The Future of Politics - RR169A1
The media player is loading...
The largest of the Greek city states was Athens with 20,000 citizens not counting, of course, noncitizens and slaves. The word ‘Polis’ comes from ‘plea’ meaning ‘fullness’ which is also the source of the Latin word ‘pleo’, to fill. We have a related word ‘pleroma’, ‘fullness’ in English also. Other English related words to ‘polis’ are polite and polish. This tells us something of what ‘polis’ meant. It referred to the fullness of community; a bonded group living together with a common purpose. At the root of the word politics is thus a religious concept of a redeeming community. Throughout history man’s basic church, man’s basic source of salvation, has been politics and we fail to understand politics outside of Christ unless we see that its purpose is redemptive, humanist but redemptive. The word polis of course is used frequently in the New Testament and in Revelation where it is applied to the New Jerusalem. Plato’s republic tells us a great deal about the Greek concept of Apolis. Its goal is the salvation of man and society by means of political order. [00:02:24]
(Gustel de Kalonge?) and the ancient city described tellingly the Salvationist character of the Polis in Greece and Rome. Over the centuries man’s central sphere and hope has been in and through the political sphere; salvation through politics. The conflict between Jerusalem and Athens has been far more then philosophical. At stake has been the issue of salvation and salvation whether by man through the state or God through Jesus Christ is the issue. During most of history man’s answer has been the political hope. God or the gods have had a place in the political hope only in subordination to the state. The Roman senate accepted or created its gods. In other societies the gods who were powers or resources which were available to men. The gods were more invoked then worshipped. In paganism a man offered sacrifices to the gods to buy insurance not in worship. [00:04:06]
All that these men had to go on was that Paul and Silas...
All that these men had to go on was that Paul and Silas taught the priority and Kingship of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They recognized at once the threat to the Roman Imperial dream; the dream of world salvation by politics. Remember that the great proclamation when Augustus became emperor was, and it was sent out to all provinces, that there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby men may be saved then the name of Augustus Caesar! And when this was taken at Pentecost and applied to Christ it served notice to the Roman Empire that salvation was not by the state but by the King of all kings Jesus Christ. To subvert this hope through political order was the most radical teaching imaginable when it was first proclaimed and it is still a standing insult to the world and that is why the word theonomy is such a cuss word to the enemy. Christianity confronted the world with Jesus Christ as redeemer, priest, prophet and king and with the totality of His law Word. In terms of another context historian Edward Peters wrote, and I quote, “One of the most distinctive features of historical Christianity is its juridical character, its juridical character. Here was another way of salvation, another king, another law, another kind of society. Here was not a group saying, “We are going to be a part of your society, we’ll find our place in it.” No, they said, “We are root and branch going to create a new society, another King, another Law, another kind of society. Instead of the state providing salvation, community and social order the Christians looked to Jesus Christ. [00:08:38]
One of the triumphant statements of the New Testament...
One of the triumphant statements of the New Testament that no doubt was especially offensive to pagans was Hebrews 13:10. “We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” This was a shock to the Roman Empire. This little group out of Judea not only made Jesus Christ and His death on the cross the foundation of all community and society but they also barred even their fellow Jews from this community unless they became converted. The Christians had shifted the focal point of community from citizenship to communion. For a membership in the state the membership in Jesus Christ the foundation of social order was no longer the natural man whether Greek, Roman or Jew but the supernatural man Jesus Christ, God incarnated. [00:09:56]
And Eugen Rosenstock you see was right when he said...
And Eugen Rosenstock you see was right when he said, “The revolution of our age is from the supernatural man Jesus Christ to the natural man the fallen Adam. The foundation of social order was shifted. According to this premise the world and its nations face a civil war between blood and grace, between the natural man of whatever race, and the supernatural, recreated man in Jesus Christ. This battle is very much with us still. You know that one of the terms applied to the Christians because they used it and it is in the liturgies of the early church; they spoke of themselves as the Christian race. That when you abandoned your old faith you left the old race, the fallen humanity of Adam, and you became a member of the new race in Jesus Christ, His new humanity. [00:11:28]
St. Augustine held that civil governments without justice are no more than larger criminal gangs and for him justice could only be found in the city of God. Such a perspective withdraws justice from the nonChristian world. This was the old Christian position; outside of Christ no justice, outside of the word of God, outside of His Law Word no justice, only sin, an unregenerate humanity, a fallen world dedicated to injustice. The Christian community declared that justice and truth come only from God and can only come in terms of His Son, His Word and His Law. This means that the state must become Christian in order to be just. Jacque Marque in his study of a nonChristian African kingdom is very, very instructive as to the nature as to all political order based on nonChristian premises. According to professor Marque, and I quote, “It is not difficult to determine the main social function of the administrative structure of Rwanada. It was identical indeed with the explicitly recognized aim in that society. Aim and function were fiscal. The country had to provide its rulers with consumption goods. A second function of the administrative structure was to enable those who enjoyed political power to keep it.” Unquote [00:13:50]
Throughout the world as deChristianization increases...
