Is it true, as James Davison Hunter, claims in his new book, that the dominant public witness of the Christian churches in America since the early 1980s has been a political witness? Doug Wilson says, yes, it’s true. . . but:
Think about this for a moment. The “most dominant public witness” of Christians has been political. Assuming this to be so (and I believe it is), there are different reasons why it might be so. One reason could be that Christians are the ones with the problem. They have politics on the brain. They rush to the mechanisms of the state (which were modestly hiding in a distant village), in order to advance their public faith with the politics of coercion. In other words, these Christians have lost faith in Jesus their Savior, and are trying to use the political process as a sort of savior’s-little-helper.
Another option, and one that I consider far more likely, is this. The political state in our day is swollen and overgrown, and has gotten into everything. Politics, the great secular idol of modernity, has virtually filled up every public space. This means that it is not possible to go into any public space in order to have a public witness of any kind without it resulting in some kind of political confrontation.
To this extent, to blame public Christians for being “too political” is like blaming Noah’s ark for being “too wet.”
Abortion and sodomy were sins long before they were constitutional rights. If a minister preached against them a thousand years ago, he was preaching against moral failings, and he was not being political. He was being public, but not political. When I do it, I am preaching against moral failings also, but I am also being political. What changed? It wasn’t the Decalogue. It wasn’t the history of the church, or the history of preaching. It wasn’t the nature of the gospel. It wasn’t me. Rather, it was the nature of the idol being challenged — and this idol aspires to omnipresence.