Darryl Hart admits that Christendom was far better then the Roman Empire, but asks whether America did anything significant. How America fits in post-apostolic redemptive history is a good question to consider. (I think a case can be made that redemptive history continued after New Testament times. Think of the A.D. 70 Judgment, the conversion of Constantine, the rise of the Papacy, etc.) The following may be suggested for America’s role: America was colonized to begin Christendom afresh in the New World. Its establishment meant the end of heathen barbarism, at least in North America. The U.S. has been preserved an an unofficial Christian nation (Lincoln’s “almost chosen people”) with the resolve to oppose some of the great evils of recent times: Nazism, communism, and Jihadist Islam. America has one of the best track records for promoting human rights, national self-determination, economic prosperity and governmental stability all over the world, especially after World War II through the Cold War. The Cold War was truly a contest between an evil empire and a God-blessed nation. So, I do not accept that God’s will is equally accomplished through the rule of George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein.
Since the Church is not exhausted by its ecclesiastical institutions but ecompasses families (and by extension–nations), I see no necessity in preferring the “Pilgrim” metaphor to the “Crusader” metaphor. The NT contains plenty of martial imagery describing the activity of Christians in the present age. This warfare is primarily “spiritual” in the sense that the Gospel addresses the root problem: sin and the demonic oppression that results. St. Boniface was acting in a capacity beyond “wayaring pilgrim” when he cut down Thor’s Oak in Geismar and converted the tribes of Germany. Of course it has been the lot of the Reformed to inherit lands already purged of the demonic.
According to a 2007 Princeton survey poll conducted for Newsweek, 82% of Americans identify themselves as Christian or of Christian heritage. A supermajority of Americans are probably covenantally Christian (i.e., baptized). Can Darryl explain why Americans shouldn’t have a polity and culture that reflects their actual heritage? Why should Americans be happy with the sorry alternative of secular progressivism that virtually guarantees the ascendancy of antichrist in our culture?
But since it can’t be a pleasant experience being accused of cosmic misanthropy, I welcome Darryl to provide an alternate account of W2K than the one I’ve attempted. My critique capitalizes on W2K’s rejection of the abiding validity of the cultural mandate and the substitution in its place of an unstable culture that has no other intrinsic purpose than to gratify men’s needs and wants. Darryl is welcome to explain how this down-grading of humanity’s task glorifies God. Does he hold that God is equally glorified in Constantine and Tony Blair, in Michelangelo and Jackson Pollock, in the Hagia Sophia and Las Vegas’ Bellagio?
Darryl says that “transformationalists” ascribe ultimate significance to culture & politics, and that this was crucial to Rome’s error. I am persuaded he is wrong on both counts. Megapolis is not Metapolis. Megapolis is penultimate rather than eschatologically ultimate. However, this does not mean that the human race should not cultivate the world to its full potential in anticipation of the consummating work only God is able to perform. And I don’t believe Rome ever considered secular (as opposed to ecclesiastical) culture to be an ultimate good.
Darryl affirms the inherent goodness of creation and counter-charges that the “constant need to redeem creation” implies the opposite. My own counter to this is that just as human nature is corrupted but still retains its essential goodness, that is, its purpose to conform and be glorified in the Image of God, so creation has been diverted from its original purpose, subjected to “futility.” Just as believers receive God’s forgiveness anew when they confess their sins and brought back into the joy of their salvation, so things of this life can be removed from service to idolatrous futility and consecrated to serve the Lord.
Since humanity is ontologically related to the rest of creation, as its summit and capstone, all of creation was affected by the Fall. It is consequently the work of God’s grace through the agency of the theanthropic Person of Jesus to restore creation and re-orient it to its original purpose. This is an on-going ministry of reconciliation that the Church performs on the basis of the once-and-for-all sacrifice of our Incarnate Lord. In asserting this basic biblical teaching, I believe I justly claim that W2K is a degraded expression of our catholic and apostolic faith.