Support the Café

Search our Site

Jesus on Easter: socialist, communist, or libertarian?

Jesus on Easter: socialist, communist, or libertarian?

James Crossley, a professor of Bible, Society and Politics, analyzes the story of Easter across the political spectrum, using Monty Python’s ‘The Life of Brian’ and political movements of the last half-century in Great Britain to interpret the story of Easter in the passion gospel.

Crossley explores Thatcherism and how her vision of Jesus was a response to the cultural shifts reflected in the ‘Life of Brian’. From the essay:

On the one hand, we have Thatcher who, from the 1970s onwards, was explicitly using Jesus and the Bible as a key source for her emerging neoliberalism, as well as representing the core values of England, Britain and the West.

This Bible was, of course, was constructed in sharp contrast to Marxism and Soviet Communism. Thatcher’s Bible and Thatcher’s Jesus was about — and was the authority for — individualism, freedom, tolerance, rule of law, and English or British heritage. It also had a particularly influential (and then distinctive) emphasis on individual wealth creation and charitable giving as a partial alternative to state provision of welfare. As she famously claimed of Jesus’ parable, ‘no-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well’.

What do you think of modern political interpretations of Jesus? Do you have a favorite one?


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Reilly

Jesus, and the Bible, can be interpreted into whatever pretzel the reader, and their communities of interpretation, desire. Pacifism? Sure. Prosperity gospel? Why not? Conservative? Just read the text. Liberal? Just read the text? Republican, Democrat, Green Party, Libertarian, Marxist…it’s all there.

The interpreter creates the meaning. Does the text have an inherent meaning? A harder question. What does the Bible say, or more specifically, Jesus, that is unequivocal?

Paul Woodrum

I see Jesus attack on the money changers and sellers of animals for sacrifice as a challenge to the Temple’s priestly caste and their wealth gained by exploiting pilgrims at a time when the Passover could be celebrated only in Jerusalem, and their exploitation of the poor who lived in the slums around the city. It was a bold strike against priests, power, exploitation and poverty.

James Byron

No political philosophy’s a good fit. Jesus was proto-communist in some aspects (tearing up family structures, abandoning earthly wealth, etc); but in others, extremely legalistic (Mosaic Law doesn’t go far enough) and, of course, was a devout believer in Adonai.

The crucial thing separating Jesus from politics was his belief that Adonai was about to enter history and remake the world into a perfect new earth. It’s a question of power: politics is effecting change yourself; Jesus (wrongly) thought that he could call down a divine airstrike to do the job for him. You happily render unto Caesar only if he and his regime’s about to be swept away into Gehenna.

Rod Gillis

Re Maggie Thatcher, or Ronald Reagan, same right wing deal. Both opposed the boycott of apartheid.

Leslie Marshall

Jesus’ ultimate subversive political stance was to follow all the Laws –perfectly.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café