Many of you may have heard of Greg Boyd from his book, "Myth of A Christian Nation". In that book Boyd discusses the difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the sword (the kingdom of men). In the process of leading his congregation not to place their faith in political dogma shrouded in religious garb, Boyd lost over 1000 congregants.
He has a lot of good things to say on the relationship of people of faith and political power, but lately he has been expanding his thoughts to discuss what he calls Christian anarchy on his blog. Much of what he does in both the "Myth" book and in his recent post is closely tied with Baptist identity. As a fellow Baptist, I know at the core of historic Baptist principles is an advocacy of the separation of church and state. Part of this theology teaches us that Christianity is to be a countercultural kingdom, and not wed itself to government and world institutions. Whenever the church does this, the line of thinking goes, it tends to compromise both Christian witness and Christian ethics. Up to this point, I tend to agree with Boyd. There are many times we confuse being a patriotic, good, moral American with being a follower of Jesus. When we do this we can become irrational, ignorant, and arrogant. Our current presidential administration comes under attack for this kind of pseudo-Christian leadership quite often.
My struggle is that Boyd's Christian Anarchy tends to take things to far to the other extreme. This is an extreme where believers in Jesus have no investment in making the world a better place through the public sphere, because the powers in this world are the powers of the devil and must be avoided. This point of view strikes me as hubris that is as extreme as the Bush administration.
What happens when you label any governmental group as under the rule of Satan? Well then you can abandon them and write governments off. Boyd's theory of Christian Anarchy has a very limited view of the power of God and God's ability to redeem. God is always at work, and is seems not only unhealthy but also frightening that Christians and Christian communities can write off people and institutions as God-forsaken.
It was this kind of Christianity that I grew up in. Narrow-minded. Sectarian. Judgmental. This brand of fundamentalism writes off the world around them as hell-bound and unredeemable, and thus refuses to contibute and offer hope to the world around them. This labeling governments as the devil's lair and irredeemable is what brought us people like Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombings.
It seems to me the way of Jesus calls believers to be in the world for the benefit of the world. That is what Jesus talks about when he talks about them being like lights and like cities on a hill (Matthew 5). And it does not seem right that Christians abandon this responsibility when it comes to our governments. Maybe we should make our investments and choices in social issues and government affairs with wide eyes and more discerning hearts, but it does not mean that we should run away from certain realms of our society and label them God-forsaken either.