The Politics of Jesus – 1

I remember hearing about this book when i was about 19. From the title I presumed that it would be a book that tells you which way to vote in elections. That being my understanding of the term politics at the time.

My interest in ethics as a field has been prompted mainly by my thinking about how modern medicine impacts our lives. Reading God, medicine and suffering has been fairly influential in this. Regular readers of the blog will likely be able to chart the drift towards this type of thing along with the copious Hauerwas references.

The Politics of Jesus has a lot to say about ethics, but perhaps not in the way that you might expect. Ethics has become a bit of a bankrupt term for me in modern medicine being largely concerned with post-enlightenment ideas on autonomy and utilitarianism that underpin a lot of medicine in general.

Three people jump to mind when I think of the ethics i’m interested – Alisdair Mcintyre (though I confess to only knowing quotes and the first few chapters of After Virtue), John Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas. They talk about a specificaly Christian ethics, primarily founded on the story of the Jesus and the people of God and the community formed since the events of the gospels.

So i’m afraid you’re gonna hear more about it.

In chapter 1, Yoder takes issue with contemporary readings of Jesus, in particular the spiritualisation of what Jesus said. Our desires to “look behind” what the gospel writers are telling us has led us to neglect perhaps some of the more obvious implications of what Jesus said

Yoder’s basic argument (that i perceive) is this – that in reading the gospels you will find Jesus of direct social relevance to social ethics, and not only relative but normative for a contemporary social ethic


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