Jesus: A New Beginning for Christian Politics

Was Jesus Political?

Intro

For the last four weeks, I’ve been asking the question, “Was Jesus political?”

The point of this series hasn’t been to politicize Jesus or to make Jesus the mascot for an agenda. The point has been to stop and think about how Jesus’s politics as recorded in the Bible might challenge the polarization in contemporary culture and point us to new possibilities for organizing our communities. What if Christian politics began with Jesus rather than the camps and categories of our culture war?

Like Hannah Arendt, I find an incredible “originality” in Jesus’s life and work, and I believe Jesus can cast a new vision with energizing hope for our political life. When Christians confess “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9), what are we actually signing up for?

1. Economic and Political Reversal for the Poor and Oppressed

In “Mother,” I argued that Jesus was conceived, born, and raised by a radical young woman who sang songs of economic and political reversal against the system that oppressed and impoverished her... Read More

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Hero: The Public Enemy Who Paved the Path for Jesus’s Career

Was Jesus Political?

1. Intro

In my first two essays, I looked at how Jesus’s politics was formed by his radical mother Mary and the profound implications of Jesus’s birth for how we might think about power, outsiders, and disobedience. In this essay, I turn to look at Jesus’s hero.

Who is your hero? Who do you admire and aspire to be like? Who would you name as the greatest person to ever live? What is greatness?

These are massive questions. They’re worth stopping and thinking about for a moment. Our heroes and visions of greatness tell us a lot about ourselves, what we love, and our politics – how we think power should be exercised and people should be organized.

2. John’s Story

Jesus had a hero, someone he followed after and named the greatest person ever born. We can learn so much about the politics of Jesus by looking at this man’s story. The Gospels don’t give us an exhaustive portrait, but what they tell us is profound and thought-provoking... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Birth: Animals, Shepherds, and Infidels

Was Jesus Political?

What is the mark of true power? Should we have room in our society for outsiders and infidels? Is it ever right to disobey political authority?

Last week, we saw that the politics of Jesus began with the subversive praise songs of his young mother. Mary’s lyrical protest against oppression and poverty started forming the life of Jesus even before his birth.

But the story of Jesus’s birth is also bursting with profound political implications that are easily overlooked but equally important for the development of Jesus’s politics. This story provides thought-provoking answers to the questions I asked above.

1.

First off, the birth narratives of Jesus repeatedly give him political titles like “King,” “Ruler,” “Lord,” and “Savior” – all titles that Caesar Augustus claimed for himself. The Gospels clearly want us to see Jesus as the personal embodiment of God’s will for the world, not so subtly challenging the claims of the power-hungry rulers that Mary protested in her song... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Mother: Mary’s Singing and Jesus’s Radical Political Roots

Was Jesus Political?

Was Jesus political? If so, how did his politics begin and grow? Was political consciousness an insignificant add-on in Jesus’s later life, or was it formed into Jesus from his origins?

In this opening essay, I argue that Jesus’s life was political from the beginning and that we can discover the roots of his radical politics in the most obvious but overlooked place: with his young mother Mary and her songs. And this beginning had profound implications for who Jesus would become and how his political vision would unfold later in his public career, as we will see in the weeks to come.

Like many of us, Jesus grew up listening to his mother sing. One of the earliest details that Luke mentions in his biography of Jesus is that Mary sang when she first learned that she was pregnant with the Messiah. According to Luke, her song went like this:

My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

.. Read More
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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Introduction: Polarization and the Politics of Jesus

Was Jesus Political?

We live in a time of deep political polarization that is ripping through Christian communities and spreading arrogance, antagonism, and indifference.

Many Christians believe that God is sovereignly at work and returning American society to its Christian heritage through new political leadership. Many others believe that our leadership is morally bankrupt and that Christians should resist being seduced by promises of power for a better future. Still others have lost interest altogether and insist that Christianity is apolitical and unconcerned with what happens in the public square. All three groups – and many others – call themselves “Christian” and claim to follow “Christ” or Jesus.

Rather than taking sides, in this series of essays, I want to stop and think about the politics of Jesus that we find in the four primary sources about his life (known as “Gospels”). Was Jesus political? If so, how was he political, and what can we learn from his words, actions, and the wider story of his life for our politics today?.. Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.