Sunday, October 15, 2006

Holy Urbanism Old and New

A phrase caught my eye in D.G. Hart's recently-published A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State, in which he writes:
"The redemptive urbanism of the Puritan founders and their American Protestant descendants... repeated the errors of Christendom... [for] the American invocation of the city-on-a-hill metaphor has been at considerable odds with the old urbanism of the Bishop of Hippo [as defended in Augustine's City of God]...." (p. 38, emphasis added).
I couldn't help but wondering if Hart was consciously drawing a connection between the "redemptive urbanism" of John Winthrop, minister and first governor of the Massachussetts Bay Colony and Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. After all, both men share a similar interpretation of the importance of "the City," one which invests a greater redemptive significance in this institution than Hart is comfortable with.

I'll ask the forgiveness in advance of those who cry "foul!" whenever I label transformationists as postmillennial, but I just can't help myself: When both the Puritan founders like Winthrop and advocates of the redemption of culture like Keller were/are equally committed to the transformation of the kingdom of this age into the spiritual kingdom of Christ, how is the former postmillennial and latter optimistically amillennial?

(And Dr. Hart, please feel welcome to flesh out this connection if you choose.)