We obviously don't teach things that are predominantly taught in the Muslim world. Why? Because it's not the predominant viewpoint in this country and, and our predominant viewpoints are reflected in our laws.

Some who write on "public theology" claim that religious believers, even when their positions on social and political matters are grounded in their religious beliefs, must be able to articulate "public reasons" for their beliefs. They should not appeal to divine revelation, or biblical authority. They need to be able to give reasons that make sense to everyone, religious or not. Is that right?

Of course a religious believer can make a claim in the public square on the basis of biblical authority. But part of the political process is persuading your fellow citizen of what the law should be, and if you're relying on revelation or the specific beliefs of a particular group of believers, then your reasoning may not be accessible to others.

I believe that we have an obligation to address as broad an audience as possible. I also believe that if God says that something is true, then he'll reveal himself through Natural Law and the Creation, and those things will be supported by reason. God is a reasonable God. I'm convinced that a believer can make a reasoned argument, and should make those arguments in ways that will persuade as many people as possible.

My final question is this. Jesus Christ held no worldly position of power, and seems to have fled from wealth and the trappings of wealth. What does it mean for believers to imitate Christ when they work in the corridors of power and privilege?

Jesus was a leader. He led not just by example, but through his deeds and teachings. While he did not govern, he certainly laid out rules for a just society and anticipated that these rules should be applied—and of course, if you have a society, there must be people who govern it. He called his disciples to go out and form a church. They were called to be leaders. They were called to organize and bring together the movement that became Christianity.

So I think Christ not only anticipated but appointed leaders who would have positions of authority. He gave authority to others, and gave clear directives on how people of authority (in the home or in public life) should behave. So I don't feel any contradiction between imitating Christ and exercising authority. The real issue is whether you handle that authority in a manner consistent with the gospels.

Editor's Note: Timothy Dalrymple primarily publishes interviews in his "Life in the Marketplace of Ideas" column. For more regular and original thoughts on faith, culture and politics, see his Philosophical Fragments blog.