When it started out, it was different

So my Muslim Turkish host was wrong in his contention that Christianity was “apolitical.”  Christianity was political from the start.  But it was a different kind of politics, a sort of politics one finds in no political party these days, a politics of suffering, non retaliatory love.

- Lee Camp, Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam--and Themselves 
(from chapter 6, "The Qur'an and the Politics of Muhummad")

Quite a lot is packed into three sentences there.  It’s a loaded quotation!  Please read it again, noting the assumption of the Muslim man (which might or might not match your assumption).  Then, if you are persuaded that Christians should be politically active, consider your own assumptions about that—along with your underlying definition of “politics.”

In chapter 5, Camp had probed the very idea of Christianity’s “apolitical” nature—an idea that a new acquaintance of his (a professor at Fatih University) had asserted over lunch in Istanbul.  The picture painted was basically that (nominal) Christianity’s “Crusades” and other military actions have historically been more brutal, more unjust than Islam’s military actions because Christianity “was not political from the start” and therefore had no “rules of military engagement” inherent in its teaching and practice.  “Once entangled in imperialist politics, Christians committed all sorts of excesses in war,” Camp observes.  (p. 28)

In the classical sense of politics, however—”pertaining to the ordering and arrangement of a human community”—Camp suggests that Jesus is “indisputably ‘political.'”  And in this passioniate-yet-common-sense appeal, Camp lays out an ethical base for Christ-ian “political” action:

How shall we deal with scarcity of goods?  Through the practices of trust, working, and sharing.  How shall we deal with conflict?  Through the practice of it always being “our turn” to initiate a process of seeking reconciliation, whether we are in the wrong or they.  How shall we deal with enemies?  By praying for them, doing good for them, and giving them a drink when they are thirsty.  It hardly needs to be said but probably must be:  this would entail not trying to kill them.

How would you argue with any of that?  (I didn’t think you would.)

B. Casey, 9/10/16

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