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The Politics of Jesus revisited

by Leo Hartshorn
February 15, 2005

John Howard Yoder's classic book The Politics of Jesus (Eerdmans,1972; reissued 1994) has had a profound impact on how many Christians read the Bible and understand Jesus. James Wm. McClendon, Jr., a theologian within the Anabaptist tradition, was highly influenced by the book. McClendon describes its impact as being like a "second conversion." In turn, as Jim's friend and pastor, I was influenced by his passion for Anabaptism and subsequently became a Mennonite.

The Politics of Jesus taught Christians how to read the Bible and Jesus "politically." By that I mean it opened up a way to read Jesus as a nonviolent revolutionary who confronted the religious and political powers of his day and had an explicit social agenda grounded in a vision of God's reign.

Since The Politics of Jesus was published, many others have read the Bible through the lens of the social sciences, political theory and new understandings of the social situation of first-century Palestine under Roman occupation. New studies have brought to the foreground even more political implications of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

I have tried to compile and simplify a number of the implications of these political readings of the Gospels. These readings make it difficult to deny that Jesus and the Gospels have a social and political vision. These insights into the Gospels and Jesus provide the peacemaker and justice-seeker with a vision and model of social and political engagement.

continue here: http://peace.mennolink.org/cgi-bin/m.pl?a=172

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Jesus Political?


The Didache, a work valued by the early church fathers, may well give a very early description of the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. Although not a part of the New Testament, some believe the original was written about the same time as the Gospels.
Chapters (1-6) are instructive. They're very short. The rest may have been added later.
I don't see anything political here. Slavery is taken for granted. Perhaps Jesus transcends politics by being relevant in any political situation.

A Way of Life

Or Teachings of the Twelve Apostles.
The Lord's teaching to the heathen by the Twelve Apostles.

the Duae Viae

CHAPTER 1 : the way of life puts the two ways in evidence

1:1 There are two ways : one of life and one of death. There are great differences between these two ways.
1:2 The way of life is this : first, you must love God who made you. Second, you must love your neighbour as yourself. Whatsoever you would not want someone to do to you, do not do that to another.
1:3 Now, these are our teachings : Bless those that curse you, pray for your enemies, and fast for those that persecute you. For what credit is it to you if you love those that love you ? Do not even the heathen do the same ? But, for your part, love those that hate you, and you will have no enemy.
1:4 Abstain from carnal and bodily lusts. If any man strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also, and you will be perfect. If any man impress you to go with him one mile, go with him two. If any man takes your coat, give him your shirt also. If any man will take from your what is yours, refuse it not.
1:5 Give to everyone that asks you, and do not refuse, for the Father's will is that we give to all from the gifts we have received. Blessed is he that gives according to the mandate ; for he is guiltless. Woe to him who receives without need. For if any man receive alms under pressure of need he is innocent. But he who receives it without need shall be tried as to why he took and for what, and being in prison he shall be examined as to his deeds, and he shall not come out until everything owed is paid.
1:6 But concerning this it was also said to let your alms sweat into your hands until your know to who you should give.

CHAPTER 2 : list of forbidden activities

2:1 The second commandment of the teaching is this :
2:2 You must not murder ; you must not commit adultery ; your must not molest children ; you must not commit fornication ; you must not steal ; you must not use magic ; you must not use poisenous philtres ; you must not procure abortion nor commit infanticide ; you must not covet your neighbour's goods.
2:3 You must not commit perjury ; you must not bear false witness ; you must not speak evil ; you must not hold grudges.
2:4 You must not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is the snare of death.
2:5 Your speech must not be false nor vain, but completed in action.
2:6 You must never be greedy, nor accumulate riches, be a hypocrite, malignant, or proud. You must make no evil plan against your neighbour.
2:7 You must hate no man. But some you must reprove, and for some you must pray, and some you must love more than your own life.

