Jesus and Politics (C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters 23)

In Letter 23 of The Screwtape Letters, the demon Screwtape tells his understudy Wormwood that they should continue to encourage the idea of a “historical Jesus.” What he means is that his man should be encouraged to seek a political Jesus. This is done by “suppression and exaggeration.” Those who want to fit Jesus into a certain political position emphasize certain aspects of His teaching and minimize others.

The goal of all this, the demon says, is to “distract men’s minds from who He is and what He did.”

I meet more and more people who put their politics first and try to cram Jesus into the mold of their politics. There is the communist seminary professor who liked the revolutionary Jesus. There is the conservative Republican who liked Jesus as a strict moralist. There is the liberal who liked the social justice Jesus.

I’ve been trying recently to understand why I feel so uncomfortable with so many Christians around me. I think it’s because so many Christians I meet are talking agendas rather than talking Jesus. I have really conservative friends and really liberal friends. I’m going to be honest, all of them make me really uncomfortable (and I think I make them uncomfortable).
In the end, I’m not going to follow an agenda. I don’t want another agenda. I just want to follow Jesus because He makes sense. I’m going to say this as clearly as I know how: Agenda Christianity is not real Christianity. Christ rejected a politicized faith.

Lewis is right, each Jesus wrapped in politics emphasizes one aspect but diminishes another. It distorts who He is, what He taught, and what He did.

I wish my friends stood against the idea that Jesus is on our side of the political spectrum. He did not come to sanctify our political positions. He did not have a political party. Honestly, He ought to make anyone with a strong political position (left, right, Republican, Democrat) uncomfortable.

Christ is bigger than our politics. We would do well to make sure that we are following the real Christ and not the Christ of the politicians.


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