10 June 2003

there is another king: v


Gospel as Politics

We start with the simple observation that Jesus (and John the baptizer before him) came with the Good News of a kingdom—the reign of God—proclaiming the forgiveness of sins. Paul summarized this same Gospel in terms of the one who “was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus, the messianic king, our Lord” (Romans 1:3-4), then going on to expound justification. Such a Gospel not only presents itself as a fulfillment of the political aspirations of Israel (no matter how much it may challenge and redefine those aspirations), but also, insofar as it became Good News for all people, Jew and Gentile alike, it relativized or undercut any claim by Caesar to be ultimate Lord, ruler, savior, or divine son.

In the follow sections, then, I will argue that this Gospel (even the very term “Gospel”) is fraught with politically disruptive claims and thereby gives rise to a new kind of civil community in the church, which practices two politically redefining rites: baptism and eucharist. Thus the Gospel is politics and, in its politics, both repositions the relationship between the Christian community and any particular civil governing regime in a way that lies beyond the “secular,” as well as shapes and forms how Christians are to act politically.