First the Gospel, Then Politics …

John C. Rankin

For many years, the lead motto of the TEI was First the Gospel, Then Politics … It is as vital as ever, but now subsumed under the all-inclusive The Power to Love Hard Questions.

The Gospel is ultimate, and human politics are penultimate. It is very easy to make an idol out of human politics – whether in terms of ego, party or issue – and thus forfeit the Gospel. Unless the Gospel is first in every breath of our being, unless our citizen ship in the kingdom of God defines all, we cannot see politics redeemed to advance justice and mercy for all people equally. And to make it first the Gospel, then politics …, we need to be a biblically literate people.

By “politics,” the Greek term polis refers to the orderly culture within the city walls, protected against invaders and wild animals. Thus, for Christians today, it includes all the institutions that guard civil order: the family and the church, government (including the military), education, media, business, science (including medicine) and the arts. The Gospel, a word in the New Testament Greek, euangelion, means “good news,” and is rooted ultimately in the biblical order of creation in Genesis 1-2, where all was made “good” (tov). On this page, the focus is on the use of “politics” as referring to the government.