Thinking Aloud About Political Philosophy

John C. Rankin (April 10, 2008)

Let me think aloud for a few moments, with some of the many questions my son Stuart and I were bouncing around Tuesday concerning the vision in my recent book, The Six Pillars of Honest Politics: The Biblical Nature of a Level Playing Field.

  • In church history, where has there been a political philosophy which does more than address the questions of how Christians live in the tension between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of God? In other words, is there a real political philosophy, biblically rooted, that can actually transform the way the larger society does politics?
  • Can the Gospel truly touch the political world without turning it upside down? Any other result would only be due to a watered down faith. The kingdom of God, as it addresses the kingdoms of this world, invites all people ultimately to join the kingdom of God, and this is the only way to bring justice, mercy and truth into human culture.

For those who have read T.S. Kuhn’s classic work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, we understand the social energies which are necessary to accomplish a “paradigm shift.” I guess I have been aiming at this for at least 25 years now. Do the three following statements equal such a paradigm shift?

  • Pre-partisan politics = the basis for healthy partisan politics. This is the nature of the six pillars.
  • The biblical nature of a level playing field is the only basis to accomplish such honest politics.
  • This Jesus did during Passover Week, in the face of his enemies, and as the basis for our very salvation.

And, thus, some further questions:

  • How does such a paradigm shift gain traction in our increasingly chaotic political life?
  • Biblically, if the church is one, as Jesus prayed for us, this can happen in a disciplined way.
  • If not, history teaches us that political paradigm shifts only happen in times of deep crisis, usually with great bloodshed, and not always for the better.
  • Does the church today have a vision for truly lifting up the name of Jesus in the face of increasing political chaos?