Throughout the world as deChristianization increases these same two functions increasingly prevail in the modern state. There is however a very serious problem now. In ancient Egypt Babylon, Assyria, Greece or Rome there was no popular demand for justice or righteousness for all. Modern man has hopes and expectations which are derived from Biblical premises. As a result modern man is restless with any civil government which as in (Vackeighs?)Rwanda has as its function caring for the rulers and enabling them to keep power. The modern state is spiraling downward to irrelevance and injustice as it departs from Jesus Christ. [00:15:03]
In 1974 one of the leaders in the Death of God’s School...
In 1974 one of the leaders in the Death of God’s School of Theology observed, and I quote, “It is hardly an accident that the experience of the death of God and the loss of a real future has come about at the same time.” End of quote. “The death of God and the loss of any real future have come about at the same time.” And as a philosopher at Princeton said, “When we denied God we must also deny guilt or innocence, justice and injustice because there can be no discrimination.” Hamilton spoke of the disappearance of the future as a decisive and central eliminate in the new consciousness of man. Hamilton believed that the supposed death of God required a substitute. He said, and I quote, “When God dies something must become mediatorial, incarnational.” Unquote. And, he meant the state. There was no lack of attempts to substitute something for God. The sexual revolution since then, equalitarianism, environmentalism, with its worship of mother earth, and a number of other causes, has attempted to provide us with another religious faith. Most of all statism, politics, has attempted to give us a new Garden of Eden without God, without Christ. The belief has been widely promoted that a world without the Christian God would be a world of plenty of love and of peace. [00:17:19]
In the 1970’s the National Geographic magazine reported...
In the 1970’s the National Geographic magazine reported on the discovery of the people in the remote Philippines without weapons, enemies or war. It was featured on the cover of the National Geographic’s. Scientists began to make pilgrimages to see these people. The late Charles A. Limburg who took part in one such expedition wrote reverently, and I quote, “I felt that I might of been on a visit to my ancestors a hundred thousand years ago.” A book of about five hundred pages by John Nance, The Gentle Tasaday”, described the supposed culture of this people supposedly unperverted by God, unperverted by Christianity. Somewhat later much, much less prominently publicized it was discovered that the whole story was another example of scientific fraud. The so called gentle Tasaday were actors! They were acting a role for a deception for which they were paid. [00:18:54]
But this will to believe and to love a lie is not new...
But this will to believe and to love a lie is not new. Diego De Landa the first bishop of Yucatán wrote about the incredible bloodletting which marked Maya society; the massive murders which were a part of their worship and ritual. His count was not believed. It was seen as another Christian attempt to vilify innocent peoples and to tar them with a monstrous kind of depravity. Since then scientific works have dealt reverently with the Mayans. Very, very recently however the belief in a peaceful Maya people has been shattered as their inscriptions have been decoded and their own writings make clear that Bishop Diego De Landa was an honest reporter of Maya culture; in fact he understated it. But the results have not been any scholarly humility. [00:20:16]
More recently historian Robert A...
More recently historian Robert A. Carol has offended many, many fellow historians with his study of the years of Lyndon Johnson. The political hope for salvation reached its highpoint in President Johnson’s administration who spoke of conquering disease, war, poverty and all human ills by statist action. Not only did he fail but Carol’s study depicts the full extent and horror of Johnson’s immoral nature. Our various recent presidents have shown us their versions of the road to heaven by way of hell. The political hope is still with us. But cynicism has increased steadily among those who once worshipped at the political shrine. We had a disaster in California in the election Tuesday. Every tax measure passed, every scoundrel won. Why? Because the greater majority of the voters did not vote! They felt it was useless to vote because no matter what they voted down the courts would overrule them. The words polis in politics had reference to community but the failure of all forms of polity to provide communion is notable. In fact, this belief in polities as a form of salvation has infected Christianity. So, the churches all too often place undue hope and trust in church polities. In some instances churches have derived their name from a polity, such as congregational, Presbyterian or episcopal. I don’t like that. Why derive our name from a form of government rather than from the faith the church holds? Polity cannot save us and a correct cannot polity can mask an efficient corner of hell and I have seen some very thoroughly Presbyterian hells in my time. I say that as a Presbyterian. [00:23:23]
The essence of Christianity is not to be found in polity...
