Lecture by Dr. Douglas Jacoby, Harvard University 2013
O.T. Church-state. Although priesthood and monarchy were separate, Israel was a “church-state.” Citizens were covenant members.
Messianic expectation: political, economic, military. Lion of the tribe of Judah > Lamb that was slain.
The teaching of Christ
Isaiah 2:4 (Micah 4:3), 9:6, 52:13-53:12—Interpretations of the victorious Messiah
Matthew 4:17 etc.—Kingdom of God as rival government
Matthew 5:21-26,38-48; Romans 12:14-13:7—Love for enemies
Good citizens: Paid taxes; prayed for government officials; engaged in social work.
Counter-cultural: distanced themselves from (idolatrous) sacrifices; civic events; violence.
Early Medieval Christendom:
Persecuted becomes persecutor. “No wild beasts are such enemies to mankind as are the majority of Christians in their deadly hatred of one another.”– Ammianus (4th C.)
State church: mandatory christening; clergy employed by government; churches exempt from taxes; magistrates enforce church decrees & doctrine; non-conformity (heresy) = sedition (political); militarism; civic duty and Christian duty coalesce.
Later Christendom: Forced baptism, Crusades, Inquisition, armed bishops (personal armies)
Reformation & dissent: Mainstream Reformation vs. the Radical Reformation (Anabaptists)
Pacifist reaction: Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, Brethren, Churches of Christ (until 1917/1918)
The American experience: John Winthrop’s “City upon a hill” (1630); American Civil Religion; the political right; pro-Israel sentiment; equation of Christianity with (American) democratic capitalism.
Violent apocalypticism: Doctrine of the Tribulation; Armageddon and survivalists. “We, while the stars from heaven shall fall / And mountains on mountains are hurled / Shall stand unmoved amidst them all /And smile to see a burning world.”– Millerite hymn, 1843
The place of the state
Oaths of allegiance
Business ethics (exploitation)
Gentleness (driving, language, courtesy, aggressive activism)
Entertainment (violent themes)
Medical ethics (abortion, euthanasia, definition of life…)
Nationalism. (U.S. nationalism: revolution, slavery, decimation of indigenous peoples)
A moral and ethical trajectory?
Originally posted at Douglas Jacoby, used with permission