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Old 07-07-2013, 11:10 AM   #101
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To be fair, Christ did not teach in Rome, he taught in Israel - which was basically a theocracy (of course he would contend they were getting theocracy wrong, but the Kingdom of God is basically the ultimate theocracy).
Jesus is famous for saying, "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." (The meaning being, pay your taxes as good citizens, but never forget that while your money reflects the image of your ruler, you reflect the image of your creator.) Other Scriptures exhort us to respect our leaders. Christians in the first three centuries were famous for being either martyrs or apolitical. So saying that Jesus came to establish a theocracy is a bit much. If anything, you can argue that Christianity was a movement that was inherently subversive, meant to constantly challenge whatever political attitudes were prevalent.
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Old 07-07-2013, 11:29 AM   #102
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To be fair, Christ did not teach in Rome, he taught in Israel - which was basically a theocracy (of course he would contend they were getting theocracy wrong, but the Kingdom of God is basically the ultimate theocracy).

From the little bit I've read on the subject - even though Israel was a Roman controlled territory militarily, they rarely meddled in the daily affairs of the Jews.

My point is - Jesus was very much in favor of theocracy, and He is the king. So, as a Christian, the question is most often not about should Scripture influence law - but am I interpreting Scripture correctly.
Let's be clear about history. Judaism was intended to be a theocracy in the old Testament but by the time of Christ Israel was part of the Roman empire, and had a governor who was directly responsible to the emperor. It was an occupied territory where rebellion smoldered for years, which was why there was such a strong military presence in the area and why the Roman government was so jumpy about the many Jewish "messiahs" that went around preaching revolution. Judaism had a great deal of freedom to rule over other Jews in matters of Judaism, but they did not have jurisdiction over non-Jews. They didn't even have the power of the death penalty over Jews, which is why they had to have Jesus tried by Pilate.

The big conflict among Jews during the time of Christ was about whether Israel should struggle for independence and reestablish itself as a theocracy. The Zealots of the Bible were the revolutionary wing of Judaism, and they did in fact want to violently overthrow Roman rule. But many, many Jews recognized that Israel had very little chance of success, that it would certainly bring death and suffering to their people, and wanted to hold on to the degree of religious freedom that they had under Rome. The Jewish leaders of the time- the priests and the Sanhedrin- did NOT support revolution.

There are people who argue that Jesus was in fact a Zealot who wanted to overthrow Rome and establish a direct theocracy (for example, Jesus The Man by Barbara Thiering). But they tend to have non-orthodox views of Scripture and to use lots of outside sources. It's pretty hard to argue that position from the four canonical gospels. Jesus told Roman soldiers to do their jobs well, tax collectors to collect for Rome honestly, told citizens to pay their taxes- not to refuse to participate or to work for political change. He refused over and over to be the military messiah that Zealots wanted him to be. Over and over he demonstrated to them that the Kingdom of God on this earth is a spiritual, not a political power. He told his followers to give up all their worldly goods and prepare to be persecuted and live as wanderers, not to set up a righteous new government. In fact the Jewish leaders who wanted him killed had to pay false witnesses to characterize Christ as a revolutionary, and Pilate didn't buy it.

Claiming that Jesus wanted a theocracy is frankly a big fucking deal. There are very, very few people who would like to go back to the days of Christian Rome. We've all seen what modern theocracy looks like in the Middle East. If you are going to make this claim you need to be prepared to support it very well, and then you'll need to be prepared for people to start saying that if that's what Christianity is than they want no part of it. Most people would far rather live in a pluralistic, secular government with freedom to practice their religion privately that run the sorts of risks that a Christian sharia can bring. I'm not even a Christian any more and I find the claim that Jesus wanted a theocratic government to be insulting to Jesus as well as very disturbing.
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:31 PM   #103
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Here is a snippet from the same sex marriage thread I used from the [Jewish] Orthodox Union.

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...The reason we opt to express our viewpoint in a public forum is because we believe that our Divine system of law not only dictates our beliefs and behaviors, but also represents a system of universal morality, and therefore can stake a claim in the national discourse
That "Divine system" is part of what Jesus was referring to when he mentions the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not just Heaven, but Heaven and Earth united.
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:32 PM   #104
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Jesus is famous for saying, "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's." (The meaning being, pay your taxes as good citizens, but never forget that while your money reflects the image of your ruler, you reflect the image of your creator.)
Yes, never forget who your true king is - God.
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:38 PM   #105
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The big conflict among Jews during the time of Christ was about whether Israel should struggle for independence and reestablish itself as a theocracy.
I think this piece of an article does a better job of summarizing my point:

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N.T. Wright

People are expecting that God is going to send in the troops, but Jesus is saying God becomes king in the same way he wanted creation itself to work in the beginning—by seeds being sown. This is what God's kingdom is like. It's like a woman who loses a coin and finds it again. It's like a shepherd looking for sheep. It's not like clearing out the sheep over night and getting a new lot who will never ever get lost.

In the first three centuries, when the Romans were persecuting [the church] beyond belief, people still went on becoming Christians because the church was out there doing stuff. They were caring for people by looking after the poor and the lonely and the elderly. People were just flabbergasted because they had never seen anything like this before. Nobody had ever looked after, or educated, or cared for people other than their own kin or immediate special interest groups. The thought that there was a community that was just going around doing good—especially to the poor—just freaked people out.

