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By Duane K. Friesen

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Extra resources for Artists, Citizens, Philosophers: Seeking the Peace of the City : An Anabaptist Theology of Culture

Sample text

The United States leads the world in military expenditures. The percentage of our citizens in prison is one of the highest in the world. We are one of the world’s leaders in the number of persons executed through capital punishment. The gap between the wealthy and the poor is vast and continues to grow. A devastating number of children grow up without the presence of responsible adults to nurture them so they can flourish. Thousands of babies are aborted every year, and not, as some would argue, for justifiable reasons (threat to the mother’s life, rape, or incest) but from sheer sexual indulgence without responsibility for the consequences of pregnancy.

18 James McClendon Jr. 19 This exile or alternative culture model has been rediscovered again and again in the history of the church. It was rediscovered by St. Francis in the thirteenth century, the Waldensians in the fourteenth, the Czech Brethren in fifteenth-century Bohemia, the Anabaptists of sixteenth-century Europe, the Quakers in seventeenth-century England, and the Church of the Brethren in eighteenth-century Germany. The Wesleyan renewal within Anglicanism in eighteenth-century England rediscovered it, as did Negro slaves who preserved their identity by singing the spirituals through several centuries of oppression in America.

23 This statement reflects an either/or thinking that limits the power and significance of the church. The good news of the Christian faith engages the “powers and authorities,” the corporate structures that oppress and rob the poor and destroy the environment. The stories of transformation in their book are limited to individual people in the context of the church. They do not adequately illuminate the dynamics of social transformation that are also powerful witnesses to the gospel. If as they say, “Jesus Christ is the supreme act of divine intrusion into the world’s settled arrangements,”24 then the church is especially the church when its members scatter in their various places of employment and practice the professions within the institutions of our society, within political and economic life.

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