Thursday, March 13, 2008

Greg Boyd - Polis and Opinion

Greg Boyd's first fundamental idea about the Polis is that it is dominated by opinion.

I do not believe that what should happen in the Polis is just a matter of opinion. I cannot believe that God does not a have a view about what are good laws and bad laws. Laws are enforced morality. A righteous God must have a view on what morality should be enforced and how and when it can be enforced. The indication from the scriptures is that God is quite serious about laws.

Greg is right about modern politics. It is totally controlled by opinion, but that does not mean that is the way that it should be. If sincere Christians disagree over a political issue, there are two possibilities. One could be wrong and the other might be right. What is more likely is that both are wrong, because their opinions are shaped by the Polis and not by the standards of God.

The fact that Christians disagree does not prove that God does not have an opinion about a just system of laws. I take the intense disagreement between Christians over political issues as a sign that most Christians are stuck in a wrong paradigm. When we get the paradigm right, we see a convergence of opinion.

It is true that Jesus did not attempt to articulate a system of just laws. He did not need to because his Father had already given one. All he had to do was tweak this system a little.

This is the key to our problem. God’s just laws are found in the Torah. Most Christians hate God’s law. This cuts them off from God’s law, so they are stuck with human opinion.

At a meeting at which Greg and a colleague dealt with questions about the Myth of Christian Nation, they were asked this question. “Don’t we want Christian laws for our land?” Greg answered by saying that the problem is that the only laws we have are in the Old Testament and we do not want to go there. He and his colleague mocked the law by saying we do want laws that require men without beards to be stoned (although this is not in the Old Testament).

This is typical of modern Christians. They do not take God’s law seriously. They just ignore it, because they do not like it, despite Jesus saying that it still stands and Paul saying that it is perfect. It is true that the Torah contains a lot of stuff, including instructions for the tabernacle and sacrifices, that were fulfilled in Jesus. It also includes instructions specifically for Israel that are no longer relevant. That does not mean that it does not contain the laws needed to allow a human society to function peaceably.

We should be wise enough to find the parts of the Torah that are needed for the functioning of civil society in the modern world. We cannot say that God’s law is no good until we have done the work to determine which of his laws still apply. Just rejecting God’s law and making up our own law is laziness. If we hate God’s law, we will be stuck with opinion.

I agree that the modern Polis is stuck in opinion and compromise. However it does not have to be that way. I believe that God has revealed laws that will make a society function better. They will not make people good. Only the gospel and the Spirit can do that. However, they could restrain the worst of evil, and that is all that law can do. That should not be our primary goal, but it worth doing.

I also believe that, if we were to pull out the three laws of God that are still relevant, the people of our pluralistic and secular world would recognize their goodness. The world hates Christian politics, because they see us trying to impose our opinions on them. On the hand, if we discarded opinions and presented God’s law, they would see its goodness (Deut 4:6,8).

3 comments:

Haydn said...

Ron said;
"The fact that Christians disagree does not prove that God does not have an opinion about a just system of laws. I take the intense disagreement between Christians over political issues as a sign that most Christians are stuck in a wrong paradigm. When we get the The fact that Christians disagree does not prove that God does not have an opinion about a just system of laws. I take the intense disagreement between Christians over political issues as a sign that most Christians are stuck in a wrong paradigm. When we get the paradigm right, we see a convergence of opinion.


The wrong paradigm of which you speak is IMHO the belief that we must deal with things the way they are insteed of what they should be, I mean most christians I know are stuck in a worldly mindset the kingdom seemingly is to radical and uncomfortable. The seem content to make futile effort to christian-up the world the word they don't seem to get is 'be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind!'.

RonMcK said...

Haydn
I cannot see a url linking to your blog. Did you put one in when you put up this post.

brandbuster said...

No I couldn't rememberthe password at the crutial time! Shows how much I blog Aye. I don't think I can even accesss it by typing the URL into the address bar of my browser so perhaps it is one of the million blogs destined to be read by only the author! Mum wasn't interested. :D