Jesus and Politics

There are two extremes to be avoided in politics.  The first, less common approach, is to change Jesus into a primarily political figure.  I played cricket in England with a communist who claimed that Jesus was a communist.  He said that when Jesus wanted to bring about change he formed a committee.  The second, more common, approach is to say that Jesus and therefore his followers had nothing to do with politics. These people see a divide between their provate lives of faith and their daily, public responsibilities. What do you think Jesus advocates?

Luke 20:20-26

 20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”

   “Caesar’s,” they replied.

 25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

 26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.


  1. What kind of people were sent to Jesus?
  2. What was the question that they asked Jesus?
  3. How was this a trap?
  4. How should Christians view taxes?
  5. How is a Christian’s faith related to public life?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to Jesus and Politics

  1. joshua says:

    Jesus was a communist 🙂

    After he left, everyone shared all things in common and no one was in need of anything… stinking Marxist.

    Though, I would suggest he was a voluntary communist, not so much a government sanctioned communist…

    You know the old capitalist slogan, “Jesus said, ‘Buy more stuff!'”

    By the way, Peter, would you rather me not pop by your blog and stir up stuff?

    I miss getting to bicker with you in person. It is still largely your fault that I enjoy championship manager (play the 2010 edition on my iPhone).

    • Plymothian says:

      I think that we build a system of economics from Christian ethics and we call it Christonomics or something. I think, much to the horror of many North Americans, it would include a lot of elements of socialism. For example, I do think that government structures are responsible for their poor. Not everyone who can’t eat won’t work. I also see the elements of voluntary communism that you state. However, I really don’t think that voluntary communism is actually communism. On the other side, I do not think that a system driven by greed (capitalism) can be welcomed into the fold and sanctioned as Jesus’ own economics. I think that principles like private property, and freedom of trade are acceptable and I have read some make biblical cases for them. However, some of those cases observe the narrative of scripture and then make doctrine from what might just be commentary on systems that are not advocated.

      I relish your posts on this site. My students look over it periodically and the idea is to get them to think. I do not find your interaction annoying in the slightest. I am wondering who you are managing on Championship Manager, though.


  2. Jeff Knoll says:

    I think that if Jesus ruled all our hearts we would not need government. Until then we need to follow the conscience given us by the Lord.

    • Plymothian says:

      This is what I think Jacques Ellul might think. However, isn’t Jesus’ rule in our hearts government? I find that I meet a lot of Christians in North America who want to remove government but then want the church to administrate. Of course, in that model the church becomes the government and then the seperation of church and state becomes much more difficult without segregating society. Would we then allow a society to cease paying taxes to pay for healthcare and education as long as they donated it to a religious society. You would have government hospitals, Christian hospitals, Muslim hospitals and potentially Satanist Hospitals 🙂 Also there would need to be much debate on a number of issues. When is private money government money? For example,if government money can not be spent on a particular religion, can individuals withhold taxes, and donate their private money which was potentially government money to schools and hospitals. If that is the case, isn’t the government then dictating where individuals must spend their money which (as the health care bill has highlighted) is against the economic clauses in the constitution? So you are left with a consumerist society that will have freedom to withhold their taxes and then have the freedom to spend their taxes as they see fit. I think they will spend it on themselves. This is fine for those who ARE sick of have kids of school age. They will invest in eduation. However, their investment will not cover the costs.

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