Political and Theological Thoughts

I originally wrote this post in 2016 during the presidential campaign, but i never posted it. I’ve tweaked it just a bit, and finally built up enough courage to post it now that we are again looking at another election.

In this crazy time of Christians vocally endorsing and advocating politicians as the only hope for our country or vilifying other politicians as the destroyers of our country, i’d like for us all to take a large step back for a more theological and Jesus based perspective on politics.

This blog post will not mention a single candidate in any way positively or negatively. This is about a biblical approach to politics, not which candidate you should vote for (or against).

We could try and come up with a fully orbed entirely Biblical perspective of what politics should look like, but that is the realm of books (and many have been written). It is not the realm of blog posts.

I fully expect that my approach will offend some folk. Nevertheless, i will do my utmost to stay biblical in all that i say.

My goal is simple. Let’s try and see if we can come up with some political guidelines and a philosophy/theology based solely on what Jesus said and did as recorded in the gospels. Jesus, as God incarnate, certainly is a solid place to look for guidance, at least in my opinion. So, let’s try.

Labels

There is no such thing as a Christian party in the United States. Both the democratic and republican parties have those who deliberately try and follow some of what Jesus said and did, while blatantly and deliberately ignoring other things he said and did. The same is true of other labels like liberal, conservative, moderate, socialist and libertarian. Each candidate should be judged on their own merit and positions, not on their party or label.

Warning

You will never find a politician who says and does just what Jesus did. Jesus himself could not and would not ever rise in our political structure to a prominent place. His purpose was to change lives and bring us forgiveness and God’s love, not to change any political system.

Things Jesus did not do or say:

  • He did not say one word either for or against abortion, even though it was practiced in his time
  • He did not say one word for or against gay marriage
  • He did not say one word for or against LGBT rights
  • He did not say one word for or against immigrants

Things Jesus did do or say:

  • He said we should feed the widows and orphans
  • He spoke against divorce
  • He spoke a lot about prayer
  • He spoke about heaven
  • He spoke about the Kingdom of God
  • He spoke about hell
  • He spoke about loving each other
  • He spoke about loving our neighbors
  • He spoke about loving our enemies

Conclusions

If you believe that Jesus is a model for things we should seek and the way we should live, then it would seem reasonable to favor a politician who said and did those things.

If you think that what Jesus said or did is irrelevant to politics, then of course you can ignore both those who do and say things like Jesus and those who do and say things Jesus never did. However, don’t make the mistake of labelling those politicians who focus on what Jesus did not say and do while ignoring the things he did say and do, as Christians. They’re just politicians.

If you find a candidate speaking about things which Jesus said or did, that would be a politician worth considering.

If you find a candidate spending most of their time speaking about things Jesus never said or did, that would be a politician who is not concerned with following Jesus. That doesn’t make him a bad politician or a good politician, it just makes him (or her) a politician concerned with things other than what Jesus said or did. Such a politician should not, however, be labeled as a Christian politician.

It’s my opinion that it is best to support politicians who say and do the things Jesus said and did. You may consider other issues to be more important, but i do not.

I would apply the exact same criteria to a pastor, Christian leader or “televangelist” (whatever that is). Are they saying and doing things that Jesus said and did or are they spending most of their time and words on things Jesus never talked about or did?

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This Sunday is the one when many churches in America conflate Patriotism and Christianity

I want to be very clear that i am patriotic and i am also a Christian. Let me explain what those two things are.

Patriotism

I believe that our nation as designed by the founding fathers with: separation of powers into three equal branches, a form of republican representation on both the state and federal levels, a structure enabling both individual state’s rights and also an overarching federal union of those states, and with rights for individual citizens as enumerated in our Bill of Rights (and for me, the most important of those rights: separation of church and state along with free speech and a free press), is a landmark and perhaps the best form of government yet designed by men. Certainly, our government and its branches sometimes do things i have a problem with, but our basic system is as sound as a system can be when it is made up of broken and sinful people.

Which brings us to: Christianity

I am a follower and disciple of Jesus. This means that i believe:
1. Jesus Christ is God’s son come in the flesh, both fully man and fully God.
2. My brokenness and my sin has been assuaged, cleansed and forgiven by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
3. My goal is to both love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love others.

