One more riff on the Boyd/Colson/Claiborne-fest, This time to underscore some of the difference that seems to bubble up in the different viewpoints expressed here.
Mr. Colson: Well, I'm listening to Shane and agreeing with everything he just said, particularly, because he recognizes, unlike the Mennonites, that most mainstream Christians believe they have to be engaged in the moral issues of the day. You know, what drove me into the prisons was the massive sense of injustice, the way we were treating a lot of people in prison. And I ended up addressing state legislatures across the country. Had I followed Greg's advice, I would have just tended to the Kingdom and felt good about my relationship with Jesus, but I couldn't. I took the issue of justice into the courts from a Christian perspective and argued it expressly as a Christian.
The very words that came out of Greg's mouth -- I don't mean to take harsh issue with you -- about just tend to the Kingdom and let politics take care of itself is exactly what the slave owners said during the Civil War. Their whole argument was they were very good Christians and they were living as pious Christians, and the fact that they owned slaves had nothing to do with their Christianity. It had everything to do with their Christianity. Christians have fought slavery from the beginning. If you look at great transcendent moral issues, Bonhoeffer, a hero of yours and a hero of mine, Bonhoeffer stood against, in the confessing church, against Hitler. Thank God, he did. Wilberforce stood up in the floor of the Parliament in England and stood against the slave trade. You can't ignore moral evil. We're called to it as Christians. If it doesn't strike our conscience, there's something wrong with us. And we see things are wrong.
Mr. Boyd: I don't think it's an either/or and here's, I think, the main -- I just read Chuck's book [God and Government] last week and I agreed to about 90 percent of it. ... I was surprised actually how much I agreed with it. But, see, it's not an issue of whether or not we should engage moral evil. The question is, is it our primary job -- and you even deny this -- it's not the main job of the church to be running the government or to think that we're supposed to affect the government. That's not the main job. The main job is to live off the Kingdom, living it. Christians in America differ very, very little from the broader American culture. It's almost indistinguishable. Here we are a broken church -- profoundly broken church, trying to fix the world. I say we should first take the log out of our own eye before we start taking the speck out of others' eye. Now that doesn't mean we suspend all solidarity with prisoners. I mean, I love what you're doing with prisoners or with African-Americans in the Civil War or with the oppressed. Enter into solidarity with them. You say, 'Ouch,' but that's different than saying we can resolve the complex issues of abortion or whether or not the U.S. should go to war in Iraq or, you know, all the difficult ones.
There's a lot here where I both agree and disagree with both Colson and Boyd. But it's worth pointing out a preceding point from the discussion - that all three participants believe the course that the Religious Right political movement has lost it's way. Each arrives at that point from their own perspective, but it says something that this isn't much of a point of disagreement between the three. I raise that point because when Colson suggests that his own example regarding prison reform. it isn't entirely removed from the way that many politically-inclined Christians might suggest reforming whatever set of issues they seek to reform.
And yet, later on, Colson makes his point that we shouldn't fall into the trap of believing that politics can solve all of our problems. I think there are a number of approaches anyone could point out that might impact prison reform - and I don't offer that to suggest Colson's was either the rightest or the wrongest.
Meanwhile, Boyd does a great job of pointing out his "life under > life over" philosophy. But where it comes down to the how Christians are called to engage politically (as we're called to engage in all parts of the culture), the lack of specifics tends to hurt his point, I think. I think it's a recoverable lacking to the extent that Boyd has explored the issue, and it may or may not resolve by the time his book based on his "Beautiful Life" sermon series comes out ... eventually.
For now, the discussion seems to resolve on an amicable enough note, but I don't think either side really fleshes out their case as thoroughly as I might like to see. My own bias, of course, is that I believe Boyd's thesis at least has room to close in on an intellectual consistent point, whereas Colson's argument has been around for a number of decades now, and as Colson seems to state it, it just never seems to arrive at that point (see Boyd's review of God & Government for a pretty decent encapsulation of that point).