By Rev Daniel Amum
Church is a holistic institution that have an obligation to address any issues affecting its members whether political, social, economical or physical. In case the church failed to challenge oppressive powers, then that church becomes dormant, static, and an abstract, irrelevant in the society it serves.
For the readers to understand that the church is a political institution let me give you a background of Politics. In fact, the word politics originated from Greek word Politiká which is defined as "affairs of the cities". It is the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance — organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community.
A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting or forcing one's own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries. Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, and to the international level.
It is very often said that politics is about power. A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. History of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics and the works of Confucius.
In actual fact politics was intended to protect the rights of individual in given society, but in most cases the ruling party used it to subdue its opponents or to silent any person that criticized it. So the ruling party usually eliminates their opponents by all means, or arrested or accused them falsely to destroy their reputations in sight of public.
According to Sun Myung Moon the ''Politics are an integral part of the Unification Church's concerns and activities, although the church itself largely remains aloof from politics''. The belief in the establishment of a literal Kingdom of God on earth influences Moon to teach that religion alone is not enough to bring this about provides a motivation for political involvement.
All are aware that there are different between world politics and church politics; the world politics in most cases intents to employ force to accomplish its politics, while church used nonviolent and selfless methods to express its politics. The world politics is applied in most cases to accomplish the ruling party aspiration, while the church politics is applied to ensure rights of all without discrimination and manipulation of affairs in the interest of few.
To confirm this claims Jesus declares that '' The Spirit of the Lord is one me to preach good news to the poor and to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for blind, and to release the oppressed'' (See Luke 4:18). Again, Jesus told people who came to listen to his teaching that ''the kingdom of God is near and they must repent and believe the good news'' (Mark1:15). In God's kingdom there is true justice, equality, peace and freedom.
Furthermore, John the Baptist told the Tax collectors that they shouldn't collect more than what was required by law, also he told soldiers that they shouldn't extort money and shouldn't accuse people falsely and let them be content with their wages (Luke 3:10-14). These were political statements that were intended to warn political leaders of not taking care for poor, not doing justice to everyone, and to avoid oppressing desperate and destitute people. Also they should avoid corruption, embezzlement of national resources for their selfish benefits.
Indeed, the church must challenge giants involved in misappropriation of public funds, and who discriminated their subjects. When the church failed to address issues affecting parishes than for sure, the church will be irrelevant to the people for not articulated it teaching in right way because the church is the voice of voiceless.
To understand the position of the church on challenges pressurizing it subjects, let examined Martin Luther King Jr. Who was an American Baptist minister, activist and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement? The best known role he plays was the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs, also combating racial inequality, and expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. Therefore, his outstanding advocates brought justice in America societies, even though he lost his life. But his slogan remains fresh in minds of people that said '' I had dreamt that one day White and Block will live in one place''.
Moreover, let us look at the aim of John Calvin's political theory that was to safeguard the rights and freedoms of ordinary people. Calvin favored a combination of democracy and aristocracy (mixed government). He appreciated the advantages of democracy. He argued that to minimize the misuse of political power there should be a system of checks and balances (separation of powers). Finally, Calvin taught that if rulers rise up against God they lose their divine right and must be put down. State and church are separate, though they have to cooperate to the benefit of the people. Christian magistrates have to make sure that the church can fulfill its duties in freedom.
In Christianity, God is the eternal being who created and preserves all things. Christians believed that God is both transcendent (wholly independent of, and removed from, the material universe) and immanent (involved in the world). In this regard the Christian teachings of the immanence and involvement of God and his love for humanity.
The church politics is to reconcile people to God and to restore their broken relationship with God. Out of that understanding the church was mandated to influence the world to accept that reality that God still love them despite of fall. In related to that understanding many Charities and Non-Government Organizations were initiated by the church to serve its members, strengthen and encourage them to withstand tragedies befallen them. This was kind of church political answer to the problems faced by all humanity around the world.
Let me turn to the last point that the church is militant institution, the word militant is usually used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in 'militant reformers'. The current meaning of militant does not usually refer to a registered soldier: it can be anyone who subscribes to the idea of using vigorous, sometimes extreme, activity to achieve an objective. A "militant [political] activist" would be expected to be more confrontational and aggressive than an activist not described as militant.
The purpose of the Church Militant is to struggle against sin, the devil and the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12), but it is not a violent movement. The weapons used by the church to fight it war are not of the world but they are divine power to demolish strongholds, to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedience to Christ. We will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete (See 2 Cor.10:4-6). So the world militant and church militant are totally distinct.
The essential characters of the church in the New Testament are: First, the church is God’s people (1Pet.2:9-10). Second, the church is the body of Christ. This means is the foundation of their lives, unity and gives them energy to service the world. The church is the means of Christ work in the world, it is his hands, and feet, his month and voice (Eph.1:20).So how can the world silent the church not to speak against evils practiced by the world leaders.
The church is Catholic because include all color, nationality, political ideology, economic status, or educational background. Also, the church is Catholic because it permits men and women to be themselves. Again, the church is Catholic because it affirms the participation of that great cloudy witness (Heb.12:1). Nevertheless, the church is apostolic because she was sent out, her apostolicity stems from the fact that she is the hands, eye and mouth of Christ on earth. She was sent out to every geographical location, social structures of society under guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. The church has to continue the task initiated by Jesus in his preaching and fortified and confirmed in his redemptive work on the cross.
Thirdly, the church is temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.5:15-19). Fourthly, the church is the institution that has certain specific activities, roles, and goals etc which give it persistency and stability and distinguish her from other structures of society.
If we understood those assertions that church is a multitude of men and women from all walks of life, without distinction of rate, nationality, economic and educational back group. It is a community gathered from every tribe, tongue and nation. It is a people called out of darkness into God marvelous light through the Holy Spirit as result of God’s revelation and redeeming grace in Jesus Christ be God own people, Christ’s own body, and the temple of the Holy Spirit in the concrete situations of their everyday life. How can the world political leaders tried to sideline the church on important matters affecting the lives of its members.
In most circumstances they just call the church to offer opening prayer in governmental programs and to close the session with the words of prayer it. But her opinion is not requested in deliberation issues and when she tried to air out her position. Then the world leaders accused the church of being involved in politics, arguing that the church should just stick to the Bible and prayer.
So this article was meant to correct such ignorance by looking back to the model of our faith, Jesus Christ and to observ contributions made by inspiration church leaders that played great deal in transformation of many societies to live in harmony and peace.
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