To argue that Jesus was not political is to disregard everything he stood for. While many claim that Jesus was solely focused on individual morality, in fact, Jesus was calling for a restructuring of the socio-political terrain of his time. We cannot forget that Jesus lived in a highly politicized culture during the 1st century when the Roman Empire wielded its power over Israel and its people. This course will examine what the politics of Jesus were, how they ultimately led to his crucifixion, and how they continue to relate to our political system in the 21st century.
- To understand the historical political climate of Jesus’ time
- To recognize how the Gospels and teachings of Jesus address the socio-political climate and call for radical change
- To have the ability to apply Jesus’ politics to social policy in the 21st century
- John Dominic Crossan, God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now (New York: HarperCollins, 2007).
- Obery Henricks, Jr., The Politics of Jesus (New York: DoubleDay, 2006).
- Douglas Oakman, Jesus, Debt, and the Lord’s Prayer: First-Century Debt and Jesus’ Intentions (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014).
- Susan Thistlethwait, #OCCUPYTheBible: What Jesus Really Said (and Did) About Money and Power (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013).
- Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz, Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2016).
- John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994). 2nd Edition.
- Brandon Ambrosino, “Jesus’ Radical Politics.” The Boston Globe. April 1, 2015. https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/04/01/jesus-radical-politics/txdjkQSMn3BWPBgciEbgZP/story.html
- Brad Chilcott, “Jesus was on the Side of the Poor and Exploited: Christian Politicians Should Remember That.” The Guardian. April 13, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/14/jesus-was-on-the-side-of-the-poor-and-exploited-christian-politicians-should-remember-that
- Stanley Hauerwas, “When the Politics of Jesus Makes a Difference.” The Christian Century. October 13, 1993. http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=109
- Stephen Mattson. “When Christians Love Political Power More than People.” Sojourners. June 20, 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-messinadysert/the-politics-of-being-a-w_b_7995976.html
- _____. “American Christianity Has Failed.” Sojourners. January 25, 2017. https://sojo.net/articles/american-christianity-has-failed.
- Bryan Roberts, “7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics.” Relevant Magazine. February 1, 2016. https://sojo.net/articles/10-political-things-you-cant-do-while-following-jesus.
- Rabbi A. James Rudin, “The Dangerous Perversion of Religion and Politics.” Sojourners. February 28, 2017. https://sojo.net/articles/dangerous-perversion-religion-and-politics.
- Mark Sandlin, “10 Political Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus.” Sojourners. June 12, 2013. https://sojo.net/articles/10-political-things-you-cant-do-while-following-jesus.
- Sojourners: www.sojo.net
- Religion Dispatches: www.religiondispatches.org
- The Immanent Frame: http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/
- Feminism and Religion: www.feminismandreligion.com
- Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs: https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu
- The Revealer: https://wp.nyu.edu/therevealer/
WEEK 1: Historical Background and Context
In this first week, we will discuss the historical time that Jesus lived and how the Roman occupation shaped his understanding and teachings about politics, compassion, and focus on a socially just community.
WEEK 2: The Political Strategies of Jesus
In week two we will discuss the carefully considered strategies and tactics Jesus developed to address the ongoing oppression and his focus on developing a new world order of transformed human relationships.
WEEK 3: Jesus and Social Policy
In week three we will examine current social policy and how the teachings of Jesus apply. We will also discuss voting patterns among Christians and how they relate to the Gospels.
WEEK 4: The Christian Right and the Religious Left
In the final week of class, we will continue our discussion on Jesus and social policy in the 21st century and conclude with a look at the different religious factions that have developed and how they seek to impact politics in the name of Jesus.