The problem

It is when we try to unify these two things that we are in grave danger. The worst thing to ever befall Christianity occurred when Constantine and Theodosius made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. They declared that all citizens were Christians whether they personally believed in Jesus (as i’ve listed above) or not. A state religion has no power to change the hearts and lives of individuals. It produces outward forms without inner substance. The danger in this is that people come to belive that they are followers of God based on where they live and not on what they believe or who they follow. The reformers in Europe continued this patter for several hundred years after the reformation, with most nations in Europe having state religions.

This is a false teaching and a tool of Satan which condemns men to separation from God based on a wrong belief of what a Christian is. Our nation has never been, based on our founding documents, a Christian nation. In fact, i believe that there is no such thing as a Christian nation and there can never be such a thing until God establishes His kingdom on earth. To follow Jesus, to truly believe, is not a national thing but an individual thing. A nation can have many true believers (Christians) and attempts can even be made to produce laws based on Christian principles, but that does not make a nation Christian. Individuals can be Christians, but nations are just groups of individuals who unite together under a common government. A nation or a government has no soul.

I’ve laid out my premises here, and i suspect many of my friends might agree in principle with what i have said. I also suspect many will not agree with the conclusions i will now draw.

1. Churches should not have the flag of a nation placed in prominence in the front of the church. The church and the Christians in the church owe allegiance to one kingdom: the kingdom of God.
2. Patriotic songs/hymns/programs have no place inside a church. Like me, Christians can be patriotic, and even serve in our government and armed forces, but the church is wrong to endorse or glorify any nation. Its allegiance is to God and His kingdom.
3. The Apostles Peter and John, when arrested and imprisoned as related in the book of Acts, proclaimed unequivocally to the religious leaders that followers of Jesus must obey (give allegiance to) God rather than to men.

You see, when my life on earth comes to an end and my time in eternity begins, my citizenship as an American will have no value at all, but my citizenship in God’s Kingdom will make all the difference.

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Epistles of John – Week 40 – 1 John 5:13-21

This week we conclude our 40 week study of The Epistles of John by looking at 1 John 5:13-21.

This post contains everything from week 40 of the Adult CE class at Eastside Community Church in Jacksonville, FL. This is from a series on the three Epistles of John (1 John, 2 John, 3 John) which has run weekly from January 2016 through May 2017. Links to all the previous lessons are at the bottom of this post.

You can view the presentation here.

Epistles of John - Week 40

 

You can listen to the audio of the lesson here:

 

You can download the PDF file for the presentation by clicking here:


226 Downloads

You can download the MP3 file by clicking here:


153 Downloads

Here are links to the previous lessons in the series on The Epistles of John.

Week 39 – Epistles of John – 1 John 5:6-12

Week 38 – Epistles of John – Faith vs Belief

Week 37 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:20-5:3

Week 36 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:7-19

Week 35 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:1-6

Week 34 – Epistles of John – 1 John 3:11-24

Week 33 – Epistles of John – 1 John 3:4-10

Week 32 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:28-3:3

Week 31 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:22-28

Week 30 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:18-21

Week 29 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:15-17 Part 2

Week 28 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:15-17

Week 27 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:12-14

Week 26 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:7-11

Week 25 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:3-6

Week 24 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:2

Week 23 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:1-2

Week 22 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 21 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 20 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 19 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:8-10

Week 18 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:6-7

Week 17 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:5

Week 16 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:1-4

Week 15 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 14 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 13 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 12 – Epistles of John – 3 John 11-15

Week 11 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 10 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 9 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 8 – Epistles of John – 3 John 5-8

Week 7 – Epistles of John – 3 John 1-4

Week 6 – Epistles of John – 2 John 10-13

Week 5 – Epistles of John – 2 John 7-9

Week 4 – Epistles of John – 2 John 7-8

Week 3 – Epistles of John – 2 John 4-6

Week 2 – Epistles of John – 2 John 1-3

Week 1 – Epistles of John – Introduction

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Epistles of John – Week 39 – 1 John 5:6-12

In this week’s lesson we look at what The Water and The Blood are in 1 John 5:6-12.

