Friday, October 22, 2010

Political thought and the Bible

Year Two of the GBWW series focuses on political thought and government.  Continuing with that theme, the next readings are centered on the development of government in Judeo-Christian society and the earliest records from this tradition come from the Bible.

Our government has been influenced by numerous sources, including the feudal kingdoms of Europe. The kings of the Middle Ages traced their supreme authority back to the Jewish King David, who was selected by God to rule Israel. The idea of a divinely appointed ruler originated here and that belief was carried forward for 2000 years. 
Since God chose his own representative to rule man on Earth, the kings of Europe were absolute monarchs over the temporal world.  This principle had great consequences the political destinies of both men and countries, and no doubt contributed the "separation of church and state" which is bed rock principle of our own government.

The four texts of the Bible that GBWW directs us to read for this section include two Old Testament texts (The Books of Samuel and Kings) and two New Testament works (The Gospel of Matthew and Acts of the Apostles).

A tangential comment, the God in the Old and New Testaments seems quite different.  In the Old Testament, God seems more capricious and less tolerant of dissension - more like an ancient Greek or Roman god.  In contrast the New Testament God seeks out the lost sheep (prostitutes, tax collectors, etc) and would rather guide than punish.  For me, reading the New Testament invokes many memories of Sunday school and church services, however, the Old Testament feels much more foreign and unfamiliar.  I am looking forward to reading more of both in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment