'Liberation' in St. Luke's Gospel

I've been slowly plodding through Richard Hays' excellent book, The Moral Vision of the New Testament for some time now; as a pastor I've made a commitment to the church and to myself to stay academically and theologically sharp, and I try to build serious reading into my work schedule.

I ran across a great quote in the closing remarks of his chapter on Luke.  It seems to me that in many circles Christianity can easily "blur" into a kind of political activism - whether of the conservative kind ("let's win the culture wars and take back America for Jesus - by electing conservatives") which I encountered attending Baptist churches in North Louisiana, or of the liberal kind ("let's liberate the poor and oppressed and do something about all the social and political institutions that keep people down - by electing liberals").

Now we should indeed be working to call the precious people in our and every culture to yield to the Lordship of Jesus and that part of this should indeed mean caring for the poor and helping out the needy.  But have you ever noticed how little Jesus talked about reforming the political institutions of his day?  I've been struck recently by the fact that he did indeed encourage paying taxes to Caesar, considering all the ungodly things that the Roman Empire was likely to do with that money...

Anyways, here is Richard Hays' comment:
Because the language of liberation has been so widely appropriated in the interest of various political causes, it is important to specify what Luke does and does not have in mind.  The book of Acts gives no evidence of the Apostles seeking to reform political structures outside the church, either through protest or by seizing power.  Instead, Luke tells the story of the formation of a new human community - the church - in which goods are shared and wrongs are put right.  In this way the apostolic testimony to the resurrection is made effectual.  The question that Luke-Acts puts to the church - then and now - is not "Are you reforming society?" but rather "Is the power of the resurrection at work among you?"

Now that is a potent question...

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Blogger Craig L. Adams said...

Good quote (from a good book).

1:45 PM, August 24, 2015  

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