How would Jesus impeach?

Feb 4, 2020 by

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“If an offender refuses to hear you, then tell it to the ekklesia (the assembly). If he will not hear the ekklesia, then you must remove that person, consider them an outsider.”
— Jesus (who loved outsiders)

I can already hear people objecting to my title. The Bible isn’t political, isn’t about impeachment, and has nothing to say about the removal of any president or other public official. Besides, God’s kingdom is separate from the temporal kingdoms of this age.

But as members of the Christian faith, we also affirm that everything here on earth is subject to God’s rule. Our primary creed is “Jesus is Lord.” Lord over everything. Lord over Caesar. Lord of all nations.

Christians affirm that while God ordains secular governments as a way to keep evildoers in check, everyone will ultimately be judged by the same standard. No exceptions.

We also believe that the government (kingdom) of God and the governments of this age are by no means equal. God’s rule is far and above every principality and power, and that rule is both now and forever.

So I’m disturbed at Christians seemingly seeing Jesus’s life and teachings as naive and largely irrelevant to here and now, real-life issues.

When it comes to finances, for example, the jubilee economics taught and modeled by the Hebrew prophets and by Jesus and his early followers are simply set aside by most believers in favor of the wisdom of Wall Street. When it comes to the governing principles by which we live, the U.S. Constitution is regarded as more authoritative than the Bible. And on the issue of defense, the Pentagon is seen as offering more security, and having more validity, than the non-violent, cross-bearing faith lived and taught by the Prince of Peace.

So should we at least consider Jesus’ teaching and example in regard to something like an impeachment trial?

After all, even most members of Congress profess to be Christian. While they have also sworn to defend the Constitution, whatever they do in both their public and private life should reflect their allegiance to an even higher authority.

Were they to see themselves as subject to God’s rule, as taught by Jesus and the prophets, they might consider the following as they consider removing a president:

Like the removal of a member from his or her congregation, as outlined in Matthew 18, the ultimate goal of an impeachment trial should not be to convict or acquit, but to rectify wrong and to restore the wrongdoer. In other words, the primary focus should, in the words of Jesus, be to point out the fault and to invite the offender to repent, to make amends. Only after repeated failed attempts to do so are we to excommunicate, or “impeach,” someone.

Sadly, our current president may be unlikely to choose changing his ways, or rectifying any wrongs, having insisted that what he did was “perfect,” and that he sees no need for him to repent or ask forgiveness.

But before any efforts to indict or remove anyone, there should be a sincere appeal to the offender to repent.

That’s what the gospel is all about.

Harvey Yoder is an ordained pastor and member of Family of Hope, a small Virginia Mennonite Conference house church congregation, and blogs at harvyoder.blogspot.com.

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