Conversely, "the very fact that Christians were not 'under the law,' made possible the modern conception of a purely secular state..." Indeed, many writers locate the foundation of the secular state in Jesus' advice to fork over to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
However, I wouldn't be so quick to link Jesus to a particular political philosophy, at least based on that crack alone. Clearly, he is making a statement about spiritual priorities and about the overall purpose of life. He's not enunciating a theory of governance. Besides, context is important. What would he say in Nazi Germany? "Render unto Hitler what belongs to Hitler." I don't think so.
Anyway, I think we can all stipulate that there is, by definition, a gulf between man and God. How to bridge it? First of all, it is axiomatic that man cannot do it from his side alone, otherwise he would be God (or God would be him, to be precise).
The diverse religions are essentially defined by their differing methods of divine linkage. Both Islam and Judaism do so via conformity to the Law. Buddhism and Vedanta do so by illuminating and eliminating one of the partners from the law firm, i.e., satori and moksha, respectively. Christianity bridges the gap from the other end, via the Incarnation.
Thus, in a way -- and I don't intend this as a critique, just a description -- only Christianity can literally do the job (at least for one person), since again, no matter how perfectly we conform to the law, we will not somehow be transformed into God. What distinguishes Christianity is the claim that the task has been accomplished, and that we may participate in it via divine adoption.
About that ontological gap between heaven and earth. It is interesting how similar leftism is to Islamism, because both approaches attempt to force salvation on us via politics. Obama is just the latest nitwiteration, nor is he the last, since leftists, by definition, do not learn. Leftism cannot be corrected or cured, only awakened from.
But every "from" implies a "to," so I might add that -- similar to alcoholism -- there is no non-spiritual cure for leftism. Note that the alcoholic shifts his allegiance from the bottle to a "higher power" that can restore him to sanity -- to O, as it were. Just so, the leftist must transfer his allegiance from the state to that very higher power who created us free and equal to begin with, prior to the state.
(Reminds me of an old post called Apparatchiks Anonymous, reprinted at the end for your amusement.)
This might be an opportune time to discuss another recent (for me) book, called Jesus Purusha: A Vedanta-Based Doctrine of Jesus. Caldecott mentions it in The R of B, so I picked up a copy. For only 57¢. Yesss!
The incongruous cover of the book makes it look like some kind of vaporous new age crock of native American Choprababble, but it is anything but. Almost all books are too long. This is one of the rare exceptions that is too short. It's rather dense and concentrated, and some of his definitions are on the idiosyncratic side.
In any event, it's not so much a Vedanta-based doctrine of Jesus -- in which Jesus is demoted to guru, swami, divine salesman, or even avatar -- but rather, a Christian assimilation of the Upanishads. It strikes me as completely orthodox, and does no violence whatsoever to the creed in order to make it fit into a vedantin metaphysic. Thus, it is not some shallow attempt at ecumenism, integralism, or synthesis, but a real metacreative brainwave.
However, I'll just stick with the parts I understood, since this guy seems to be above my praygrade.
The book takes the form of a series of letters "from the ashram of Jesus Purusha" to an English monk, setting out the theological position of the former. In so doing, he attempts to explain to the monk that his approach is not only orthodox, but highlights previously unappreciated implications of orthodoxy, since Vedanta provides the linguistic tools to do so.
Indeed, Davie shows that the metaphysical underpinnings of Vedanta supply "the precondition of orthodox Christology" -- the metacosmic principles by which something as flat out strange as Christianity is even possible, let alone true. It definitively relieves us of the need to appeal to myth or miracle in order to pull it all together. Which most Christians don't seem to mind doing, but that's no way to convince the rabble in the skeptic tank.
Davie speculates on the possibility of contact between India and ancient Palestine. Why not? Then again, who knows? Given the very nature of vertical murmurandoms, they will obviously strike down in distant temporal and geographical locales. Thus, we shouldn't be surprised that the Vedas announce that "In the beginning there was only Prajapati. His word was with him. This word was his double." Same memo, slightly different formulation.
This I found most provocative. Let's say that Jesus, instead of appearing in Palestine, had been born in India. He is gathered with the disciples, and asks the question, "Who do you say that I am?"
How would "an Indian Simon Peter" have responded? Yes, "thou art the Son of the living God." Except that in India, this would have been something of a commonplace, owing to the avatar principle.
No, this would have to be something different from your garden variety mangod. Davie suggests that the title "Christ" can mislead, since it is wedded to a specifically Jewish worldview. Is it possible that this title is part of a larger category?
Davie suggests that Simon Peter would have responded with something to the effect of, "You are the eternal Purusha," which is to say the "cosmic man" made flesh. This is very different from the usual Atman = Brahman available to all mortals as part of our standard equipment.
You might say that this realization (of Atman = Brahman) is equivalent to the Judeo-Christian doctrine that we are created in the image and likeness of God. That being the case, every man is ultimately God (i.e., is "not other" than God), even while God is obviously no man.
But to say that Jesus is the Purusha is another thing entirely. He is not a mangod, but rather, the Godman.
And with that, I'd better stop for the day. To be continued.
As promised, the Apparatchiks Anonymous 12-step Program:
1. We admitted we were powerless over the intoxicating dreams of socialism, and that our lives and governments had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power far greater than our own omnipotent egoic fantasies of total control could restore us to true liberalism.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the Source and Guarantor of our liberty.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of the well-intentioned failures and frank evils of socialism.
5. Admitted to the Creator of our Liberty, to ourselves, and in a live phone call to C-SPAN, the exact nature of socialism’s wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have the Creator of Our Liberty undo our college education and remove all these defects of ideology.
7. Humbly asked Him to cancel our subscription to the Times.
8. Made a list of all races, genders, and classes our government programs had harmed, and became willing to make amends by ignoring their constant whining, and preferably laughing at them.
9. Made direct amends to such people by realizing we have nothing to apologize for.
10. Continued to take a personal inventory, and when we were again tempted to abuse ideology for the purposes of blotting out reality, just got drunk instead.
11. Sought to improve our conscious contact with the Source of our Liberty through prayer, meditation, and listening to Rush Limbaugh.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other leftists, even if it meant being denied tenure, disinvited to dinner parties, unfriended, and generally slimed by our intellectual inferiors.