Camel's Hair and Locusts: The Politics of the Cross--A Christian Perspective on "Christian Democracy"

From the outset, let me state that I find the overall concept of “Christian Democracy” to be nothing more than an idiotic oxymoron and a cruel hoax. There is nothing “democratic” in the slightest about Christianity. To the contrary, the language of the faith is monarchic and theocratic and makes no allusion whatsoever to God sharing power with anyone outside of the three persons of the Godhead.  And there most certainly is nothing Christian about democracy, which originated among the Greek pagans of Athens some five centuries before God walked the earth in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. What we think of as democracy today has it's roots more firmly planted in the ancient soil of the Roman system, and there is a most profound example of Roman democracy preserved for us in the New Testament gospel accounts of the trial of Jesus. Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of the Roman Province of Judea, puts the Lord's fate up to a vote of the people as witnessed in this passage from the Gospel According to St. Mark:

“And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them.  And he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.  But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?’ And they cried out again, ‘Crucify him.’  And Pilate said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him.’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” (Mark 15: 7-15).

The fact that it is Our Lord's encounter with democracy that leads him to the Cross should give pause to those who would connect the words “Christian” and “democracy” into a single concept. In this pause, we have the opportunity to consider the facts of the matter in such a way as to lead us into a deeper understanding of just what it is we are saying when we bandy about a term such as "Christian Democracy." And this deeper understanding should also create within us a sense of the tremendous responsibility that is inherent in the very concept itself. Democracy, then, is inextricably linked to the Cross because the crucifixion of Jesus was an event determined by the will of the people, as influenced through the campaigning of his enemies, and as executed by a civil servant who performed the duty of his office against his own better judgment.

The politics of the Cross is, then, democratic. It is emblematic, in a most deep and profound way, of the danger inherent in giving the power of self determination to the people, for it demonstrates to us in no uncertain terms how grave the error of the majority can be when the mob is allowed to rule. The politics of the Cross both raises and answers the ultimate question of sin: if God should present Himself to us in a wholly innocent and vulnerable way, do we respond to Him by falling to our knees and begging forgiveness for our human failings? Or do we commit the atrocity of deicide at the urging of the experts and to quiet the shouts of the unholy? And to those who would claim that the Cross is an object of horror consigned to our barbaric history, and that the choice would be different in our civilized world of today, I would point you to the corpses of the 50 million innocent and vulnerable unborn who have died in the US alone since the process of abortion became legal in 1973. Imagine 50 million little crosses on 50 million little graves and picture Our Lord crucified 50 million times and one begins to see life in America from heaven's point of view. The politics of “choice” is very much related to the politics of the Cross.


There is an old 1950's science fiction movie entitled, "Red Planet Mars" that is a particular favorite of mine. In this film a scientist, as portrayed by Peter Graves, makes radio contact with a civilization on Mars. In his conversations with the Martians, he is given instruction on how Mars was able to fix the various ills that still plague earthly civilization, and soon hunger, disease and the various hardships of human life are on the way to being cured. This creates a tremendous distrust and panic, as markets begin to collapse in the face of the Martian potential, and the masses react violently to what they suspect to be a sinister inter-planetary interference. This prompts our hero to ask his Martian contacts how they came by this knowledge and why they are sharing it, and he is told that God walked among them and brought them peace, prosperity and harmony. The idea is to prompt the audience to ponder just what it could have meant if the crowd  present at the Praetorium that day had cried out the name of Jesus instead of that of Barabbas.

The question for us supposed by the politics of the Cross is simply, "Is it too late?" Do the conditions of the present day demonstrate for us that the powers of evil that condemned Jesus to death are as firmly entrenched within our modern world as in that ancient one, and that there is no hope of turning the tide?  Are we doomed by the curse of history to endlessly repeat it, or is it possible to stand today in the public square, choose correctly, and shout the name of Jesus over that of Barabbas? Further, is it too late to overcome a system and a society that has been corrupted with sin and polluted with unbelief to the point where we are not even allowed to shout for Jesus in public, but must choose instead between the murderers and robbers who are chosen for us?  Is this not the consequence, after all, of allowing God to be denied in our cultural reality and banished from our public life? And is this not the consequence, after all, of a Church that has spent too much of the past two millennia wielding the power of religion as a weapon rather than leading the huddled masses to fall before the Cross of Christ, so that from the bottom of every sinful soul and every broken heart the cry might be heard in heaven, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner”?

That's the answer to the politics of the Cross for each of us individually. It is a decision that must be made in the depths of our being and offered up by the free will that was the gift from God that condemned us through rebellion in Eden, and yet saves each that chooses resubmission at the Cross.  

