"But if you read the Colson article to which Johnson is responding, Colson never once mentions the need for ecumenical political alliances. It
And nothing Johnson has subsequently written changes that assessment. My point was merely that it
Beyond that, it isn
"For the purpose of political activism (as opposed to, say, for the purposes of church membership or gospel ministry), there is simply no need to appeal to evangelical distinctives in order to engage in this work with others."
"One would have to be willfully obtuse or incredibly naive to argue with any degree of seriousness that Chuck Colson
And if Johnson can point out where I actually said or implied the above, I would be extremely grateful. Not once in my response to him did I say that Colson
So far, then, we
No, Phil, I
Johnson next startles me with the following claim:
"His argument, pretty consistently, is that he sees no necessary reason why ecumenism and pragmatism must go hand in hand with political activism."
This is pretty much as great a distortion of my position as there can be. The argument, as presented in the piece to which Johnson is purportedly responding, had something to do with the saving grace/common grace and Great Commission/cultural commission distinctions. BTW, this was Colson
Johnson says: "the evangelical political right has historically -- not just theoretically -- fostered an ecumenical drift." And, as far as I can tell, the preceding really is the only argument Johnson bothers to muster on his own behalf. I must say it
Johnson says that all my "other niggling arguments have no real traction." These must be the arguments he hasn
Note the following exchange at the link which Johnson provides. Johnson says:
"1. "Christian mechanics working with non-Christian mechanics" don
And I replied:
"However, I think this is a judgment call, and I won
't insist on it. After all, Paul calls the state the minister of God. Would you have a problem with calling government officials ministers of God, in some significant sense? Hmm, how did Tony Blair get his title anyway? ;-)
Beyond this, you
've noted several other differences between ECB and the examples of legitimate social cooperation I noted. I concede these differences. What, exactly, is their significance? In particular, how do they show that ECB is illegitimate while these other activities are not?
All that to say, it doesn
't look like your pt. 1 above has forwarded your argument in any significant respect."
To date, Johnson hasn
Johnson says that I have:
"now devoted eight pages to a desperate attempt at obfuscating what is really a simple, straightforward, rather obvious point: Chuck Colson strategy for political activism has ecumenism at its heart."
I have no doubt that "Chuck Colson
I note that this present reply, as well as the one which preceded it, involves extended commentary on what Johnson actually says, offering specific rebuttal to specific points, cited in full. By way of contrast, Johnson
Allow me to cite three paragraphs from the piece to which Johnson is responding. Judging by his reply, which interacts with, what?, 5% of what I wrote?, you couldn
This is of course all true, but why does Johnson think it is relevant against Colson? Apparently, Johnson thinks that "the very essence of the gospel message" sets the boundaries for any and all cooperative endeavor participated in by Christians. If your partners don
't believe the gospel, then the cooperative endeavor compromises the gospel. Now, I think belief in the gospel sets the boundaries for some cooperative endeavors engaged in by Christians, and very important ones at that (again, church membership, or gospel ministry, come to mind). But for all cooperative endeavor in society whatsoever? Sorry, but Johnson 's going to have to argue for that one. He can 't expect reasonably reflective Christians to buy into his socially-restrictive rules on his say-so...
Here Colson makes a distinction between the Great Commission and the cultural commission, which in turn depends on the distinction between being agents of God
's saving grace and being agents of his common grace. When I join with non-Christians at the scene of a car accident, helping to revive one of the victims, I am not an agent of God 's saving grace (unless we want to hold to justification by CPR). I am an agent of God 's common grace, being extended to the victim (and so is the non-Christian with whom I am cooperating). Now, our efforts are fallible. They may fail, despite the time and energy we put into them. They don 't bring about spiritual or eternally enduring goods. In the great scheme of things, saving a single life probably won 't immediately effect a spiritual transformation of the entire culture. But, presumably, the common-grace efforts in question are not to be despised on any of these grounds.
's confusion continues. He asks, immediately after the above: "But if the very notion of 'saving faith 'must now be relegated to questionable or secondary status in order to keep peace in the religious right, how does that not 'interfere with fulfilling the Great Commission '?" The answer should be obvious: it does not interfere with the Great Commission because the Great Commission is not the cultural commission. Saving grace is not common grace. The church is not the state. And since pursuing political activism isn 't being advertised as a fulfillment of the Great Commission, then obviously it doesn 't interfere with it. Indeed, lots of Christians do lots of things every day that can 't remotely be considered a fulfillment of the Great Commission, but no one would suggest that, in principle, such activities 'interfere 'with fulfilling the Great Commission. Notice that Colson never says that the cultural commission replaces the Great Commission. On the contrary, he is careful to say that "The Lord 's cultural commission is, I believe, inseparable from the Great Commission," for as Christians are converted they enter into both commissions.
Yes, this is a defense of ecumenical activism (political or otherwise, mind you), where
In closing, I find it ironic that Johnson (and Steve Camp, for that matter) are the folks who castigate ECBers for not offering a biblical justification for their activism. When, however, Colson does just that, with an appeal to the cultural mandate, and draws the very distinctions which the critics accuse them of failing to draw, he (and his expositers) get this perfunctory brush-off from Johnson.
These are the folks who moan and complain about dumbing-down the gospel and entertainment-oriented worship. But then they make snide remarks about the length of my writing and that of Steve Hays. I