A Christian Perspective on Political Thought

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Contents

  1. Five Insights Christianity Brings to Politics
  2. Research Areas
  3. God’s Province: Evangelical Christianity, Political Thought and Conservatism in Alberta
  4. Liberalism Run Amok

Aristotle also asserts that the state aids in this development through the CQ Press Your definitive resource for politics, policy and people. Remember me? Back Institutional Login Please choose from an option shown below. Need help logging in? Click here. Don't have access? View purchasing options. Find in this title Show Hide Page Numbers. On This Page. Copy to Clipboard. It is necessary to take off these spectacles and be less enlightened so we can be illuminated.

On a grand political scale, liberty has been the rallying cry for many suffering under despotism. In , liberty fueled the armies of Marseilles as they sang La Marseillaise, the eventual French national anthem. Form up your battalions.

Let us march! That their impure blood should water our fields.

From these examples and many others in history, the idea of liberty is tied directly to being politically free and consequently individually free from a government, which tends to impose numerous restraints upon its citizens. For Americans, however, liberty is deep-seated.

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Five Insights Christianity Brings to Politics

It has flourished in the democratic republic of the United States. This creates, for the American Christian, a frame of reference anytime liberty is mentioned in the scriptures. The word law is promptly interpreted as a list of regulations prohibiting certain actions. As stated earlier, liberty is viewed as lack of restraint.

In this context, however, liberty seems to mean something other than a goal. Every time a Christian strives to interpret scripture, one of the key hermeneutical instruments that must be used is context. The reader must not isolate a verse from the context of the chapter, the book, and the rest of the biblical text. Chapter two of James provides some needed help for the American Christian. James begins this portion of his writings addressing the sin of partiality—favoritism.

He provides the means for conquering this sin in verse eight. When one loves himself, he goes to his own preferred extent to meet his needs and provides a level of desired comfort. When one murders, one strives to obtain something that is not his. It could be power, revenge, justice, etc. One takes control in order to set the standards that will ensure no restraint.

There is no room, however, for that idea of liberty used as a tool to assist one in deciphering what James is teaching. James is teaching liberty is gained by giving and giving up.

Research Areas

Give the same love you have for yourself to others. Give up lust in order for the other to enjoy the sexual pleasure God has given him or her in marriage.

Late Antiquity

In addition, the biblical concept of liberty advocates giving coupled with no guarantee of compensation. The person does not receive any tangible benefit from the person he loved or refrained from sinning against.

God’s Province: Evangelical Christianity, Political Thought and Conservatism in Alberta

The neighbor will likely not repay the Christian in kind. Therefore, there will be no effusive expression from him. There is minimal opportunity for exploitation or ulterior motives to sneak in. Orphans are penniless. Widows were and most of them still are limited in their resources and in their societal standing. One who serves them cannot receive from them equal service or compensation. Spending time with them gives them value they cannot reciprocate. Where obedience to the Law is present, selfishness is absent.

Thus, when James describes the Law as having a component of liberty, it is liberty from selfishness. It is liberty for the soul of a man to experience when he lives selflessly.

Nor does he adopt the classical practice of delineating an ideal State. To his mind, all States are imperfect: they are the mechanisms whereby an imperfect world is regulated. They can provide justice and peace of a kind, but even the best earthly versions of justice and peace are not true justice and peace.

It is precisely the impossibility of true justice on earth that makes the State necessary.

Liberalism Run Amok

Robert Dyson's new book describes and analyses this 'transformation' in detail and shows Augustine's enormous influence upon the development of political thought down to the thirteenth century. The clarity and impact of the book is due mainly to the author's intellectual grasp of his material. His writing is clear, fluent, and unpretentious. At the same time it tells a story: the dramatic story of the rise and fall of political Augustinianism, While remaining true to strict canons of scholarship, Dyson has managed to produce an account that is entirely accessible to the non-medievalist, and indeed his book raises questions about the interaction of politics and ideas particularly religious ideas that all students of politics need to think about.