Jesus Stands Before Pilate

I guess my blog is turning into a blog about the blogs I visit. The other day I visited Scot McKight’s “Jesus Creed” in which he wrote a post about Dobson’s critque of Obama’s speech regarding how to live out one’s faith in a pluralistic society. For those who don’t know, Dr. McKnight is a New Testament scholar, author of numerous books, and an editor of The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. In my estimation, McKnight is both an innovative yet orthodox thinker. Anyways, in the post he stated the following:

Dobson and his companion commentator routinely distorted what Obama was saying by rephrasing and capturing what he said in their own context and for their own agendas. For instance, Obama hypothesized (Dobson didn’t get this) what would happen if we moved all nonChristians out of our society. Even then, he was suggesting, we’d have diversity. Then, Obama asked, if we lived out the Bible which parts would we choose? Would it be Leviticus or Deuteronomy — and he brings up shell fish and stoning one’s son — or would it be the Sermon on the Mount, which Obama stated would be difficult for the Defense Dept to apply. Dobson and his guest got into how the OT laws aren’t for today.

What they miss here is that Obama is talking about how to live in a pluralistic society.

Here are the words of Obama: “Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?” Obama said. “Would we go with James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s

In response to this post Dr. McKnight received no less than 205 comments, among which was a comment I cribbed from a response I left at John Armstrong’s blog, Act 3. (For more information about John Armstrong, see my previous post.) Dr. Armstrong’s post asked the question, “Does political partisanship help or hurt the mission of the Church?” and my response to him was as follows:

In my imagination I have often revisited the moment when Jesus is standing before Pilate declaring that his Kingdom is not of this world. An implication that I see in this statement is that we cannot understand the political ramifications of the Gospel by resorting to the categories that this world offers. Jesus’ Kingdom cannot be captured or expressed via the platform of the Republicans or the Democrats for the Gospel transcends them regarding the hope it offers and the expectations it places upon humanity. Consequently, it also provides an indictment on both of these parties, or any party, or political ideology.

Can a Xian be a Republican? Certainly. Can a Xian be a Democrat? Certainly. But, in both instances they need to be critical members of those parties, they need to hold their affiliation loosely, and pragmatically, as when Paul utilized his Roman citizenship in service of the Gospel.

As Jesus said, new wine requires new wine skins, and so, as we seek to live out our faith in political terms, we need to draw upon new categories to sort our political experience, options, and courses of action. We also need to realize that we will never nail down how the Gospel transfers into political commitments, for it is transcendent and thereby it most essentially calls us to be ever self-critical and self-reforming.

So, what do you think about the relationship between faith and politics, or about political partisanship and religious commitment, or for that matter, Dr. Dobson’s critique of Obama?

For More, See These Links

Jesus Creed: Dobson on Obama

Jesus Creed: Dobson and Conservative Politicians

Act 3: Does Political Partisanship help or hurt the Church?

2 Responses to “Jesus Stands Before Pilate”

  1. Roger Green  

    Hmm. wrote a lengthy response, which isn’t here. Anyway, I cited by response to you; noted a parallel between activists of faith and those of race, noting that politicians are in a different category; and insulted Dobson.

  2. Simon Jones  

    I’m still reading, but I just have nothing to say is all.