Posted by Forrest Parkinson

Jesus Imperative #2:
Only worship God
Q 8 (Part 2)
Temptation of Empire
Then taking him to a high mountain,
the devil showed Jesus in an instant
all the empires of the world.
“I will give you the power and glory of these Kingdoms,
for it is mine, and I can give it to anyone I want.
All you have to do is worship me.”
Jesus retorted, “It is written
‘You must worship God and serve him alone.’”
Having exhausted all these ways of tempting Jesus,
he left him, to return at a later time.
Borg-Powelson-Riegert Reconstruction (1996) ref:
Matthew 4:8-11 & Luke 4: 5-8, 13

Dear Jesus Way Friends

“Politics and religion are like oxygen and hydrogen; an explosion waiting for a spark.”
–Herbert Hoover

President Hoover was asked if the US government could do more to fund church run charities as they were efficient and would answer concerns about local corruption. Hoover felt it best for the US government to avoid interaction with churches as much as possible, feeling the potential for harm far outweighed the benefits. He used the illustration of Hydrogen having lower cost and greater lift than Helium. The explosive risk of Hydrogen was such that Helium was superior for lighter-than-air ships. No efficiencies could overcome the explosive perils he saw politics and religion seemed. Hoover judged that the separation of church and state was so beneficial in avoiding political troubles that the principle needed to be sharpened rather than blurred.

This is not surprising, given that Hoover was himself, a Quaker and member of a meeting. Quakers, early in their history, were deeply involved in the politics of colonial Rhode Island. Predictably, as Quakers, they sought to bring a rigorous ethic to the government. Just as predictably, there were all kinds of scandals, good members fell to temptations and the good public reputation of Quakers in Rhode Island took a long lasting black eye. After a number of scandals, Quaker meetings in New England encouraged their members to withdraw from colonial politics. Quakers since have tended to influence from the outside.

By the time the Abolition movement was in full swing in the 1840’s, it was not uncommon for a village which had Quakers to have two meetings, the founding meeting and a split-off “Anti-Slavery” meeting. All the Quakers were deeply opposed to slavery.
The Quakers in the non-political meeting would oppose slavery by not owning slaves, not purchasing slave-made goods or doing business people who owned slaves or dealt in slave goods.
Members of the Anti-Slavery meeting were free to engage in abolition politics like public speaking, seeking public office or publishing abolitionist newspapers.
Members of both kinds of meeting broke the fugitive slave laws. After the 13th Amendment, most of the meetings reunited.

These very same dynamics follow us today. Consider the ethics of the following topics that are dealt with specifically by Jesus:
Value and sanctity of life
Relations with foreigners
Relations with wage earners
Duties of people to their government (taxes)
Conditions of obedience and disobedience
Divorce
The purpose of laws
Response to corruption
When to use courts
Treatment of children, widows, orphans
Caring for the sick and injured
… to mention a few

These topics all lend themselves to political activity.

What questions should we be thinking through if we seek to express the teaching with our lives? Hopefully, we seek to engage Jesus with our whole and authentic lives. If we do, we should be thinking this through.

What are your questions?

Here are some of mine.
How can we engage in these challenges of life authentically, as a social, governed and free people?
Do we understand “mixing politics and religion” as different from religious people expressing their values? (Westboro Baptists?)
Does the US constitution really mean more than not establishing a state church?
If a minister or elder has a strong political opinion (I have many), how can they rightly express it and under what circumstances?
Is “partisan” vs. “policy” politics really a fair distinction?

That is a lot for a discussion after nibbles or just to pray and think about.

Faithfully,

Forrest
Next Week
Q 8 (Part 3 fin)
Everyday idolatry
Then taking him to a high mountain,
the devil showed Jesus in an instant
all the empires of the world.
“I will give you the power and glory of these Kingdoms,
for it is mine, and I can give it to anyone I want.
All you have to do is worship me.”
Jesus retorted, “It is written
‘You must worship God and serve him alone.’”
Having exhausted all these ways of tempting Jesus,
he left him, to return at a later time.