Faith is moral and spiritual as well as relational. It is also political. Even if some Christians might deny this in precept they for the most part don’t in practice. First I should define politics. Some definitions:
the art or science of government….the total complex of relations between people living in society (Merriam-Webster)
The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs….The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society. (The Free Dictionary)
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, but politics has been observed in other group interactions, including corporate, academic and religious institutions. (Wikipedia)
Christians indeed approach this issue differently. The Catholic approach is more in keeping with the church directly impacting society with its influence being embedded in the political sphere as much as possible. In the Lutheran two kingdoms approach there is more readily the modern day separation of church and state, with Christians serving in the political sphere. But the church remaining an entity to itself. At the same time however, the Lutheran approach historically has been much like the Catholic since the kingdom of God is more in the spiritual or heavenly realm, while the kingdom of this world is more in the physical, earthly realm. Anabaptists provide another alternative, the kingdom of God separate from the kingdoms of this world, the two realms largely in conflict with each other. The Reformed view may be a modification of the first two, something like the kingdom of God directly impacting the kingdom of this world and able to influence it and redeem what is good, being part of God’s creation in society. This is not at all a defense of all that has happened historically under these approaches.
Indeed in different ways all Christians would agree that faith is political. Faith in God and the kingdom of God are about all things in this life. Even if it is not about trying to form an alternative government or political party. The kingdom of God in Jesus and God’s people in Jesus as salt and light are meant to influence all things in this life according to God’s will.
The kingdom of God come in Jesus is meant to impact the world. First by calling people into God’s kingdom through Christ. Jesus’ message was that the kingdom of God was near (because he was present, I take it), and therefore people should repent and believe the good news. Of course this kingdom is effective through Jesus’ death and resurrection, his ascension and the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. It perhaps is meant to impact politics and this world’s governing structures largely through showing a better way. First in deed which backs or more better, describes what the church and Christians are already (hopefully) doing. This never is fulfilled in this world apart from Jesus, so that we can never expect in this world any government that is like the church. The church alone is in Jesus and of Jesus, being the Body of Christ. The kingdom of God in Jesus is manifest in the here and now in the community of God’s people in Jesus. It cannot in itself become allied to the kingdoms of this world.
Having said all of that I would still want to say that the kingdom of God in Jesus through the community of God’s people in Jesus is meant to impact all culture and politics through the redemptive message and life that follows through Jesus. Just how this works out is difficult. In my view it would be next to impossible for a Christian to serve as the President or Commander-in-Chief of the United States. Though a number of recent presidents have been professing Christians, and I don’t necessarily doubt their profession. Of course Christians who are not of Anabaptist persuasion would think otherwise on this.
The bottom line is that faith is indeed political so that we should care what goes on in this world at every level. Although we can’t possibly take in all that is happening we should be praying that God’s will would be done on earth as in heaven, not just in the anticipation of the fullness of God’s kingdom to come, but that God’s kingdom present in Jesus would impact society at all levels now. In ways that God would work out through his Spirit by his redeemed community.
All rather preliminary thoughts. What thoughts might you like to share on this challenging subject?