November 13, 2016 - The Politics of Faith

Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.

Luke 21:5-19

Among the most repeated themes of Scripture is that prophets will be persecuted and marginalized.  It is in vogue to assume that those on the opposite side of the political spectrum from us are the persecutors and we are the hapless, martyred victims.  But that is “motivated reasoning”*

Closer to the truth is that God requires us to ascribe neither to liberal nor conservative policies.  He is much bigger than that.  But that is unacceptable.  We want to wrap God in the political movement of the day and adorn our beliefs with divine approval.  If God is not useful in that regard we would rather forget all about Him.

Everything we usually think about faith is at stake:  What if God does not require us to serve the poor?  What if God does not require us to be virtuous?  What if He has no interest in arbitrating the culture wars that make us feel so overwrought? Can we recognize any value in such a God?

* Jonathan Haidt and Ravi Iyar.  A Truce for Our Tribal Politics.  The Wall Street Journal November 5-6, 2016