Brian McLaren believes the Religious Right movement has lost credibility, but what will replace it? In part 1 of our interview McLaren called for a more mature Chrisitian engagement with politics, and warned about linking political ideology with our identity as followers of Christ.
In part two, he discusses the various models of Christian political engagement that have been attempted, and why a more imaginative model is needed.
You travel internationally quite a bit. Do you see a place where Christians are having that kind of positive impact on the government outside the United States?
Let me first say the same kind of religious right rhetoric happening here is being exported through religious broadcasting all over the world. I've been in countries where abortion is illegal and the church is constantly talking about it, even though it's already illegal, because they think this is what Christians are supposed to do because they hear it from the US. So it's strange. But to answer your question, yes, I do see it working out in powerful ways but most often in very local ways. In terms of national affairs I think it's a little harder to find, but that's also harder to do.
One of the issues I think we're really facing is that in the last sixteen hundred years we basically had three options. We've had the idea of the Holy Roman Empire where the church was the umbrella under which the state existed. And then in the Protestant era of civil religion the church existed to help the state achieve its goals. The third option makes the church into an isolated subculture where it withdraws from society and sees politics as dirty.
I think one of our great crises now is that we need a fourth option - a new option. It's an option that takes us ...