Thursday, July 9, 2009
Should Men of God Play Politics or What Is Their Role?
Is it sane and biblically founded to say that church ministers should not utter political statements? I find it absurd because the foundation of that contention is not the Bible. When truth becomes more absurd than fiction then a clear conscience becomes a scarce and seared commodity. Every country has its constitution whether efficient or inefficient. Every human being has their code of conduct whether written or oral. The Christian’s source is the Bible.
The seeming injunction in the Bible barring ministers from participating in politics is: “….. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's” (Matt 22:21). This passage is merely showing that though we have a responsibility to God we also have a terrestrial one too. It does not obviate moral guidelines from the church ministers. There is no theological statement that was made in a cultural vacuum. That is because the Bible has no meaning without the people who apply it. The people have a set of customs and beliefs, lifestyle and politics that govern their daily lives. Even in theocracies like that of Israel, God still allowed politics to play a part up to giving the people the right to make a choice of their leader. Thence Saul was preferred by the people even over God’s leadership.
Going back to the Old Testament (OT) the prophets served as check-valves to overzealous leaders as you could see with Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Amos; just to name these few. In the New Testament (NT) the words of Jesus serve as parapets to the Roman Empire and as breastworks to the Jewish people. Don’t forget that even in church there is politics. That is why the Catholics practice the Episcopal style, the Presbyterians use the presbytery and the Full Gospel, Assembly of God and many others employ the congregational method. Some even use a mélange of two or there forms of church governments. But every church and denomination has its polity.
Most people are not aware that the minister is the watchman of the morals of any nation or group. God absolutely holds them responsible for letting the leaders slip into even a modicum of decadence (Ezek 3:17-21). It is even due to the otiose approach of the church towards world leaders that we live this moral profligacy in our countries and groups. Today ministers are contented with having a pat on the back from political icons. In the OT, the king heard and took instructions on how to govern from the prophet. There were three people that needed the spirit of God in the OT: the priest for right sacrifice, the king for right judgment and the prophet for a sense of direction in life of the people and nation. The prophet’s interventions in the nation’s politics were indelible. Reasons for which the high priest, Pharisees and Sadducees toyed with the minds of the people leading to Jesus’ crucifixion.
But then there is a little nuance in the manner of operation in that the men of God were like the guides to the full time politicians because the ministers are custodians of God’s law which is superior to man’s law that the politicians guard. However, it is biblically difficult to substantiate that men of God should embark on full time politics as professional careers. That will reduce their level of trust and counsel into desuetude. They are to serve as moral breastworks to both the rich and poor, wicked and just, governed and governors. Their impartiality in applying counsel necessitates a high esteem for their intervention in politics; be it in Cameroon or the world at large. The men of God cannot and should not be full time politicians. They will serve as lampposts or lighthouses to those in politics.
Looking at the Africans’ situation, the church has been dormant for a long time that is why their Presidents have plundered and plummeted their countries into debilitation that most Africans now look like a replica of a stockfish. God is not much interested in sacrifices as much as he is interested in justice, mercy and humility. Should the ministers sit quiet when in a nation some people are treated as parasites? Should the minister fold their tongues when political opponents are shipped to guillotine posts secret police? These are the constituents of pure and undefiled religion: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
Nonetheless, when religion is used as bias machinery of the bigots and fundamentalists the end results could impugn the very tenets that encourage the sanctity of life and the existence of tolerance. Like in every case the church and its ministers have to watch over their abuse of religious power to cajole the weak-minded and simpletons into political excesses.
Until then the men of God should play a role in making peace.
Prince and PA Hamilton Ayuk
“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).
Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).
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