Perhaps what is meant by the inclusion of the word merely is that in some way, politics exists in some form of neutral — dare I say Pelagian — a manner that is only corrupted by fallen humanity, and by injecting the light of Christ into it, the redemption of politics is possible, as is God’s plan with much of his creation. And if the redemption of politics is possible, even in a restricted sense, it would be our duty to try.
I think not, because politics is not neutral, and I believe we make this error by conflating concepts of Justice, Mercy, and the like with politics.
Politics appears to be a consequence of the fall. This makes politics certain, but not necessary. The distinction is an important one, as follows. At any rate, in worlds with significantly free (problem word, for sure) creatures, it is certain how they will choose given God’s existence, but not necessary.
So, since the fall was certain, politics was certain but not necessary*. It may have been otherwise. And that is precisely what the biblical evidence suggests to me: there was a time when there was no politics.
There is a hierarchical structure in Heaven. But politics? I think not. It seems to me to be more the Decree of God on the one hand and the perfect obedience of the good angels, sovereignly enabled by God, on the other. There is no voting, no palavering, no debate of the issues. Indeed, any such behavior appears to result in a decisive casting out event, to a place, presumably in Hell where there is a wide variety of vigorous political activity, I’m sure. Politics, after all, is a result of the fall.
As with Heaven, I detect no politics in Paradise Eden. There was a decree, and obedience and disobedience thereto. There was a hierarchical structure, but pre-fall, no competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership. Adam and Eve may have been wildly successful in fruitfulness and multiplicity, populating the entire earth. Even so, politics would have remained unknown and un-needed without the fall.
It’s important here to distinguish between the culture of Christians and Politics, for culture did exist pre-fall. God is a creator, after all, and as the Psalmist says 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork. 19:2 Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness. We in his image, as elemental redactors, of course, created as well. Adam sang, and worked, and painted, and named animals.
Culture has evidently always been part of the human experience, unlike politics. The distinction leads to an obvious inference: culture does not require politics, nor is politics a necessary element of culture. Culture flourishes best without it, as in Eden, and we assume that in paradise restored and redeemed it will flourish unfettered once more.
Hence, no. Politics is not merely the governance of culture.
But the plot thickens…
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Indeed, he deceived Adam and Eve, and they defied God. As far as humanity is concerned, this is the first instance of a competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership. Politics were born, so to speak.
Without delay, the curse came upon the serpent: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
The proto-evangel of Gen 3:15 is rightly applied to Christ; however, its types and shadows appear throughout the Old Testament. In fact, its first type appears almost immediately in Genesis in the analog of Cain and Abel (I note in passing that because of Cain’s sin, God instituted the first recorded public rules and regulations intended to limit sinful behavior, the mark of Cain). Appropriately enough to our subject matter, the first thing Cain is recorded to have done in Nod is to have built a city. As Augustine saw, the city of man was born, and along with it the enmity spoke of in Gen 3:15 was established.
In contrast to the line of Cain, Eve gives birth to Seth: Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” 26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.
At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.
Clearly, the godly line of Seth called upon the name of the Lord, as Augustine saw, the city of God. The two lines track separately in Gen 4:17–22, the line of Cain, and Gen 5: 1–32, the line of Seth From Adam through Noah.
Something happens, though, in Gen 6: When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
The godly line of Seth defiled itself with the line of Cain. I’ll develop this further in response to the next question: Contrary to abusus non tollit usum (roughly, the abuse of a Thing does not negate rightful use) — does the misuse of politics alone negate rightful use?
*philosophic necessity…I realize they’re pretty necessary to us in other ways, as delineated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 13.
PS-according to the grandmasters of grammar, politics is singular. In general usage, however, there appears to be any number of well-spoken and well-written folk who employ it as a plural. I reserve the right, then, to say politics is or politics are as I see fit. More or less, this disclaimer allows me to be lazy…