Acton Institute Powerblog

Politicizing Scripture

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There’s some discussion at Mirror of Justice (here and here) of Martin Marty’s recent piece in The Christian Century, “Snookered,” which raises the issue of the validity of politicians invoking Scripture, using the example of Tom DeLay.

The new progressive Christian approach seems to be to assert, rightly of course, that “God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat,” and is rather more nuanced and convincing than, say, “Jesus is a Liberal.”

And since so much politics, aside from a few issues, is about matters of prudence and judgment rather than clear moral principles, it seems correct to assert the difficulty of moving facilely from Scripture to public policy.

Even so, the Bible does give us some rather clear guidelines for making prudential political judgements, doesn’t it? After all, “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left” (Ecclesiastes 10:2 NIV). Just kidding, of course.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Comments

  • I am no Martin Marty, but Matthew 25:35-46 bodes pretty well for DeLay

    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,

    naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

    Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

    When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

    When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

    And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    JBP