Explorations in Theology

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A new word for me this week… meaning ‘democratic dictatorship’. It came into my inbox this morning inside Jeff Fountain’s latest weekly word. A MUST READ word as it hits head on something we are all having to grapple with:


His letter is focused on a response to Viktor Orban of Hungary, but is applicable much wider. Later today I have a Skype to a country where the president has just publicly in a huge Christian gathering acknowledged Jesus is his Saviour and that the nation belongs to God. Something rejoiced over in many different Christian periodicals. And which of us have not been praying for the transformation of nations?

Relevant in country after country. Here in Spain VOX espousing family values, anti-abortion are pulling the traditional Christian card, and I am sure are pulling in votes from evangelicals and Catholics alike… yet just again this week the main leader was on a national TV channel putting out statistics, images and videos that have been proven to be wrong, but used to create animosity toward immigrants. (And do I hear the cry ‘Christian value?’)

What an era we have entered into. Presidents and leaders who will defend ‘Christian’ values, profess faith… yet produce material that stirs up hate not love for the neighbour. Answers to prayer? Or huge deception?

And probably a sign of where we have come to. Democracy, I have suggested many times, is in serious trouble. In the West we have a shell left to us currently – the democratic process, which is the context in which democracy is supposed to operate, but when huge levels of finance, vested interest groups and the like have a much larger say in what takes place than the ballot box we no longer have democracy. When money perverts what is true so that we no longer know the reality of what we are voting for, we have lost democracy. When politicians themselves create a ‘them / us’ and magnify it so that it becomes a ‘look after ourselves / they are enemies to be resisted’ a very perverted form of society can only develop.

Maybe on the issue of abortion we might feel it is such a huge issue that we have to vote for the party touting that ticket… but please do not defend the party, and also find a way of grappling with the huge complexities that lie behind the abortion statistics (which have often been at the lowest when, for example in the USA, a president who is not waving the ‘anti-abortion’ ticket has been in power… legislation not being the simplistic answer that we think).

There is no such thing as a ‘Christian party’ nor a ‘Christian nation’ and to reduce ‘Christian values’ as they are being currently reduced is to remove any real significance to the word ‘Christian’. Politics is messy. Any partnerships we end up in will result in our feet being dirty. Seemingly that was not a problem for Jesus, though it caused Peter to have a crisis of faith.

I am not looking for the ‘Christian’ ticket, the Christian profession of faith at the highest level. I am looking for dirty footed believers who occasionally have crises of faith, but walk again on a redemptive path at personal cost for the sake of the marginalised. (Is there another path we can walk?)

We are in danger of substituting a nationalised-introverted self-protectionised culture for the Jesus of Israel who died to Jewishness and to maleness.

Maybe he is too challenging for us. It will be a sad day if that proves to be the case. We have prayed, people have gathered in stadiums the world over for a new day to come. I just hope we do not eclipse the sun that is rising, and as we walk in darkness proclaim how much light has come. A light to the nations, not those who bring darkness while proclaiming light. If we continue to cover over the lies that are being spoken, we will soon have to come to terms with what we cover that should have been uncovered will cover us… That covering will become what we proclaim. Then democracy will not simply be under immense strain, but the Christian faith will again be co-opted as the voice of oppression.

5 thoughts on “Demotatorship

  1. Thank you such a great and timely post. The question that I can’t get past is how can it happen that a professing Christian or Christians actually accept a rhetoric which dehumanises anybody and think that’s acceptable in Jesus name? It really confuses and bothers me. That the self-giving co-suffering work of Christ is lost in this very disturbing Christian Nationalism and ‘Christian values’ themselves become repressive where freedom of speech and choice are removed.

    1. Always a challenge to balance the offering of charity to the stranger while trying to maintain a strong group identity.

      Much of the Old Testament grapples with this attempt to keep Israel pure from foreign influence while not persecuting the alien (because you were once aliens in Egypt

    2. Yes never simple!! The ‘extra’ element in the OT is the unique covenantal relationship to God for Israel – something not applicable today for the rest of us. Also maybe we have to rethink ‘gift’ in NT. We tend to change ‘gift’ for charity, and sometimes charity is necessary – give a fish to someone who has not eaten for days; gift is teaching how to fish. Both are necessary, but gift is both preferable and in line with grace. Grace pulls us to our destiny. Seems that is what both the NT does and the making of space for the alien is about. If they wish to be fellow-stewards they are given space.

  2. What everyone is missing about Viktor Orban and Hungary is that they are a redemptive gift of prophet nation.

    These types of nations will always teeter towards the far-right, like Germany did with Hitler, and like the US at times does, albeit not that far yet.

    Spain was an other case throughout the middle ages, as are the redemptive gift of prophet Arab countries, that are all going or are already in their own far right direction.

    Both are turning “far right” on Christianity and on islam.

    The issue is having redemptive gift of teaching individuals hold up a mirror to the redemptive gift of prophet so as to show them how off they are.

    Yes, it’s nice that at least there’s a “somewhat” Christian nation in europe, but unless someone keeps that in check, this will go haywire and will turn into God knows what.

    As for the arabs, well, good luck convincing them how wrong they are, if you have a look at videos were muslim women in veils swear by allah, you’ll think bloody hell, these people have definitely been brain-washed and there’s no chance of them ever seeing reality again…

  3. An interesting perspective on the redemptive gift… Though the underlying Christendom aspect still suggests that the response (reaction) in these nations is not in the image of Jesus. The NT is set in an Imperial context and the process was not one of looking for ‘so-called’ Christian nations to emerge.

    On the positive side as we look at the current scene, the faith was birthed in a one-world government scenario, and over a long period of time (the apostolic vision is always tied to patience) the only hope for survival of the Imperial scene was the ‘christianising’ of the Empire.

    Thanks for the contribution… but for me the extremism of the Christian faith is that of commitment to Jesus, willingness for martyrdom, not that of a right (or left) politicalism.

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