Is Christianity Political?
Great thoughts. I could watch a series of talks on this topic from these guys. I’d like to make 2 points:
1) Dever’s comment about his job being to deflate utopianism is crucial. Both parties, in their own distinctive ways, raise their visions for America to a messianic status. Keller has been great in showing how gospel-centered Christianity eschews such political pelagianism.
2) ‘Political’ is a slippery term. Dever, Baucham, and Kynes each have a slightly different nuance to their usage of the term. In one sense, Christianity is at its heart political, and ministers must preach politically. The sticking point is how we define the term. When Bill Kynes avoids being political he means this in a biblically acceptable sense of not using the pulpit as a platform for anything other than the proclaimed word of God in Scripture. Amen to that. The sense of political that I approve of above is that the lordship claims of Christ is all encompassing (think of the famous Kuyper quote, “…every square inch” and all that). As Michael Bird, N.T. Wright, and others have pointed out when the apostles preached Jesus as Lord they were in effect saying that Caesar wasn’t. Jesus didn’t reject both the religious/political compromises of the Herodians on one end and the revolutionary tactics of the zealots on the other because he wasn’t political, but precisely because his political vision of the kingdom of God was different from both groups.
When the pastor gets to the unit on homosexuality in, say, Romans 1, he is preaching ‘politically’ in that he is declares God the only king who gets to define sexuality. When we get to units that speak on the kind of justice themes that Keller develops in Generous Justice he’s proclaiming that YHWH and YHWH alone is the One to shape our thoughts on these issues, the only One to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance, not a party line.