I posted a while back on some of Peter Leithart’s thoughts about the importance of the church as a political society, and his support of the idea of Constantinianism as a political concept, one in which the church, as the City of God, the true polity inevitably ends up ordering the city of man. Here’s a quote from Leithart on the topic:
The Church, as a collaborator with God, is called to nothing less than world conquest, world construction, in the widest possible sense. She is called to labor by God’s power to bring every man, woman, and child into the life and under the dominion of the kingdom; to work to see that every institution in every nation conforms itself to Christ’s commandments; to bring every thought into captivity to Christ (2 Cor 10:5). Her mission is to see that every human being brings every created thing into service to God, so that the Adamic commandment in both its royal and priestly dimensions is fulfilled. So, the Church has a mission, and what a mission! (The Kingdom and the Power, p. 173-174.)
I find the militant imagery and spirit of this quote rather disturbing. For all it’s talk of bringing “every thought into captivity to Christ”, I don’t see how this line of thinking derives much from the way of Christ. Christ’s mission from the Father, which he handed on (analogously) to his disiciples (Jn. 17:18) was one of self-giving love and cruciform kenosis, not “world conquest…in the widest possible sense”. If the Christian mission can be described as “world conquest” it can only be in the narrowest possible sense of the form of “conquest” that occurs in the kenotic, self-disposessing movement of giving life away for the sake of the other, rather than claiming it for oneself. If this is truly a form of conquest it must be one more akin to what Hans Urs von Balthasar describes as “the conquest of the Bride” in which the outpouring of God’s triune love in Christ enraptures, captivates, and transforms his estranged world into a bride for the Son of God. The only “conquest” in which the church can participate is the movement of God’s own captivating, koinonial, and pneumatic love before which we are passive recipents before we can ever become collaborators. We love because he first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).