Monthly Archives: June 2015

What Are Exile Politics?

Thus, the heavenly City, so long as it is wayfaring on earth, not only makes use of earthly peace but fosters and actively pursues along with other humans beings a common platform in regard to all that concerns our purely human life and does not interfere with faith and worship.  (Of course, though, the City of God subordinates this earthly peace to that of heaven.)
– Augustine, City of God, Book 19

Exile politics, drawing on the advice of Jeremiah to the Israelites taken into exile in Babylon, recognizes that the church is not properly at home in this word. Exile politics rejects theocracy and theonomy, Constantinianism and Christendom, while still recognizing that in a post-colonial, post-Christendom age, the church wields cultural power, whether it likes that or not. Accordingly, Christians-as-exiles work as a counterculture that seeks the common good, leveraging that influence where it exists. Nevertheless, opportunities exist to confound expectations.

Discipleship in the way of Jesus inevitably confounds expectations.

Exile politics are neither liberal nor conservative, but strategic, rooted not in an exterior political philosophy of any sort, but rooted in the identity of the church-in-exile, the recognition that Christ is Lord, and that all powers that claim lordship are thus pretenders, to be identified with the powers and principalities spoken of in the New Testament, who could not understand the wisdom of God and thus crucified the lord of glory.

Exile politics are the politics of those who suffer.

As the church inevitably joins the suffering messiah, it joins as well the suffering of all Christ’s brothers and sisters, all God’s children, all created in the imago dei, the least of these, the people of the land. The church may make strategic use of the vestiges of cultural influence it has inherited, but it must be put to use not for its own ends, nor for the maintenance of the church’s power, prestige and influence as such, but for those who suffer along with the suffering messiah.