I’ve been rereading Resident Aliens. It’s a difficult and challenging read – tough words are spoken to the Western Church. Recently I came across this article from The Center of Christian Ethics at Baylor University (2003) by Keith Putt.
It’s a review of two books — Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989; 175 pp.) and Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in a Fallen World by Robert P. Kraynak (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2001, 334 pp.)
Putt says: We cannot reduce Christian faithfulness to any political, cultural, or social program, since inevitably these fail to realize fully God’s justice, grace, and promise. How should the church maintain its prophetic, alien voice in our culture, given society’s significant commitment to liberal, capitalist democracy?
We must be wary of allying Christian faith too intimately with culture and politics. Our faithfulness should not be reduced to any particular political, cultural, or social program, since inevitably these will fail to realize fully God’s justice, grace, and promise. As Christians we perennially struggle with the tension between relevance and identity. Christ placed the church in the world and commissioned it to go forth into the world in order to disseminate the good news of salvation; consequently, the church must strive to be relevant to whatever culture it inhabits so as to gain a hearing and, thereby, fulfill Christ’s mission. Yet, in the need for relevancy, the church must never compromise its identity; it must distinguish itself as different from the world for the purpose of maintaining a prophetic or critical edge. For how can the church denounce any evil, violence, or oppression resident in society, if it is so immersed in the secular that its voice sounds like every other worldly voice? How can the church speak against sin, if it partners with those earthly principalities and powers that propagate sin?
To read the entire article click here.