The essence of Christianity is not to be found in polity. The political hope of all too many over the centuries has been that monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, or a republic can save us, or that the papacy or episcopacy, or Presbyterianism or congregationalism can save us. The most recent casualties in this hope are dictatorships of the proletariat, fascism and democracy which is dying all around us. None can provide communion nor salvation. It is time to pronounce an anathema, a curse on all whose hopes are pinned on polity in church or state. The apostolic faith is very different. “Then Peter filled with the Holy Ghost said unto them, ”Ye rulers of the people and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man by which means he is made whole be it known unto you all and all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, who God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we may be saved (or must be saved).” Jesus Christ is God incarnate. By His atoning blood we are redeemed from the old humanity which is doomed to sin and death. We are redeemed into the new humanity of the last Adam Jesus Christ and are regenerated into life and righteousness or justice. Our community does not begin in a polis or of polity but in membership in Jesus Christ and in communion with Him and with one another through Him and our participation at His royal table. The church from its earliest days tied the communion table to an active governmental community, the deacons offering, whereby the poor and the needy are helped. A stress on polity has grown. [00:26:45]
The emphasis on the life giving diaconal mercies seemed...
The emphasis on the life giving diaconal mercies seemed to have receded and all but disappeared. Our Lord declares the premise of His kingdom to be this, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Having received grace we manifest grace. In the Old Testament the communion meal occurred to make, confirm or to celebrate a covenant and the same is true in the New Testament. A covenant is a law treaty between two parties. If they are equals it is only a covenant of law but if the greater gives the covenant to the lesser it is a community of law by grace. So it is both grace and law at one and the same time. God’s covenant of law with us is therefore His gift of grace. The older term for communion is Eucharist which comes from two Greek words, “Eu - well” and Charo - rejoice, rejoice well for ours is the victory. The Lord’s Supper is thus a time for rejoicing well for the King reigns and rules and we by His grace are members of His family. This means that our Kingdom is founded on an atonement which gives us life. And from being outlawed before God we are made the people of His kingdom and of His law. We rejoice as we celebrate His salvation and kingdom by extending His grace and peace to others. We are ruled not by a polity but by a person and by His grace and law. The primary burden and responsibility for government in our Lord’s kingdom does not rest on church nor state but on the self-government of the Christian man and the Christian family. [00:29:22]
Most of Scripture speaks to us as families in Jesus...
Most of Scripture speaks to us as families in Jesus Christ. This is why the Christian triumph of Rome led to a radical decentralization and Christendom was not marked by power centers but faith centers. The modern centralization of power is the work of statism, of the world of politics which sees power in numbers and in guns not in faith. Because Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords politics as man’s savior is doomed. Church and state must take their rightful and limited place under Him and in obedience to Him. The government must be upon Christ’s shoulders and as members of His family partaking of His table we must share in that government. The primary governmental powers were not given by our Lord to institutions but to us and the family is the center thereof. In one sphere of life after the other we are to govern as God’s people by applying His law Word to every area of life and thought. Not of politics or of polity by other men over us but the grace of God and His Holy Spirit within us is the answer. We are very plainly told, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world. And this is the victory that overcometh the world even our faith.” The reference here of course is to the reborn as the victorious overcomer as a governing power unto the Lord. The (Westminster) Shorter Catechism 102 reads, always a good thing to end on, the catechism:
Q102: What do we pray for in the second petition?
A102: In the second petition, which is, "Thy kingdom come," we pray, That Satan's kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and the kingdom of glory may be hastened. [00:32:08]
The catechism distinguishes between the kingdom of...
The catechism distinguishes between the kingdom of grace, the kingdom of God here and now which must be advanced, and the kingdom of glory in the world to come. We are summoned by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be the dominion men of His kingdom. God bless you in His calling. [00:32:59]