Reflections on politics, public policy, theology and culture...
Informed by the radical tradition of Christian witness...
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Sunday, 30 December 2012
Rendering to Caesar
The misunderstanding of the significance of Jesus' saying "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and the things that are God's is rampant.
Jesus could not have been suggesting that there is a realm of religion, separate from the realm of politics. No distinction existed in his time between the "religious" and the "political". Caesar's claim to rule rested on his divinity. As a good Jew Jesus was expressing the understanding embedded in the law and the teaching of the prophets, that God's call on us to live lives of justice and compassion have priority over conflicting claims by any other authority, Caesar included.
Jesus was not a "spiritual" teacher distant from the politics of his time. He preached and practised a radical political option that was subversive of the economic injustice and oppression of his time. That was why he was crucified, a punishment handed out to those that Rome saw as challenging its claims to empire.
If you give priority to God's claims to seek justice and love mercy, thus rendering to God what is God's, then what is left for Caesar? Not too much I would reckon.