Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"Political Victories and Cultural Failures"

I don't claim to know whether all that's in this editorial true, and it certainly doesn't strike me as very objective. It does offer an interesting perspective on the theological underpinnings of the rise of evangelical/fundamentalist ecclesiastical engagement* in politics. The conclusion—that such efforts fail to transform culture—seems virtually irrefutable. Whether or not they are actually counterproductive to cultural transformation and, more importantly, to the spread of the gospel, is a worthwhile question.

*By engagement, I don't mean the personal involvement of individual believers in politics, but rather involvement by churches and religious leaders that blurs the churches mission.

2 comments:

Dave said...

While I am completely unsympathetic to the cultural/political engagement view, I don't think that this is a fair assessment of things.

Since the definition of "transform the culture" is not clear, it doesn't seem possible to conclude anything about success or lack of it. But, can we really deny that some of these efforts have influenced the culture and political landscape? It seems they have to me. And I can't bring myself to say that they have been counterproductive to cultural transformation, although they might be. I am just not convinced of that.

The point where we agree, I believe, is that the cost for this influence has been way too high in terms of the gospel (e.g., ECT)the church and its misson.

Ben said...

Dave,

I suppose it's fair to say that these efforts have transformed culture in the sense that, at the very least, the political landscape is very different than it was 30 years ago. Religion is certainly more prominent in the public arena. So perhaps I should concede that the culture is different, but it certainly hasn't been transformed in the way that was promised.

And my argument is not dogmatic that such efforts have been counterproductive, but it doesn't seem to hard to make that case persuasively if one were inclined to do so.

And of course, we surely do agree on your final point. That's where, for me at least, the reformed wing of Christianity seems so often to demonstrate internal inconsistency. It seems obvious to me in Henry and the other NEs, and Schaeffer seems only to have advanced this inconsistency.