CHAPTER 3 : list of forbidden and prescribed attitudes

3:1 My child, flee from everything evil and from all that resembles it.
3:2 Be not proud, for pride leads to murder, nor jealous, nor contentious, nor passionate, for all these lead to murder.
3:3 My child, be not lustful, for lust leads to fornication, nor a speaker of base words, nor a lifter up of the eyes, for all these lead to adultery.
3:4 My child, regard not omens, for this leads to idolatry. Neither be an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a magician, neither wish to see these things, for all these lead to idolatry.
3:5 My child, be not a liar, for lying leads to theft, nor a lover of money, nor vain-glorious, for all these lead to theft.
3:6 My child, be not a grumbler, for this leads to blasphemy, nor stubborn, nor a thinker of evil, for all these lead to blasphemies.
3:7 But be meek, for the meek shall inherit the earth.
3:8 Be long-suffering, and merciful and guileless, and quiet, and good, and ever fearing the words which you have heard.
3:9 Never seek to exalt yourself, nor let your soul be presumptuous. Your soul must not consort with the lofty, but you must walk with righteous and humble men.
3:10 Receive the accidents that befall you as good, knowing that nothing happens apart from God.

CHAPTER 4 : various precepts

4:1 My child, you must remember, day and night, him who speaks the word of God to you, and you must honour him as the Lord, for where the Kingdom is spoken of the Lord is present.
4:2 And you must daily seek the presence of the saints, so that you may find rest in their words.
4:3 You must not desire a schism, but must reconcile those that strive. You must give righteous judgment. You must favour no man in reproving transgression.
4:4 You must not be of two minds, undecided.
4:5 Be not one with hands to receive, but shutting them when it comes to giving.
4:6 Whatever you have gained by your hands shall be given as a ransom for your sins.
4:7 You must not hesitate to give, nor grumble when you give, for you shall know who is the good Paymaster of the reward.
4:8 You must not turn away the needy, but share everything with your brother, and never say that your goods are your own, for if you share in the imperishable, how much more in the things which perish ?
4:9 You must never neglect your son or daughter, but you must teach them from their youth up the fear of God.
4:10 You must not command in anger your slave or maid if they hope in the same God, lest they cease to fear God who is over you both. For He comes not to call men with respect of persons, but those whom the Spirit has prepared.
4:11 But you who are slaves must be subject to your master, in reverence and fear, as if your master represented God.
4:12 You must hate all hypocrisy, and everything that is not pleasing to the Lord.
4:13 You must never forsake the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, adding nothing to it and taking nothing away.
4:14 In the congregation you must confess your transgressions, and you must never approach your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life.

CHAPTER 5 : the way of death

5:1 But the way of death is this : first of all, it is evil and full of maledictions : murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, charms, robberies, false testimonies, hypocrisy, a double heart, fraud, pride, malice, arrogance, greed, foul speech, jealousy, impudence, disdain, boastfulness.
5:2 Persecutors of the good, haters of truth, lovers of lies, knowing not the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good nor to righteous judgment, awake not for good but for evil, from whom gentleness and patience is far, lovers of vanity, chasing reward, unmerciful to the poor, not working for the afflicted, without knowledge of their Creator, murderers of children, corrupters of God's creation, turning their backs to the needy, oppressing the distressed, advocates of the rich, unjust judges of the poor, altogether utterly sinful. Children, flee from these people !

CHAPTER 6 : the false teachers worship dead gods

6:1 See that no one leads you away from the way of this teaching, for they teach you without God.
6:2 If then you are able to bear the Lord's yoke fully, you will be perfect, but if you can not, then do your best.
6:3 And concerning food, bear what you can, but never eat from that which is offered to idols, for that is seen as worship of the dead gods.

What Bible "version" is this?

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ;

"where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty." 2 Cor. 3:17


Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

In The LORD Jesus Christ;

"where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty." 2 Cor. 3:17


It's not part of any Bible.

As we know the New Testament was created from Christian literature in the 4th century. Although popular the Didache was not included. It was used by early Jewish Christians.
Many if not all verses correspond to those in the Gospels. Whether they came from the Gospels or have a common source, who knows? It was used as a handbook or catechism in the early church.

The kingdom of Christ is not

The kingdom of Christ is not subject to politics ..People just want to use it as such ...Read for yourself instead of listening to fables..
The purpose is to change what comes out of a person ..
It has NOTHING to do with killing non believers.
It has to do with changing, their HEART, CORE, or what makes them do what they do.
Good people do Good deeds
Good people make it happen

The Kingdom of God is in you.

