I’m (slowly) reading through a book that chronicles early Christian spirituality (Rowan Williams’ The Wound of Knowledge), and this morning read something that I found pertinent to the current economic crisis and political election.
Williams talks about Augustine’s book The City of God and how it was essentially written to Christians who thought that the fall of the "Christian" Roman Empire was a disastrous thing for the church:
Rome had fallen to the Goths in 410, and Augustine was writing to those who regarded this as a catasrophe for the church. In the massive perspective of The City of God, the fall of the city becomes one more in the cataloge of human tragedies in the midst of which the church always stands… Whatever the social order, the church is still on pilgrimage, and the "Christian Empire" is as transitory and ambiguous a phenomenon as any other social form.
(p. 101, emphasis mine)
Whether we have McCain or Obama in office next January doesn’t matter all that much, ultimately. Whether America stands or falls doesn’t matter all that much, ultimately. It would become one more in human tragedy in the midst of which the church will stand.
The church does not depend on the nation-state, or any other social form. The church depends on Christ, and he has promised to build it, and that the gates of death won’t prevail against it. The church remains through any and every social form – on a pilgrimage toward the time when the True City will come from heaven to earth, when new creation will come God restores all things.
We do well to remember, in the words of the old hymn:
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied, and earth and Heav’n be one.