The Church contra Echo Chamber

Nicolas Poussin
Echo and Narcissus, 1630
Oil on canvas

In his recently-published, and thoroughly insightful, conclusion to the Cultural Liturgies trilogy, theologian James K.A. Smith articulates a particularly-challenging (and surprising) précis for what a Christian political theology ought to be. Following the lead of Oliver O’Donovan and Peter Leithart, Smith speaks Hauerwas to Kuyperians and then Kuyper to Hauerwasians, resulting in a re-furbished and refined view of the Church qua polis, not disjunctioned from the political polis (as it is in Lutheran Two Kingdoms doctrine) nor in charge of the political polis (as it is in NAR “Kingdom Now” dominionism, and several other postmillennial variants) nor its own entirely separate political polis (as the modern Roman Catholic Church functions). These are all, Smith asserts, false leads. Continue reading “The Church contra Echo Chamber”

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Aristotle for Christian Politics

Raphael
The School of Athens, 1511
Fresco

Especially in American schools of theological discourse, there is a nigh-eternal tension between the terms of Christian doctrine-practice and politics. While the most self-evident practice of such dissonance is visible in the particular relationship of the American Christian Church (taken as a broad unity) and its civil government, the American nation-state — a dissonance that includes both doctrines and practices that are debated from a Christian-politics to a secular-nation-state-politics — I sometimes wonder if our dissonance is even more primal, and thus more problematic, than just discourse.

Continue reading “Aristotle for Christian Politics”

The Kingdom against Hegemony

Henryk Siemiradzki
Nero’s Torches, 1876
Oil on canvas

In approximately 94-95 A.D., an elderly man exiled to Patmos wrote a vision that he had received from God. How we ought to be interlocutors with his mode of composition (i.e. whether the written text is all visionary or partially visionary and partially literary) is unimportant for observing the heaviness of the content of his work: that is, the Book of Revelation as a text primarily concerned with the critique of Imperial power and the Christian answer to the problem of Empire. For the purposes of this post, I will be using the academic definition of Empire, as a political-social order that aims for hegemony over its subjects. Continue reading “The Kingdom against Hegemony”