Christianity and Politics has always been a dichotomy for me. There is no disbelief in my heart regarding the call of Christian’s to serve their fellow mankind. However, the political platform of those who claim Christ as their Patriarch often astounds me with it’s ego-centric focus. As if these politicians are so secure in their calling from God, they claim understanding of His will for the entire generation. This platform is often buoyed by a foundation of Biblical Principles, a historied display of Public Service and cemented by fundamentally successful Familial Relationships.
Raised as a homeschooled, Evangelical Christian who firmly believes Truth in the Word of God is Self Evident, I have taken issue with the Conservative platform since childhood. The words of their mouth and subsequent actions of their collective heart have left me abandoned, hurt and confused. Rather than understanding and empathy, my questions are met with condescension, spite or complete silence. I recognize it is not for man to enlighten man, only God can enlighten the heart of man.
In lieu of acceptable answers from the Patriarchy, I took a shallow dive into the topic of government in the Scripture. I recognize this is only one source for research on a topic which fills entire law libraries. (The days of condescension loom as a long dark corridor ahead of me with only a pinprick of light urging me on this mission of simply understanding sustainable government structures!) I am okay with condescension today. I do not have all the answers. The Bible is pretty good at answering for itself.
There are two references to "Government" in my Amplified Classic Version. The first reference in Isaiah 9:6 specifically refers to the role of the coming Christ in government. In the time of Isaiah, King David + King Solomon had proven to be wholly human and directed by pleasure seeking despite their God-given Patronage. Israel was no closer to God than when wandering in the desert. The self proclaimed chosen people of God still anticipated a Mighty King striding on his Noble Steed with a Banner of Love to Win the World + the Heart of His People. Little did the Israelites know to expect the least of these; a humble carpenter:
"For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace." — Isaiah 9:6
Many of us are wholly familiar with the other purposes for the arrival of Jesus: Rejection by His People, Crucifixion and Resurrection and procuring Salvation for all Sinners. Yet here Isaiah prophesies the government would be on His shoulders. This makes no literal sense, as Jesus held no government position and was factually a social pariah for not having an established role and position. Those who would question His teaching loved to question his understanding; at one point goading him regarding the tax law of the Republic. Jesus told the hypocritical Pharisees to pay their authoritarian government what their authoritarian government demanded was due. He reprimanded them: "Who's face is on the coin? Give it back to him. Who's face is on you? Give it back to Him."* Could he not have tossed tables in Cesar's presence? Rather, he reserved his righteous indignation and hands of destruction for Pharisaical Temple Practices.
The second reference to Government in the Bible is found in the small, precious book of Jude. Jude was the brother of James and a disciple of Jesus. This letter covers topics mirrored by his brother and the Apostle Paul. The book is only one chapter of hard hitting poignant truths, exhorting the soldiers of Christ to tune into the subtleties of Spiritual Warfare. Jude opens the letter expressing a sense of dire urgency in communicating foundational gospel truth.
"Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God]. For certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door]. Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)." — Jude 1:3-4
I find it fascinating but not earth shattering that even Early Christians faltered in their understanding of their role as a follower of Christ. Even before the memory of Christ's ministry could fade, men were manipulating passion for personal gain. Success in endeavors divined their Mission from God.
Jude reminds early Christians that although God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, He subsequently destroyed all who refused to solely honor God Alone. Being Chosen was not Enough. One must Choose to Walk Upright in the Way of Christ Daily. Whoever failed to do so would be handled as Sodom & Gomorrah were handled.
"But these men revile (scoff and sneer at) anything they do not happen to be acquainted with and do not understand; and whatever they do understand physically [that which they know by mere instinct], like irrational beasts–by these they corrupt themselves and are destroyed (perish)." — Jude 1:10
I am honestly struck by the similarities to Christian Politicians today. For example, politicians like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Tea Party Republicans push platforms such as readiness for defensive warfare, (a good defense is a strong offense!) nuclear superiority and intervention in foreign policy rather than ensuring every citizen access to basic health care and fundamental education. The economics of the Great Country they aspire to create is based on limited Federal Government and the limitless Capital of American Dreams. This feels like perfection for any self-directed soul. For the passionately persuasive and elected few, perhaps their dreams do come true.
"Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power." — 1 Corinthians 6:12
They encourage the rich to grow richer by stroking their ego with tax cuts as a thank you for creating menial positions which working citizens pay tax on. God forbid we require the Wolf on Wall Street to fund social and community assistance programs: they will assuredly be abused by the common folk. Who will be incentivized to create the life of their dreams if we freely give them the tools necessary? Better for us to earn interest on their educational intentions. Hard work + elbow grease only solidifies the fact: team work makes the dream work. The people are the team, and one percent live their dream.
(This is Part One of a Two Part Series —Part Two next week).
While I see the thread of your thoughts, I am a bit conflicted. I see the federal government as have over stepped their constitutional boundaries. The federal government has no constitutional mandate to redistribute citizens wealth, nor a mandate to do anything but "promote the general welfare" of the country.
As a Christian and a Conservative, I see my role as promoting the administration of "welfare" through my church and the local government, which in my case is Fairfax, Virginia. I would also see a role of citizens in any local promoting charitable giving by businesses and affluent individuals. (promoting not extorting) A contributor here has suggested a 1:1 Virginia tax credit for any business that funds a private or charter school. I would expand the credit to homeless shelters, not for profit mental health organizations and the like.
Matthew 15-22:21 is probably the most complex and misunderstood passage in the Bible. Clearly this passage was a response to trap Jesus. The Pharisee were prohibited to have graven images. When one of them produced a denarium (that was the only coin that the Romans would accept in payment of the taxes.) Jesus asked after the graven image on the coin. The image was that of Caesar. The obverse was embossed with "Caesar is God." Clearly the coin(s) were unclean and to hold them made the owner unclean. By telling the Pharisees to give them back to Caesar he was saying that the Romans were unclean and the coins should not be held, lest the holder would remain unclean. It was not, and should never construed to be Jesus' statement that taxation is acceptable. There are many more nuances here but those are for another day and time.
Over all this is a well written essay. Thank you. I hope I have added some insight.