I begin with this claim: the church, the local church as well as the church universal, is a politic. Instead of supporting a political party, which confuses the church into serving two masters, the church strives to be a politic. These are my words, not David Fitch’s, but I think they get to the heart of David’s section on how the church is to recover the core of our politics for mission. The problem is the Christian Nation vision, but the solution is to abandon that and to become a politic under the Lordship of Jesus, a politic of the kingdom of God. Fitch, in The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission: Towards an Evangelical Political Theology (Theopolitical Visions) examines four theologians.
The questions we need to face are these: How is your church shaping the politic of the church as part of God’s mission in this world? How is your church a “politic”? The gospel is performed as well as proclaimed. How does it perform the mission of God? Has your church been co-opted by political partisanship?
They are Henri du Lubac, William Cavanaugh, Nathan Kerr and John Howard Yoder. Here’s how he ties them together:
Lubac’s focus is on the Body of Christ in his physical body, in the Eucharist and in the church, but the eucharist has become a place for spectating instead of embodying that Body. Cavanaugh, another Catholic theologian, contends the eucharist births a political presence and engages society for redemption and renewal. It is thus a subversive presence.
Nathan Kerr, however, subverts both of these ideas (and Fitch’s) by contending the church is the church when it is dispersed into mission. Missiology precedes ecclesiology. The church becomes a non-site place! This leads to John Howard Yoder … who advocates the church as those who live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ — when the church embodies the “gifts.” It lives today what the world is to become. The church does this in binding and loosing, breaking bread, baptism, the gifts, and the rule of conversation.
And the church does this as the body that extends the incarnation, by living the kingdom, and by having a porous boundary.
Now Fitch digs: “Evangelicals have put forth the church as Christ’s voluntarist army dispersing individuals into the world to do the work of Christ and his mission.” He says it is “the social body of His Lordship (His Reign) incarnating Christ in the world for God’s mission” (166).
The Sunday gathering is in order to be shaped together into his body for the world in eucharist, preaching the Word and re-entry into the world. Sunday gatherings are not to be distinguished from daily living.