When a church affirms its relationship to Jesus Christ as the Lord over every sphere of life, this should thrust the church outward into the public square. However, faith and church life for much of the evangelical church is turned inward, experiencing Christianity in individualistic terms and within the self-interests of its members, which narrows the patterns and activities for discipleship. From this perspective, church-life becomes privatized and vague, and society at large becomes invisible [Budziszewski, Evangelicals in The Public Square, 17]. The presence of the conservative church in the political arena and in the public square, however, does not necessarily reflect “a shift from a protective goal to a redemptive goal but an increase in the perceived level of threat.” A renewed attention by the evangelical church to the public square can actually represent an increased desire to protect the church’s status-quo in American life. The injustices in the public square that are of interest to conservative church congregations are often those which are perceived as threats to their privatized lifestyles, economic comfort, and theological plausibility. In other words, injustices that are not “personally threatening” can receive “much less of their attention” [Budziszewski, 46].
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.