We shape society when we remember who we are first and foremost.
Historians will conduct postmortems on American Christianity’s recent relationship with politics and culture for years to come. Some Christians have felt pressured by the political right to trust the state to restore a cultural utopia that, arguably, was dystopia for many. The left pressured others to entrust the state with building a utopia that’s impossible on this side of eternity—and proven historically also to end in dystopia. Dissatisfaction with both camps has been palpable.
Large parts of American evangelicalism proved to be ineffective in navigating politics and culture in the name of conservatism or progressivism. As I mentioned in a previous column, that’s why some are now calling themselves “Christians in America” rather than “American Christians.” The labels “conservative Christians” and “progressive Christians” seem just as hollow.
A Christianity qualified by any adjective now feels restrictive. Many are turning anew to the Christ of Scripture, under whom our secondary identities are subsumed. He is not the god of ethnic nationalism or the god of the oppressed but the sovereign God of all nations, King over all.
American theologian Stanley Hauerwas anticipated this moment: “It is the politics of the kingdom that reveals the insufficiency of all politics based on coercion and falsehood, and finds the true source of power in servanthood rather than dominion.”
Many distinctions, like ethnicity and gender, are gifts from God. Yet when they become idols, they dehumanize us. No single temporal category can contain the whole of our being. Force a Christian into an ideological ...1