Many people strongly wish God to have no politics whatsoever, lest they themselves have to reconsider their own political loyalties. Yet it is clear from the Bible that God does have political requirements, specifically those central to the Torah and the legendary covenant with Moses:

The things God makes available to the world are for the (physical, mental, emotional &/or spiritual) nourishment of everybody, are not intended to be used for anyone enriching themselves personally by hoarding, buying or selling them to anyone else's detriment. This doesn't imply imposing a sterile ideal of equality, but does demand that even "the least among you" have enough.

The historically plausible stories of Jesus' sayings and actions, of why these were specifically offensive to "the rich" of his countrymen, including above all the Herodian rulers, the Jewish High Priests, and the Roman authorities they relied on and served -- depict him speaking forcefully in support of "justice, mercy, and faithfulness" [to God & that covenant] as the essential requirements their practice omitted.

People listened eagerly to a message they knew to be true -- but the outcome was settled by the worldly alliance of Temple wealth and prestige with Roman military force.

Jesus might conceivably have found ways to employ those powers -- but the outcome (as with the Maccabean Revolt) would have been the same old injustice and brutality in a changed form. He was not calling down legions of angels to make him some new kind of tyrant, but simply speaking the truth until his enemies killed him for it.

Recently I found a translation by Johan Maurer of a passage from an interview with Anthony Bloom, speaking of the Russian Orthodox Church (but resonating profoundly with the Quaker tradition):

------------

No party at all should be able to claim the Church as its own, but at the same time the Church is not non-party, or above parties. She must be the voice of a conscience illuminated by the Light of God. In the ideal state, the Church must be in a condition to speak to any party, any movement: "This is worthy of humanity and of God, and that is not." Of course, this can be done from either of two positions: either from a position of strength, or from a position of complete helplessness. It seems to me -- and I'm deeply convinced of this -- that the Church must never speak from a position of strength. The Church must not be one of the powers operating in this or that government; she must be, if you like, just as powerless as God, Who does not coerce, Who only calls us and reveals the beauty and truth of things, but doesn't enforce them on us; Who, similarly to the way our consciences work, points out the truth, but leaves us free to listen to truth and beauty -- or to refuse them. It seems to me that this is how the Church should be. If the Church takes its place among those organizations that have power, that are able to force and direct events, then there will always be the risk that she would find power desirable; and as soon as the Church begins to dominate, she loses the most profound thing, the love of God, and an understanding of those who need salvation rather than the works of destruction and rebuilding.  [in http://blog.canyoubelieve.me/2013/09/exceptional-pride-usa-and-russ... ]

---

Quakers care about outcomes and their effect on people (so far as we're Christian we have to be) -- but so far as we're following God, we're under those same constraints. God did not object when ancient Israelites won their battles with military force -- but did object to them depending on it, to them relying on any power except God. Nothing stops us from relying on political argument, clever reframing of issues, marches, rallies, outright propaganda campaigns or any form of electoral politics to achieve some good result.

But all around us we see how the world operates when people try to control it by such means. It doesn't look like the Kingdom, does it?

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A few additional responses:

I don't regard wikipedia as a reliable source.  Just saying.  My comments about the nature of ideological thought isn't original; I'm not saying anything new.  Not all systems of thought are ideological.  I think this is difficult for modern people to see because modernity is embedded in ideological constructions and is difficult to step outside of that way of thinking.

Let me offer an example of a non-ideological system of thought; Platonism.  Platonism has some definite metaphysical assumptions, but in contrast to ideological systems Platonism is more open-ended as to how these assumptions are to be understood.  I think this goes back to Plato's Dialogues, many of which end inconclusively and are therefore inherently open-ended.  Add the fact that Plato sometimes changes his mind from dialogue to the next, and his use of parables and allegories to illuminate his own insights, and instead of a rigid system you have an occasion for conversation about certain issues and how to look at them.  That is why Aristotle, Plotinus, Hypatia, Ficino, Anne Conway, Alfred North Whitehead, et al can be Platonists and disagree about many specifics.  

In contrast ideologies are closed systems which are to be learned and accepted; Marxism is the best example of this.  And it is this attitude towards their own system, this attitude of having a closed system, which leads to totalitarian results.

When it comes to something like the Gospels, one of the interesting aspects of them is that there is almost no theology in them.  Like Plato they contain a variety of textual types such as parable, allegory, and conversation.  But our tendency is to insist and impose upon them an ideological way of looking at the world that, in my opinion, they simply do not embody.  The Gospels are not a manifesto for political reform.  

Best wishes.

Wikipedia is a correctable source. While it's quite possible for most people interested in a subject to be wrong about it, people with other perspectives and sufficient pigheadedness can get their take included. What it shows in this particular case is that there does exist a wide range of usage and interpretation. Hence neither of us gets to wrestle it into compliance with whatever meaning we'd like to give it.

What you said initially was that Jesus was "not ideological" -- by which you seem to mean 1) that his message did not reduce to anybody's modern economic interpretation (Granted!) but also:

2) that the concept of "the Kingdom of God" did not imply any political or economic content. References to "the poor" have no relation to other people accumulating large estates (constructing the land in them from thin air? -- or by "coveting" [and appropriating] land from its previous owners?) -- nothing to do with beggars dying with open sores at rich people's gates. Oh well, he must have been crucified by mistake.

...asking first of all for God's Kingdom -- Israel as it was meant to be...

