The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Thursday, August 28, 2003
Who builds the City of God?
Joel Garver pointed out this link to abstracts of papers delivered at the Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition conference. Lambert Zuidervaart's entry caught my eye: Good Cities, or Cities of the Good? Radical Augustinians, Societal Structures, and Normative Critique

"This paper examines the nexus of societal structures and normative critique in Radical Orthodoxy and the reformational tradition. To get at this nexus, the paper thematizes the appropriation of Augustine's City of God in the concluding chapters of two books: John Milbank's Theology and Social Theory, and Graham Ward's Cities of God. Both chapters make evident the awkward position that Radical Orthodoxy takes up with respect to both contemporary society and contemporary social sciences. On the one hand, contemporary society can participate in the "city of God," and social sciences offer insights into what hinders such participation. On the other hand, what blocks full participation is precisely the modern/postmodern "world-view" or "ontology" that drives contemporary social sciences."

How should (can?) the members of "contemporary society" (presumably those outside the Covenant Community) "participate" in the City of God? Why would they want to do so? Should we sit back and let them contribute to Christendom project without resistance? Won't their open participation undermine the result?

Don't get me wrong. As I argue in Plowing, the cultural accomplishements of unbelievers can and and are appropriated by Christians and used (with discernment) to build City of God (i.e. Christian Culture). In this Christians serve as priests mediating between the Christian and non-Christian worlds. But that is a far cry from allowing direct participation.