Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From a letter on Christian political involvement

Thanks for your thoughts, _____. I'm more and more seeing the rationale for non-participation in the political process. Good men can differ on how best to represent Christ in the political sphere.

However, at what point will such an approach cease protesting worldly power and work to improve life as it actually is in this fallen world? No system is perfect because of sin, so should Christians perpetually relegate themselves to non-political action? In fact, not even ecclesiastical institutions can be free of taint, so should we disband all organized religion?

Now if the author is saying that non-involvement is the most effective strategy in this moment and place, I'd like to hear his reasons. Maybe you could outline his main points for me. For instance, what does "true involvement" mean?

As for hastening (or anticipating) the Kingdom, I guess in the ultimate sense we'd agree only Christ can bring the kingdom to its historical consummation/perfection/fullness. However, in principle the Kingdom is already perfect, redemption being fully accomplished in Christ and in (at least) some of his saints. Kingdom resurrection power is already immanent in the world, vivifying it, and raising the dead to life. So, are we acting in faith in this reality, or do we put limits on what God can do?

Christ transformed the playing rules by pursuing a path of total submission to the Father. This involved putting himself at the mercy of the established political powers, i.e., he was no revolutionary in the ordinary sense of the term. In other words, he transformed political society from the inside out through self-sacrificial love. Christ didn't avoid political influence, but he didn't seek it either. I guess that's the delicate balance for which we all should strive.

Does this mean that Christianity doesn't offer concrete proposals for political action and even how governmental authority should be arranged? I don't think so. Grace doesn't contradict nature; rather, grace calls men back to their true nature while at the same time redeeming that nature. There is a natural order. Christian political thinkers should identify what it consists of, and point the way to its recovery and renewal.

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