The gospel includes politics and economics



Unsplash / Aaron’s Burden

When I look at the comments section here in the channel Christian Post which focuses on business, finance, and economics, I note that often, instead of trying to apply the Bible to these topics, commentators deny that Christianity has anything to say about them. Or they deny that Christians should apply their faith to the larger culture. Or sometimes they even deny that a Christian publication should publish any content whatsoever on culture, politics, economics or finance, but should instead stick to “the gospel.”

For example, check out this fascinating article by Bible scholar Mark Horne, who has written important commentaries on the gospel of Mark and more recently on the Book of Proverbs. Pastor Horne argues that when Christians engage with our nation, we must heed Solomon’s warnings about anger’s tendency to be counterproductive. We must not fight political tyranny with anger, for anger itself is a kind of tyranny. This analysis is fascinating in a good way, but what is fascinating in a bad way is how crowded the comments section is with people who simply deny that Christians should have political goals. This global cultural surrender is quite common and it is one of the reasons our culture is declining so rapidly.

This idea that Christians should be interested in what they call “the gospel” – not politics – shows a very truncated conception of what the word “gospel” means. One gospel, one euangelion (the Greek word in the New Testament translated as “gospel” or “good news”), is the announcement of a new emperor. In the pagan context in which the New Testament was written, it would have referred to the announcement of the coming to power of a new Caesar. In the Jewish context in which the New Testament was written, it was referring to the coming of the Messiah, who was both a religious and political figure, particularly as prophesied in Isaiah. The word translated by Gospel has clear political implications in its semantic range, and the fact that the English word we use to translate it no longer carries those implications is so much worse for our understanding of the Bible.

I see more and more Conservative ministers downplaying or denying any political or cultural content of the gospel. A friend who is a conservative Christian journalist recently tweeted a reference to something Pastor Alistair Begg said:

“The gospel was not preached so that the culture of Ephesus could be changed. The gospel was not preached so that the temple of Diana would be demolished. The gospel was not preached so that Christians can have some sort of better lifestyle for themselves because of the benefits of the gospel message spreading through the culture. No, the gospel has been preached for no other reason than the fact that men and women women can be saved. ”

truth for life

While I admire Pastor Begg very much, I think this statement implies a false dichotomy. Isn’t the slavery of false gods like Diana one of the things we are saved from? After all, Paul says they really are demons. Diana’s pagan religion was economically oppressive, which is why idol makers were a major force behind the pagan riots against Paul. Isn’t that one of the things we are saved from – bondage to exploitative superstitions?

When I responded to this reporter, suggesting that this gospel versus culture approach is a false dichotomy, one of his followers weighed in, writing: “In 1 Cor 15: 1 and following, Paul lists what is most importantly (his words) he then defines the gospel he preached, nowhere is the cultural transformation mentioned or even suggested. “

But it seems to me that the whole passage is in the throes of a cultural transformation, culminating in,

“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death. For he has made all things under his feet …”

1 Corinthians 15: 25-27

He does not list cultural transformation as a separate category because it is found in “all things subject to his feet.”

Jean says that “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, in order to destroy the works of the devil. “(1 John 3: 8) Isn’t pornography, abortion, debauchery, communism, fascism, etc. among the works of the devil? If so, then preach the gospel of the Son directly faces these evils, and changing them is part of this preaching. Cultivation is one of the things either pure or filthy that comes out of the heart (Mark 7:14 and following.)

The Fruit of the Spirit, the Beatitudes, the Decalogue, all of this is a cultural transformation. As Tom Wright, who knows a thing or two about Greek grammar, keeps saying: If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not.

The irony is that these people who deny the cultural mandate are very involved in politics. The two Twitter folks I mentioned tweet about politics almost constantly … attacks on Trump ever, attacks on mask and vaccine warrants, attacks on President Biden, it’s almost all politics for them. But that’s a certain very specific type of populist conservatism, not all of God’s advice.

What I increasingly see among a large segment of conservative Christians is simultaneously a denial of any political content to the Bible in tune with a growing political obsession. It is like removing the influence of the gospel from our politics when we are most politically engaged.

Remember that interview Jerry Falwell Jr. did (Jerry Falwell Jr .: “I believe Trump is a Christian” – CNN Video) in which he denied that the Bible should inform politics? He said if we apply the Bible to politics we are likely to support the welfare state and unlimited immigration … so let’s leave the Bible out of that. I remember watching Tucker Carlson on Fox News a few years ago respond to someone who quoted the Bible about the compassionate treatment of immigrants, and he brushed the quote aside, saying, “We are not a theocracy.

Now, I don’t think allowing the Bible to rule our politics necessarily or even probably leads to unlimited immigration or a welfare state, but if it did then we should have unlimited immigration and a state- providence, because Jesus is Lord. We do not reject the Bible because a certain reading of it contradicts the current political mood of our core demographic. The gospel means that Jesus is the new Lord of all creation. Our job is to do the work, to study his word, to follow what he has taught, and to teach it to individuals and nations.

Jerry Bowyer is a financial economist, president of Bowyer Research and author of “The Creator vs. the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and the Economy. “



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