Jesus Creed

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 7.51.22 PM.pngThis book proposes a “new city commons” and it does on the basis of a singular text in Jeremiah.

James Davison Hunter, in his new book, (To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
), suggests that Jeremiah 29:4-7 offers a 4th Way, a way beyond Right and Left and Neo-Anabaptist, and a way that is beyond politicization of the faith and beyond Constantinianism. Here is the text from Jeremiah — “seek the welfare” of that City — Babylon:
29:4 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says to all those he sent into exile to Babylon from Jerusalem, 29:5 ‘Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. 29:6 Marry and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and allow your daughters get married so that they too can have sons and daughters. Grow in number; do not dwindle away. 29:7 Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the Lord for it. For as it prospers you will prosper.’

The purpose then of the Christian in culture is to enact the shalom of God in whatever circumstance one has. And to seek that shalom on behalf of others. Wherever that might be.

Frankly, while Hunter does not enter into the materialist approach of Andy Crouch, he now sounds very much like Andy Crouch’s own proposal. 
The “commitment to the new city commons is a commitment of the community of faith to the highest ideals and practices of human flourishing in a pluralistic world” (279) — and this sounds positively “emergent.”
One of the more interesting proposals, which again is like Crouch, is that he says Christians need to stop talking about changing culture and changing the world and establishing kingdom. Instead, they need to find a post-Constantinian engagement. Avoid the political and the public forum for a season and learn how to do acts of shalom.
He appreciates the alternative community of the Anabaptist vision.
He quotes the classic lines from the Epistle of Diognetus.
One final observation: while he criticizes the three ways, and while he finds some to appreciate in each — more in the Neo-Anabaptist than the other two — he fails to situate his own argument and proposal in other church-culture paradigms, and I find that distressing. His proposal reads to me like a quietist, as opposed to an activist, Anabaptist proposal. 
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