State Within the Church
The debate used to be legality of the church entering the state. Now, there is a real threat that we as Biblical and theological researchers must address: The legality so to speak, in our circles, of the state invading the church! I have long been a follower of the scholarly circle of theological discourse. Unfortunately, several times over the past year or so, I have unfortunately pushed away from keeping up with the published world that the biblical scholars have established. During the 2004 Presidential election campaigns, we have listened to the ever increasing debate over values issues and the role of religion within our sociopolitical structure. I think it is fair to say that the recent polarization of the country, politics has begun to seep into just about every aspect of our lives. Somehow, and it is quite unfortunate that this is true, every discussion centres around whether he/she is a “lib” or a “neocon”. Today was my first opportunity in a long while to sit down and reacquaint myself with the study of theology. I thought I would be going back to “the old days” where I would have the opportunity to read heavily detailed (and heated) papers over Christiology and Trinitarian doctrine. Unfortunately, my worst fears had been confirmed. Browsing through the corners of the Internet, I faced time and again theological sites with political stances. It was utterly disheartening.
The Problems That Arise
This is an extremely sad state of affairs, to say the least. While activism in one’s society is no doubt a noble activity, I submit that there is no place within critical inquiry of religious matters addressed by Christians and skeptics alike to promote a political platform. In the first place, modern governmental models have no relevance whatsoever in ancient historical research. If anything, we should be adhering to political ideology of 2000, to place everything within its proper context. Otherwise, we are left with a superimposition of revisionist history, and our list of sources relies upon Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh; watered down content will not even come close to touching what we will be.
There is no better a place for the cart before the horse problem to manifest itself than here. Our political ideals should never shape our philosophy. In proper logical order, our philosophy should shape our political ideology.
Some Final Thoughts
I have just about rambled long enough. But I would like to close by asking that all scholars, religious and secular, to keep politics out of the scholarly circle. It doesn’t fit; the only thing that can come is hostility. Add to that, readers who might be educated about the serious implications of modern theological research can be turned away in an instant, by some trivial political comment. The matters of the comingling of religion and politics has its place in the governmental theory ring. But it never belongs in textual criticism. Let’s keep the boards away from the influence of bureaucrats. Research does not need governmental support. Thank you.