Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture on Amazon
Chapter 5: What is to be Done? The Dialogue with Politics
On this California lazy summer afternoon, I'll affirm I'm also baptist, evangelical, reformed, catholic, pentecostal, and - I hope - above all, a disciple.
Page 107: "Neither for Luther nor for Calvin would it have appeared as anything but incomprehensible blasphemy to suggest that human behavior in the sphere of economics was outside the jurisdiction of theology."
Jesus said to the rich young ruler, "What must you do to be saved? Keep the commandments, sell all that you have and give it to the poor: forsake your gods, whether riches, property, a BMV, career or profession - or even your family - and follow the God of justice in whose image you are created; own that divine image by doing justice, loving righteousness, and walking humbly with your God."
There's no doubt being in Christ means not to own the God of Jesus Christ as yet another of "my" possessions, but rather to acknowledge it is God who in baptism possesses us and at many junctures of our lives tests our claim to the name "Christian." Many if not most of those are very public testings, opportunities again to choose between life and death.
On this thread Rick G. mentioned "…that distorted version…of the separation of church and state" which speaks to the non-establishment of religion: forever in this country religion(s) and politics have had what someone referred to as "institutional separation but functional interaction." As Rick said, when we don't like the politics a particular local church or church-body is advocating some of us usually are quick to decide church and politics (or church and any other area of public rather than private life) is inappropriate or plain wrong.
But onto a different direction: in my experience people usually begin attending church or decide to return to church because of spiritual hunger, not because they're interested in biblically-based and divinely-sanctioned social or political activism. They want to feel connected to their spiritual source, therefore all the meditation, contemplation, Taizé chants, incense, candle glow and labyrinths. People truthfully and sometimes desperately are looking for the wholeness they instinctively know they'll find in some kind of connectedness.
Back to Bishop Newbigin: as he observes, the dichotomy between spiritual and material isn't biblical at all and it's especially totally absent from the life of Jesus. I believe "incarnately" is the way we need to read the entire Bible, God's Word always is an incarnate, living, "still-speaking" Word of abundant life.
It's well-known the church at times began over-spiritualizing Jesus' life and teachings in reaction to extraordinarily excessive and idolatrous carnal indulgences of neighboring or local cultures, and on page 97 Newbigin wisely reminds us "there is much in the Bible about what may be called the interior dimension of human existence," while at the bottom of the same page he observes, "Faith, obedience, repentance, and love…are embodied in…jurisprudence, public health, education, welfare and economic policy."
I'll wrap up this post by quoting page 99:
"The king reigns from the tree." "...the victory of God under the sign of the cross."