Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Hath Cairo To Do With Beaverton?

As I mentioned in my last post, D.A. Carson's main criticism of the "pessimism" of D.G. Hart's and Frederica Matthewes-Green's respective positions on the role of the church in culture is that they "fail to see the temporally good things we can do to improve and even transform social structures." Carson then cites abolishing slavery, curing disease, and reducing sex traffic as concrete ways (among "countless others") that "God's redeemed people" can fulfill our "responsibility to do good to the city."

Judging by the number of comments in the last thread, I'd say this has hit a nerve. Let's delve deeper and in greater detail, shall we?

For now, let's start with Carson's first example of how Christians can impact society: abolishing slavery. As has been pointed out already, "slavery" is hardly a univocal concept. The Egyptian subjugation of the Hebrews was evidently bad (though it got the divine thumbs-up later on when the Hebrews were the ones holding the whips). The Roman Empire's version of slavery, however, was apparently not evil enough to elicit a condemnation from Jesus, Peter, or Paul. American slavery was clearly an abomination, not only in this writer's opinion but in that of most people outside the bearded of Moscow, Idaho.

Whether or not the "wage slavery" that many have attributed to capitalism, or the sweatshop labor that the "free market" works so hard to perpetuate, qualifies as the kind of slavery that Carson thinks the church should abolish is unclear (I kind of doubt it, since it's always easier to tsk-tsk the crimes that Americans no longer commit than those that we presently associate with God's Own Politics [GOP for short]).

Either way, though, I'm not sure which book of the Bible provides the best tactical approach for putting Nike out of business (maybe Romans or Galatians, since they clearly repudiate the Mosaic works principle of "Just Do It").

But then, if Paul fails to suffice there's always Naomi Klein....