Malankara World

Faith of the Church

Church and Politics

by Susan Eapen, Thiruvananthapuram

[Editor's Note: This article appeared in ICON after the release of the Kerala Election results in May 2011. Susan Eapen was originally a member of Marthoma Church; married to Orthodox Church and has fully integrated with Orthodox Church faith. The question she is asking, viz., Is there a role for church in politics, is something that deserves some thought.]

I came to the Orthodox Church with great joy, but now I do believe that I rejoiced at something which I projected on to the Orthodox Church of Kerala and its clergy. It is not their fault, it is mine.

I am still quite convinced about Ortho Doxa. But I have lost my faith in the Malankara Orthodox Church's perception of what faith is all about.

To me faith is all about putting your trust in God, responding to His promptings and living life as He offers it. Seeing with the eyes of faith, etc.

To me putting your trust in God and not putting your trust in God is clearly depicted in the two different responses of King Asa.

2chronicles chapter 14 " Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. [b] 4 He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands

"Let us build up these towns," he said to Judah, "and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the LORD our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side." So they built and prospered

Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men.

9 Zerah the Cushite marched out against them with an army of thousands upon thousands and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. 10 Asa went out to meet him, and they took up battle positions in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.

11 Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, "LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. LORD, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you."

12 The LORD struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 13 and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the LORD and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder. 14 They destroyed all the villages around Gerar, for the terror of the LORD had fallen on them. They looted all these villages, since there was much plunder there. 15 They also attacked the camps of the herders and carried off droves of sheep and goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem

This is acting in faith

Relying on ourselves and our might:

2 Chronicles chapter 14

In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.

2 Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the LORD's temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 3 "Let there be a treaty between me and you," he said, "as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me."

4 Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim[a] and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5 When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and abandoned his work. 6 Then King Asa brought all the men of Judah, and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using. With them he built up Geba and Mizpah.

7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: "Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 8 Were not the Cushites[b] and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen[c]? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war."

10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.

Asa made alliance with Aram and relied on his own planning and human wisdom. He had a victory but in the long term, he only caused trouble for his people.

I hear that the Orthodox have forgiven the Marxists for what happened a few years ago at Thiruvananthapuram when a peaceful show of strength by the Orthodox ended up with many of them being brutally beaten up by the police under a Marxist Government.

I hear that we have followed the example of Rome and we indulge in politics and display our might and flex our muscles.

I thought we are the followers of the 'lamb of God' who died on a cross because he refused to be the Political Messaiah who would lead the jews againts Rome.

I thought we venerated the cross.

I thought we belived that worldly measures and politics and wisdom is not God's wisdom.

I thougt that we believed that His strength is perfected in weakness.

We, the Orthodox, have brought instability to Kerala. No church has the right to influence a person's vote. The Church must teach its people to vote with discernment and with the right values. Instead, they seek power. They ask what did Ooommen Chnady give us? They form alliances like Herod and Pilate did.

I have lived in a dream world. I see that there is nothing holy anymore and there is no faith to be found except among the poor and the humble.

I cry to Parumala Thirumeni and Pampadi Thirumeni who were not rich and never had rich trappings yet managed to inspire the people and was a model to them because they devoted themselves to God.

I am ashamed and hurt and angry.

I also heard it whispered that the church was bought with money. I do not know what to believe because we have many shepherds who are more for money than for Jesus.

I am miserable, I who was so proud of our church!

Restore us O Lord! Have mercy on us! What example can I show my children and grandchildren? Whose story shall inspire them? What excuse can I make?

O Lord, I am wretched and miserable.

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