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8 June 2015: Marcus Borg’s latest book ‘Convictions’ Chapt 8 – led by Ron

Chapt. 8 The Bible & Politics This chapter faces the issue of the DOMINATION system which has bedeilled human society since large scale population groups began about 5,000 years ago. The political context of the Bible Borg says is “the ancient domination system” characterised as rule by the few, exploitation of the rest; controlled by violence; legitimised by religion. The rulers and their supporting bureaucrats represented less than 10% of the poulation and lived relatively well; the remianing 90%+ of the population lived in poverty and the powerful kept them that way. The powerful invoked God to justify their (inhumane) actions

We thought that the relative inequality in ancient Israel became steadily worse from Moses to Jesus’s time, but since then general worldwide inequality had reduced – there is a large middle class. However there are still far, far too many real poor. The excessively rich are a direct result of ‘the market’ – which now controls us, not the other way around.

Borg gives 3 texts which have been used to justify separating Christianity and politics: Mk.12:17; John 18:36;  and Roms.13:1. The last was used in the German church under the Nazis; by the opponents of the civil rights movement;  support for the American invasion of Iraq (by 80% of the evangelical Christians in U.S.A.) and in N.Z. during the issue of playing rugby against apartheid Sth. Africa. However a more careful examination of the Greek text in v2 indicates that it more accurately reads ‘ …he who violently rebels against the authority …is rebelling against .. God …’ so it is the violence that is decried not the opposition itself. Now with so little trust in Governments and the exposure of corruption at all levels, the concept that somehow Governments or politicians speak with the authority of God is ridiculous.

Borg gives the political issues of the Bible as “economic justice and fairness, peace and non violence” ie in Jesus’s terms these are characteristics of ‘the Kingdom of God’. Jesus challenged the evil of the powerful – Rome and its local cohorts – but was not advocating revolution.

We thought the message for today was that Christians need to emerge from the safety of the Church and connect with those in society that are espousing our values whether political parties, scientists or social welfare organisations, to lobby for “economic justice, fairness, peace and non violence” on behalf of community.