Ten Propositions on Political Theology

All theology is political -- that was the message of Liberation Theology. You can try to be apolitical, but ultimately quietism is itself a vote for the status quo -- as German Christianity demonstrated in the 1930s and 40's.

Kim Fabricius has really outdone himself this time in laying out ten props on political theology. It's fitting that this post at Faith and Theology comes today during Holy Week (and on the 1st day of Passover). Palm Sunday was itself a political statement as was Good Friday. Indeed, Easter itself is a political statement.

Though I can't post all 10 props, here are a couple that should get you thinking and will lead you to check out the rest -- as you should.

1. The doctrine of the ascension is the basis of all political theology – and why there can be no such thing as apolitical theology. The church cannot be a cultus privatus because Jesus of Nazareth, “crucified under Pontius Pilate,” reigns and his edict is public truth. Remove Christ from the forum and it does not remain empty: nature abhors a vacuum; idols love one
and soon fill it.

and then

4. With a shrug of their shoulders, conservatives love to quote the text, “You always have the poor with you” (Mark 14:7), as if poverty were an order of creation (cf. “the rich man in his castle, / the poor man at his gate”), and there is nothing we can – or should – do about it. But Jesus was not being cynical, or even realistic, about the inevitability of an excluded underclass,
rather he was reminding his disciples where they will be found if they are faithful – among the poor and oppressed.

5. The point is not that the poor and oppressed have a monopoly on virtue, let alone that they are an elect group, rather it is simply that they are the ones who get screwed – and God doesn’t like people getting screwed. So God sends his servant Moses, his spokesmen the prophets, and finally his Son Jesus, their Big Brother, to take care of the bullies, though he fights with his mouth not his fists. Not, of course, that God loves the oppressor any less than he loves the oppressed; indeed his rescue mission is to liberate them both, the latter from their humiliation and suffering, and the former from their pride and violence.

Fabricius gives his nod to the message of Liberation Theology, but raises the red flag about the Marxist solution.
One last one -- one that picks up on what I've posted from Mark Toulouse's God in Public about priestly faith and iconic faith.

8. The flipside of an apolitical church is a sacralised state. This is “the Constantinian rap” (Lesslie Newbigin). And a sacralised state easily becomes a demonic state. The cross is draped with the flag, and discipleship is absorbed into citizenship. The German Christians are the paradigm nationalist idolaters; history repeats itself in the farce of the Religious Right. “Never was anything in this world loved too much,” wrote Thomas Traherne, “but many things have been
loved in a false way, and all in too short a measure.” The true love of ecumenism trumps the sentimental love of patriotism.

Fabricius adds an important "Post 9/11 Postscript" that challenges the reigning political theology undergirding the Bush Administration's efforts. But I'll leave it to your reading of the entire list.
P.S. the picture comes from the Faith and Theology post.


John said…
Hi, Im from Melbourne Australia.I would say that the 10 propositions are a load of codswallop---self serving "pious" dangerous nonsense---because they imply that ONLY Christians have access to or even possess the "truth"---or that all other points of view (even those grounded in other Spiritual Traditions) are necessarily false---and by golly we are going to convert you to our way of thinking ---such being the present time extension of European imperialism!

You really ought to have some real humility (both individual & collective)---this relates to a topic on your other blog

Please check out:
Truth & Religion:Who Owns The Holy Brightness.
1. www.adidam.org//flash/truthandreligion/index.html
The Only Truth That Sets the Heart Free
2. http://global.adidam.org/books/eleutherios.html
The Secret Identity of the Holy spirit of God
3. www.dabase.org/proofch6.htm
Politics Real & True via:
4. www.dabase.org/coop+tol.htm
5. www.coteda.com
The Taboo Against the Superior Man
6. www.dabase.org/2armP1.htm#ch2
On the Nature of Real God
7. www.dabase.org/dht7.htm
kim fabricius said…
Thanks for the link, Bob, and for your appreciative comments.

Hi John,

"Codswallop" my propositions may be, but certainly not - have you actually read them all? - for the reason you suggest. For where do I "imply that ONLY Christians have access to or even possess the 'truth' - or that all other points of view (even those grounded in other Spiritual Traditions) are necessarily false"? In particular, I refer you to #7, where I specifically cite Bonhoeffer who, from his own experience, discovered that non-Christians can be way ahead of Christians on matters of peace and justice - and truth too. And I cite Jesus himself: "Whoever is not against us is for us" (Mark 9:40).

As a theologian, I obviously believe that Christ is the truth, and that Christ's life and teaching are the criterion of truth; but equally I believe that truth is truth wherever it is found, and that it ill behooves Christians to be mean-minded about its discovery and deployment extra ecclesia.

So by all means attack my propositions, but I think you should use a scalpel rather than an axe.

Thank you for the visit and the response to John. I had meant to ask an important question of him -- had he read the 10 propositions? I think he had his response in mind before reading the propositions. Your response is so welcome!
Anonymous said…
Hiya Bob,

If all theology is political (to the churhc historian) then why didn't the early church becoome a bunch of Shammaites and go on a prototype crusade? (spelling?)Your theological tunnel vision, that all things relate back to Jesus being a Palestinian Robin Hood who eschewed arrows, is really a shame. Your Jesus is a cute little Jesus who is nice to drag out when you want to talk politics.

Zowie, your take on Matthew 14:7 is some really, really stinky-bad exegesis. In fact, it is ihavethissquarepeganyoneseenaroundhole eisegesis. For cryin out loud, didn't anyone teach you about context? What happened just prior to Christ saying that? Don't bother telling me that if some person worshipped Christ in a fashion that "wasted" a lot of money you wouldn't go off on them. Remember, Bob, who was it that was protesting the "waste" of money for the worship of Jesus the Christ? Was Christ's exhortation to the rich, young ruler about money or was it about the first and second commandment? Was Jesus saying Luke 9:23? Or was he commanding the new legalism in the liberal church? Please, Bob, no lectures about idols from you, you've got a big one on your dashboard.

If Christ's truth is public truth, in the thereitiswhycantyouseeit way, then what is 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 talking about?

Seriously, "conservatives love to quote"? Please, Bob, for everytime I have heard Matthew 7:1 or the beatitudes addressed as ethics by a liberal who totally rejects Christ...


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