Saturday, May 15, 2010

Politics and Sacramental Worldview

One of the blogs I follow, An Orthodox Christian is a Postmodern World, has a post that came out today on the recent oil spill in the gulf coast. It's short, and worth reading. Fascinating what he says about environmentalism in the Orthodox faith:
Environmental concern reflects the Orthodox understanding of the Creation as a Sacrament, a meeting place with God. Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky writes "grace is implied in the act of creation," and furthermore, that the "the world is created in order that it might be deified" and "creation can have no other end than deification."
I find it essential in these times to interact with Christian tradition that takes this kind of view of creation. In the West we've been far too influenced by the one-sided view of Protestant dualism that claims creation is secondary in God's plan; in fact, in many Protestant traditions, its destiny is simply to be utterly destroyed and replaced with something else. Not only do I find this one-sided, I actually tend to sympathize more with the view that creation has a more fundamental role in God's work of salvation. (See Romans 8:19-21)

This particular Orthodox Christian has tended to side with more socialized economics, as you can read here in his post on socialized medicine. I suspect many Orthodox, as well as Roman Catholics, agree with this approach to economics based on their tradition. What I appreciate about this approach to political life is that it take all things to be spiritual--that is, all things need to be approached using the power of the Spirit through the work of the Church. There is no secular sphere that gets to have its own secular rules.

Where I disagree perhaps most strongly with this approach is in the tradition itself. Both Catholics and Orthodox are more used to a "top down" approach, in which the individual responds to the directives of higher authorities. I concede that in many ways this works, and it's respectable for that fact alone. But on the other hand, this approach tends to institutionalize bad ideas as well as good--and even the good ideas lose their capacity for improvement. Incidentally, this is almost the exact critique I would give of socialist government.

Nevertheless, I think these Christians deserve to be taken seriously on economic and social issues (in fact I am with them 100% on more than one social issue, including abortion). As a Christian who happens to appreciate both Protestantism and the classical liberal tradition, I feel challenged to seek a more deeply spiritual explanation for my beliefs, one that can somehow interact with the more mystical tradition with which the Orthodox approach social issues.

I wonder if it's possible to be a Reformed Protestant libertarian mystic?

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