This tension between life-giving and malignant forms of religion is also deeply rooted in the Jewish traditions. The Hebrew prophets were gravely concerned about established forms of religion that appear to be respectable but result in oppression. The prophet Isaiah hears the voice of God pronouncing judgment on malignant religion: “You serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers” (Isaiah 58:3). Life-giving religion, by contrast, loosens “the bonds of injustice" (Isa 58:6).
This book serves as an indictment of the pieties of empire and their push for political, economic, cultural, and religious domination. Some forms of Christian faith (Jesus) versus other forms of Christian faith (Caesar). Whom and what will we trust and serve? Jesus embodies and exposes this tension in ways that transform destructive images of God, engender political and economic resilience, and model solidarity with others who are radically different, including other religions.
This tension between life-giving and malignant religion is a critical opportunity for those who seek to follow Jesus instead of “Caesar.”
—Miguel A. De La Torre, Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies, Iliff School of Theology, Denver, CO
“At a time when so many say they are following Jesus but are worshipping Caesar, this timely and engaging book is a wake-up call, a serious critique, and a guide to practicing a transformative faith. It should be widely read and discussed in classrooms, churches, and grassroots communities.”
—Kwok Pui Lan, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theology, Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA; former William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality, Episcopal Divinity School, New York, NY; author, Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology
“All of Joerg Rieger’s many books combine his distinctly powerful fusion of theology, biblical scholarship, political economics, and social justice activism. Jesus vs. Caesar luminously explicates the faith at the heart of Rieger’s work, revealing what keeps him going.”
—Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY; Professor of Religion, Columbia University, New York, NY