Should Christians be interested in tax policy?

Should Christians be interested in politics? Or tax policy? It is always interesting to see how the Christian scriptures are read through the eyes of other traditions. Jewish Scholar Leonard Fein writes:

Our tradition knows no radical distinction between politics and culture.  Ours is a profoundly political religion, not a pietistic faith.  We are enjoined to reject the world-as-it-is, to love it for what it may yet be, and to help transform it from the one into the other.  To be interested in a serious Jewish culture means, necessarily, to be interested in politics – in whether the hungry are fed and the naked clothed, in whether justice is pursued and mercy loved.  Judaism does not tell us which tax reform plan to favor; it does tell us that no tax plan that slights the downtrodden is acceptable.

– Leonard Fein in the Jewish Journal, Jan 2012

About Mark Glanville

Mark Glanville is a pastor-scholar who ministers in a missional urban community, Grandview Church, Vancouver, and is Professor of Old Testament and congregational studies at the Missional Training Center, Phoenix (missionaltraining.org). Mark's research focusses upon the Pentateuch, biblical ethics, and mission. Mark has authored an introductory book on Exodus (Lexham, forthcoming), numerous refereed articles and chapters on the Pentateuch, mission, and refugee related issues, as well as numerous popular articles. Mark is presently co-authoring a book, "Providing Refuge: A Missional and Political Theology." Mark is regularly called upon to speak on in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. His previous career was as a jazz pianist in Sydney, Australia (Chick Corea and Wynton Kelly are his musical heroes).
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2 Responses to Should Christians be interested in tax policy?

  1. Bronwyn says:

    Hiya, Enjoying your blog Mark! How far do you think this Jewish ideal extends to Christianity? Or does the coming, death and resurrection invert it? Would you agree that because of Jesus we no longer see power and politics in the same way? We see power structures all around us, within families, institutions and political systems, and many Christians, some from a position of vulnerability and others, voluntarily will take on positions of less political power and influence, seeking the role of the servant instead? To serve the world, and not to lead it, would be our primary aim.

    • Hi Bron,

      Lovely to hear from you. I appreciate your emphasis on servanthood. The community of Christ must bear his suffering for the world. This is a defining shape of our identity and mission – I agree. Yet if a ‘step down’ approach is our only paradigm would we not pull out of our PhD programs? Don’t we study, in part, so that we may ‘influence’ for the KOG? And we mustn’t forget that Jesus’ proclamation of the KOG was political statement. ‘No King but Caesar’ was the rhetoric of the empire. ‘No King but God’ was the rhetoric of Christ’s ministry – a political response, in part. And it was not whispered ‘on the quiet’ but announced on the street of Galilee and Jerusalem. Is it possible that the ‘noise’ of Christ’s ministry expands the possibilities for Christian political engagement?

      Yet I think that our thinking must begin with a robust theology of creation. An understanding of the world that affirms its goodness and belovedness, along with fallenness, affirms the importance of engagement in every sphere of the world and its societies, including politics. Every part of creation is desired by Christ and he longs to be honoured in all of it. Our engagement in politics, as you well say, will be cross shaped. But at this stage I don’t see why Christ’s servanthood should mean retreat from the political sphere proper. Thank you for the dialogue! See you in London

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