Further Thoughts About A Common Effort

P.W. Dunn has written a helpful response to my earlier post about a possible way for Christians of all political stripes to co-operate. Here’s an important excerpt:

Libertarians truly desire smaller government because they rightly see government as a usurper of rights while its true role should be to protect rights. So I would wish above all to downsize government to the point where it serves the function of protector and nothing else.

The statists, on the other hand, view government as a panacea, the solution to all the woes of humanity, whether poverty, sickness, inequality or ignorance. …

Thus, in my opinion, it is a mistake for Christians, who see government as the solution, to believe that good policy can somehow transform the Kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of God.  Augustine would say that that attempt is futile, for the city of this world aims at domination, which results intrinsically, as I suggested, in the curtailing of human freedom.

As a brief response, I would say:

(1) I certainly recognize that libertarians and progressives have very different views of what the state should be about in general, but the central point of my post was a suggestion about how the two could co-operate in specific ways in spite of that. I don’t think the remaining differences provide a good reason not to.

(2) With regards to what is possible: I think this is ultimately a debate about eschatology. While I agree that violence alone will not bring about the kingdom of God on earth, I do believe that the Spirit will work through Christians to change the hearts of the worlds in increasing proportions throughout history, to the point where the world will be Christian by the return of Christ. In the process, rightly used violence is appropriate in specific circumstances for enforcing the will of God for a public order and the common good (and not for bringing about a perfect utopia).