Hart makes mention of Stuart Robinson in his A Secular Faith. This got me interested in reading more about Robinson.
This is the first is part of the conclusion of Preston Graham’s survey A Kingdom Not of This World. Robinson was a Kentucky Presbyterian minister in a border-state during the Civil War. As Hart notes, he actually had to find refuge in Canada because his views were not conducive to either side in trying to figure out the problem of human slavery in America; I guess he was irrelevant enough to fear for his bodily protection (another Outhouse saint, likely). I have italicized what I especially like about this quote, that is, as individuals we may very well come to very different conclusions as to how the end of justice may be realized (big government, limited government?). Also, we as individuals are not called away from any activity in the KOM so as to surface with the world-flight sentiments of the pietists. I post this for various reasons, but one is along the same lines as “Tracking with the Liturgicals”: my W2K views often get mistaken for being apathetic when it comes to the concerns of earth, as if I mean to take particular views out of folks’ hands. No, that is the world-flight pietsts you are thinking of.
Anyway, Preston Graham and Stuart Robinson will now take your questions…
“Whereas individuals are encouraged to invest themselves in ‘things civil,’ the church, as a visible and constitutional organization, ought to be exclusively concerned for ‘things spiritual.’ This apolitical church resists the marginalization of theology and its subsequent realignment around a cultural agenda. The modern apolitical church serves to proclaim a gospel that transcends social restructuring, macroeconomics and political theory…even by Robinson’s own admission and practice, the line distinguishing things sacred from things secular is not always easy to discern, especially in the messiness associated with congregational life in general, especially when her people are called to participate in the world without being of the world. And yet this didn’t eliminate the responsibility of the church to draw the line all the same as from where scripture speaks and where it is left to human wisdom…His polemic was against the church confusing a political agenda after a reading of one or another political or social theory rather than agenda that still holds to things pertaining to God and faith as important in their own right. For example, such a church might preach justice, albeit to congregates who perhaps endorse opposing theories for the accomplishment of justice as derived from the social, economic, legal, and political sciences. Such a church may foster in its people works of mercy directed toward those who are needy, as an expression of true Christian love and witness, and yet be silent as to which particular program for accomplishing mercy is necessarily preferable given one or another reading of city planning….Robinson’s Scoto-American idea of the church would be distinguished as the ‘mediatorial body of Christ’ acting as an agent of special grace for God the Redeemer, in contrast with acting as an agent of common grace along with the state for God as creator.”
And talk about “messy.” Robinson’s church contained not only those who had both non/abolitionist views but also slaves themselves. Now there is a communion rail I’d love to frequent.