It's very individualistic.
Free yourself.


Hear, O Israel: YHUH our God YHUH one. And thou shalt love YHUH thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

hypothetical, of course

What if you gave this post a lot of thought, did some research, and discovered that the politics of Jesus differed from your own?

Jesus' politics = A, your politics = not A

If you were uncomfortable with that cognitive dissonance, would you turn away from Jesus or would you turn away from your politics?

What's more important, your religion or your politics?

Fortunately, Jesus taught through parables, which are like poetry, and you can pretty much intrepret them any way you want. And then his teachings have been adulterated through 2000 years of a game of telephone played by a wide variety of historical characters, so who can possibly be sure of the original intent and meaning? So know one really has to deal with any cognitive dissonance because Jesus is whoever you want him to be. For me, for example, he was a zen psychologist who wanted his pupils to discover enlightenment, which is to say, freedom from the illusions of rhetoric. Crazy, huh?

Actually, back before I was a Christian

I was a radical 60's socialist rebel. It wasn't until after I became a Christian and studied the Bible, and other Biblical scholars that I came to the present liberty loving viewpoint, because of what I learned.

Posts like this make me miss the Unicorns and Fairies thread.


this is my first revolution.

I am trying to find a place where my beliefs about liberty can take root. I am trying to rally the troops for freedom. I have found that the Mormons place family above all else. they are very secular in that regard. I also find that they place a high value on self-reliance and frugality.
can you name another group that places such a high regard for the US constitution? I think not.
religion, like money, has a very powerful effect on the human condition.
I am a Deist btw. just as the founders were.

" the important thing is to never stop questioning, curiousity, has it's own reason for existing..
Albert Einstien

The Bible is clear about this,

For instance, the Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver, but how can one be a cheerful giver if property isn't one's own? And how can one be a cheerful giver if one's money is taken away to give to another?
That is pretty simplistic, I realize. Dr. Gary North, liberty lover, quoted on the dp often, has a book about what the Bible says about money called "Honest Money". He also has a book called "Tools for Dominion", which is about government and what the Bible says about it. Both of those books are on the net to read free of charge. My daughter is reading them this year as part of her govt. curriculum. Another book she is studying is called "God and Government" series by Gary DeMar. It shows how the Bible is teaching "self government" rather than what we have now. From my reading of the Bible, God wants us to have liberty. He warned the people in the Old Testament about wanting a king, and the repercussions of it. It wasn't God's idea to have a king, it was the desire of the people, wanting to be like the other nations. Sheeple, seems we havn't changed.


Clearly God went against earthly government by sending Joseph & Mary to Egypt during the revolution to kill all 2 year olds. Jesus didn't pay taxes, ate with sinners and reformed prostitutes. He called religious leaders hypocrites and vipers (doesn't sound meek & mild to me). And no Jesus was not a communist - communists don't believe in God - he was God in the flesh.

Detective Krum Investigates:

Detective Krum Investigates:

Jesus did pay His taxes &

Jesus did pay His taxes & rendered unto Ceaser what was Ceaser's..He ate & dwelt amoug sinners because that is who He came to call to salvation...Rightious people do not need salvation & neither do selfrightious persons, as in Sadducees & Pherisees & Scribes..This group of Rightious men thought they could save themselves by obeying the law of Moses..The law is mearly given to show the way to salvation..Jesus said " I am the way ,the truth & the life..No other could say this with out being the only one who could fullfill the law & remove the curse, which is,"the wages of sin ( or disobeying what God knew to be best for man), is Spiritual Death"..Salvation regenerates what was lost in the Garden, with a new twist ..It now gives a person the power to overcome sin nature..Therefore a man can now become a NEW creation in that , Christ ( or GOD ) now lives within the individual...The individual NOW become the Holy Temple..God made man a better Creation than before the fall..Satan was defeated by the sheding of Christ's blood & now awaits the carrying out of Satan's sentance,= death in the spirit realm...Satan knows that he has a short time & is scrambling even now.Satan did not know about the plan of God laying down HIS own life for mankind..For God so loved HIS Creation ,HE layed down HIS life for it, even when IT hated HIM...How shall any escape after exhibiting so marvelous a LOVE ?
Good people do Good deeds
Good people make it happen

"Jesus did pay His taxes &

"Jesus did pay His taxes & rendered unto Ceaser what was Ceaser's."

