Info on 2011 Holy Land Pilgrimage

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October 25, 2007


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I thought for a minute that you were going to pull out the Menno!

Seriously - a very interesting article. I had the pleasure of hearing Carl Henry preach at Knox Presbyterian Church, Toronto in the summer of 1977. He was a superb theologian and a fine communicator. I find it hard to believe that he just forgot to articulate a Christian theology of what incarnational social action would look like within the institutions. Perhaps he realised that talk of 'a Christian philosophy of state and governance' is a bit of a misnomer, given that the 'Chriistian' bit of the Bible never envisions that Christians will be in that position in the first place!

Historic Anabaptist theology calls on Christians to be an alternative kingdom and live out their social justice convictions in that context. The danger is a separatism that has no impact on the world except by being a lifeboat. Historic Anglicanism acted as a chaplain to Caesar in the hope that having his ear from time to time might be a useful thing to moderate some of his excesses. I'm not convinced that's much better. Our friend Wilberforce had a better model, but even he was blind to how his complicity in the English class system stood in contradiction to New Testament Christianity. The discussion continues...


I have both the one "n" and the two "nn" on the bookshelf, although I know which one a classicist would turn to first... :^)

Tim, I think you are right to point out the pendulum of separatism and "cultural chaplaincy". I grant that the NT does not experience nor envision Christians in the institutional roles of civic power and law-making, but whether or not that is an ideal, I'm not so certain. There is a section of the book where Budziszewski engages Yoder's thought - which I'm looking forward to.

Henry critiqued his own work some 40 years later in a book entitled “Twilight of a Great Civilization: The Drift Toward Neo-paganism” (Crossway, 1988). There was, he wrote, “a notable weakness in my concentration on regeneration as the guarantee of a better world. For “Uneasy Conscience” failed to focus sharply on the indispensable role of government in preserving justice in a fallen society. Essential as regenerative forces are to transform the human will, civil government remains nonetheless a necessary instrument to constrain human beings – whatever their religious predilections – to act justly, whether they desire to do so or not.” (page 167)

It seems that the national "established church" model sees the institutions as deriving authority from God, but then does not have the ability to critique those institutions when needed. How we are called to incarnate the kingdom, as much as possible, is a difficult and grace-dependant vocation...

The Sheepcat

Joseph, just today I happened across a good essay and a book review by J. Daryl Charles in First Things on the theme of recovery of natural law.


Speaking of uneasy conscience, when is your episcopal election. Any names yet?


Sheepcat - interesting articles. I've long had an interest in natural law theory (and all the corollaries in natural theology). It is certainly one area which evangelicals have shied away from in the past. Joseph Fitzmyer, in his commentary on Romans, talks about an over-reaction to Enlightenment thought as the root cause.
CPM - So far only your name is on the list. Could be acclamation....:^)

The Sheepcat

Go on, Joseph. Give CPM a run for his money!

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  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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