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Stuff Michael Meeks is doing
- NCC in the morning - some fixing up of computers / playdo
softening action. Babies still very tired, slept for much of the afternoon.
Prov 14:34 - "Righteousness Exalts a Nation"
- Mini-series from Proverbs; pertaining to interesting
topics, not systematic. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin
is a disgrace to any people. Applies to anyone - not geographical
power, wealth - but honoured by God.
- Preachers addressing political topics - preachers perhaps
some degree of expertise in exegesis; but few ministers background in
political science. Some diffidence in this area; at best intimate some
possible applications: minute step outside region of competance:
even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent - eg. Pat
Robertson - who has blessed millions with his teaching about Christ,
stepped out of his subject.
- The danger of mis-quoting, or worse - quoting correctly
when we don't know what we're talking about. However:
speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of
those who are destitute
- Media - assume all religions are the same; if a Mullah
speaks - he represents his followers; if the Pope speaks - he speaks
with authority wrt. the Roman Catholic church. Protestants in general
are convinced of the priesthood of all believers - hence a pastor speaks
for himself, if that.
- Very diverse backgrounds at Park Street, seems: the voter's
passion is inversely proportional to our ability to influence the
outcome. The academic maxim: the fights are so bitter because the
stakes are so low. Can't avoid making comments that demean and distort
each other's opinion. Oponents 'wing-nuts' or 'moon-bats', 'homophobes'
'right wing extremists', 'tree huggers', 'bleeding heart liberals' -
Jesus: sermon on the
mount - anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to
- A real problem when politics is brought in - should not
have a code of silence; society desparately needs example of considerate,
civil loving dialog - as a model that might be more helpful for others;
welcome the opportunity to talk over the issues - to show the mutual
respect, civility & love - the hallmark of God's people.
- Dangers of excessive alignment with any political party.
Democrats - backed off issue of abortion, Jesse Jackson - 1970's - most
don't think of him as a right-wing extremist - wrote passionately on the
sanctity of life. Same for Republicans of course, same pressures: not
to ruffle the feathers of others - to retain access to power - in present
climate - to silence / mute discussion of the environmetn, the ethics of
preemtive war, respect for international law. As Christians - cannot be
squeezed into any 1 of these moulds.
- Love your neighbour as yourself; why Christians do &
should speak up politically - if not motivated by love: don't speak up.
Joseph Goebbles: let the churches serve God, we'll serve the people,
terrible danger in not saying anything. Better to say something with humility
and caution, than to say nothing: Martin Luther - if I profess with the
loudest voice & the clearest exposition, every portion of the word of God,
except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that
moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be
professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is
proved, to be steady on all other fronts, is mere flight & disgrace if he
flinches at that point.
- If no-one is questioning the morality of theft - for you to be
loudly proclaiming the importance of honesty is almost meaningless. Daniel -
the pagan king Nebucadnezzer - Renounce your sins by doing what is right,
and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed - not enough just to
defeat his enemies: not a popular message. Not popular when John the Baptist
condemned Herod's illicit marriage to his brother's wife Herodias, his head
ended up on plate. The worst side is the neutral side.
- Our responsibilities - obviously paying taxes, respecting
leaders, etc. but more - taking part in politics; most politics is local
politics. In a participatory democracy, we're all the King - better be
living out our morality in the discharge of that responsibility. The
church though history - transformation of the culture.
- eg. the removal of infanticide in the Roman culture, Christians
would visit the public buildings & cess-pools where the babies
were thrown - wash them off & adopt them. The 1st Christian Roman
Emperor - outlawed infanticide. A popular stance in the early years ? of
- Christian's response wrt. the glorification of violence -
the gladiatorial games, again eventually won the culture over - by
refusing to attend games where people were maimed & killed for the
- Or the end of slavery in Roman society: not a popular topic
when 1/3rd of the population is enslaved supporting the lifestyle of the
rest. Chrysostome eg. preached on 1 Cor.
There is no slave, so buy them, after you've taught them some skill by
which they can maintain themselves: set them free - until we can change
the law: lets subvert it - by the power of our own example. St Malonia -
emancipated 8000 slaves; bought & set them free, St Ovidius of Gaul - 5000
slaves, Chromatius - 1400 slaves, on & on until at last the empire
repudiated slavery altogether. Then tragically revived by the British empire
in 17C. Again Christians rushed in to address it 18thC methodists - Wesely,
condemning this practice - a difficult message to a society so advantaged
by slavery. Wilberforce, relentlessly speaking against it for 20 years etc.
- Of course we do this - recognising, unlike our puritan
forebears, that the state is not a theocracy. Amazing theoological wisdom,
and example of lives, but - when founded massachusets - didn't do justice
to the special status of the nation of Israel - and their calling.
- The result: a society - not safe for atheism; but we need a
society where it is safe. Puritans didn't recognise the difference between
sin & crime. ie. condemns Coveteousness, but doesn't prosecute it.
Puritans - outlawed gossip, drunkenness, idleness etc. failing to note the
good example of the OT - that does not criminalize all sinful behavior.
- 3rd problem, regulative law - even when the civil law addressed
a matter - it didn't necessarily approve it; ie. it's law was much more
liberal than it's moral law. Jesus said - wrt. divorce: Moses permitted
you to divorce your wives Deut 24 - because your hearts were hard,
but it was not this way from the beginning. Jesus then shows that morally
divorce was condemned everywhere - except for infidelity/abandonment. Even
in Israel's theocracy - the law was more liberal than the moral law.
- Modern Tax law - similar; if stolen / embezzled anything -
whatever you steal, you must report as taxable income: regulative law -
to mitigate some of it's harmful consequences - without necessarily
approving the practice.
- Laws regulating the practice of prostitution - your income must
not come into the temple - Solomon's - maternity suit: 2 prostitutes
stood before the King. Neither do I condemn you - go and sin no more.
- This then allows politics (the art of compromise) to
happen. Allows conversation rather than shouting matches, around
this goal: Righteousness exalts a nation. A nations political health
depends on the morality of it's people.
- Applies as believers living in a pagan society; do our best to
act as light & salt, do the best loving our neighbour, trying to
- Interesting web-site wrt. Christian social action:
Sojourners - cf. interesting
excerpt in the review of God's politics: Why the right gets it wrong,
and the left doesn't get it.
- Rather challenged.
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created by me and (unless obviously labelled otherwise) are licensed under
the public domain, and/or if that doesn't float your boat a CC0
license. I encourage linking back (of course) to help people decide for
themselves, in context, in the battle for ideas, and I love fixes /
improvements / corrections by private mail.
In case it's not painfully obvious: the reflections reflected here are my
own; mine, all mine ! and don't reflect the views of Collabora, SUSE,
Novell, The Document Foundation, Spaghetti Hurlers (International),
or anyone else.
It's also important to realise that I'm not in on the Swedish Conspiracy.
Occasionally people ask for formal photos for conferences
Michael Meeks (email@example.com)