Co-opting the Church?

Like the author of a piece posted on Ekklesia, I too am finding myself more and more influenced by the anabaptist understandings of non-violence, the rejection of privatism of belief and the discomfort with the co-option of the Church to the Empire. And so as much as I reveled in the essential Anglicanism of the wedding events, I like Simon Barrow, the author of the essay, had a sort of disquiet as I watched the wedding yesterday.

Barrow describes his own feelings thusly:

“I write this without an ounce of ill-will towards any individuals within Britain’s royal family, and without in any way wishing to be churlish about anybody’s wedding – whether they are famous or not.

But for me, the idea and reality of monarchism is deeply offensive. It rests on nothing more nor less than absolute eugenic privilege and the reservation of power, wealth and status for the very few – in whatever attenuated ‘constitutional’ form. This is deeply unChristian. Yet most Christians, socialised into deference and mistaking the upside-down kingdom of God for earthly kingdoms, appear not to notice it. Even when it is pointed out. We have a massive amount of unlearning and relearning to do in the transition to post-Christendom.

That means, among other things, re-visiting our theological roots. In this sense, while remaining implacably at odds with the constraining (modernist) ideology of fundamentalism, I am not a ‘theological liberal’ either. It is the deep structure of the narratives, language, events, experiences, grammar (‘doctrine’) and communal inheritances of the tradition of Jesus and the dynamics of his movement in the world which I wish to be constitutive of my political orientation – not passing fads in culture or secular theory.

But for that structure to become usable – and resistant to the powers that be – we need a hermeneutic of new community (ekklesia), a recognition of the tension between monarchical / establishment and prophetic / dissenting religion (much more significant than the modern ‘conservative’ versus ‘liberal’ typology Christians have become captive to), and an ethic of demonstrative Gospel virtues – economic sharing, forgiveness, peacemaking, hospitality and more.”

Read the full essay here.

We are part of a historic denomination that has made an Erastrian compact with government. Is disestablishment the answer in England? Do we need something similar here in the States?

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