Notes on Chapter 7: The Heart of Christianity

Learning More about Christianity

The Quotes and Questions for Chapter 7 of The Heart of Christianity are attached. I hope that you will check them out. This is a very important chapter, “The Kingdom of God: The Heart of Justice.” You don’t have to read the book. Just come and participate in the conversation. All are welcome.

Sundays at 9:15 and 11:45  and Tuesdays at 10:30 in the Reception Room

– Fr Randolph


Quotes and Questions for Chapter 7, “The Kingdom of God: The Heart of Justice

Quote from Page 126-127

The Bible is political as well as personal. It combines sharp political criticism and passionate political advocacy: radical criticism of systems of domination and impassioned advocacy of an alternative social vision. Protesting the nightmare of injustice, its central voices proclaim God’s dream of justice, a dream for the earth. Criticism and advocacy are grounded in their understanding of the character and passion of God: a God of love and justice whose passion for our life together is the Kingdom of God.

The claim that the Bible is political and that the God of the Bible is passionate about justice is surprising, even startling, to many Christians. We have often overlooked it; and when it is pointed out, we often resist seeing it. Reflecting about the reasons for our relative blindness is illuminating. Doing so may help us understand why this major stream of the Bible is unfamiliar to many Christians as well as to people outside the church.

Conversation Question
  1. What is your understanding of God’s justice as presented in the Bible?

Quote from Page 129-130

The political passion of the Bible goes back to the origin of Israel. It begins with Moses and the Exodus…. The political stream continues in the prophets of Israel several hundred years after Moses.

What Egypt and the monarchies of Israel and Judah shared in common is that both were forms of the “ancient domination system,” the most widespread form of society in the premodern world. Powerful and wealthy aristocracies centered around the monarchy structured the political and economic systems in their own self-interest. Three primary features characterized these premodern domination systems:

They were politically oppressive. They were economically exploitative. They were religiously legitimated.

Conversation Question
  1. Are you aware of any domination systems in your world?

Quote from Page 131, 138

Passion for God’s justice and criticism of domination systems surface again in the first century in Jesus, Paul, the Book of Revelation, and in the New Testament as a whole. But we have been even less likely to see it in early Christianity than in the Hebrew Bible. Yet it is certainly there, a claim I will develop with four points.

The phrase the “Kingdom of God” is perhaps the best shorthand summary of the message and passion of Jesus. Like metaphors and symbols generally, the Kingdom of God has more than one meaning in the message of Jesus. [“Kingdom of God” has a political meaning as well as a religious meaning. Also “Jesus is Lord,” the Roman Empire, and the Cross.]

Conversation Question
  1. How would you describe the Kingdom of God?

Quote from Page 138, 146

Seeing the political meaning of the Bible leads to seeing the political dimension in the Christian life…. I am defining politics in its broad sense as the social systems in which we live. The English word comes from the Greek polis, which means city, and politics is thus about the shape and shaping of the city. By extension, politics is about the shape and shaping of human community, [both large and small].

…Politics thus includes systems of government, economic systems, and conventional systems of beliefs and attitudes. …God cares about political justice because God cares about suffering.

Conversation Question
  1. How could God help you understand and work for justice in your life and communities?