Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture on Amazon
Bishop Newbigin observes, "...denominations have been and are powerful, purposeful, and effective agencies of self-propagation."
On Christian (read: "human?") freedom he points out coerced belief is no belief at all; that acceptance of Christianity or of whatever needs to be done within a person's own time and space. It feels to me as if he's simply thinking out loud about what could be read as a "Christianized" government. Marian C., our discussion moderator said, "I am looking for a secular society with human values consistent with my Christian faith." Me, too!
For me, expressions like "Christian Coalition" instantly evoke visions of Fundamentalists from the Christian far-right conniving and scheming to inflict their particular proposals for a godly social order on everyone else, like it or not. (In a closely related vein, Rick G. reminded us of the Civil Rights movement's transformative effect on not only a "reluctant South," but on the rest of this country, too.) Here in San Diegan Southern California we have a big ecumenical multi-service social service agency that's been doing some effective and at times life-changing work, but it's comprised only of Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant local churches. There's also the requisite large Roman Catholic agency, as well as dozens of smaller groups, some ecumenical, a handful interfaith, and several formally affiliated with a particular denomination. But apropos of "bringing values to the heart of public policy," now that I've given you a spin on what's happening here, I'll say I believe it's a great idea.
His idea of "declericalized theology" resonates with another of my 10 challenges currently facing the church; Bishop Newbigin seems to be emphasizing the ordinary parishioner - also included in my idea - though I was intentionally thinking more about the non-professional lay leaders. And I was so embarrassed to read our author considers the situation (in some local churches) analogous to where the Reformers found themselves. From my experience most mainline churches definitely don't have well-educated laity and most of those persons in the pews don't care, either. One of the hallmarks of Reformation Christianity is supposed to be biblically and theologically well-educated laypersons...
Finally, he cites two very different style Christian communities "centered in the action of praise...that is literally 'out of this world' and is by that very fact able to speak to this world."