First the Gospel, Then Politics …

John C. Rankin

My calling is to serve the goal of “theologically educated people in politics.” Hence, the Theological Education Institute, and the widest range of biblical subjects and political issues that need to be addressed. It was a surprise when it came – not at all my focus – and I have labored ever since to get the theological foundation properly in place. “Theology” comes from two Greek roots – theos for God and logos for word, i.e., “God’s word” or “the study of God’s word,” i.e., that which is biblical.

In May, 1982, I was taking a shower — which is not to say I have not done so in the meantime. I was having a shadow-box debate with then Massachusetts Governor Edward J. King, and the once and twice future Governor Michael S. Dukakis. They were competing in the Democratic Party primary.

Though not politically wired, the issues mattered, and while a student in seminary, I was paying attention. After a lull in this debate, I said to them: “Gentlemen. Don’t you realize that for everything you say you care about, the answers are in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Silence.

So I prayed: “Lord, don’t these gentlemen realize that everything they say they care about is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” As if the Lord had any other opinion — I was just ratifying it in classic rabbinic dialogic prayer.

So I continued, in a life changing surprise turn: “Lord, you need some theologically educated people in politics.” His answer came to the depth of my soul at one of those moments of utter clarity: “John — good idea. Any suggestions?”

I threw my hands in the air and said, “Lord, you know I would never go anywhere where I would have to compromise my faith.” I had some deep assumptions that politics continually swallow up the integrity of people who join its world. But the Lord answered with the same clarity: “Maybe your faith is not big enough.”

Ever since, I have sought to grow my faith enough to make it “first the Gospel, then politics …” And the word “politics,” from the Greek polis, refers to the walled city in which culture and social order is maintained against external disorder. Far more than just government, but fully inclusive of it.

What is the ratio of order versus disorder in the United States and the rest of the world today? And where is the Gospel being lived and taught in such a way to make a difference? “For lack of guidance a nation fails, but many advisers make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). What biblically literate political leaders and advisers are in the loop in today’s governing circles?

The theology of First the Gospel, Then Politics … represents the trajectory of my various books and thus website, and is most simply and strategically advanced in the Pre-Partisan Caucus.


  1. Questions for Governor Ned Lamont (click here).
  2. Emancipation Party (click here).
  3. The Liberty Law (click here).
  4. Intercessory Prayer and Politics (click here).
  5. Mars Hill Forum #123: Church and State (click here).
  6. Samuel in the Face of Saul: The Hebrew Paradigm for Politics (click here).
  7. Political Theology 101 (click here).
  8. The Theology of God, Life, Choice, Sex = the Politics of Creator, Life, Liberty, Property (click here).
  9. Unalienable Rights: Of the Reformation or the Enlightenment? (click here).
  10. The Pre-Partisan Caucus (PPC) (click here).
  11. The Pre-Partisan Political Platform (click here).
  12. The Good and Dangerous Prayer: A Seminar: “Our Father in Heaven” (click here).
  13. Two Wall Charts on Human Freedom (click here).
  14. Non Binding Questions That Can Change Politics (click here).
  15. Resolution #1: The Creator, Science and Public Eduction (click here).
  16. Resolution #2: Human Abortion and a Process of Informed Choice (click here).
  17. Resolution #3: Human Abortion and Male Irresponsibility (click here).
  18. Resolution #4: Human Sexuality and Civil Rights (click here).
  19. Resolution #5: Affirmative Action (click here).
  20. Resolution #6: Drugs and Crime (click here).
  21. Resolution #7: Recitation in the Public Schools (click here).
  22. Lawsuit Promised Against the Declaration of Independence (click here).
  23. Is Barack Obama’s “Post-Partisan” Language Biblical? (click here).
  24. Mars Hill Forum # 39: The ACLU and Unalienable Rights (click here).
  25. A Visit to the ACLU Headquarters (click here).
  26. I Once Took a Shower … (click here).
  27. The Mission Field of Politics (click here).
  28. Mars Hill Forum #148: “Was the United States Established as a Christian Nation? (click here).
  29. Big Daddy Government or our Heavenly Father? (click here).
  30. The Consent of the Governed: Can We Keep It? (click here).
  31. When Biblical Prophets Challenge Political Power (click here).
  32. What Would Jesus Do About the Size of Human Government? (click here).
  33. Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (click here).
  34. Mars Hill Forum #101 with Professor Nadine Strossen, Esq., president of the ACLU: “What is the Proper Relationship Between Religion and Government? (click here).
  35. Mars Hill Forum #118: Religion, the ACLU and Controversial Topics (click here).
  36. Questions for “God’s Politics” by Jim Wallis of Sojourners (click here).
  37. Mars Hill Forum #123: Time for a new metaphor to replace “Wall of Separation between Church and State” (click here).
  38. Occam’s Razor and the Reformation of Law (click here).
  39. Integrity in Religion and Politics: Jesus, Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer (click here).
  40. Four Resolutions for the U.S. Congress (click here).
  41. James Madison and the Size of Government (click here).
  42. We are all Partisans (click here).
  43. Notes on Irenaeus to Grotius (click here).
  44. (click here).
  45. Preamble and Declaration of Rights in Proposed Rewrite of Connecticut Constitution and Laws (click here).
  46. Emancipation Party Annual Membership (click here).
  47. Emancipation Party: The Pre-Partisan and the Six Pillars of Honest Politics (click here).
  48. Emancipation Party: The Name (click here).
  49. Emancipation Party: Article 1 Declaration of Rights in Proposed Connecticut Rewrite (click here).
  50. Emancipation Party: 30 Definitive Points in Proposed Connecticut Rewrite (click here).
  51. Emancipation Party: Scheduled Events (click here).