What we've forgotten in the West—because it's in the interest of post-Enlightenment Western society to forget it—is that the church has actually radically transformed the world. For example, most of the great hospitals and educational institutions have been started by Christians . . . that's the kind of stuff the church does. These are signposts of the kingdom. This isn't bringing the kingdom in all its fullness. Only God will do that in God's good time. But God has begun to do it through Jesus, and he's continuing to do it through the Spirit.

When God wants to run the world in his way, he doesn't send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the mourners, the peacemakers, and the people hungry for justice. By the time the bullies wake up and realize what's going on, they have set up schools, built hospices, made peace, and brought warring armies back together again.
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Old 07-07-2013, 02:29 PM   #106
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That "Divine system" is part of what Jesus was referring to when he mentions the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not just Heaven, but Heaven and Earth united.
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. - Luke 17:21

The Bible, and even the lost gospels, doesn't make it sound like Jesus was setting up a theocracy. By saying the above quote, it sounded like the Kingdom Jesus wanted would be brought by people who followed God in their hearts, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in a mystical/spiritual sense. In other words, in order to bring forth the Kingdom of God, people would have to be transformed by the Spirit, and be siblings of Jesus from that, and then the Kingdom would be possible. Humans cannot set up the Kingdom with the hearts and minds they already have.
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Old 07-07-2013, 02:51 PM   #107
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Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. - Luke 17:21

The Bible, and even the lost gospels, doesn't make it sound like Jesus was setting up a theocracy. By saying the above quote, it sounded like the Kingdom Jesus wanted would be brought by people who followed God in their hearts, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in a mystical/spiritual sense. In other words, in order to bring forth the Kingdom of God, people would have to be transformed by the Spirit, and be siblings of Jesus from that, and then the Kingdom would be possible. Humans cannot set up the Kingdom with the hearts and minds they already have.
Perhaps it is more of a "Both/And" scenario vs. "Either/Or"

I agree, it is not a theocracy in the way we traditionally view it. Although - during the Second Coming, as I understand it, that is what it will be.
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Old 07-08-2013, 07:58 AM   #108
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What NT Wright is describing is more of an amillenialist position- that the Kingdom of God exists in the present, in the hearts of believers who spread it through righteous action, and who will help bring others to understand and believe in him. That is a classical Christian position, and it is very, very different to a political theocracy, which is what you mentioned in your prior comment.

Theocracy means something very particular, and they have very rarely turned out good. "Government by divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In many theocracies, government leaders are members of the clergy, and the state's legal system is based on religious law. Theocratic rule was typical of early civilizations. The Enlightenment marked the end of theocracy in most Western countries. Contemporary examples of theocracies include Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Vatican." - From the Concise Encyclopedia

I think Jesus wanted people to do their jobs righteously, whatever they were. But the evidence that Jesus was interested in reforming governments to express religion as part of a political system is extremely thin.

But it's true that Christians in a modern democracy have a question before them which is almost unique in history. They are able to take part in forming policy. How much that is unique to their own faith should be inserted as law that applies to those who don't believe?
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:04 AM   #109
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But back to the subject of birth, here's a recent article on Pitocin. It's a synthetic oxytocin which is widely used in hospitals to start and augment labors. Its use causes a lot of expensive care because something like 60% of labors started with it fail to progress to a vaginal delivery, and the babies are then born by C section, which are 2-3 times more expensive. Lots of studies have been done on its effects on maternal outcomes, but this is the first one looking at its effects on babies. ACOG - Study Finds Adverse Effects of Pitocin in Newborns

Basically, it does some things that we don't want it to do and costs the healthcare system a lot of money, so they are looking at reviewing its use and indications.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:16 AM   #110
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What NT Wright is describing is more of an amillenialist position- that the Kingdom of God exists in the present, in the hearts of believers who spread it through righteous action, and who will help bring others to understand and believe in him. That is a classical Christian position, and it is very, very different to a political theocracy, which is what you mentioned in your prior comment.
Thank you, Jeevey. I think you are certainly correct about our conventional, post-Enlightenment understanding of theocracy. However, I don't think N.T. Wright's definition fully matches what you're describing - hence, he's a bit controversial, but not in an extreme way.

I don't want to lead the discussion too far off topic, but I wanted to clarify why I said what I did, as I was influenced by N.T.Wright on this position.

Quote:
from the article "So, who's up for a little theocracy"

The theme of his [N.T. Wright] talk was “Why we’ve all misunderstood the gospels.” For him, the gospels are, at their core, a proclamation of theocracy, the news that God has actually become king.
To be fair, N.T. Wright does deviate from the classical view of theocracy that you cited - as the kingdom as he describes it exists in a more "real" way than just in the hearts of the believers.

So, who’s up for a little theocracy?
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:18 AM   #111
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But it's true that Christians in a modern democracy have a question before them which is almost unique in history. They are able to take part in forming policy. How much that is unique to their own faith should be inserted as law that applies to those who don't believe?
This is more accurately captures my intention, thank you.
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