Christianity and Political Action

Many of the things that I’ll be addressing on my page will relate to current issues, and hence be driven by the vagaries of news and opinion, but there are principles that guide my thinking on Christianity and politics that I’d like to be clear about up front. One thing that I think about – a lot – is the problem of power, and Christianity’s fraught relationship with it. Christianity is a faith that rests on paradox, particularly its central thesis that true power can only be gained not by strength, but through weakness. (If anyone doubts this, see the central line of the Easter hymn of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which asserts that Christ is “trampling down death by death.”) If there is one way that we are expected to imitate Christ, it is in rejecting violence and coercion as a true solution to our human plight. As Christ declined to exercise the ultimate power that he possessed when he went willingly to his death on the cross, so Christians are supposed to avoid controlling others through duress. Christians demonstrate the paradoxical truth of their creed by abstaining from direct coercion of others, even to prevent violence to themselves.

Of course, in the real world, avoiding any exercise of coercion, or even occasional outright violence, is completely insane. Some modicum of justice and fairness is only realistically maintained when people fight for it, whether through political and social pressure or with physical force. If we want to live in a world that is forever dominated by the most ruthless and cruel among us, there’s no better way to ensure that result than by abjuring any responsibility to seek and exercise power. The very purpose of states is to provide a regular means of collective rule that ensures justice and a legal framework that people can rely on as they go about living productive lives.

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Talking Otherwise

As my author’s blurb will tell you, I’m a Ph.D. student in theology. This means that I spend an inordinate amount of time with books and my laptop. Still, I do talk to people once in a while.

Although I try to keep the topics of these conversations limited to cats and literature, theology inevitably comes up. And then all bets are off. A perfectly friendly discussion can degenerate into an acerbic, and even abusive, argument. A room full of lively banter and laughter can suddenly become permeated by near-catatonic boredom or dire seriousness. My perfectly intelligent, capable, and balanced friends can momentarily forget that I am not an oracle or a walking summa and demand a comprehensive, true, and binding answer to, say, the problem of evil. And then someone will embarrassedly change the subject.

I’ve learned a few things from these conversations.

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Welcome to David’s Blog!

[Editor’s Note: This is my original intro to my section of the blog, when the blog was divided into three blogs – June 2017, DW]

What is the purpose of my blog?

The Short Version

  • Part theological exploration, part personal journey, this blog is about renewal and reform.
  • Its starting point is concern about the status quo of the Christian church(es), and a need to open up dialogue on some of historic Christianity’s most widely held assumptions and convictions.
  • Its primary task is to re-visit and re-appropriate the central ideas of the earliest Reformation tradition, especially those of Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560).
  • It will proceed (mostly) as an exploration into Luther and Melanchthon’s thought, and of later theologians in this tradition.
  • It will leave just about no aspect of traditional Christian institutions, doctrine, and life unexamined – so be warned! This is not a blog for the faint of heart.

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