A reflection on political theology

By Nolijen Wahing

We can’t deny the fact that horrible incidents such as crimes, injustices, poverty, killings, and other depressing crisis still hunt us up to this day. We are all affected, we are all fighting against it, one way or another. But as Evangelicals, where are we in this fight? What does our theology tell us about this? How does our theology influence us in terms of social engagement?

Sadly, it seems noticeable that Evangelical churches are quite aloof to engage in discourses like these. Social problems are frequently dismissed and rather regarded more as a spiritual concern. For instance, we often view crimes and killings as an issue of immorality and therefore we rely on the grace and sovereignty of God for salvation, instead of actively addressing the root cause of the issue. We rather pray and surrender the problems to God, than getting our hands dirty. We look at these things as too political, too secular, and therefore none of which should be our business. This tells us that we never really had developed a robust and wide political theology.

The thought is rather disappointing, isn’t it? But how did we come this far?

July this year, Penuel hosted a Political Theology class, which aimed to grapple and shed light to these pressing issues. The attempt was indeed successful as we were able to engage ourselves with discourses on politics, religion, and historical events that helped us put the pieces together. I realized that, church issues should not be divorced from philosophical and sociological dialogues. We need to use interdisciplinary methods to investigate the issues at hand, most especially in developing a sound political theology, ultimately, from the lens of human rights.

And so, I think the great challenge for us Evangelicals would be to genuinely rethink and develop a kind of theology that is not disconnected to the realities of this world. We have to learn to dialogue with the concerns outside the four corners of our church buildings. Furthermore, even Jesus himself never turned a blind eye towards the issues of his times. He had developed his own political consciousness, obviously displayed through his works of compassion for the marginalized and revolutionary actions against the oppressive rulers. Again, how is your theology influence you in in terms of social engagement? How does it view the basic human rights?

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