There may be no direct route from the politics of Jesus' day to the politics of modern Britain, but there are embodied principles and narratives in the Gospel which directly challenge the marginalisation of the poor and the use of ideology (religious or otherwise) to prop up the status quo, says Jonathan Bartley. These have a good deal to say to us as we assess the Spending Review and those it benefits and penalises.
BBC Radio 4's stimulating 'Start the Week' programme, hosted by Andrew Marr, ran a special edition this morning (18 October 2010) discussing morality, religion and politics. It featured irascible and creative US theologian Stanley Hauerwas.
It is easy to be won over by the universal moral or religious principles espoused by a skilled rhetorician such as Tony Blair. However, John Heathershaw argues that in politics, from university league tables to the war in Iraq, God is in the details.
In its literal sense "doing God" is a theological nonsense. Christianity itself suggests you can only really respond to an invitation to join in what God is already doing, says Jonathan Bartley. Nevertheless, the debate about it acts as a useful warning to politicians not to suck up to the religious, and to Christians to live out the values of the Gospel rather than defending their self-interest.
Loud demands for special concessions from society come from those who insist on their own strength, says Simon Jones. Instead, Christians should meet those who argue with them as equals, rescinding historical claims to authority. What strength is left, then, is God’s, he says.
Forms of religion and ideology which neatly categorize people as good or bad according to whether they were in ‘the right group’ or believe ‘the right things’ are dangerous, says Simon Barrow. They also contradict the basic trajectory of the Christian message.