I’m going out on a limb, and I’d like to take you with me. I think it’s time we shed the worn-out exoskeletons of two divine institutions. I don’t know what post-partisan democracy or post-denominational Christianity might look like. But each could emerge as something prettier than what we are looking at now.
God wants us to organize our lives around church and state. They are necessary spheres of influence and seem to have the same sickness. The most partisan and parochial operatives drive wedges between people to keep their own in camp and win over a few defectors. They make distinctions among people where few differences exist. Divide and conquer is not a strategy Jesus taught. Those are marks of a slippery devil, a winner-take-all culture, and insecure egos. What happens to us if this disease is left untreated and goes to its inevitable conclusion? That is the existential question.
If you disagree, then prove me wrong. Hamlet was mistaken. It’s not conscience that makes cowards of us all. It’s self-preservation. That’s the sin of tenured bureaucrats. There’s no give in them anymore. But they need us more than we need them. Listen to Paul: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3,4 ESV). Putting others first is what makes church and state indispensable.