Wednesday 31 March 2010

Andy Flannagan on Reading the Bible Politically

Notes from a seminar at the London launch of Biblefresh (30 March 2010):

Andy started by saying that it’s an exciting time to be involved in politics and the public life of the nation, not least because of current high levels of interest on the part of churches in issues of public life.

He noted the importance of working appropriately on the inside and the outside. In 1 Kings 18, for instance, Elijah stands on the outside bringing a prophetic challenge, but Obadiah has a position within the state – an example of how different people are called to different things. Likeise today, there are many agencies and local Christians speaking from the ‘outside’, and there are others seeking to be salt and light within the political world itself.

Andy then took us on a journey through the whole of Scripture – looking briefly at every biblical book or collection of books – to show that all the way through there are points of significance about God and government. (This part was too full and too fast to make decent notes, but the talks will at some point in the near future be made available on the Biblefresh website for those who would like to chase this up.)

Given the amount of compelling evidence of God’s interest in ‘politics’, Andy asked those gathered why more folks had not fleshed this out in the reality of everyday life. Various answers were offered, including that we have privatised our faith, that we are concerned about the possible degree of compromise people have to enter into in politics, that it is never preached about in church, and that we don’t think of Jesus as a ‘political’ animal.

Andy recommended N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope, which lays out the vision for the restoration and redemption of all things, and the importance of demonstrating the presence of the kingdom whenever we’re involved in acts of redemption.

He also directed us to a website – Susa – containing helpful resources for people to get politically engaged.

Other books recommended were Richard Bauckham, The Bible in Politics, Nick Spencer and Jonathan Chaplin (eds.), God and Government, and Krish Kandiah, Just Politics (Authentic).

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