In the last two Sundays in this column we have been trying to create a dialogue between religion and politics; and in our endeavor several issues have cropped up. First, is it in the interest of the church or rather is involvement in raw politics as it were part of the Christian church mandate?
Secondly, every time the church engages and is entangled with politics, it seems to loose its mandate and totter towards ritual and powerlessness.
Thirdly, every time the church is at the helm of the political power, it does not radiate grace but rather disperses intolerance hyped on false theocratic premise. The same can be said of all the religious political systems.
The fourth, issue that comes into fore is what Keith Cauthen states in his treatise on Church and State, Religion and Politics when he states, "The fact that ethical convictions are rooted in religious faith does not disqualify them from the political realm.
However, they do not have secular validity merely because they are thought by their exponents to be religiously authorized. They must be argued for in appropriate social and political terms in harmony with national values.
"Keith Cauthen seems to clearly restate what Mark S. Ritchie observes in his essay on, The Story of the Church – The Anabaptist - When he categorically states: "It is difficult enough for modern evangelical Protestants to self-identify within the Protestant tradition, because of our ignorance of history and anti-intellectualism within our ranks."
For some reasons, the church has over the years been trying to integrate intellectualism with faith with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Negative forces that seek to dethrone intellectualism in the church have done so to the detriment of truth and at the expense of faith.
It is this brawler attitude in the church that pushes its agenda without allowing for any dialogue in the process. A case in point is the current debate between Christianity and Islamic religious propagation.
That the Islamic religious system and of course Christianity seeks to rule the world is not a secret. Various conferences in the Christian religious meetings have passed resolutions that seek to inundate the world with the teachings of the Nazarene, the same is true about the Islam.
The above-mentioned religious thought systems do not shy off in stating that they wish to control the entire universe. And they seem to have finally as it were validated Karl Marx's evaluation of religion, when he stated that: "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
It should be therefore, be argued that within the religious ranks are either opportunists regaling in the ignorance of the masses or there are seeds of Utopian belief systems that drive unfulfilled individuals to what is clearly against the very teachings of their founders. It is in this regard that one can observe that, the founder of Christianity throughout seems to avoid at all costs any association of the church polity with the so-called secular polity.
Of course this does not mean that, our Lord did not think or even propagate the teaching of the final political system. In fact the Nazarene talks of a Kingdom that is not of this world, the apocalyptic teachings communicate a message on the setting up of a kingdom without end, and whose reins are controlled by the Nazarene himself.
This can be clearly be seen in the apocalyptic messages revealed in the books of Daniel and Revelation respectively without forgetting Ezekiel and others. (Daniel 2:1-44; Revelation 19:11-16).
One might ask, where does this leave out those who see the world as two dimensional – that is religious and secular? Is there any validity in secularism as it were, and what is the future of secularism especially now that the two Abrahamic faith offshoots are scrambling for the world?
It should not be forgotten that, as much as there is a resurgence of religious favour in our current world, there is also what we will call a phenomenal permeation of Secularism in our social-political systems.
That religion is one of the tools for socializing is not here nor there, unfortunately, religious abuse followed by political abuse is the cornerstone of the extreme secular-hedonistic social paradigm.
The search for the New World is the capstone for a break with religious intolerance, and especially from Christendom, as we now know it. The fifteenth century European sub-continents' Protestant Reformation is the essence of refusal for positive argument engagement and proper credence to the role of intellectual dialogue.
Of course Christian humanism as projected by Erasmus and others during the reformation period in Europe creates a new social paradigm that finally is to be known as secularism. Secularism unfortunately seems to have taken a life of its own; this is despite being formulated through Christian humanism and negates religion and seeks to overwhelm it vide its hedonistic tendencies. It is extreme secular humanism with its hedonistic appendages that drive individuals into religious extremes of all sorts.
The last two hundred years with the emergence of Freudian Psychoanalysis archetype; and the now faltering Darwinian thesis that literally strips man off his dignity of the image of a superior being and drowns him in the flash floods of a mere instinctual creature. This thus continues to devalue and poison us to a point of self-annihilation.
Humanism has been secularized to the point of creating a ruthless wedge between the true identity of man and his relationship to creation. This in turn has totally destroyed his relationship with himself and his Maker, the very premise of secularism.
The current clash of cultures or clash of cults as I would prefer to call them, is really a reaction towards secularism. A case in point is a visit to Darfur region in Sudan, it is a witness to more than a mere clash of cultures; it is a visit to the extremities of religious thought systems.
A study on the role of religion in both archaic and modern political systems raises up the questions: Do we therefore have a case in setting up religious leadership in our political systems? Should we have any religious representations in our political system, or should we deny them any representation?
Is the current clamour for political power by the religious leaders valid? Is it possible to demarcate the roles of religion and politics in national and international polity?
In the new religious dispensation, what will be the role of an individual and who decides what religious group belief(s) is valid? Should we seek to have religious villages that cater for individual belief(s) or should groups of religious community cede from the larger social commune and form their own?
That man is incurably religious is a fact of life and he will continue being that way for a long, long time to come. Secularism though an antidote for religious extremities unfortunately, it is the very extreme of it that drives religious favor. This is because secularism as posited by the Freudian and Darwinian theorems create a disconnect between man with himself and his spiritual world. This it does through deifying man and dethroning a Creator outside of man.
Unfortunately too, man has created God in his own image, thus the proliferation of differing extremes and antagonizing thoughts that reflect on personal rigidity in communication with others.
It is this form non communication that Philip Yancey calls ungrace, that this sadly permeates our religious thoughts and propaganda is the evidence of a God out there of whom we are unable and have refused to properly relate with. This ungrace creates a wedge between a brothers, fellow human beings, and even family members. This ungrace is judgmental and creates in the proud religious bigots a false aura of humility, and self-righteousness that is both base and human.
If your God is as strong or as powerful as you claim him to be, how comes you have to fight for him? Were the crusades in the middle ages necessary and was Jihad necessary, where will our religious cum political leaders take us? Should all the clerics confine themselves to the temples, mosque, churches and the worship shrines?
Kabukuru F. Maina
5251-00506, Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya.
copyright 2006 Kabukuru F.M.
Thought provoking article. The challenge of a Christian's political involvements is that of, like in any other area, balance; extent; nature and why. It has proved extremely elusive for these elements to be defined collectively. the search continues.