The Political Gospel

Dec 5, 2022 by

from Juicy Ecumenism:

Hello! This is Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C., with the pleasure today of interviewing Patrick Schreiner, Professor of Biblical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, about his new book – and let me get the title correct – Political Gospel: Public Witness in a Politically Crazy World. So, a very timely topic. Thank you, Patrick, for joining this conversation.

Patrick Schreiner:

Thanks, Mark, good to be with you.

Mark Tooley:

So clearly, this book is about political theology. Why did you write it? And what does it say?

Patrick Schreiner:

Yeah. So, I’m more prone to write books on – I teach the Bible – a book like Matthew or Acts, and so, I’m not prone to write hot topic books like a book on politics, but I was watching what was going on in terms of American politics and the connection to the church, and so I teach the Bible, I’m very involved in my local church, and I was concerned with how Americans and Christian Americans were engaging with politics, and as I was reading the Scriptures, I realized, man, the Bible has a lot more to say about how we engage in the political realm, and even more than that, I make the argument that the Gospel and Christianity itself is a politic. And so, when you hear me say the Gospel or Christianity is a politic, I am not arguing necessarily that it’s partisan, nor that it gives us a certain form of government that we need to have, but rather, I’m, arguing that Jesus declared Himself to be a King, and He said He was installing the Kingdom,and He was crucified as the King, and Paul planted churches, and churches are body politics, they are new societies in the midst of another society. And so, the tendency for American Christians especially is to privatize our faith, to think it has nothing to say towards the public realm. But when I say the Gospel is political, I’m arguing that it’s a public reality that has implications for how we engage in the secular political realm. So, I’m really trying to reframe the conversation. And then the other thing I’d add to that, and I kind of mentioned this at the beginning, is just that when we think about the Bible and politics, you usually think of Romans 13, Paul says submit to the governing authorities, or you think of Mark 12, where Jesus says,“pay taxes to Caesar,” and I wanted to point out – I’m a New Testament scholar – that there’s a lot more political speech in the Bible than we probably realize. Jesus was interacting with the Roman Empire. Some of the speeches He gave actually challenge some of their ideology. Same thing with Paul. And so, Rome is really all over the New Testament, even though they’re not always named. And so, I just want to point out some of those things to our readers.

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