Monday, July 11, 2011

Finding an Integrated Worldview

"... Christ has overcome the power of sin and death. Entering completely into our shared humanity with all its burden of sin, he has gone down into the darkness of death and judgment for us, and in his resurrection, given us a sign and foretaste of total victory. As united with him we are enabled to follow the same way. We do not see the future of either our own personal selves or the world we share with all people. The curtain of death shuts off our view. But Jesus has gone before us through the curtain. The road disappears from view down into a dark valley, into whose depth we cannot peer. Jesus has gone down there before us and has appeared victorious on the other side. He is himself the path, the way that goes through death to life (John 13:26-14:7). As we follow that way, we have before us, beyond the chasm of death, the vision of the holy city into which all the glory of the nations will be brought and from which everything unclean is excluded (Rev. 21,22). Following that way, we can commit ourselves without reserve to all the secular work our shared humanity requires of us, knowing that nothing we do in itself is good enough to form part of that city's building, knowing that everything- from our most secret prayers to our most public political acts- is part of that sin-stained human nature that must go down into the valley of death and judgment, and yet knowing that as we offer it up to the Father in the name of Christ and in the power of the Spirit, it is safe with him and- purged in fire- it will find its place in the holy city at the end (cf. 1Cor. 3:10-15).

This faith heals the split between the public and the private. There is no room for a political fanaticism that supposes that my political achievements will establish God's kingdom, or declares a holy war against opponents, or tramples on individual human beings in the pursuit of a political millennium. The public political act has its real meaning simply as a kind of acted prayer for the coming of God's reign. Equally, there is no room for piety that seeks personal holiness by opting out of the struggle for a measure of justice and freedom in public life. This faith enables us to be politically realistic without cynicism, to be sensitive to the supreme rule of love without sentimentality. It enables us humbly to acknowledge that even the best social order is- in God's sight- an organization of sinful men and women and therefore always prone to corruption; and yet not to use this knowledge as an excuse for political quietism, but rather as an inspiration to work tirelessly for the best possible among the actually available political alternatives," Foolishness to the Greeks, pp. 136-37.

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