The Idolatry Of Power by William Klein

The day of the historic impeachment of President Trump, congressman Barry Loudermilk of Georgia equated it with Jesus’ trial with Pontius Pilate.

Loudermilk said the following for the Congressional Record:

“Before you take this historic vote today, one week before Christmas, I want you to keep this in mind: When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president in this process.”

Bush biographer and presidential historian Jon Meachem has called such statements “idolatry of power” and he’s right. There’s a great deal to be said about this statement.

As was reported, Meachem said, “The Augustinian journey of the soul of the world trying to get back home to its real home in heaven, which is an ancient tradition, that was the central undertaking. Meachem said, “When we start ordaining and investing our mortal, flawed, frail selves with divine properties, we confuse ourselves – it’s idolatry, really”.

Leaving politics aside, there’s much to be said of what idolatry of power means.

In Mark, the Herodians and Pharisees call Jesus out over paying taxes to the emperor and Jesus tells them “Render unto the emperor that which is the emperor’s and unto God that which is God’s”.

This statement is a clear separation of church and state.  It qualifies the things of this world and the Godly intent of that which is right and should be made manifest through morality.

There are many places in the Bible where we can quantify Jesus’ position on idolatry.  The only time we see Jesus angry is when he throws the moneychangers out of the Temple for making his father’s house into a den of thieves.

He notes, “man cannot worship both God and mammon”.  In other words, those who worship the almighty dollar and lose perspective about helping others in God’s name will face severe consequences.

In Luke, The parable of the rich man, he recognizes the great chasm between rich and poor in the afterlife.  He states that the rich man has been satisfied while Lazerus is reaping his eternal reward for overcoming his adversity in life and rising above his challenges.

Although this text is holding the rich accountable for the treatment of the poor, Jesus praises the generous and is hard on those who are tough on the poor. There are a number of cases where our government needs to be held accountable for its actions, one being the treatment of the children taken from their parents on the border.

Can those who lead us seriously attest to fair treatment to the most vulnerable among us?  If that is the case, where is the proof?

Jesus notes that it is easier for a “camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into Heaven”.  In other words, it is challenging for one to separate himself from worldly power. It is not impossible, but it is not easy.

To pass through one of the gates in Jerusalem one had to unload the camel and the camel had to get down on its knees and wiggle through the gate in order to pass.

When a person brings politics into the equation, he better take into account the whole of Jesus’ teachings and what he said about the poor.

Let’s leave the Jesus passion images and gospel rhetoric for the martyrs who are dying in the name of Christ and helping others.

2 thoughts on “The Idolatry Of Power by William Klein

  1. Well said. What a thoughtful and intelligent rebuke on what is the idolatry of power. I love the way you weave in Jesus’s words to support your thesis.


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