Thursday, November 15, 2012

Voting for a Lost Cause--Politcal Parties and Truth Claims

Voting for a Lost Cause--Political Parties and Truth Claims


"How far are you from the kingdom of God?" This question is based on the claim Jesus made of the scribe questioning him in Mark 12. Jesus states, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." Not far appears to indicate, not quite there. That leads me to ask a second question. What are the stumbling blocks that keep this Scribe from the kingdom of God.



Today, I want to look at the third of three of those stumbling blocks--Political Parties and Truth Claims.



In Mark 12: 18-27, good religious folks called Sadducees ask a question about Jesus. The question is reminiscent of "what if" questions by children, who, at every answer, say, "Yeah, but what if...?" The Sadducees present this scenario. "There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; and the second married the widow and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all, the woman herself died. In the resurrection, whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her."



In Jesus' response, he redefined resurrection. C. Clifton Black, in his commentary on Mark printed by Abingdon Press, paraphrases Jesus’ response this way. Resurrection is not about which husband gets to dance with his wife in heaven. Instead, resurrection is an announcement that God has the power to remain steadfast to his people both in life and in death.



Now, it is important to remember that in Jesus' day, there was disagreement about resurrection. While the Pharisees believed in resurrection, the Sadducees did not. The battle between the parties was for who was right about this claim of resurrection. The battle--which party held the truth in their teaching.



We have the same battle today. Does one party--Democrat or Republican--have the claim to the truth? Does one ideology--Progressive or Conservative--have the claim to the truth? The answer, No. Neither the Democratic or Republican platform fully embody the Word of God. Neither those who are Progressive or those who are Conservative and their ideologies fully embody the Word of God. There is a depth, breadth, and transcendence about the Word of God that cannot be embodied in one platform or ideology.


In the Democratic system of government, the decisions our legislative bodies make are, as Robert Jenson writes in Christian Dogmatics, a functional solution, supported by the majority of people, that may or may not be moral. The battle between Democrats and Republicans; the battle between Progressives and Conservatives is not a battle for truth, as they would claim, but for the power to express, through the political system, their world view and approaches to understanding people, nature, and the cosmos.



In this, we find the stumbling block, blurring the lines between the battle for power and control to assert a world view and holding onto the truth which is not ours to hold, but is revealed to us--as Mark would write, "by the Father."

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