Monday, July 12, 2004

Over on the "big Lutheran blog", as I'll call it for now, Josh et al have been trying to point out why they think Calvinism stinks and all of us should become Lutherans. At some point it got into views of politics and I mentioned in a comment (I don't even remember under which post, sorry) that I was completely ignorant of Lutheran views on politics and would love to hear something about them. Thus is was something of a surprise to me to see bubble to the top of my reading stack a volume I'd forgotten I had, God and Caesar, a collection published by Augsburg back in 1959. Apparently there had been some regular symposium on religion and politics at Valpo in the 50's, moderated by Princetonian Otto Piper.

Having gotten most of the way through this, and assuming that it represents both typical and well-expressed Lutheran views, I would have to say that they win on this front. The Calvinist concepts of positive law seem to me to fundamentally twist the attitudes of their adherents. Not that I wish to downplay the role of the law within the scripture or to endorse the Lutheran views of law and gospel, but the american Calinist tradition, through theology and historical situation, teaches that we have to create our own society and law embodied in a just state; and while that is certainly a noble sentiment, it seems rather different than what the NT teaches us about how to act as a follower of Jesus on this earth. As Hauerwas likes to say, the church doesn't need a politics, it IS a politics.

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