A primer on Christian Political Theology

16 Sep

 

Some may disagree with the author’s seemingly strong association between the Kingdom of God and the nation-state of Israel, or the seemingly wholly futurist end of the ages fulfillment of promises made to OT Israel (no fulfillment in the redeemed church), or its overall earthy emphasis, but the rest is pretty solid.

James Patrick:

I must begin with the proviso that this is a summary of how I personally understand the gospel, the message of the Bible, to relate to the imminent referendum for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. Others have different views about politics and about the connection between earthly kingdoms and the Kingdom of God; this is my initial attempt at a biblical theology of politics. However, I humbly ask the Christian reader to “examine the Scriptures… to see whether these things are so” (Acts 17:11).

1.  Politics is Jesus’ speciality

Colossians 1:16 says that “in Jesus all things were created, in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether …”  We would expect Paul to continue “… oceans or mountains or stars”.  Instead, he specifies “thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities” – all of these “have been created through Jesus and for Jesus”.  That is hugely important.  Psalm 86:9 says “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord”.  Paul goes further, explaining that every form of authority was actually designed with Jesus in mind, as the only one who can properly handle it.

We could be specific, then:  The United States, a federal republic, was created through Jesus and for Jesus.  China, a socialist republic, was created through Jesus and for Jesus.  Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, was created through Jesus and for Jesus.  The European Union, with its Parliament, Council, and Commission, was created through Jesus and for Jesus.  The United Nations, with its General Assembly, Security Council, and so on, was created through Jesus and for Jesus.  No political system can function properly without His direct oversight and allegiance to Him.  Yet all leadership that genuinely seeks to take responsibility to care for others is a reflection of His character (Eph 3:14-15; Ps 22:27-28; Ps 82), and therefore derives its authority from Him (John 19:10-11; Rom 13:1-7; 1Pet 2:13-17).

2.  God’s plan is for global political unity

A.  Only one legal ruler of humanity
Humanity was designed politically on the model of a family, with Adam as its first ruler, followed by his son Seth, who as the promised ‘seed’ was given authority over his siblings (Gen 4:1-2, 9, 25; Ps 22:27).  This line of authority continued via Enoch to Noah (Gen 5:29), via Shem (Gen 9:26-27;11:31) to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Gen 17:19-21; 26:3-5; 28:13-15).  Then among Israel’s twelve sons, Judah was given the authority (Gen 49:8-12), and therefore his descendant David was legally ruler of Israel and thus of all nations, for their blessing (Ps 18:43-50; 72:8-11).  Jesus was the direct heir of David’s throne (Matt 1:1-21; cf. 1Chron 1:1–3:24), and therefore legally took responsibility for the actions of His people by dying in their place as ‘King of the Jews’ (John 19:14-22; Num 30:15).  At the same time, though, He was also dying as the rightful King of all nations, who alone could legally pay for the sins of any Gentile peoples who accepted His authority (Rom 5:12-21).  Having appeared the first time to deal with sins, He will come a second time to fulfil all of God’s promises of salvation and restoration of all things (Heb 9:28; Acts 3:19-21; Matt 19:28-29).

B.  Global government awaits its appointed time
From the beginning God has been actively governing all nations.  Adam and Eve, and then Noah, were given humanity’s commission to “fill the earth” (Gen 1:27-28; 9:1), and yet soon after the Flood, humanity attempted a premature political unity at the Tower of Babylon, in disobedience to their commission (Gen 11:1-9).  God thwarted their intention at that time by dispersing humanity and creating nations (Gen 10), but at the same time called Noah’s heir Abram to be a blessing to all the nations (Gen 12:1-3).  Ever since Abram’s day, many nations have attempted to create empires (Gen 14), but the one nation that inherited Abram’s authority has had to wait for God’s timing, while being used by Him to bless other nations (Acts 3:25-26).  Prophets from God’s chosen people Israel not only elaborated God’s future plans for Israel and its promised King to govern all nations (Isa 11; 60; Mic 4; Zec 9–10), but also took God’s messages to other nations and empires (Amos 1–2;Isa 13–23; Jer 25; 46–51; Ezek 25–32; Heb 1:1-2).  Yet even when the promised King finally arrived, after His resurrection and return from Galilee to Jerusalem, it was still not yet time for Jesus to take up the throne of His father David over the nations.  His disciples were expecting these promises of the prophets to be fulfilled immediately for Israel (Acts 1:3, 6; 3:21; Luke 19:11-28; 22:28-30), but they had not grasped how vital all other nations were to His kingdom also (Matt 24:14, 30-31).

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