Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jesus and Political Action

"I know this man!"
--Judah Ben-Hur (Ben-Hur)

Joseph Sobran observes that, even though many Christians support the State, Jesus never urged people to take political action.

But what about 'The question about paying taxes' that appears in the gospels of Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 20? All of them read similarly. The Pharisees frequently questioned Jesus hoping to trap him in his words. One question they pose is whether it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor. Jesus chastizes them for putting him to the test. He then asks them to identify the head on a Roman coin and they do so as Caesar. Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what is God's, Jesus says.

Statists offer this as proof that Jesus legimitized political action.

This interpretation is questionable, particularly given the context. Jesus knew that he was responding to a trick question put forth by his enemies--the intellectuals of the day. He was not preaching to his followers. He certainly did not recognize the authority of pagan emperors who claimed divinity and demanded idolatry.

Jesus' reply can easily be construed to mean, "Give Caesar nothing, and God everything."

If Jesus was truly a proponent of the State, then the gospels should be full of supporting evidence, with Jesus taking the lead in political action. In particular, we would expect to see Jesus exhorting the merits of using government aggression to achieve ends such as 'social justice.'

Instead, the gospels convey messages of free will, freedom in the truth, and non-aggression. And, of course, we have Jesus's murder at the hands of the State.

Statists looking for compelling evidence of Jesus' support of political action will not find it in scripture.

1 comment:

dgeorge12358 said...

All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.
~Galatians 6:4-5