Monday, October 08, 2007

The Political Teachings of Jesus Christ

Tod Lindberg (2007), The Political Teachings of Jesus, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Recently Kar Yong gave a lecture on ‘Was Jesus Political?’ It can be found here, here, and here. I found his approach fascinating as he first broadens the definition of ‘politics’ and then went on to portray a Jesus that seems to have a politico-social revolutionary agenda.

Todd Lindberg is a political analyst and research fellow at the Hover Institution, Stanford University and editor of the prestigious Policy Review. In his new book, Lindberg wants to examine whether it is possible to separate the political teachings of Jesus from his religious teachings. He is upset with the fact that everyone in the USAmerican political scene is quoting Jesus, left, right and centre to support their political views.

Lingberg’s thesis is simple: It is possible to separate the political and religious views of Jesus. The basis of the political teachings of Jesus is the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He called this the ‘Jesusian’ teachings as opposed to his religious or Christian teachings. The Jesusian teachings are about living with one another. A Jesusian society will be one in which there is freedom (within limits) and all men are equal (with limits). This freedom and equality are governed by the Golden Rule. According to Lingberg, the foundations of many of the varieties of democracy we are living in are the results of the Jesusian teaching.

He examined the political teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, the Four Gospels and in Jesus’ parables. This is an interesting approach to Jesus’ teaching. However, I wonder whether it is possible delineate so clearly the political teachings of Jesus from his religious teachings. Lingberg struggled in defining the Kingdom of heaven and the need for a king. He also has problems fitting the miracles that Jesus performed into his Jesusian teachings. However, it does bring out the important point that Jesus’ teachings is not so much for the hereafter as how we are to live with one another in the here and now.

There is an ongoing Quest for a historical Jesus. I hope this is not the start of a Quest for a Political Jesus.


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Blogger Kar Yong said...

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the link to my lectures.

I wished I could have interacted with Lindberg while I was preparing for my lecture. Unfortunately, I could not get hold of his book in local bookstores.

The quest for a political Jesus has already started - but I think it won't go far...but the quest of the historical Jesus will continue to remain for a while, I think...

7:40 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi kar yong,

I wished you have. I will be most interested to see the results of your interaction with his Jesusian teachings.

You think the quest for a political Jesus would not go far? ...Hmm...we shall have to wait and see, won't we?

11:43 PM  

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