When Jesus affirmed that the Kingdom of God had arrived, was His affirmation an ideological statement? Was it a political statement? Was it a mixture of both, and if so, to what degree for each?
I am asking myself that question due to a comment I read today by a person (Mr. A) who has a role in high government places. Mr. A claims that Mr. B, another person with a high governmental role, is unaware of what he is doing when it comes to filling his job description. The basic accusation is that Mr. B is confusing political thinking and action with ideological thinking and behavior.
How does this connect to Jesus’ statement about the Kingdom of God? I think the connection is that when Jesus referred to the coming of the Kingdom He was making an ideological statement, not a political statement. Jesus proposed that overlaying specific actions, policies, human behaviors and goals was an ideology – the Kingdom of God, the salvation of humanity by Jesus’ expiatorial death, a unity of believers due to the presence of the Holy Spirit, an ethics of moral values that are traced back to the very character of God (the fruit of the Holy Spirit, for example).
What I don’t see Jesus doing was proposing policies about the Kingdom. Policies get us into rules and regulations, with temporal consequences of conforming or not conforming to those rules and regulations.
Inevitably, the rules and regulations that make up policies are cultural or societal, which means they are by nature changeable, temporal, and modifiable. As society changes with the coming and going of social institutions and artifacts, so do the rules that are theoretically meant to point to an unchanging ideology. (This is, and has been, a major issue for the Supreme Court that is trying to maintain a connection between the US Constitution and a changing US society)
Back to Jesus. Jesus provided the ideology for Christianity, and the apostles had the task of actualizing that ideology into policy, into the manners and means of the community’s everyday life. But, that everyday life would vary from region to region, language group to language group, age group to age group, national and local government to national and local government.
So, as the apostles take the gospel of the Kingdom of God to India, take it to Spain, take it to Germany, take it to Ethiopia, take it to Rome, take it to Greece . . . they see how the policies take shape as the Kingdom ideology interacts with the culture and customs of each of those locales. The Kingdom is the idea; the community’s practices form the policy. The former doesn’t change; the latter does change. Jesus was the ideologue, while the apostles were the politicians. Problems arise when the politicians try to be ideologues or when they try to be politicians divorced from the ideas of Jesus.
One thing Jesus did not do – give the apostles a non-workable ideology. A second thing Jesus did not do – leave them without the resources to correctly derive Godly policies – Here comes the Holy Spirit!!!
Comments are welcome