But he also said "and unto God the things that are God’s." If all things belong to God then no things belong to Caesar. Jesus said we don't have to give anything to Caesar because all things belong to God. Plus, if like you say, Jesus is God, then he had no obligation to give anything to Caesar because he(Jesus) owned all things.

Free yourself.


Hear, O Israel: YHUH our God YHUH one. And thou shalt love YHUH thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

It said he paid his taxes.

We can assume this consisted of a monetary transfer to the state. The state being the emperor. The emperor being a Ceaser. So yeah...



I'll bite.

seems I read a comment awhile back stateing that Christianity is inherently anti-socialist / communist. is this accurate? I don't know.
I have recently discovered while researching about Utah and Mormons. [I will be moving there soon] that it is part of the actual doctrine of mormons that the us constitution was ordained by god. the mormons are SERIOUS liberty lovers!
free state utah?

" the important thing is to never stop questioning, curiousity, has it's own reason for existing..
Albert Einstien

Are you a Mormon

Your concept is not what I have learned. Romney is a Mormon and he is a CFR New World Order puppet. Mormons are all about the NWO from what I have read. I am not Mormon and I am very disappointed to learn this. Wondering why our perceptions are so totally different???

I am a Mormon and I can

I am a Mormon and I can attest that every election we are admonished to seek out candidates who uphold the constitution even though the church never tells us who to vote for. It is our belief that the constitution of the United States is inspired by God and it is our duty to uphold it. It is true that there are a lot of non thinking Mormons, (myself included until I found out about Dr. Paul) who support Romney just because he is a mormon in good standing. There are a lot of church members who just don't seem to put two and two together but a lot of us are waking up as well. I give Mitt the benefit of the doubt that he is not evil but that he is misguided or just doesn't get the constitution the same way that Dr. Paul gets it and it is a shame. Please don't judge the church entirely by its members. If I had done that, I couldn't have stayed in the church considering Harry Reid is also a Mormon. I am attaching a link to very articulate and consititional loving Mormon's blog on politics.


while partially true, far from entirely

Go check out Church Mormon Church leaders like Ezra Taft Benson, Cleon Skousen, and David O McKay. These guy's were die hard constitutionalists. There is a current strain of Rhino Mormonism that supports Romney etc..but there is also a very strong constitution loving segment.

check this out!

go to and read the first paragraph under theodemocracy.
here is the proof. #'s 5 and 6.


" the important thing is to never stop questioning, curiousity, has it's own reason for existing..
Albert Einstien

Is Jesus a Socialist?

Do you think Jesus would support a socialist agenda, such as having healthcare as a right (i.e. government run healthcare) or would he be a libertarian where the government stays completely out of healthcare?

Well ...

In JC's time socialism was not a term.

Words meant things back then.

But if you ask me ...

JC would give Ceasar all his wealth while still spreading the message of freedom.

In fact ...

I consider this the ...


God Bless.

I wish you well on your journey.


Uh...now Rhino....

....have you ever actually read the Gospels?

At least as many years as I spent in K thru 12.

Not to mention ...

I listen to an excert every Sunday.

God Bless.


Not a socialist

Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All power is invested with Him. So, He's no underling of some political party or movement.

Jesus wasn't a socialist.

Socialism, like all other man-made attempts to solve the world's problems, fails as it requires force to accomplish its ends. Force, either through confiscation of money via taxes, or armed force when you don't want to hand your wealth over.

The Lord's Kingdom does nothing by force. God loves a cheerful giver and encourages individuals to care for the poor, widows and orphans using the giver's own money and time. Nowhere in the Bible do you find an example of the Govt. of Israel, or in the New Testament of forced giving to solve problems typical of the ones we find today.





And the Translation of that is....


Oh sorry. I'll make sure to only present translations which

you find acceptable to your viewpoint.