Exactly.  The Promised Land is the whole of Creation, though in practical terms is Planet Earth and environs.  Nation-states may confuse themselves with Israel, but that's ideological.

Jacob got that designation by wrestling with God. (It's a serious mismatch, but we get points for trying...)

I don't gather that any nation or government has been given a monopoly. For anyone sufficiently foolish, it's like inviting a Kzin to honorable battle. All one need do is scream one's challenge and dive in.

Love mercy and true judgment, justice and righteousness; for the Lord delighteth in such. Consider these things in time, and take heed how ye spend your time. Now ye have time, prize it; and show mercy, that ye may receive mercy from the Lord: for he is coming to try all things, and will plead with all flesh as by fire (Works, 1:115)

This statement is from a letter that Fox wrote in 1651 while he was being held in Darby jail. In this letter, Fox admonishes local judges to love virtue, specifically “mercy, true judgment, justice and righteousness.” Notice that he does not reason with the judges about their duty, nor does he argue that virtuous behavior would benefit society. Both of these arguments would call upon the judges to choose virtue so that some ideal of character or society could be met. Fox, instead, gives different reasons for being virtuous: 1) the Lord delights in virtuous behavior; and conversely, 2) the Lord will judge and punish harshly those who refuse virtue, “[he] will plead with all flesh as by fire.” Fox is claiming that virtue is a necessary mediate condition for receiving the proximate favor of God, not a practical measure for achieving some human ideal.

--an excerpt from https://patradallmann.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/the-mediate-role-of-...

Thanks, Patricia, for this reference.  I always appreciate your ability to reference Fox who always seems to clarify the issue at hand.  

Best wishes.


Patricia Dallmann said:

Love mercy and true judgment, justice and righteousness; for the Lord delighteth in such. Consider these things in time, and take heed how ye spend your time. Now ye have time, prize it; and show mercy, that ye may receive mercy from the Lord: for he is coming to try all things, and will plead with all flesh as by fire (Works, 1:115)

This statement is from a letter that Fox wrote in 1651 while he was being held in Darby jail. In this letter, Fox admonishes local judges to love virtue, specifically “mercy, true judgment, justice and righteousness.” Notice that he does not reason with the judges about their duty, nor does he argue that virtuous behavior would benefit society. Both of these arguments would call upon the judges to choose virtue so that some ideal of character or society could be met. Fox, instead, gives different reasons for being virtuous: 1) the Lord delights in virtuous behavior; and conversely, 2) the Lord will judge and punish harshly those who refuse virtue, “[he] will plead with all flesh as by fire.” Fox is claiming that virtue is a necessary mediate condition for receiving the proximate favor of God, not a practical measure for achieving some human ideal.

--an excerpt from https://patradallmann.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/the-mediate-role-of-...

By all means seek light where and while it may be found. In the Quran and elsewhere. 

Funny though how the word "ignorant" inevitably privileges our own practice at the expense of someone else's. 

Kirby Urner said:

These days I'm seeking God's will and/or politics in the Quran.  As a Liberal Friend, I feel encouraged to do so. To focus on the Bible only is the mark of an ignorant man (in this day and age -- in an earlier time, any literacy at all was unusual).

Funny also how "privilege" has become such a charged word of late.  One dis deserves another I suppose.

David McKay said:

Funny though how the word "ignorant" inevitably privileges our own practice at the expense of someone else's.

The key consideration is love.

Fox, like others of his time, was dealing with fears of God's [potentially] harsh judgement.

Jesus had spoken both of love and judgement -- telling the socially designated "sinners" of his time that they were loved and forgiven, warning those in leadership positions that God would hold them responsible for failing their people, warning those with extensive property that impoverishing their neighbors was a sin, not a sign of God's blessing.

God has no direct vulnerabilities, that 'He' would suffer injustices. It's love that makes justice an issue for 'Him'.

People in the Judea of Jesus' time suffered injustices, and hoped for 'judgement'  to rectify matters, to restore what they needed to survive honorably. The covenant with God was intended to produce such conditions, yet the provisions that forbade personal enrichment at your neighbor's expense -- were being neglected; the victims being blamed for their poverty. Much like today for some reason.

Jesus even has an parable (about prayer) where he compares God to an unjust judge, one who'd been stalling from giving a certain widow her due, but would have to come around if her indignant cries embarrassed him enough. It seems to be human beings (even Abraham), not God (not directly, at least), who bring up these awkward issues.

Yet justice does seem to be a spiritual matter. We can say what it's like, but we can't define justice or reduce it to anything material, emotional, intellectual. [Modern courts, unwilling to tackle anything they can't specify precisely, tend to give you "due process" and hang you. That's the opposite of what the word 'justice' demands in the Bible.] Given that we haven't just made it up, justice would have to be spiritual.

Justice isn't the same thing as "love", not even in that utterly practical 1st Century sense. Jesus depicted God treating both "the Just" and "the Unjust" lovingly -- insisting that we should strive to do the same.

But we're also supposed to pray for the arrival of something called 'the Kingdom'. Which is like a farmer's crop; it comes of itself, given half a chance, but the farmer has to do the work. We don't know what it is or how to make it happen, just what it looks like: like Shalom: like a land at peace, governed justly and lovingly inside and out. It's not a personal condition.

It's more like a gift of love than like a threat of harsh judgement. Everything people have been doing instead looks scary; yet that Kingdom, somehow, is God's intention for us. We can't force anyone to go there -- and yet we can't get there alone. God help us, yes?

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