Volume 4, Issue 7, May 1996


Symbolism doesn't need to be defended. It can serve as an excuse for inaction. But it can also be a catalyst for action.
- Richard Gwyn

The word "politics" is generally reserved among us for the management of government - federal, provincial, and municipal. Politicians are those who are actively engaged in politics, especially party politics, professionally or otherwise. Politics, and those who practice politics, are generally held in ill repute by many. Yet it is to our politicians we place the responsibility to care for the good of our society.

Politics is history in the making. When anything is past, it is history. But when anything is being dealt with in the present, it is not history -it is politics, for the political is the activity of getting things done.

Politics is the science of governing. This science has to do with how society exists, operates, and rules itself. It exists to protect humanity so that humanity may pursue the good, so that people may live and work in a state of security and well-being.

Jesus focused his teaching and ministry upon what he called the "kingdom of God". It was a dangerous phrase for Jesus to use as it loosened the political hopes of the people and drew down upon him the suspicion of the government and actually led to his death.

It may be more meaningful for us today to use the term "realm of God", as Jesus was thinking of the development of a society where love, neighbourliness, healing and peace are manifest.

Like the old prophets, Jesus believed that God was the real creator of the realm. The realm grew not by national reconstruction, but could work along from person to person, from group to group, creating a new life as it went along. In that sense the realm was already here. Its fulfillment was yet in the future.

When we come to the word "God", which is a noun, we have difficulty for it falls into the category of things and objects. As Northrop Frye points out in his book, "The Great Code, The Bible and Literature", (Penguin Books, 1990) God was defined in the Old Testament Book of Exodus (3:14) as "I am who I am", which scholars say may be more accurately translated, "I will be what I will be." Frye declares we may come closer to what is meant in the Bible by the word "God" if we understand it as a verb, implying a process accomplishing itself.

More than 30 years ago, Bishop John Robinson questioned the supernatural definition of God and argued that instead of trying to prove the existence of God, which can only be taken for granted, one attempt to disprove God and find God to be the ultimate reality. ("Honest to God", SCM Press, 1963). We can comprehend that ultimate reality exists. This is, as the philosopher, Immanuel Kant concluded, a necessary presupposition. We can no longer think of God as "out there", distant and mysterious, but an existing part of ourselves and our world.

If we allow ourselves we can become akin to the fundamental meaning of existence, the ultimate reality. The Gospel of St. Luke, (17:20f), tells us that "Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, 'The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.'"

God is never a god of the status quo. God is never idle, and God never allows us to be comfortable within our way of life. The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, begins his prophecy to the people of Israel, by proclaiming, "cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice."

The politics of God is our own involvement in the affairs of human life - scientific, technological, sociological, political. The realm of God demands our participation and loyalty if we and our world are to be saved.

God asks: "What do you do to your neighbours?"

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"Religion NOW" is published in limited edition by the Rev. Ross E. Readhead, B.A., B.D., Certificate of Corrections, McMaster University, in the interest of furthering knowledge and participation in religion. Dialogue is invited and welcomed.