In America today political posturing and fear-mongering is everywhere on all sides of the constructed liberal–conservative spectrum. There is angst everywhere about the direction of Western civilization and how to “save” it, especially among Christians. John Howard Yoder has the right message for all such forms of jumpy edginess about the state of Western culture:
“What then should be the path of the church in our time? We muse first of all confess — if we believe it — that the meaning of history lies not in the acquisition and defence of the culture and freedoms of the West, not in the aggrandizement of material comforts and political sovereignty, but in the calling together ‘for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation,’ a ‘ people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.’ The basic theological issue is not between Bultmann and Barth, not between the sacramental and the prophetic emphases, nor between the Hebraic and Greek mentalities, but between those for whom the church is a reality and those for whom it is the institutional reaction of the good and bad conscience, of the insights, the self-encouragement — in short, of the religion of society.”
– John Howard Yoder, The Royal Priesthood (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 61-62.
It doesn’t get much more right on than that. The true political disagreement today is not between right and left, but between those who do and those who don’t think that the church is “really” a reality in this world which, in Christ, carries the meaning of history.