No Good Politics

In response to a query…

I should have thought this was obvious by now: Jesus was neither conservative nor liberal in the context of His own day. In both religious and political terms, the Pharisees were the dominant conservatives. The Sadducees were secularized liberals (mostly priests, by the way). Thus, as a point of reference, the High Priest at Jesus’ trial was a Sadducee, but he colluded with the Pharisees to protect their positions against someone who threatened the whole thing.

Jewish religion was controlled by this cabal of plutocrats. They had a strong say in Jewish politics, but there was also the deeply cynical Herodians (actually Edomites politically absorbed a century before who cynically adopted Judaism as the price for admission to political power). And the whole thing was under the watchful eye of Rome.

Both the Pharisees and Sadducees as philosophical forces in play arose from the Hellenistic drift that was ongoing from around 323 BC when Alexander the Great swept through the Levant (that eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea). There were other smaller players in terms of social influence, but Judaism was not a genuine extension of Old Testament religion. It was a sharp departure from the ancient mystical Hebrew outlook, in the sense that the mysticism was kept as mere window-dressing, while the core commitment was to Hellenized rationalism.

Hellenism is pagan. Not in the restricted sense of religious categories today, but in the sense that it arose as a natural implication of Greek pagan mythology. I won’t take the time here to trace that out; better writers have done it long ago. It’s not that hard to see how Plato and Aristotle drew their underlying assumptions from the value system espoused in Greek mythology. Hellenism is defined as the whole culture and religion of ancient Greece. Alexander the Great consciously evangelized it. It is the very root of Western rationalism.

Jesus called for a return to the ancient Hebrew mysticism. He was on another planet when it came to social and political implications. Given that our Western Civilization is very much the product of Hellenism, you can bet that the full range of our political and social frame of reference is very much a product of Hellenism, and unquestionably distinct from that of the Bible. If you properly understand Jesus as calling for a return to the ancient Hebrew outlook, then you cannot possibly associate His teaching with either major thread of political and social influence in the US today.

The same goes for our political parties; no one in the public sphere is promoting anything resembling Biblical Law. Yes, that ancient Law of God does apply to us today, because the Law Covenants were never meant to be read with typical Jewish legalism. They were mystical parables; everyone in the Ancient Near East understood that. Indeed, it’s an equally huge mistake to think you can learn the structure of that Law by reason and analysis. In the general meaning of the terms in our American culture, neither the letter of the law, nor the spirit of the law, are the proper approach. Rather, the proper approach is the Law as a Person: Jesus Christ.

On some rare occasions, quite by accident, something you see in law, politics or social events will approach Biblical Law. It’s okay to celebrate that brief flash of good moral sense. It’s not okay to then conclude that you should support any of the various political theories or parties existing the US today. They are all irrevocably wrong, in part because the whole system itself is wrong. And that in turn is because Western Civilization is wrong.

But you cannot simply make the blanket policy of withdrawing from the whole thing and hiding out. This is part of that quantum moral reasoning, where you see things on multiple levels. If you personally are called to withdraw, do so. Most of us will be called to get involved in a cynical infiltration of the system. We understand it; we can teach it to others. We know what the system requires of us, but we don’t actually commit to the system. We agree to play along; we humor those who truly believe.

That’s what Jesus taught; see Matthew 23:1-12.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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