The larger question is what of the nation that drifts from God and denies Him? When is her condemnation complete? The lesson that we know from history is that when ancient Israel played the harlot with foreign gods, the Lord deserted her to her lusts, yet kept open the door to true and deep repentance. And when the chastisement of the pagans was visited upon the people of God, there were those times when she turned back to Him, rent her garments and mourned, and there was the time when she was utterly crushed and defeated and was carried off to weep in sackcloth by the rivers of Babylon.  Even so, the Lord brought back a remnant of her people, and even yet her savior came. And the woes of our world today are the result of her choice, by free election, of the killer Barabbas over the author of life, Jesus Christ. In the gospel, there is but one disciple who follows Jesus all the way to the Cross and joins his mother there and so is saved. In the days after Christ is risen, the others find their way back to him until even Thomas places his hand in his side, is confronted by the reality of the Cross, and ceases to be faithless but believes. And many others come to Christ, as the witness of these new apostles spreads across the land. But the nation? She mercilessly persecutes the Christians until the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of God are destroyed, and remains spiritually blind and hard of heart until the nation is led into utter devastation and ruin by following the gospel of violence as proclaimed by the false messiah, Simon Bar Kochba.       

Now the question is posed to America: can she be saved? Should she? Before that question is answered, perhaps we should take a look at America from a more prophetic perspective, because if the tendency towards a more Christian democracy is based upon the idea that the nation's ills can be cured by merely informing policy decisions from an academic point of view more favorable to Christians, then it must be noted, and with no undue alarm, that this more traditional approach is in a state of utter failure within both of the parties currently holding power. The reason for this is not necessarily an outright evil intent on either side of the aisle, but rather that both have come to reflect and represent the viewpoint of a majority poisoned by the Kool-Aid of a corrupt and not only unchristian, but anti-christian, intelligentsia. The problem in America is not political, it is spiritual. The so-called “culture war” has already been lost and this is merely reflected in the political process. Therefore, no political solution is possible until the heart and mind and soul of the citizenry is turned back to God and away from the sin that destroys her.      

What is the nature of this sin? Who is America today? Consider this:

She plays the harlot in abject sin and outright debauchery, and with an arrogance unspeakable even to the ancients. Her youth are corrupted by a rampant and destructive sexual deviance that is celebrated in the streets and promulgated in the public square as the free and joyous expression of a brave and liberated new world. A secular “spirituality” in the form of a 21st century new age paganism of "tolerance" has arisen to fill the vacuum created by those respected theologians in our colleges and universities who proclaimed God dead and passe in the 20th century. We witness now many new churches claimed for God that proclaim a gospel of prosperity and mammon rather than the gospel of eternal salvation at the Cross, and they have become as bereft of the Lord's presence as were the gold filled temples of Rome. We witness in the ancient and Holy Church even priests consecrated by Holy Orders to Jesus serving up the bodies and souls of children on the unholy altar of Ba'al, while serving the faithful at the Holy Altar of Christ. It should not surprise us, then, that our land has become a place where the lusts of the flesh are given precedence, while the needs of the spirit are denied and the resultant empty souls are filled with meaningless diversions and destructive amusements. Men lie with men, and women with women, and demand that the government recognize this somehow as "marriage." They demand as well that the Church that has yet to bow the knee to Ba'al proclaim their union "holy." And many in the government concede that this should be so and—as if they speak for God Himself—demand the Church to follow suit. Across the land not only the first but often the second, third or fourth or more conceived in sin, or those merely proclaimed deficient or an inconvenience, are passed through the fire of abortion to Moloch, while those who protest this horror are said to be hard of heart, narrow of mind and haters of women. As if the slaughter of the innocents of our own land was somehow insufficient, the United Nations is enjoined by American based capitalistic interests to spread this abomination that maketh desolate to the far flung corners of the earth. Those callow youth fortunate enough to escape the abortionist grow up to be recruited and trained as killers for the war machine of an evil empire that spills the blood of manufactured enemies abroad for profit.  Coolidge once said that, “The business of America is business,” but today that business has moved offshore for cheaper labor, while the true business of America increasingly is death. And we are urged to wave the flag and cheer while our leaders, like Ahab and Jezebel, demand the right to justify this sin for themselves and the people by denying evermore the reality of the God of Israel. They have used the same politics that sent Jesus to the Cross to fill our governmental halls with the sons of Barabbas, and our courts with those possessed of less character than Pilate.