This post contains everything from week 39 of the Adult CE class at Eastside Community Church in Jacksonville, FL. This is from a series on the three Epistles of John (1 John, 2 John, 3 John) which has run weekly from January 2016 and now is continuing into 2017. We will finish by the end of May 2017.

Below is the first part of the Presentation.

1 John 5.5-12

Below is the second part of the Presentation.

Epistles of John - Week 39

The audio of the lesson is here:

 

You can download the PDF file for the first part by clicking here:


212 Downloads

You can download the PDF file for the second part by clicking here:


204 Downloads

You can download the MP3 file by clicking here:


147 Downloads

Here are links to the previous lessons in the series on The Epistles of John.

Week 38 – Epistles of John – Faith vs Belief

Week 37 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:20-5:3

Week 36 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:7-19

Week 35 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:1-6

Week 34 – Epistles of John – 1 John 3:11-24

Week 33 – Epistles of John – 1 John 3:4-10

Week 32 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:28-3:3

Week 31 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:22-28

Week 30 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:18-21

Week 29 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:15-17 Part 2

Week 28 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:15-17

Week 27 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:12-14

Week 26 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:7-11

Week 25 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:3-6

Week 24 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:2

Week 23 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:1-2

Week 22 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 21 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 20 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 19 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:8-10

Week 18 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:6-7

Week 17 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:5

Week 16 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:1-4

Week 15 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 14 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 13 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 12 – Epistles of John – 3 John 11-15

Week 11 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 10 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 9 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 8 – Epistles of John – 3 John 5-8

Week 7 – Epistles of John – 3 John 1-4

Week 6 – Epistles of John – 2 John 10-13

Week 5 – Epistles of John – 2 John 7-9

Week 4 – Epistles of John – 2 John 7-8

Week 3 – Epistles of John – 2 John 4-6

Week 2 – Epistles of John – 2 John 1-3

Week 1 – Epistles of John – Introduction

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Epistles of John – Week 38 – Faith vs Belief

This week’s lesson on the difference between Faith and Belief is one of the most important topics for any believer to understand. We also look at 1 John 5:4-5.

This post contains everything from week 38 of the Adult CE class at Eastside Community Church in Jacksonville, FL. This is from a series on the three Epistles of John (1 John, 2 John, 3 John) which has run weekly from January 2016 and now is continuing into 2017. We will finish by the end of May 2017.

Below is the first part of the Presentation.

Epistles of John - Week 38

 

Below is the second part of the Presentation.

Faith vs Belief

 

The audio of the lesson is here:

 

You can download the PDF file for the first part by clicking here:


195 Downloads

You can download the PDF file for the second part by clicking here:


188 Downloads

You can download the MP3 file by clicking here:


124 Downloads

Here are links to the previous lessons in the series on The Epistles of John.

Week 37 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:20-5:3

Week 36 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:7-19

Week 35 – Epistles of John – 1 John 4:1-6

Week 34 – Epistles of John – 1 John 3:11-24

Week 33 – Epistles of John – 1 John 3:4-10

Week 32 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:28-3:3

Week 31 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:22-28

Week 30 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:18-21

Week 29 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:15-17 Part 2

Week 28 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:15-17

Week 27 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:12-14

Week 26 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:7-11

Week 25 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:3-6

Week 24 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:2

Week 23 – Epistles of John – 1 John 2:1-2

Week 22 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 21 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 20 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:9

Week 19 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:8-10

Week 18 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:6-7

Week 17 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:5

Week 16 – Epistles of John – 1 John 1:1-4

Week 15 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 14 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 13 – Epistles of John – 1 John Introduction

Week 12 – Epistles of John – 3 John 11-15

Week 11 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 10 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 9 – Epistles of John – 3 John 9-10

Week 8 – Epistles of John – 3 John 5-8

Week 7 – Epistles of John – 3 John 1-4

Week 6 – Epistles of John – 2 John 10-13

Week 5 – Epistles of John – 2 John 7-9

Week 4 – Epistles of John – 2 John 7-8

Week 3 – Epistles of John – 2 John 4-6

Week 2 – Epistles of John – 2 John 1-3

Week 1 – Epistles of John – Introduction

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