The Politics of the Beatitudes

Tod Lindberg writes on the politics of the Beatitudes. This isn’t a new topic by any means. However, what’s especially interesting to me is that Lindberg is not a Biblical scholar, pastor, or theologian. He’s an expert in politics, someone who spends their life considering the present political situation. Very much worth reading, and his book, The Political Teachings of Jesus, has now found a place on my amazon wish list.

If no one persecutes people for following the teaching of Jesus, then the category of the “persecuted” disappears. If no one persecutes those who seek righteousness, then this category, too, disappears. And if the response to the poor in spirit is not to show contempt for them but to uplift them, to encourage them to find the value in their lives that they have somehow lost sight of, then that category, too, disappears. Thus, these three categories of the blessed for which Jesus makes promises only with regard to heaven disappear entirely wherever the Jesusian teaching takes root on earth. This explains why Jesus assigns no earthly reward for people in these three categories. His silence anticipates that once people follow his guidance there will be no one left in these conditions. His ambitious political agenda is to rid the world of both persecuted and persecutors — opposite sides of the coin of persecution.

This echoes a fair bit of Jurgen Moltmann’s thoughts on the subject, though Moltmann is more explicit about spreading this concept into eschatology. He sees heaven as the place where persecutor and persecutee are finally, fully, reconciled and no one is left in those conditions. It is the church which is supposed to, then, reflect this reality even in the present as the Kingdom that has already come in the power of the Holy Spirit, who is, I think the Personal presence of the Kingdom. Where the Spirit is, there is the Kingdom. To the degree we participate with the Spirit we participate in the Kingdom.

Moltmann has also a wee bit more Marxist leanings and an interest in Liberation theology and politics, which I suspect Lindberg disagrees with, for good reasons. Moltmann is a theologian, not a political scientist, and politics is one area that I’m thinking he could use some helpful guidance.

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