This unchecked descent into mortal sin in America has gone on so long now, and has become so pronounced and entrenched, that it has produced a situation that is more systemic than it is political. Dishonesty and deceit, so long accepted as the usual business of politics, has spread unchecked like a cancer into the very bones of the American system. So weakened, this very system upon which the business of the nation operates has been usurped and corrupted by an elite who have placed themselves above God, let alone the prosecution of the people. They have stolen from us the family cow of true and traditional American morals and values, and have traded it on our behalf for the magic beans of a demonic new world order. Their unchecked thievery has resulted in a fiscal crisis of unprecedented proportion, and their stooges in government, elected by what we are told is the will of the people, and functioning under what now passes for the rule of law, have handed us the bill. And, as hapless as lemmings, and as helpless as sheep, we have no choice but to pony up the dough. It isn't enough that we merely render onto Caesar what is Caesar's, because they have determined, and demanded that, in His absence, they also want what is God's. And this has resulted in such human suffering for profit enterprises as abortion and war on demand. They want it all, and, much as they have, it isn't enough. It never is enough. More and more, these money changers have succeeded in moving the wealth of the people into their own private coffers while creating a debt that the public subsequently is expected to pay. Not satisfied with stealing the wealth already produced by the masses, they have devised ways to take the wealth they have not yet generated, and when this is no longer possible—a situation that approaches rapidly—then the ruined public becomes a liability rather than an asset: and increasingly expendable. The so called “elite” buy off and pay for ever slicker and dirtier politicians and for the company of high profile celebrity functionaries, who meld into a lower level controlled “news” media which, in turn, bends reality to their point of view and points the finger of their propaganda at everyone but them. And so we are told by those who shill for those with the most (who pay the least) that those who have more should pour more of what they earn into the bottomless abyss of this human greed, so the ones with less can be satisfied that more is being done to “save the planet” and care for the rapidly growing numbers of “the poor.” In this way, more and more can be enslaved and controlled in a “welfare state” that pays out barely enough to maintain survival and never enough to foster escape from it. In this way, those who have had their hard earned wealth shaken from their pockets join those entrapped by their own lack of ambition, and those who supplement this meager income through criminal activity, and what we used to call the “middle class” is transformed before our eyes into a growing and alarming underclass, and the very foundation of American society crumbles beneath our feet. In the Orwellian doublespeak of post modern times, the extermination of  undesirables through abortion, euthanasia and eugenics is now called “healthcare,” and participation in this system is ordered up for one and all by the law of the land. And when the Church of  Jesus Christ finally finds her voice in protest of a forced participation in such policies that outright violate not only the Constitution, but the natural laws of God, a majority of her followers, like the dog of Proverbs, return to their own vomit and reelect the administration that perpetrates this sin. The politics of the Cross remains unchanged and the voice of the mob has cried out once more, “Give us Barabbas!”  And so they shall have him.

Given these circumstances of our present day reality, it is understandable and even expected that a cry should go up across the land for a more Christian brand of democracy. As with the Judea of Christ's day, so in our own times, the politics of the Cross leads invariably to wreck and to ruin. In America this wreck and ruin is so fast upon us and the moral fabric of our society so rent that it is indeed a fair question to ask: is it too late? Is it hopelessly naive to suppose that, in the face of such formidable odds, and with such a deeply entrenched and powerful opposition, that it is possible to effect any kind of positive outcome at all? However, this was also true in the Rome that gave us the politics of the Cross, and the end result of that fateful day in Jerusalem was the rise of a faith based culture that lasted some two thousand years and lifted the world to new heights even in the midst of the same ever-present malevolence that threatens our destruction now. And, while it is this same culture that dies in our arms today, the most ultimate and meaningful truth brought home to us through our history, and by the politics of the Cross, is the eternal hope of resurrection for not only individuals, but for the nation that chooses to return to God in true and deep repentance.

While it is hard to envision a new reality akin to that of the faded print and red menace mentality of a poorly made and forgotten 1952 film—a film in which America and the world do wake up and do turn back to God—the fact remains that there are many in America who remain sympathetic to the cause of Christ, and perhaps the worst we could do is sacrifice this devotion to Jesus on the altar of hopelessness. Perhaps that's just what those who would see us brought down the rest of the way to hell would have us do. Christian democracy does not have to remain forever an idiotic oxymoron.  Democracy itself, despite it's pagan origins, does not have to be a cruel hoax that invariably leads Our Lord to the Cross. It is hard to imagine that, given the impact Jesus had on the society of his day through the deep truths of his teaching, and his awesome and mind-bending display of God's power, that there were not those present at the Praetorium that day who were also sympathetic to his cause. In fact, it is hard to fathom that the crowds that so vociferously welcomed him to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday could have, with such ferocity, turned to condemn him unanimously on Good Friday. Had those touched by Jesus raised their voices that day at Pilate's urging, perhaps the election so rigged by the chief priests could have been overturned, and the echoing cry of “Give us Jesus!” would have made our human legacy the politics of salvation rather than the politics of the Cross. The message of “Red Planet Mars” was, simply, that it was not too late for planet earth. In the film, Peter Graves came to understand that this message received from Mars came from God Himself. Perhaps we, too, should come to understand this about the same message that comes to America, and the world, from the Holy See in Rome.

Given the state of America in the 21st century and the death of faith that has given rise to the new and jealous pagan religion of “Secularism,” it should also be understood that the road ahead for any political movement that seeks to not only call itself Christian, but truly be so, will be fraught with danger and loudly, and even violently, opposed in no uncertain terms. Those who have—either through malice or ignorance—moved the nation so far in the opposite direction, worship their pagan gods of Secularism and the emperors who support them as surely as did the ancient Romans. The popular idea that Christian ideals can somehow be fostered through negotiation and compromise in the midst of this is truly naive and totally unrealistic. There is no negotiation with the devil. There is no compromise at the Cross. The road to salvation for America is through the deep and true conversion and reconversion of enough of her souls to fill the public square with a voice that shouts as one the name of Jesus, and shouts down the call for Barabbas. This is no quick nor easy fix. The conversion of Rome was won upon the blood of the Christian martyrs. It may be safely assumed that the conversion of America will be won with nothing less.

Phil Ropp

Mr. Ropp owns the news portal Radio New Jerusalem

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.