by H. David Baer
In an essay written perhaps in the 1960’s, the German Lutheran theologian Helmut Thielicke considers the possibility of a Christian political party. While not ruling the idea completely, he clearly has some reservations. By its nature, a political party must compromise and make strategic decisions that are far removed from Christian teaching. And many of the things a political party takes a position on have no clear cut Christian answer.
Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986) Source: Wikipedia
Thielicke concludes that Christian political action should focus on specific issues, issues on which there is a Christian position. One cannot say this or that political party is Christian, but one can say, for example, that this is the Christian position on abortion, euthanasia, marriage, and so on. There may be Christian positions on specific political questions, but a political party with a comprehensive Christian platform is not really possible.
There might, of course, be rare exceptions in especially extreme circumstances. This was the argument made about Hitler in the German confessing church movement. Karl Barth made the argument famously, claiming, essentially, that to oppose Hitler was a status confessionis (to use Lutheran terminology).
As far as the political situation in Hungary is concerned, one would be hard pressed to claim things have reached that point. The only political event in Hungary that crossed the line theologically was Prime minister Orbán’s speech about the “bird from Turul,” delivered in the town of Ópusztaszer. If this sort of Hungarian paganism were to become an integral part of Fidesz politics, or the politics of another political party or government in Hungary, then Christians would have a duty to oppose such political paganism. But the “speech at Ópusztaszer” was one crazy speech, and it would be rash to generalize from it at this point.
David Baer writes more about the Lutheran perspective on politics in the first issue of Principium.
by György Heidl
They are going to be disappointed, those who are hoping that, as concerns the theology of marriage and questions of sexual ethics, Pope Francis is going to soften the “strict” teaching of the church on the purity and sanctity of marriage.
Especially as concerns the recognition of same sex marriage, we ought not to expect even a slight concession. Many have pinned great hope on the oft quoted, deeply humane, but thoroughly distorted comment by Pope Francis, “who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith.” But these people overlook the pope’s first encyclical, where he emphatically affirms the clear teaching of the church. According to Francis, the union of man and woman in marriage “is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh, and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan” (Lumen fidei 52).
György Heidl writes more about the meaning of marriage in the first issue of Principium.
by H. David Baer
In Eastern Europe religious and national identity often overlap with one another. Many Christians in Eastern Europe affirm this overlapping as a way to reinforce and preserve national identities. One such Eastern European is László Tőkes, Bishop of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Romania. Bishop Tőkes professes an intrinsic link between his identity as a Christian and his identity as a Hungarian, and he does so in a way that is both thoughtful and provocative. This essay examines the thought of Bishop Tőkes and argues that his theological affirmation of Hungarian identity is theologically coherent and well-reasoned. Read the full article here!
Principium is an independent, international journal dedicated to cultivating informed Christian debate about public life in Hungary and Europe. The first issue will be published in fall 2014.