A word of clarification about my previous post may be in order. When I suggested that the experience of physically waking up to recent political announcements had also ‘woken me up’ from a blissful ignorance of all things political I was perhaps overstating my case. I’ve actually been in the process of waking up to politics for a little while — although I’ve been sort of addicted to the snooze button!
Even that’s probably overstating it. You see, I’ve often had thoughts about politics. It’s just that I’ve been so busy trying to resist the temptation to Constantianism that I’ve ended up with relatively little that’s distinctively Christian to say about politics. For example, I share the disappointment/frustration expressed by Byron (and Bob Hawke) at our Federal leaders’ apparent willingness to rubber stamp the popular misconception that voters should get to chose the PM. But I’m less certain about how to articulate a positive alternative — let alone one informed by the Christian narrative of God’s world-reclaiming action in Jesus.
I don’t want to make a virtue out of this uncertainty. (The whole point of asking what I should make of contemporary developments in Australian politics as a Christian is to help me sort this out.) But I do want to be clear that I’m in fundamental agreement with Matt when he declares, ‘my loyalty isn’t to a certain political persuasion, but to our Lord Jesus Christ’.
My primary allegiance is to the crucified and risen Messiah Jesus. He is the Lord — the primary reality in the universe. Among other things, this means that we must be ever ready to re-open the question of which human institutions are most transparent to this reality in any given circumstance. (I’m talking about entire systems as much as particular policies or parties.)
I feel that the church should be given primacy in this. In the most important book I read but didn’t understand last year, Christ, History and Apocalyptic, Nathan Kerr explains why: ‘the “church” is not so much an “alternative society” or even an “alternative to society”, but a kind of subversive challenge to society or to “politics” as such’ (p 175).
It’s through the church that the Spirit reminds human institutions they’re not ultimate. At least, so long as the church stays true to its missionary calling and open to the reforming voice — and transforming presence — of its Lord…