has enormous implications.

Jesus Rejected In The Synagogue Tissot

If one believes the gospel is only about individual spiritual salvation, ensuring us of eternity in heaven after we die, then the gospel has little or no impact on how we live on earth. In fact, we may feel the quicker this dirty old world disappears, the better. After all, we have a ticket to paradise. Right?

However, if one believes the gospel is the good news of the Kingdom of God and that the Kingdom is both in heaven and on earth; wow, now that changes everything. With that understanding, it's quite obvious why we, as Christ-followers, should be working every day to make the world a better place. Why we should work for justice, equality, creation care; why we should be committed to improving health care, housing, and food for the poor. And, so much more.

Hopefully, if you read What is the Gospel? you are on board with the second view of the gospel - the amazing, relevant, powerful, full-gospel view. If not, go back and read that page :)

I know a good many people are frustrated by, and generally sick and tired of politics. Many just want to rinse their hands of it and not think about it much. I don't think Christians have that luxury. Politics are too important to building the kind of just, righteous and Godly world we are called to work for. A commitment to the social parts of the gospel compel our interest and involvement in politics. You can't ignore this issue.

Politics are all about what kind of society we want to build; how we relate as individuals and community to the poor, rich, stranger, neighbor, creation, sick, hungry, etc. So, it seems logical that the gospel is very relevant to politics. A belief and commitment to the social part of the gospel compels our interest and involvement in politics.

Actually, the truth is that even if Jesus' gospel is only about individual salvation; only about spiritual stuff, so what? As citizens of the United States, we still have a duty to choose to support the political policies that are the most Godly; the most righteous; the most christian.

We are fortunate today to live in a democracy. Our government is a reflection of us. So, it should reflect our values, including our Christian values. We don't have the luxury of ignoring our community/societal/political responsibilities. We have to make Godly choices in all areas of our lives -- including our politics.

The real issue, then, is which policy choices reflect Godly values; the values that Jesus demonstrated when he lived on earth. What would Jesus do (WWJD)? That is the crucial question we should be asking all the time.


Most Christians in today's world have not even begun to think how calling Jesus "Lord" might affect the real world.

N.T. Wright, Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters, pg. 207.

It's true that we'll never all agree about each specific action we should take. There will be some disagreements on the margins about whether this or that cause really contributes to justice or peace or mercy. But, that's at the margins.

To start, surely we can all agree that following Jesus requires that we be committed to justice, peace and mercy. Can't we agree on that? If so, are we? Are we known for that? Click on over to your church website; peruse its statement of beliefs; values; its constitution. Does it talk about justice, peace and mercy? If not, you have identified a serious gospel problem at your church. It's the same problem the gospel of Glenn Beck has.

Surely, we can agree that the values and politics of the atheist philosopher Ayn Rand, which emphasizes individual rights over community good, are inconsistent with christian values. The core of Rand's philosophy was her belief in "Objectivism" which is the belief that:

the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness (or rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez faire capitalism.

The problem is that Ayn Rand's beliefs, which obviously run counter to biblical precepts (things that God and Jesus said), are not irrelevant, fringe beliefs. Her ideas are core beliefs embraced and promoted by leaders of today's conservative, Republican, and Tea Party movements. They have no choice if they want to remain conservative republicans. Ayn Rand represents the core of what conservative Republicanism. Sadly, most Christians are unaware of this. You can read much more about this at many places including the American Values Network.

You will see in the below video (at 2:30 point) that (among other things) Ayn Rand admitted she was out to destroy America's Judeo-Christian religion and that she scorned churches and the concept of God. Has she succeeded? If so, by what means?

We can debate various pros and cons of Ayn Rand's "survival of the fittest" Social Darwinist) ideas. But, surely we can agree that those ideas are nearly diametrically opposed to what the prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus taught. Surely, they contradict the Sermon on the Mount and the gospel. Can we at least agree on that? Can I hear an "Amen!"

The question then becomes which political candidates, parties and positions line up best with Ayn Rand's philosophy. Which party has embraced Ayn Rand's ideas and which opposes them?

That's actually easy. The intellectual basis for conservative economic principles can be found in Ayn Rand's ideas. In fact, the two most influential minds behind modern conservative economic policy were Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan (advisors to President's Reagan and Bush I and II). Both were libertarian and anti-religious, Objectivist, Rand devotees (see From Jesus' socialism to capitalistic Christianity. Even, the darling of the modern Republican/Conservative movement Paul Ryan has said:

I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.

If we are honest about the things Jesus cared about, and compare them to the things progressives and conservatives care about today, there really is no debate about which of the two viewpoints is more consistent with the words of Jesus. Time, and time, and time again, Jesus comes down on the side of what we today would call progressivism. Which is exactly, and obviously, why we should too.

The truth is that from the prophets of the old testament all the way through Jesus, God has proclaimed the most "progressive" even "liberal" concepts in the history of the world. Justice, equality (race and sex), support for the poor, the immigrant -- those are God's issues!

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

The gospel of Jesus provided the very foundation of our modern understanding of human rights. Jesus was probably the greatest friend the world has ever known to people who were poor, sick, immigrants, vulnerable, marginalized, or oppressed. The things Jesus proclaimed were more than just liberal, they were radical. He raged against injustice, selfishness, self-righteousness, sexism, racism, religiosity, and hypocrisy.

If you listen to the words of Jesus of Nazareth, especially when he talks about the rich and the poor, and how we should live, you'll find history's most outspoken advocate for social and economic justice.

John3-1 christ and nicodemus sotka

Jesus is the "Prince of Peace." The world has never known a man who advocated for peace and nonviolence as passionately as Jesus.

And, yes, Jesus also cared deeply about the earth; his father's creation.

So, when one reads the words of Jesus, it's hard to understand why it is that today "conservatives" are far more likely than "liberals" to consider themselves "christians."

Neither liberals nor conservatives seem to get the truth about Jesus. Conservatives too often oppose the very things Jesus cares about; while liberals too often dismiss the gospel of Jesus that they should believe and proclaim. In fact, incredibly, many liberals have come to view christianity as an oppressive religion. Does everyone just ignore Jesus' words?

Of course Jesus never specifically told us what position we should take on the "Dream Act" or the "Affordable Care Act." But, he did say lots of things about how to treat the stranger and the sick that can help us figure out what positions we should take on these, and many other, issues that we must decide.

Honestly, if the choice is really (as I think it clearly is) to emphasize community good or individual good -- which is more consistent with the gospel of Jesus; the Kingdom of God? Would Jesus favor a strong safety net so the poor, along with the rich, have good schools, medical care, libraries, recreation facilities, day care, public transportation, etc?

My friend, you already know the answer. Politics are not tough if we are guided by the words, the gospel, of Jesus.

Below are links to articles about various contemporary political issues. You'll see there are places you can share your own thoughts at the bottom of each article. I look forward to the discussion.

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