The Herb Of Grace

Theology and Poetry, Politics and Prose

You Do Not Want To Be Caesar! March 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joel @ 5:34 pm

I am drawing near the half-way point in my quest to compile, along with Matt Frise, a spiritual resource of sorts that speaks out of the SSU community.  My eyes are blurry and I am over-caffeinated and over-matteinated but the work must go on!  my deadline is sunday night so pray for me and send me encouraging little notes like, “your face is nothing like that of hugh grant, nor is your humour anything like that of ricky gervais!”  Cheers; here’s a wonderful quote that I painstakingly transcribed from audio (so you’d better love it!).  Don’t tell me if you found a transcript of this online; I don’t want to know. 

In a discussion panel on the relation between scripture and politics, Stanley Hauerwas challenges the notion that engaging in the political process makes Christians complicit in the decisions that their particular government makes.   “In a recent article, one student argued as to why we ought to vote.  He said,

‘Matthew 22:21 says to render unto Caesar and to honor the emperor.  But what do we, in a political system operating upon the consent of the governed, do in response to this text.  In today’s context we are Caesar, ultimately we are responsible for our government’s actions at home and abroad, we govern ourselves.  When we render unto Caesar, we participate in the action of our government.  During wartime, we as taxpayers are in part responsible for the actions of our government whether we vote or not.’

         So what he’s saying is that since we are now Caesars, we democratic citizens, we should vote.  Well if there’s anything Christians aren’t, it’s Caesar!  In regard to the illusion of democratic politics, it’s time to get over the co-option of that crap!  First of all, it’s just of course descriptively wrong, those of us in our classes simply get to choose which elites are going to rule us.  So the idea that we Christians have become Caesar because we are now democratic citizens, plunking down that meaningless little vote, is exactly what is now corrupting the Church and why it is that the Church isn’t interesting politics.  A Christian people that are interested in politics would know when the President says, “We have to resist aggression whenever it occurs and therefore we’re going to bomb Iraq,” must know that that “we” isn’t us.  And if you think voting makes you that “us,” don’t vote for God’s sake.  Because if you do, you will betray yourself and you will betray your brother and sister in Christ.  You are not Caesar; you do not want to be Caesar.”


4 Responses to “You Do Not Want To Be Caesar!”

  1. Laura Says:

    This is good Joel, keep working away! I wish I could be there and bring you some peanut butter toast, or something comforting.

    I’ve gone from both extremes on the subject of voting, on one hand i thought, but if i don’t vote, what if in the end, my vote really mattered, and then on the other hand, i think…This world will never ever even hope to be even close to a horrible version of the Kingdom of God, and its not my job to make it the Kingdom of God.

    oh, and I emailed Farron and Roger for hopefully they get back to me soon!
    miss you,

    Laura Loo

  2. masonmusic Says:

    oooh, peanut butter, I wish.

    I like your thoughs, especially that “it’s not my job to make [the world] the kingdom of God.

    I think Hauerwas votes. But I don’t think he puts much stock in it. I agree with him (I’ve read this elsewhere) that our politics should be most clearly expressed in the actions of our local community, that is, our local church.

    Can’t wait to see you whenever I do!

  3. Matt Says:


    I keep trying to understand your Hauerwas stuff and failing. Perhaps in bonny Edinburgh you can explain it all to me. I hope that you are finished your spiritual resource compiling and have finished well. Now rest. Kate and I had a great chat the other night. It was nice to hear that we are in your thoughts, because you are both in our thoughts all the time. Can’t wait for the phone call that confirms your co-studying status!

    Love you

  4. rogueminister Says:

    Brother I have recently been dealing with Christians’ roles in relationship to the government on my own blog. I am glad to see others looking at this issue. I am glad that you saw how crazy that students argument was, as we are certainly never called to be like Caesar. I look forward to stopping by in the future and joining the conversation. Blessings and Shalom

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