For the next few Thursdays I will be publishing a series of posts on a subject that is very important to me-- so important in fact that I wrote a small book on the subject-- The Politics of Witness. The reasons for this series is the continued misunderstanding of my position and those of us who embrace what I also refer to as a robust political ecclesiology. My position does not promote withdrawal from the culture or nation state politics, nor does it embrace a very untenable personal/public dichotomy. The reasons for this continued misunderstanding are found in the very context I desire to critique. I will post more on this over the next few weeks.
While the subject of the church's witness has hardly been ignored, I overtly tie the church's witness to politics and politics to ecclesiology. I ask the church to consider the recovery of a robust political ecclesiology that sees the very life and witness of the ecclesia as its politics, and that the primary and central political posture of the church toward the nations is not one of influence in the political chambers of Washington D.C., but by embodying in its collective life what God expects of the nations. The church can only reclaim its mission and prophetic witness in the world by embracing the politics of witness. I seek a way out of a status quo ecclesiology and a completely uninteresting understanding of nation state politics. I believe that God is looking for a remnant to faithfully embody the politics of witness to the nations.
A favorite quote of mine from Stanley Hauerwas is "It is God and not the nations who rules the world." That is the claim I wish to assert throughout this series because I believe that while most Christians believe the truth of that claim, they do so only in the abstract. Functionally, by the church's political engagements and by aligning themselves with the left and the right, Democrats and Republicans, Christians in actuality betray the unacknowledged belief that it is the nations that are indeed running the show. In this series wish to challenge that unacknowledged belief in no uncertain terms.
Before I can clarify what the politics of witness is, I have to highlight what the politics of witness is not. That is the subject of the next post.
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)